The Story of the Munich Temple

By Vedavyāsa Dasa

Devotees Chanting Hare Krishna

Bhakti-bhūsana Swami (Sucandra dāsa): “Krishna Dāsa arranged for me to get married in Berlin, and I returned to Hamburg late in the summer of 1971. Soon I had to get a job to maintain myself and help clear the temple’s debt. But then everybody stopped working, and I wrote a letter to Śrīla Prabhupāda explaining to him that I was frustrated being employed by non-devotees and would rather go somewhere and preach, leaving my pregnant wife in the care of the temple. But Prabhupāda didn’t approve of my idea:

‘Your duty is to take charge of your wife. So you can stick to your job and maintain your wife and family and give as much as possible to the Hamburg temple. You cannot be irresponsible to your wife and child. That is not allowed.

If you can go with your wife to Munich to open a center there, certainly I have no objection. That is a different thing. But you cannot leave your wife to go to Munich.’

“Then I made friends with a hippie visiting our temple in Hamburg. He was from Munich; he lived in a commune on the outskirts of the city. He invited the devotees to come, and I thought I should go there and live with him. I could take my wife with me. The Hamburg devotees thought it was a great idea, because in this way they would get rid of me-after all, householders were a burden for the temple.

“The Munich commune was in a two-storey house, and I moved in with my friend. I was shaven-headed, with tilaka, and wore a dhotī as usual, and the first thing I did was hold a kīrtana and afterward cut up prasādam apples and pass them out. In the beginning everybody came and took part out of curiosity, but later they began losing interest.

“Every day I went on harināma with my wife. We put down a straw mat on the sidewalk on one of the busy shopping streets in Munich and just chanted with a small pair of karatālas (cymbals). I would place a poster of Prabhupāda in front of me and a sign that read: ‘I am a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. I have come to your city to open a Rādhā-Krishna temple. Please help me.’ People would throw their coins into a basket, and from time to time I stopped and gave a short explanation of Krishna consciousness and invited interested people to see me.

“A few persons visited me in the commune, some of them well dressed, in suits and ties, carrying briefcases. The commune members became uneasy having all these visitors come to their place. So they had me shift to the basement, into a dark room painted black, with a red light bulb. I knew it was time for a change.

“Fortunately, I had been introduced to a couple living in the city, and they invited me to their home. There I held programs and distributed prasādam. When I asked them to help me find a place for a temple, the girl said, ‘Opposite our house is a storefront for rent.’ I moved in. It was an old building, and the part I rented consisted of one long room and a bathroom. So I partitioned the room with curtains: one part temple room, one part kitchen, one part my wife’s room, and so forth. I put a copy of the Īśopanisad in the window and displayed another copy open, so people could read a verse and purport, and many people stopped and looked.

“It was an old house, and there was an open exit in the back of my room leading to the staircase. After a short while, our neighbors were beginning to freak out because of the early kīrtanas and the clouds of incense and cough-inducing masala (spices) regularly wafting through the house. In fact, every day when one of them came down the stairs to go to work, he mockingly repeated the last line from one of our early-morning chants: ‘Jaya jagadīśa hare! Jaya jagadīśa hare!’

“We had received a case of Īśopanisads, but we didn’t know how to distribute books, so I would sit down on my mat, put the books in front of me with a sign next to them-5 DM-and wait for somebody to pick up a copy from the stack and give the requested donation. But all that changed as soon as Haàsadūta came to Munich with the Hamburg devotees and showed us how to do sankīrtana. He taught us to put a magazine into a person’s hand, show him a picture of the devotees, and say, ‘This is us. This is our magazine. This is me. We are doing this and that.’ After the devotees had learned the technique, our distribution increased beyond our wildest expectations.”

* * *

When Śrīla Prabhupāda received Sucandra’s (Bhakti-bhūsana Swami’s) progress report on the preaching in Munich, he assured him of Krishna’s help if he simply dedicated himself to canvassing on behalf of the Supreme Lord:

“I am very glad to know that you are working sincerely to distribute this great science to the people of Germany. Not only the people in Germany, but all over the world, people are suffering due to lack of this knowledge. When the son is suffering, the father is also afflicted. So Krishna, the Supreme Father, does not like to see his parts and parcels suffering in the material world. To deliver the fallen souls, He gives His instruction, He sends His representatives, and sometimes He even comes Himself just for the benefit of all the living entities. So it is our duty, as His representative, to canvass. “Please take this knowledge and make your life successful.” So all of you continue to push on this movement with ever-increasing enthusiasm, and Krishna will help you.”

[An excerpt from “Srila Prabhupada and His Disciples in Germany” Chapter 7]

ALSO READ:
JAGGANATHA APPEARS IN THE WEST
SRILA PRABHUPADA IS ALWAYS IN TOUCH WITH KRISHNA
“THE RADHA KRISHNA TEMPLE” ALBUM – Personal Accounts of People Getting Attracted To Krishna Consciousness Through It


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