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Saturday, June 28th, 2003

Durban, South Africa.

Old Friends

Krishna Kali and Teacher

Krishna Kali Devi Dasi and her husband, "Teacher," invite me for lunch. Krishna Kali Devi Dasi is the devotee who gave me a copy of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad's Bhagavad Gita As It Is, which started me on the path of Krishna consciousness twenty-two years ago.

A few weeks after reading the Bhagavad Gita, I joined the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in December of 1981. I lived in ISKCON's temple in Johannesburg for a few short weeks, but after I read Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj's seventeen-page pamphlet on the relationship between Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Prabhupad, I left ISKCON and returned to Durban.

At the same time, Jayatirtha Swami was ousted by ISKCON, and many of his disciples and followers in Durban were disappointed and discontented, but still eager to continue with their spiritual life. Although I was uninitiated and knew very little about Srila Sridhar Maharaj, I was propelled by circumstances to preach vigorously on his behalf.

My mentor, Yudhamanyu Prabhu, had given me a few cassette recordings by Srila Sridhar Maharaj before he returned to the U.S.A., but the seventeen-page pamphlet was the only printed material that I had about Srila Sridhar Maharaj. I xeroxed many copies of the pamphlet and distributed them to those disciples who were looking for an alternative to ISKCON's uncompromising stance towards their guru, and insistence that they be reinitiated by his successor.

I knew so little about Srila Sridhar Maharaj, but what little I knew excited and enthused me. I wanted to become his disciple. How, I did not know. My position was hopeless, but I wanted to try to help other hopeless aspirants who were leaving Krishna consciousness, disappointed. "Please hear from this man. He is doing relief work, helping so many who feel that they have no place in Srila Prabhupad's ISKCON."

During this hectic period when the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math had no center in South Africa, Krishna Kali Devi Dasi (who was then Gayatri Devi Dasi) and Teacher very kindly let me stay in their home. So many people have helped me on the path to Krishna consciousness; Krishna Kali Devi Dasi was the first to help me in South Africa.

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