|Jaya Sri Sri Radha Shyamasundar||
Servant of His servant...
ISKCON Toronto in 1976 with my son & daughter
It has been over 40 years since we joined ISKCON. We saw devotees chanting on the street in Toronto and were immediatly attracted. We started coming to the temple, which at that time in the late 60's was in a small house. We hankered to meet Srila Prabhupada and decided to drive to Chicago to meet him.
That visit sealed the deal and in the 70's we had the privilege to have darshan with Srila Prabhupada many times in North America and India, including his visits to our home in 1975 and 1976.
Srila Prabhupada instructed Visvakarma and myself to secure the current ISKCON Toronto temple and I had the great fortune to be an instrument in the hands of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha to assist Srila Prabhupada's mission in this manner. With Srila Prabhupada's mercy, he used me as his intrument again to help secure the ISKCON Chicago temple on Lunt where Sri Kishor Kishori reside today. There were many temple openings and festivals that I was blessed to coordinate and be a part of in the early days of ISKCON and for this I will always be grateful to my Guru Maharaj.
At the time many Indian bodied people in North America questioned Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON and few were willing to join. However, after meeting so many "sadhus" and then meeting Srila Prabhupada for the first time in Chicago, I knew he was the one and it was straight to dandavats to my guru and saviour. Also, during my service to ISKCON I have always dipped into our savings or held outside income sources to support my family and have donated funds to Srila Prabhupada's mission.
After being 2nd initiated by Srila Prabhupada, I had the privilege of serving His ISKCON in many ways including
Vice President of ISKCON Toronto in the 70's;
President of ISKCON Chicago in the early 80's;
Zonal Secretary for USA mid-west in the 80's; and
GBC appointed ~ Global Coordinator for
Community Relations in the 90's
at which time I decided to retire from ISKCON political life to spend more time on Krishna bhakti as opposed to management/politics as well as fulfill my grahasta duties and focus on Srila Prabhupada's personal instructions to me.
Then and now...
ISKCON Toronto 2009 Vyaspuja
I have aged and my hair is now grey and my stamina is not what it used to be but I am glad that I am still trying to be Srila Prabhupada's insignificant servant. He has blessed me with the ability to wake up every morning and serve Sri Radha Shyamasundar. Both of our kids were raised in ISKCON and they both met Srila Prabhupada. They became attached to Srila Prabhupada and grew up Krishna Conscious and thier children (my grandchildren) are now chanting and will hopefully represent the 3rd generation of ISKCON devotees.
In reflection, I had to witness many godbrothers face difficulty as the years passed and I realized that it is crucial that sadhana needs to be maintained first and foremost. In addition, the taking responsibility for the famiy's needs, both materially and spirtually allows us to set an example of grahasta life and its importance within a thriving ISKCON. Too often responsabilities and children were neglected which does not make sense, since this is not what Srila Prabhupada wanted and we also need to cultivate future generations to carry on Srila Prabhupada's mission.
With that said, every Prabhupada disciple, grand-disciple and ISKCON well-wisher should be happy that Srila Prabhupada's movement in being carried forward and expanding with increases in temples, centers, devotees and book distribution. Srila Prabhupada emphasized the "Purity is the Force" and if we all do our part in carrying out his mission and coperating with each other as he desired, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's message that Srila Prabhupada has so eloquently delivered will reach the masses. I am just happy to be a menial servant in His movement and like when Sri Ram built the bridge there were many heavy lifters, I realize that I am just like an ant moving a pebble but happy to be of menial service to Guru & Gauranga.