Sunday 5th, 3pm at the Shekinashram
Shyamasundar Das
Chasing Rhinos With The Swami

C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada changed the world. When he came to America from India in 1965, few Westerners knew the deep spiritual truths behind ancient Vedic culture and civilization. Within a decade most humans on the planet had heard the Hare Krishna mantra.

Shyamasundar Das (Sam Speerstra) was one of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s earliest disciples, helping him shape the Krishna Consciousness movement in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, in London, and then, as the Swami’s personal secretary, he traveled with Prabhupada in India, Russia, and all over the globe. “Chasing Rhinos With The Swami” is the intimate account of Prabhupada’s amazing adventures, describing in loving detail the seven years Shyamasundar spent at the side of the perfect person. Nothing was impossible for Srila Prabhupada, and he instilled this idea in the hearts of his first disciples: Go for the rhino!

“I mean, you’re George Harrison—you’re famous, you’re rich, you’re, yes, you’re very beautiful, but God has all these opulences completely (ticking them off on my fingers). He has all wealth, all fame, all knowledge, all power, He’s more beautiful than anyone—and at the same time He is all-renounced: He doesn’t give a hoot about any of it. Such a person, full in everything, is therefore very attractive to us. That’s Krishna. His name means the all-attractive supreme person. So we like to go to the top guy, Krishna, and call on Him, try to get something going with Him.” 
Bombshell time. George, soaking it in, seems frozen for a moment, little tics and flutters of his eyes as the pieces whirr and settle and lock into place. I’m impressed. He’s so quick to understand things, goes quickly to the core. 
“I get it,” he says.

Rhino 2

The Mantra Rock event stands out for me as the first time I “chased a rhinoceros” with the Swami. Swamiji had explained in a lecture that Krishna most appreciates devotees who risk the most on His behalf. And if you risk everything for Krishna, He must personally intervene to remove obstacles to your risky service. In this regard, the Swami said: “It is better to chase the rhinoceros. If you fail, no one can say he has failed—everyone knows you cannot capture a rhinoceros—but if you succeed, ohhh, they will say, he has done the impossible.” 

~ Shyamasundar Das

Main photo: Launching the Hare Krishna Mantra on the Apple label, George and Shyamasundar (1969)

Above photo: Prabhupada (A C Bhaktivedanta Swami) after his first talk at Conway Hall (1969)

 

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