What did you think the first time you saw a Hare Krsna devotee?
This is a story of 1996, when I got married and came to Mumbai. I hail from Rajasthan and I only knew that Mumbai is Mayanagri. As soon as I came here I asked my husband "Is there a Krsna temple here ?" "Of course," he replied , "There is a nice ISKCON temple." The following Sunday, we went to ISKCON Juhu. I was really impressed with the temple's atmosphere. It was like Vaikuntha. I had never seen a cleaner and more peaceful temple though I must have visited more than thousand. We took darsana of Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari, Sri Sri Sita Rama Laksmana, and two other Deities for the first time. I was eager to know about Them so I went to search for someone who could answer my questions.
Crossing the huge crowd of devotees, I saw Jagadananda Pandita Dasa. His face shined with a devotional glow and as I reached him, he welcomed me with a sweet smile. I asked him about the Deities on the temple altar, and he described Sri Sri Gaur- Nitai very nicely. He then took us to the devotees mess for prasadam.
After the visit I felt as though life had come to a standstill. I started practising Krsna consciousness and began going to the temple on a regular basis. Srila Prabhupada's books shook the foundation of my life. I began to ask questions such as 'Where am I?,' and 'What is the truth of life?'
Slowly the devotion that I had inherited in my samskaras, got direction and I never turned back. In 2002 His Holiness Gopal Krsna Goswami Maharaja bestowed his mercy upon me and initiated me on Radhastami.
(Silpakarini Radha Devi Dasi,(Dr. Kathuria Shivani))
When, in 1976, I left India for America, I had sincerely prayed that somehow I would encounter the Holy Name of Krsna there. What I got was an invitation to a "Hare Krsna Sunday Love Feast," which I accepted suspiciously, expecting a hippie commune. But as I entered their Potomac center, to my surprise it smelt so much like the sweet aroma of a temple. As the devotees filled into the temple and started chanting in a sweet melody, I stared wideeyed at their traditional attire and clean -shaven heads. But even more priceless was the stunned and ecstatic feeling I got when the curtains opened, my jaw dropped, and I saw the familiar face of Krsna standing before me-in a place I had least expected.
(Geetha Shenoy ,West Simsbury, Connecticut, USA)
In the hustle-bustle of lo cal trains imag ine en counte ring a serene, calm teenager who is coolly called a devotee: devoid of 1ension s, and ~ve r ~m erg ing stress.
Observing this Bhagavan ka admi, who was from this planet I found him to be unique with 99 3/4 percent hair gone, with only a 1/4 percent thin shikha dangling at the back.
* Elegantly dressed in crispy cotton dhoti -kurta, putting Zodiac, Peter England wear to shame.
* Avoiding jargon of spiced words, just discussing Hare Krsna , Hare Rama.
* His radiant face housed a big 'U' between his brows to avoid frowning.
* A choker (literally choking him!) on his neck – made not of expensive metal, but beads on thread.
* From his bag emerged my book, Gita, which was actually about Bhagavan which he relished reading.
Such appearance must be commanding great philosophy which I hope to excavate one day. Then my station came and I disembarked.
(Geeta Dodeja, Mahim, Mumbai.)
When 1 was in the fourth grade I was obsessed with playing video games. My favorite game of all time was one where the main character would travel around the world and unlock the mysteries of various religious and mystical traditions. At one stage the character flew into the airport. There, on my monitor was a little man dancing and playing cymbals in a pink robe with sandals. You could hear the cymbals chiming, and he would chase the main character around until he left the airport.
After seeing this a few times I as ked my dad, "What is this all about?"
My dad replied , "Oh ! Those guys. They forced me to buy a book in the airport once."
The devotees may not have made the best impression on my dad. But it would be hard to say that both he and I are not benefitting from that book or that most wonderful video game.
(Arya S iddhanta Dasa ,Alachua, Florida, USA)
Years ago, when 1 saw a dozen Hare Krsna devotees wandering through the busy thoroughfares of Mumbai, distributing leaflets to the curious public, while nonchalantly chanting, " Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna , Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare," I could not help smiling but later forgot about them.
Not much later, I had the opportunity to a ttend an interesting discourse on Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad-gita.
It was then that I realised that the saffron -c1ad devotees were not good·for – nothing vagabonds, but learned souls in spiritualism, quenching their thirst by taking the nectar from Lord Krsna's wondrous Bhagavad-gita. Thereafter I also followed suit – a wonderful personal experience.
(P.K.Y. Menon, Mumbai)
One day, when my son Bivek was two years old, there was a buzz at the gate. He trotted a long to see who it was and came running back to me.
"Mummy, Krsna is at the gate. Come and open it quickly. Quick, quick, mummy."
He was so excited that Krsna had come to visit him. Now almost twelve years old, Bivek still always says that he saw Krsna at the gate that morning.
But it had been, of course, a devotee.
(Shakun Rajbansi, Durban, South Africa)