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Jaya Prabhupada! Today, Thursday, is the 48th anniversary of my first initiation, given to me by Prabhupada in Los Angeles, on February 8, 1970. Prabhupada did a simple fire sacrifice, and spoke on the importance of Krishna consciousness. I was thrilled, really ecstatic, to be in Prabhupada’s presence. There is of course my famous blunder regarding my name. In those days, after the initiation ceremony, the temple leaders would give each new initiate a little slip of paper with their new name written on. Some devotes had trouble understanding when Prabhupada spoke their new name in Sanskrit, and others were simply too nervous and excited to remember what their name was. I received a little piece of paper with the name Hridayananda Dasa. I was young and that particular combination of letters, Hri was so foreign to my sight, that concluded at once that the devotee who wrote that misspelled my name, and that my real name was Haridayananda, which in Sanskrit means “the bliss of Hari’s mercy.” And so I told everyone that my name was Haridayananda. And that was my name for the next five months, until I wrote a letter to Prabhupada. He replied, saying something like, “by the way, your name is Hridayananda.” He explained that this referred to the Lord in the heart that gives us all spiritual happiness.
There is even a Back to Godhead article in 1970, written by Haridayananda dasa Brahmacari. That was me!
But of course the real point is our great fortune in receiving the mercy of a great Vaishnava Acarya like Prabhupada.
Hridayananda das Goswami