In 1972, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada sent two young devotees to South Africa to set up the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). It was decided that Rsi Kumar Swami and Ksudhi Das Brahmacari would be the first ISKCON devotees to travel to South Africa and establish Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement.
Ksudhi Das recounted that memorable day in March 1972 when he met Srila Prabhupada in Mayapur. Ksudhi Das said, “I offered my obeisances to him and said, “Srila Prabhupada, I am going to Africa now. I hope this gives me the opportunity to increase my services to you.”” Ksudhi continued, “Srila Prabhupada put his hands behind his head and said, service to Lord Caitanya, service to Lord Caitanya, service to Lord Caitanya.”
Ksudhi Das explained that Mr Devji gave them letters of introduction to many of his friends and relatives in South Africa and on the plane to South Africa, they met Mr D.P. Desai and Arvind Gokool who recognized the letters from Mr Devji. Ksudhi Das further explained that Arvind Gokool became the first life member of ISKCON in South Africa.
Ksudhi recalled that both he and Rsi Kumar Swami gave numerous lectures at various Hindu temples in and around Durban and that these Krishna Conscious programmes were attended by hundreds of people. He also mentioned the great difficulties presented to them by the secret police services of the apartheid government who did not allow public gatherings due to the fear of political uprisings.
Thereafter, Shyamlal Das, followed by Bob Narandas and Champak Lal Soni, addressed the audience. Shyamlal also recalled some of the difficulties that he had faced with the secret police service in the early days. He spoke about the great strides that ISKCON has made in bringing Krishna Consciousness to the people of South Africa through the magnanimous efforts of the founder acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and various devotees and members of the Indian community in this country.