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Introduction

From: Raymond Crawford (dasa_at_msn.com)
Date: Sun Sep 24 1995 - 17:14:57 PDT

My name is either Raymond or Ramadas, depending on which light you would like 
to see me. I would like to think that I come across to you as Ramadas.

I 
was born in Australia in October, 1944.  My father was a Catholic and my 
mother was a Jehovas Witness.  In my childhood I attended services in Baptist 
and Assembly of God churches.  when I was 15 I was sent to an excellent 
Catholic boarding school where I had up until many, many years later, the 
best three years of my life.

For some time I had the desire to become a 
priest, but the call of the wild was too much for me and I broke the shackles 
of religion and escaped into the wilds of Australia in 1962.

By 1972 I had 
sunk down into the substratum of society under the influence of a 
'beautiful?' and dangerous combination of drugs and alcohol.  That year I 
heard of Krishna and the "Hare Krishnas" for the first time.  Somehow or 
other I managed to become coherent enough to join an Iskcon temple.  In 1973 
I met His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, but because of personality 
conflicts with temple management, I was not formally initiated until 1975.


In 1984, after living in Vrindavan, UP, I moved to Udupi with my wife and two 
daughters.  We lived in Kalianpur and I used to cycle the 14kms to Udupi 
every day. HH Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji became my mentor and supervised my 
study under HH Vishvavijaya Tirtha Swamiji.  Living in Udupi was an 
incredible experienctime in my life and I sincerely wish I was in the 
position to return there.

Living in Udupi brought home to me how difficult 
it is to become accepted in traditional Vaishnavic society when you are a 
newcomer, especially a newcomer form overseas..  One Monday in 1986 Senior 
Swamiji told me that I had finally been accepted as being fit enough to 
become a proper student.  On the Wednesday I received official notification 
from the Govt of India that I had lived in India for so long it was time for 
me to return to my native place!  Oh well, at least I have my permanent 
residecy papers to remind me of the wonderful life I lived in India.

My 
contact with Iskcon has been extremely limited since 1984. I owe any 
spiritual advancement I may have to His divine Grace because it was through 
him that I came into contact with Krishna.  But -- the understanding of how 
to live as a Vaishnava came to me through the kind patience of HH Vishvesha 
Tirtha Swamiji in Udupi.

I am on this mailing list because I want to glean 
some understanding of Sri Vaishnava thoughts and beliefs.  You probably will 
not hear much from me, but I will be listening to you with great interest.


Besr regards,
R