How I Met Srila Prabhupada, 1972
By Janaspriha das

I was at the Vancouver temple on 16 Avenue and had been living at the temple for a few months when I heard that Srila Prabhupada was coming to L.A. I'd never seen Prabhupada before so I got very excited as I knew that I must meet him! I asked Bahudak, who was the temple president, that I wanted to go to meet Prabhupada. He said, "If you want to please Prabhupada, you stay here and do your service." So I said, "OK, prabhu." (yeah, right) As soon as he left I ran upstairs to the brahmacari ashram and just grabbed my red coat. I ran out the back door into the alley and escaped! I didn't have any money and I was in Canada. During those years the hippie movement was very prominent therefore the US customs made it difficult to enter the US without money. So there I am, shaved head, dhoti, tilak, bead bag and penniless! The boarder guards started laughing and said "looks like we got ourselves a strange Mormon!" Within that laughter It seemed as though Krishna's yogamaya took over and they waved me past. At this point a great triumph overwhelmed me as I had made it across the border! I start hitchhiking and got almost to the Oregon state line the first night, where I was dropped off in the middle of nowhere. I crawled under a barbed wire fence and slept snuggly under a tree that seemed to have a God-made cradle under it's protective branches. Around sunrise I was rudely awakened by a slight tremor and loud heavy breathing. I was afraid to open my eyes! I mustered up the courage to do so and there just inches away from my face, stood a huge bull! Unluckily, I had my bright red coat on and the bull was preparing to charge! I immediately started praying to Krishna to please save me!
I told the bull he could do whatever he wanted to me but only after I first met Srila Prabhupada. As I was only a few feet from the fence, I started rolling very slowly towards it and escaped unharmed! It was a beautiful morning and birds were singing. I started chanting "Hare Krishna" on my beads and prayed "Please Krishna, I want to be there for Prabhupada's arrival!" Prabhupada was arriving that day around 4:00 in L.A. I think I was about a thousand miles away (1600 km). If I could fly, I could get there on time but I had no wings. So low and behold, a shiny brand new Krishna blue Corvette appeared on the horizon with the sun streaming behind it. The driver was an incredibly handsome Air Force officer and gentleman pilot. To me, he looked like a demigod on his supersonic chariot! "Where are you going?" he said. I responded, "I'm going to L.A." Next he said "Today is your lucky day, jump in," I noticed all the extra gadgets on his dash that were used to detect police radar! Then he said "I hope you don't mind if I drive a little over the speed limit." I raised my hand and gave him a high five (Krishna ki jaya!). Amazingly enough he drove about 120 miles an hour! It was great! It was thrilling! He dropped me off two blocks from the temple in L.A. I got there about 20 minutes before Prabhupada's arrival. I ran upstairs, showered, put on a clean borrowed dhoti from the brahmacari bin, put on tilak and ran outside into the alleyway just as Srila Prabhupada's car was pulling in! A huge kirtan was roaring "Jaya Prabhupada! Jaya Prabhupada!" Flower petals were showering from the top of the building, his door opened and Prabhupada stood up from his seat. Somehow from listening to his lectures I had imagined that he was six feet plus. However, his gigantic smile made him larger than life! If you were fortunate enough to see Srila Prabupada smile, you lost all conception of time and place and were transported to the Spiritual World. He walked a few steps to the back door to his quarters and disappeared.

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