Becoming a disciple of His Divine Grace.
Krishna Kirtan Devi dasi, at 15, an active Christian, first met the devotees in a public park in Paris called Jardin du Luxembourg in July 1972. She thought they were Buddhist monks and was impressed by them, although she didn’t know anything about them. The devotees told her things like, “Disciple means discipline” and “If you want fraternity and equality, join this movement!” Then it started to rain, so she cut short the conversation and left.
I felt awkward and miserable in the world, but my life changed completely once I saw the devotees chanting in the street, and I started practicing yoga and meditation and became interested in India. I felt reconnected with my soul and moved from curious to inquisitive. I also visited Buddhist centers to find the devotees again, but never experienced at those centers the same mood the devotees had. Everything felt dead in those places. I was looking for spiritual shelter. At a place called the American Center, some weird people gave me pieces of apple and a stick of incense, but I couldn’t relate to them. I joined the Transcendental Meditation TM group under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, became vegetarian, and read Bhagavad-gita. I found that even though I couldn’t understand the Gita, I loved it. Finally, a few years later, when I was at teacher training college, a friend took me to the Paris Hare Krishna temple on Rue Le Sueur.
I was 18 in 1976 and was climbing the temple stairs when I saw a large photo of Prabhupada. He looked at me through that picture. I recognized him and immediately offered obeisances. I felt he was my authority and could speak to my heart. I stayed overnight in the temple library and started reading “Questions of the Sages” from the First Canto of the Bhagavatam. I read all night, and at 3 a.m. I found myself in the shower and then at mangala-arati. Locanananda sang and I cried. I felt, “Now I’m secure; this environment is good for me.” I was where I should be and felt sheltered.
My service was to clean the bathrooms, toilets, stairs, and entryway, and when I had free moments I’d sit by Prabhupada’s vyasasana and sing the mahā-mantra. I was initiated by Prabhupada in 1977. He gave me the name Krishna Kirtana, and I felt, “O Prabhupada, you could hear me singing for you and that’s why you’ve given me this name.”
Then I started distributing Prabhupada’s books. Those books were my life and, although book distribution was intense and austere, I was inspired to know that book distribution pleased him. My whole devotional life was served in separation from Prabhupada – studying his books, preaching from his books, and traveling to distribute his books.
After Prabhupada left us, I went on with my service and knew Prabhupada was still here. Each time I had a problem, I shared it with Prabhupada and he encouraged me. Each time it got too difficult, Prabhupada made arrangements so I could continue. Prabhupada took care of me, and for this I am eternally grateful. In the Christian religion I was preparing to go to the heavenly planets, but Prabhupada hijacked my trip and gave me the great treasure of transcendental knowledge through his books, his strong disciples, his seva, Deity seva, and sankirtana. He transcendentalized my life. Now I’m safe. Whatever happens, if I just keep following his instructions, Prabhupada will be there for me. I don’t have to worry about anything. I can concentrate on sharing Krishna consciousness with others and Prabhupada will take care of the rest.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!