One night, the police Drug Squad raided the boarding house. The devotees agreed that it was time to move to a more savoury location. They soon located one — a single-storey terrace house in Station Street, Carlton, a vibrant university suburb adjoining the city.
Citralekha, in Australia on a temporary visa, accompanied by Ahoula, soon joined their husbands in Melbourne. By the time Vegavan and Padmavati arrived to assist them, the devotees had become quite a presence. The Australian reported on 25thSeptember 1971:
Hare Krishna Takes Root in Melbourne:
The temple is a garage — wallpapers, loose curtains, flowers, incense, a velvet-covered altar and photos of the guru. Hardly comparable with some of the more elaborate houses of prayer around the city.
But deep in Melbourne’s bustling inner suburb of Carlton lies the headquarters of the Hare Krishna followers. It’s a spotless little brick house with a sign out the front announcing times of services.
It is the start of a dream for the six inhabitants and their fifty-odd supporters. One day, they believe, a new holy building will stand like those in India, the United States and England.
“It has been hard to get finances even to live,” explains spokesman Upananda (alias Bill Willis, 25) from San Francisco, an electrical engineer and graduate from the University of Southern California.
“With the help of Krishna (God), we will survive and attract enough believers to further our cause. At present we have not decided if our first major temple will be here or in Sydney.”
His full-time co-workers are Vegavan, a Swede; Upendra, another American; and three girls — Ahoula, Padmavati, both Australian and an American, Chitralekha.
“We do not need much money to exist,” says Upananda.”I can always gauge our popularity by the responses we get in the street. Many people are very kind with their donations. We distribute literature in the Civic square and on the steps of the Town Hall and all the time people come up and help.”
The little band has become a common sight around the city with their flowing robes and shaven heads. Their books and incense are on sale at many stores and have become extremely popular…
The devotees enjoyed chanting in the city square, a large concrete area adjoining busy Collins and Swanston Streets that afforded space for crowds to gather. Sitting on a large rug, with as Srila Prabhupada said harmonium, tamboura, mrdanga and karatals, the sweet sounds of harinama attracted many bystanders. John and his girlfriend, Della, would sometimes join in; and so would Dave, strumming on his guitar, eyes closed, absorbed in the mantra.
At other times the devotees visited the colleges of inner Melbourne like Swinburne Technical College. They spoke to crowds of students at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and chanted on the “concrete lawns” near the Student Union Building. Melbourne University also became a popular venue.
Biographies and Glorifications of Srila Prabhupada-The Great Transcendental Adventure-Part I –Sydney & Melbourne, 1971–1972-Kurma das
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