Roger Siegel (Gurudas) is a Vaishnava, Public Speaker, Pastoral Counselor, Hypnotherapist. He is based in the Bay Area.
As a staff member of the Northern Student Movement, Gurudas worked on the Harlem Education Project and took part in the Civil rights struggle in the North and the South, from 1962 to 1965. Gurudas first met His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on January 17, 1967, at the San Francisco airport. On April 7th of that same year, Gurudas and his wife Jamuna were initiated. As an instrument in Lord Krishna’s plan, Gurudas helped in beginning the San Francisco Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple.
The following year, Prabhupada sent three couples to London, where Gurudas helped found a temple and served as its president. After befriending the London devotees, Sriman George Harrison of the Beatles agreed to produce two singles and an album of devotional music. “The Hare Krishna Mantra” soon became the fastest selling hit single for Apple records. The popularity of “Govinda,” another hit, inspired Gurudas to lead a core group to tour and preach throughout Europe. This London yatra (journey, procession) became very successful. Gurudas also helped in acquiring the Bhaktivedanta Manor.
In the fall of 1970, Prabhupada requested that Gurudas lead a party of seventeen devotees into India, where he assisted in forming the Bombay, New Delhi, and Calcutta temples. Prabhupada then asked Gurudas to oversee the construction of the Krishna Balaram Temple in Vrindavan, India.
Gurudas also met with the United States Ambassador Kenneth Keating and introduced Prabhupada to him. Through this contact, ISKCON procured two tons of grain for prasadam (sanctified food) distribution from the U.S. “Food for Peace” program. Prabhupada called Gurudas “our ambassador of good will,” as he met and dealt with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, as well as many Indian Cabinet Ministers and government officials.
After Gurudas’s sannyassa initiation, he joined the Radha-Damodar traveling sankirtan (chanting and preaching) bus party. He went on to lead a speaking and educational tour in colleges and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Later he led bus parties throughout Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Britain. In 1975, Prabhupada asked Gurudas to go to “The Communist Countries.” He and Gyanasham das a.k.a. Bhakti Tirtha Swami went to Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Gurudas lectured in many venues and placed Prabhupada’s books in Eastern European universities and homes.
In 1977, Prabhupada requested that Gurudas go to Lebanon, where he spearheaded a United Nations-ISKCON food distribution program and preached clandestinely in the war-torn country. Before Prabhupada left the planet, He blessed Gurudas by saying, “You have done so much service for Krishna, He is blessing you.”
Since then, Gurudas has worked on many projects and also with the Hare Krishna youth. He continues to tour, preach, write, and he MCs at many Vaishnava gatherings. Gurudas has written three books and made two films. He also plays percussion and reads poetry in a music group. Gurudas currently works as a job counselor with the homeless, the visually impaired, and the developmentally disabled. He has a private counseling practice in San Francisco.