A man who changed
Haridas, now 60, was a very young man when he met Srila Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna movement. He explained to me that he had known the ways of street life. It happened that a copy of the magazine, the official Hare Krishna periodical, “Back to Godhead” ended up in his hands. On one of the pages a picture shows the image of Srila Prabhupada. Haridas noticed the watch on the wrist of the swami in the picture. He had little or no knowledge of Vedic or Hindu tradition. His mind was fascinated in stealing that watch. According to the actual norms of the culture you never steal from anyone, especially from a holy man.
Haridas started to visit the Krishna community in Mumbai. It was quite an international mix in those days with especially American to lead the mission there. There were gatherings of people who would sit by Prabhupada to hear him speak, Haridas entered into those more intimate meetings. At one point Prabhupada noticed him and inquired about him. Haridas was quite frank. He was beginning to truly enjoy the company of the Krishna devotees and he was becoming somewhat softened by their presence, nevertheless he spoke his mind.
“I originally came here to see how I could steal your watch”, he said.
With no resistance Prabhupada removed his watch from his wrist and gave it to him. This came as a surprise to Haridas. From that point on Haridas really began to love Prabhupada.
He told me of how he needed to get a government form filled out and it required for the applicant to write out the name of his father. Haridas didn’t know his father. He asked his guru, Prabhupada, what to do? Prabhupada took the form and signed his own name saying, “I am your father.”
Prabhupada had noticed that Haridas at one time had a camera. (Whether it was stolen or not he didn’t relay to me). Prabhupada asked him to get serious about using his camera and to make films. He became a new person.
Haridas now heads up ITV film studios. I spent an hour and a half with Haridas. He’s a cool dude.
One additional remark, an appeal: My dear American friend Purnachandra Swami is in critical condition on life support in a hospital in Russia. Please join me in prayer for his well being.