George was known throughout the world as a popular musician with the Beatles. As a musical group they changed the world in hairstyles, attitude, and youth culture. But what did George end up doing for me and for many other devotees around the world? He introduced us to Krishna consciousness in such a way that we weren’t reached before. Because of him I bought my first copy of the Gītā, and it was through George that I heard the chants and the songs of the Radha Krishna Temple.
– Robert Koenig, Mineola , New York
I FIRST MET Hare Krishna devotees in the winter of 1971. I was a sophomore (second-year student) at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, about sixty-five miles north of Denver. I saw four or five devotees with shaven heads and saffron robes chanting in front of the Student Union building.
“Wow!” I thought. “What next?”
I started walking the other way, when suddenly I was face to face with one of “them.”
Smiling, he held out a magazine.
“No, thank you,” I said quickly.
“At least take one of these,” he said, as he handed me a small card.
I looked at it and back at him, noticing the white vertical marking on his forehead. I took the card and walked away.
I couldn’t pronounce the strange words on the card: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Then I noticed that the card was an invitation to visit their center in Denver. Uninterested, I tucked the card away and forgot about it.
My next contact with Krishna consciousness came two years later. I had dropped out of school to travel, and having run out of money, I got a job at a newspaper in Boulder, Colorado. A friend of mine had a son my age who had been reading Bhagavad-gītā and wanted to join the Krishna consciousness movement. As a concerned mother, my friend kept asking me to try talking sense into her son so that he would give up “this nonsense” about becoming a devotee.
One day I was at my friend’s home and her son was there, explaining the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. I had no idea what he was talking about, but he sounded sincere, so I listened. Then he asked me to listen to an album he’d just bought, called The Rādhā Krishna Temple.
I’ll never forget the feeling that overtook me as I sat there. I got goose bumps, and tears welled up in my eyes. It was the most beautiful music I’d ever heard. I thought, “This is not of this world!”
I soon visited the temple in Denver, where I saw the film The Hare Krishna People. The devotees’ kindness impressed me, and when a devotee sat down with me and answered all my philosophical questions with references from the Bhagavad-gītā, I was convinced. Although I had been reading the Gītā, I couldn’t explain what it said. When the devotee explained everything to me, it made perfect sense.
Feeling confused, elated, and exhausted, I returned to my little apartment and began to face what I knew I had to do—quit my job, move into the temple, and take up Krishna consciousness. The next two weeks were difficult for me, as I told my friends and family about my desire to be a devotee. My parents thought I’d been drugged; my boyfriend thought this was a passing fad I’d get over. But I didn’t.
I arrived at the temple door about three weeks from the day I’d heard The Radha Krishna Temple album. I had only my car, my sewing machine, and one box of personal belongings. That was more than twenty years ago, and never for a moment have I regretted the decision to move in and become one of “them.”
– Nataka Candrikā Devī Dāsī
[Nataka Candrikā Devī Dāsī has been teaching in ISKCON pre-schools and elementary schools for the last twenty-one years. She lives in Alachua, Florida, USA, with her husband, Rādhā-Dāmodara Dāsa, and their three children.]