I met the Hare Krishnas in 1982 in Copenhagen. I had gotten a book from my girl-friend who had met a weird guy down-town, who had given her a book. That book was the Science of Self-realization in Danish by Srila Prabhupada.
As soon as I read that book, I knew I had found a person who could lead me to God. In that book, Srila Prabhupada answered every question I had ever had about existence, my self, God and the world. Later I understood that that’s the guru sent by Paramatma to connect you with God. Only a bona-fide guru can teach you about God.
In my new-found, bubbling enthusiasm I stormed out one Sunday to the address (a suburb to Copenhagen) listed in the book. I came to an empty house. I asked the neighbor. He said, are you looking for the these weird people who lived here? The landlord threw them out because they made so much noise singing and beating drums, early in the morning.
I was devastated. For once in my life I had been interested in religion. Up until then I was a complete atheist with nothing but scorn for religion. And now they weren’t even there. I wanted so much to meet Prabhupada. In my usual stoned condition I didn’t even realize that the guru of the Hare Krishna movement would not sit and wait for me in a dingy house in Copenhagen.
I was really disappointed. I felt devastated. Then after a week or so, a miracle happened. I was sitting on the bus and out of the blue an Indian man turned to me, as he was getting off the bus, and without a word he stuck a card in my hand. And lo and behold, that was a visit card from the Hare Krishnas, inviting you to the Sunday feast.
The next Sunday I got on the bus and went to the place. It was a tiny, run down house. But it had a garden and a picket fence. The guy who opened the door, looked at me with penetrating eyes and said, in a deep voice, we have been waiting for you. I said, where is Prabhupada, where is Prabhupada? He was amused and told me, Srila Prabhupada is not with us anymore, but we have someone just as good.
The food was out of this world. I was not a vegetarian, but the vegetarian feast I was served was like I had never tasted food before. I thought, I’d died and gone to heaven. I was stuffing myself. And they kept piling on my plate.
In those days, in 82, I was the only guest, and I thought the three or four devotees, all young men, who ran the program were quite weird. But I turned up every Sunday for half a year, just to eat that far our food.
Later I learned, that it was cooked by Ramsraddha, an Indian disciple of Srila Prabhupada, who was in Denmark at the time. The TP was a British disciple named Ravi, ho had spent time in India with Srila Prabhupada. I didn’t see them, though, on my first visit to the temple.
Anyway, I could feel the devotees wanted me to join them. Before I joined in 1982 , there were only 4 initiated Danish devotees in Iskcon. I was number 5 person to be initiated in Denmark. I had no intention of joining the temple, but after half a year of purification by the prasadam, I decided to join the temple as they were moving to a new house. I didn’t really feel like joining, I thought my life was going great, but somehow my intelligence convinced me, it was the right thing to do.
I was initiated the next year by Harikesh Maharaja, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who oversaw the Hare Krishna mission in Germany and Scandinavia. He was a wonderful guru who inspired me immensely in Krishna Consciousness. Then, in 1998, he fell down from his sannyas and left, but I was not disturbed. Srila Prabhupada and his books were still there.
I felt sorry for him, of course, he had been such an inspiration to me. In fact, I thought he was the most intelligent person I had ever met. And he was always so kind and considerate towards me. I owe him a lot.
I regard Srila Prabhupada as my eternal siksha guru. I understand that as a matter of tradition you have to take diksha from a living guru to connect you with the parampara, but Srila Prabhupada is everyone’s siksha guru, including all the gurus in Iskcon. I owe Srila Prabhupada an enormous debt, which I will never be able to repay. I am so grateful to Srila Prabhupada for having written all those books on the Vedas and founded ISKCON to distribute those books all over the world.
Thank God for Srila Prabhupada and and thank Prabhupada for God.