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By Gurudas
aka Roget Siegel

Oh country village
tulsi forest
named Vrindavan

Even the rocks are alive
for the pleasure of Govinda
the trees
are swaying hairs
twisted in a dance
with the Lord

Birds fly in and out
of the window
of my adobe hut
In Vrindavan animals and humans
geckos on walls
sparrows in the houses
monkeys swinging on electrical wires
bats flying
owls eating
peacocks calling
buffalo soaking
donkeys hauling
cows mooing
camels snorting
elephants trumpeting
horses neighing
as fathers watch
their children play
riding on a water buffalo’s back
in the Jamuna river

A clay pot
made of earth
is used and broken
merging back into the earth
A pair of shoes
or winter hat
are tailored from start to finish
children learning numbers spiritually
one God
two to love
three Dieties
Brahma Shiva and Vishnu
four Kumaris
five Rishis
six Goswamis
seven Temples
eight Gopis
nine gates of the body
ten directions

Auspicious guides
talk to me within
everything in order
exemplified by
all the new baby animals
that come out seasonally
when it’s their time

Positive portents
flags waving
full water buckets
elephants spewing water
saints singing

Ill omens show too
empty water pots
flags drooping
owls screeching
barking dogs
clouds raining blood
the left side of a face twitching
people cheating

We are minor players
darkness to light
eternal prayers
all day and night
We see the stars
and dance in the full moon

Goswamis and ancient sadhus
walked these sands
and form the backbone
of our path
pilgrims pray
while babas laugh

Let my love
in compassion’s ray
as nature’s play
come inside me and stay

Elusive Blue Boy
whom I don’t know
I can feel your shelter
in this protective place

Why then do I run away
from your home?
What compels me
in crowded cities?
Seduced by secondary illusions
accepted as primary importance
life’s cosmetic shadows
mix with soot
neon rays swallowed by
cracks in yellowing walls

Oh green hills I hear your call
I remember forest groves
where divinity romps
and magic pastimes abound

I snuggle in
Your milky bosom
softly I drink your essence
security in every drop
of holy water

Cows freely give religiosity
flowing from Surabi’s
milky drops

Your touchstone nectar
makes the lame walk
and the blind to see
Your silk like hair
is swaying kusha grass
the very straw mats
that sages pray on

Lying down on golden sands
as nearby Jamuna’s river shores
black and white striped birds
dive into Your watery mouth
Kalindi or jamuna you
flow to reunite with Mother Ganges
getting together
in Pravag’s Kumba mela place

Above demigods are
pulled by snowy swans
and scented water fountains
spray in celestial gardens
whilst they shower
us with rose petals
from above

we taste the tears of joy
from the great Rasa dance
as Krishna dances with the Gopis
with each cow girl individually
under the full moon light

Chakora birds eat moon beams
during all night chanting kirtans
I shared my heart
with ex-kings
and singing saints

Encircling you my holy Vrindavan
on parikrima path
in fresh morning’s dew
my bare feet
touching your white sands
makes me weep
Your sweetened countenance
is reflected in your pearly shores
or Madhuban forest glen
playing hide and seek

You offer Annapurna’s peaks
like a babe
I wander and drink
from mountainous breasts

In mystic forests
desire trees abound
kadamba and champa
hold the stolen clothes
of the Gopis
as they bathe
in the Jamuna River
lazily we play
and love in your boughs
dream in your branches
and wade on your banks

Soma elixir divine appears
fruits jump into my mouth
everyone is cared for
like sticks pilgrims pray
lying prone
praying for the touch of Govinda
of Your red lotus feet
on their reverent forms

So you can embrace
and know us all
even the small grasses
jump into place

humbly awaiting
your foot’s embrace
heaven’s grace
from Your pores
the struggle gone
in your sheltering doors
ecstasy abounds
in chanting dance
oh country village
a magic romance

Vrindavan, India 1974

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The Sunday Times London Article

George Harrison fell in Love with Krishna. He said to Gurudas: “I wrote something for Krishna”.

June 30th, 2019

By Nicholas Hellen, Social Affairs Editor

A Hare Krishna devotee was sent from San Francisco to the UK in 1968 with two missions: to set up the movement’s first temple in London – and to meet the Beatles.

It was a seemingly quixotic quest, according to Gurudas, 78, otherwise known as Roger Siegel, who has released pictures from the period that will be published to mark the temple’s 50th anniversary.
With the release of The White Album, the Beatles were at the peak of their fame, and, as Gurudas puts it, “were being submerged by self-proclaimed Messiahs”.

When he and six other devotees attempted to make contact, their gifts, including a wind-up toy apple that played the Hare Krishna mantra, were binned by the band’s gatekeepers.

Their luck changed when the American rock band the Grateful Dead came to meet the Beatles in London and their manager invited one of the devotees, Shyamasundar Das, to accompany them.

George Harrison and John Lennon ~ Photo by Gurudas

However, two members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang were also part of the Californian rockers’ entourage. Gurudas said that as they all waited at the Beatles’ headquarters, the Hell’s Angels threatened to attack all four members of the band they had come to meet.

“Shyamasundar Das is in the corner chanting with his beads. John Lennon looked into the room and, being a smart Liverpudlian street lad, he could feel the vibrations, as we said in the Sixties, and he left. Ringo looked in and saw John had left and Ringo followed John; Paul looked in and also sussed out what was going on and he left. George saw Shyamasundar and made a beeline for him, saying, ‘I’ve been wanting to meet you’. It changed the atmosphere and the Hell’s Angels decided they weren’t going to do it.”

It was the beginning of a curious relationship, which saw Gurudas appearing on Top of the Pops to sing the Hare Krishna mantra, which Harrison produced as a single, and spend six months living in Tittenhurst Park, Lennon’s Georgian mansion in Ascot where he went on to record Imagine.

George Harrison and Shyamasundar Das at the Apple Studios in London
Photo by Gurudas

Harrison, who once resorted to chanting the Hare Krishna mantra in an attempt to distract an intruder who broke into his home and stabbed him in 1999, bought Bhaktivedanta Manor near Watford as a gift for the movement in 1973. Such was the ability of the Beatles to reshape the cultural mainstream that the Hare Krishna mantra single sold 70,000 copies on its first day of release. But there were limits.

Something, the first of Harrison’s compositions to be issued as a Beatles A-side single, is supposed to have been written about Pattie Boyd, his wife at the time.

Gurudas on the far right

However, Gurudas said: “George said to me, ‘I’m falling in love with Krishna and I wrote it for him. But if I wrote “Something in the way he moves”, they would misunderstand.’ “

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