My history with Prabhupada and ISKCON started in a strange way. I was an abandoned child at 6 weeks old. I lived with various families, group homes and other shelters until at 14 years old my biological mother decided she would give up her drug and alcohol habits and give raising her son another try. I lived with her a very short time in California when she read in “The Examiner” that a “new Guru” was in town. After a little thought she decided that her previous lifestyle was more to her liking and one day she drove me to Golden Gate Park.
She said she would be back at 4 pm. I went and sat with some cool people and a charming elderly Indian Gentleman and watched what was happening and enjoyed the music. Four O’clock came and went…no mom. These people asked the Elderly Man if I could stay at the Temple and He said “Alright.” The Temple was on Fredrick St. and it was so beautiful to me. Swamiji lived next door (upstairs apt) in room 32 or 33, and invited me to come up. I sat at the corner of His bed and He said after hearing about my crazy childhood “You’ve already experienced everything in this Material World. You have been servant of this body. Now be Syamasundara dasa.” He talked and talked about so many things. Thinking back to that day in early 1967, my comments and contributions to the conversation were really lowly, but I was charmed and so relieved, to have the love and protection, (that’s how he made me feel), of this Grandfatherly Man, that He over-looked my fallen condition and playfully slapped my shoulder and my hair.