(Srila Prabhupada and Yamuna dasi, San Francisco Temple, 1967)
by Gurudas (Roger Siegel)
The marriage ceremony was yet another fire sacrifice. Many guests and visitors filled the temple room, including Yamuna’s Aunt Edna from Klamath Falls, Oregon. Janaki, Yamuna’s sister, had been running around making preparations and had brought margarine instead of butter to make the ghee used in the ceremony. To make things even more precarious, wood from fruit cartons was used instead of forest twigs and branches, so that during the ceremony the fire continuously sputtered, even in Swamiji’s expert hands. His golden fingers picked just the right pieces of wood and made a tent to start the fire. He dipped each piece into the ghee first. The fire began to rise and then die down, rise and die down, but Swamiji kept it going, rising and falling, until finally it burst into flame, and a roaring, sputtering fire lit up the whole temple. Smoke was rising to the ceiling as more guests came in. Then barley, rice, colored dyes, and bananas went into the holy fire. The Swami was singing ancient Sanskrit and Bengali songs. He said, "This marriage will be like the fire, beginning slowly and then bursting into flames. You are both good devotees; together you will be at least twice as strong."
There was a very spaced-out girl present whose baby was lying haphazardly across her lap. His head kept hitting the floor. It seemed she'd forgotten she even had the child. Everyone in the room seemed to notice this except the mother. Even the zonked-out hippies were catching it. The Swami remained aloof, but the baby's head kept hitting the ground and hitting the ground. Eventually, even the Swami could not remain detached. "It will be a strong baby," he remarked. Then Swamiji beckoned for the mother to hold the baby so his head would remain in her lap. Incidentally, this was one of the girls who wanted to marry Swamiji. After a lecture, during the question-and-answer period, she would burst out, "I want to marry you!" She had simply fallen in love with the Swami, who remained detached and transcendental. He would say, "I am sannyasi." Of course, the girl's actions were totally understandable to us, as we had fallen in love with the Swami as well. Many girls wanted to marry him, and that would have solved the visa issues, but he was a sannyasi (a renounced, celibate mendicant) and therefore not interested.
After the wedding ceremony, we all sat down to a huge feast of samosas, puris, rice, vegetable dishes, sweet rice, and dahl. The Swami sat on the floor, and ate and laughed with us. "Make sure everyone gets enough to eat," he said. We were happy in the presence of our divine father.
The Swami had been received nicely in San Francisco and New York, so he wanted to obtain an immigration-status visa. One way to obtain an immigration-status visa was to be adopted. Swamiji joked to Nandarani and Dayananda, "You can adopt me as your child. But then they will say, 'What are you doing with such an old child?'"
(From Love Medicine and Music, Chapter 7)
Love Medicine and Music (The flipside of the Sixties) by Roger James Siegel a.k.a. Gurudas. Book description: (462 pages/ 24 Illustrations) The journey of a young man who follows his heart, to fight injustice and find positive alternatives to hate and violence. Lessons in survival and community are also part of the book, as the reader is lead through a tenement life, and the colorful community of the Lower East Side of New York. Seeking meaning of life, the author becomes a staff member of the Northern Student Movement's Harlem, New York office. The activism starts with education in a tutorial and becomes direct action, as the author is beaten and arrested many times for his protests. In August 28, 1963, the planning and experience of the March on Washington is described. Many of the authors' interactions with dignitaries and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael; Julian Bond; Sonny Liston; John Lilly Jr., Tim Leary, Ken Kesey, Swami Bhaktivedanta, Indira Gandhi, John Lennon, and George Harrison are interspersed throughout the book. A change of pace takes the readers into life in Mexico, for some reflection and fun. And after a short revisit to New York City, the author experiences a period of depression and decay, so he goes on the road and lands smack in the middle of San Francisco's swinging 60's. The experiences of psychedelia and community are described. The search for truth continues and the author embraces eclectically many cultural and spiritual traditions. Meeting many mentors and teachers along the way, he encounters, A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami who becomes his Guru. Further adventures include meeting, living and recording with the Beatles, including travels to over 40 countries. This unique adventure includes philosophies, history, humor and wisdom. The dynamics of the individual and group consciousness are examined, as is spiritual communities. Some solutions for today's problems are included. A world of hope, healing and survival punctuates the story, which was described as "Vivid and a page turner", and "This book is both enjoyable and profound." *You can order a copy for $25.00 + $5.00 shipping and handling at: firstname.lastname@example.org which is also my Pay Pal account number or send payment to: 778- 41 Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121. Discounts available for temples, book dealers, etc.