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“Swamiji” is coming back!

Friday, 29 September 2006 / Published in In Memoriam / 3,470 views

By Govinda dasi ACBSP

In late October, the exciting news came. Swamiji would be returning soon to San Francisco. His health had improved and his travel arrangements were being made. Gaurasundara and I immediately began planning our trip to meet him in California. The first snow had fallen in Montreal, so we were eager to go West anyway.

We packed our meager belongings, mostly the contents of our art studio and a few clothes, a couple of saris that I had gotten and took a bus to New York City. There we found a drive away car, one that was to be delivered to the West Coast. Gargamuni and his new wife, Karunamayi and Gaurasundara and I sat out on a hazardous winter journey to San Francisco.

Anxious over the perils of winter driving we chanted the whole way. In Colorado we ran off the road in a blizzard and it seemed to us that our chanting brought a big snowplow to rescue us almost immediately. We were so focused on greeting our beloved Swamiji that all obstacles seemed to melt like snow in the sunshine of our love for him. The mood was simple, direct and sweet. When we arrived in San Francisco, Gaurasundara and I rented a small room two blocks from the Frederick Street temple.

We were situated there about a week or two before Swamiji’s arrival on September 14th, 1967. Daily, my prayers intensified as I looked forward to his arrival. Arrangements were made for Swamiji to stay at Jayananda’s large flat and our good friend Upendra was going to cook for him. I began to study Upendra’s cooking techniques avidly. Finally, the big day came. Swamiji was arriving. We went to the San Francisco airport and we chanted wildly in the waiting area. I remember walking up a hallway and seeing him through some big glass doors. He turned to us and waved, he gave us a long loving glance and a friendly wave. It meant everything to us. Our kirtan intensified and tears of joy streamed down my cheeks. I felt as if my very life had been returned to me.

It was the most joyful day in the history of America: Swamiji had returned. Thank you, Srila Prabhupada for taking the trouble to come back to us. You had an ideal situation in India, in Vrindavana, you could have stayed in your beloved Vrindavana but out of divine compassion for all souls you chose to fly back into the Kali-yuga cities of America to spread the message of Lord Caitanya.

You are the most exemplary preacher of the Lord, always concerned for the welfare of all living entities for the suffering of all the souls in this world. We must never forget that without you we would simply continue turning on the rotating wheel of samsara, from king to beggar, elephant to ant, our gratitude must never wane for you alone came to our rescue. We are eternally indebted. No one had heard of Krsna in the West. You were the emissary, the pioneer, the divine agent sent by Lord Caitanya to awaken the Western world from the sleep of ignorance.

One comment

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    Babhru ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Govinda dasi’s stories are always very sweet. Her love for our Srila Prabhupada is evident in these memories. Thanks for posting this.

    On a different note, the lady sitting near the window in the accompanying picture is Ratnavrinda-devi dasi, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s. Ratnavrinda’s husband, Revati-ramana, died about 15 years ago. Ratnavrinda, who lives in San Diego and is now 85 or 86 years old, is very dedicated to serving her spiritual master, to chanting the holy names, and to her Deities, despite a plethora of health problems. Her life is testimony to the potency of Srila Prabhupada’s preaching of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s message.

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