The Beatles, Hippies And A Spiritual Revolution
When A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad came to America from India in 1965, few Westerners knew the deep spiritual truths behind ancient Vedic culture and civilization. Sam Speerstra, Shyamasundar Das, became one of the first disciples of the Krishna movement. His astonishing coming of age story is a wild ride through the Summer of Love in San Francisco, connecting with the Beatles in London and traveling with the Swami to India and beyond.
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I was born in the body of Samuel Speerstra, in Salem, Oregon in May ,1942. From early childhood I thrived on adventure and risk. After graduating from Reed College in 1965, I met Bhaktivedanta Swami in San Francisco in January 1967, and immediately became his disciple Shyamasundar Das. The Swami wed me to my girlfriend Melanie (Malati Devi Dasi) in a smoke-filled storefront in Haight-Ashbury we called the Radha-Krishna Temple.
In 1968, to please Swamiji, I traveled with five chosen devotees to London. There, we witnessed firsthand Krishna’s magic display; we befriended the Beatles and, courtesy of Apple Records, spread Hare Krishna Mantra around the world. In October 1970, the Swami took twenty of his Western disciples to India, and together–as Prabhupad and his Dancing White Elephants–we barnstormed the country.
In June 1971, Prabhupad accepted me as his Personal Secretary. I was by Prabhupad’s side, day and night, in Europe, USA, Africa, Asia, Australia-even behind Brezhnev’s Iron Curtain. I never saw him sleep, I never saw him make an error of any kind. How did I get this lucky, to observe close-up the life of the Perfect Person? Srila Prabhupad, the Magic Man himself!