Seeing The Real Vrndavana

 

1vrindavandham

 

Seeing The Real Vrndavana
by Hayagriva Dasa
excerpted from Back To Godhead Magazine
Oct 1, 2006 Volume-03 Number-31 (Indian)

Learning from Srila Prabhupada how to see beyond the material coverings to perceive the real dhama

I bend down to get through the door and enter a small, sparsely furnished room. Suddenly, I’m face to face with Srila Prabhupada. He’s sitting on the floor behind a low desk piled with books and papers.

“Jai!” he says. “Our Hayagriva has arrived.”

I pay dandabat obeisances by prostrating myself and touching his feet with my right hand. Then I place my hand to my forehead. To remember the spiritual master’s lotus feet is to remember Krsna. The effect is as cooling as sandalwood.

“nama om visnu-padaya krsna presthilya bhu-tale srimate bhaktivedanta- svamin iti namine,” I say, offering respects. Then I sit before him, and he smiles.

Although seventy-six, Prabhupada seems as ageless as ever. His head is freshly shaved, and the aroma of mustard- seed oil tells me that he has just received a massage. His complexion is radiant, his eyes clear, his face full and healthy. This is the face that attracted me that day when I was walking down New York’s Houston Street and first met him, the face that brought so many young seekers to that little storefront temple on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. For us, his face embodies all the attractive qualities of devotion, for it’s a pure, truthful, and compassionate face. It is both happy and grave. It is magnanimous, gentle, and forgiving. It is also determined and self-controlled, and, above all, most learned and intelligent. It’s a face not afraid to love and give all in love for Krsna.

Indeed, Prabhupada’s face conjures all those virtues that lead to love of Krsna. It’s not an ordinary man’s face. It transports an entire spiritual fact, the Vedic culture, an atmosphere of bhakti . I first began realizing his potency just by Jlooking at his face. Whenever I’m Kr,na conscious, it makes me joyful. Whenever I’m not, I’m afraid to look at it; it accuses me, makes me ashamed without uttering a word. What power there is in the spiritual master’s face! What magne tism! What volumes of wisdom! ‘

“I’m glad you invited me here, Srila Prabhupada,” I say.

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Vrindaban Days

Vrindaban Days  Front cover

Vrindaban Days
Memories of an Indian Holy Town
by Howard Wheeler (Hayagriva dasa)

“This transcendental land of Vrindaban is populated by goddesses of fortune, who manifest as milkmaids and love Krishna above everything. The trees here fulfill all desires, and the waters of immortality flow through land made of philosopher’s stone. Here, all speech is song, all walking is dancing, and the flute is the Lord’s constant companion. Cows flood the land with abundant milk, and everything is self-luminous, like the sun. Since every moment in Vrindaban is spent in loving service to Krishna, there is no past, present, or future.” -Brahma Samhita (as excerpted from the book Vrindaban Days by Hayagriva das)

It is with great pleasure that we share with you this travel journal by Hayagriva Prabhu as a free PDF download which you can veiw or save by clicking on the underlined link below;

Vrindaban-Days

This book is a free pass to India through the personal memories of Hayagriva Prabhu.

Many of you have also read the other exciting book by Hayagriva Prabhu entitled “The Hare Krishna Explosion”, which you can also download by clicking on book at bottom of page.

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Stay High Forever

055_-_BTG_Year-1969_Volume-01_Number-26_Page_31

I enjoy reading and re-reading to old issues of Back to Godhead Magazine. And it seems the older the issue the more relishable the content, as is the case with this 1969 issue…

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das
Excerpted from Back to Godhead Magazine 1969 Vol. 1, No. 26

The joyful history of a dynamic transcendental movement

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare vibrates from a walkup temple on New York’s Lower East Side, from the sidewalks of Haight Ashbury, from Golden Gate Park, from a London flat, from student quarters in Hamburg and Amsterdam, from a storefront in Santa Fe, an exbowling alley in Montreal, a sprawling university campus in Ohio, from Old Vrindaban in India to New Vrindaban in the West Virginia mountains, and from Boston and Buffalo to Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver and across the Pacific to Hawaii.

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The voices chanting the magic vibrations are invariably young. The chanting, accompanied by khartals (small hand cymbals), tambourines and drums, is often loud and frenetic. The dancing is vigorous. The middle-aged and elderly usually stand in doorways or look through windows, watching in amazement, unaware that they are witnessing a process of spiritual realization that has been practiced on this planet for thousands of years. They do not understand. No one really understands. The chanting just spreads. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna …

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The Hare Krishna Explosion

This is the index to the Contents of “The Hare Krishna Explosion” by Hayagriva dasa. We have posted it here almost in its entirety. This index will give you immediate access to the chapters by clicking on the following underlined links.

Also for a free PDF download, you can click on link at bottom of post.

The Hare Krishna Explosion
The Birth of Krishna Consciousness in America 1966 – 1969
by Hayagriva dasa

Contents

Note and Preface

Part I: New York, 1966

1) Visitor from Calcutta
2) Transcendental Invitations
3) Who Is Crazy?
4) Second Avenue Fire Sacrifice
5) The Hare Krishna Explosion
6) Back to Godhead

Part II: San Francisco, 1967

7) Swami in Hippieland
8) Flowers for Lord Jagannatha
9) Mad After Krishna
10) Soul Struck
11) San Francisco Rathayatra
12) Passage to India

Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969

13) Enter, Srila Prabhupada
14) New Vrindaban, West Virginia
15) Seven Temples on Seven Hills
16) Krishna, The Flower-bearing Spring
17) The Guru and The Poet
18) Paramhansa in the Hills

Glossary of Non-English Words
The Author

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Matchless Gifts; Summer 1966

…Srila Prabhupada was lecturing from the Bhagavad-gita…then, incredibly, midway through the lecture, an old white-haired begrizzled Bowery bum entered the storefront and walked right through the middle of the room, past all of us who sat in shocked silence, and on up towards Srila Prabhupada, who sat beneath the back windows. I didn’t know what he was about to do, but I noticed that he was carrying a package of paper handtowels and a couple of rolls of toilet paper. He didn’t say a word, but walked right past Srila Prabhupada and carefully placed the hand-towels by the sink and the toilet paper on the floor under the sink. Then, clearing his throat and saying something incoherent, he turned around and walked out. No one knew what to say and no one knew whether or not Srila Prabhupada had been insulted.

“Just see,” Srila Prabhupada suddenly said. “He has just begun his devotional service. That is the process. Whatever we have—it doesn’t matter what—we must offer it for Krsna’s service.”

Sleepers Awake!
New York: Summer 1966
By Hayagriva das

Excerpted from ‘Back To Godhead’ Magazine
1970-1973 Vol.1, No. 46

When I first met my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I felt that there was never a time when I did not know him. I never tire of telling of my first meeting with him on the streets of Lower East Side New York. At the time, I was hurrying from my Mott Street apartment, which had become a refuge for psychedeliacs, to a much quieter apartment on Fifth Street where I hoped to get some peace. I was walking down Houston Street and across Bowery, past the rushing traffic and stumbling derelicts, and after crossing Bowery, just before Second Avenue, I saw His Divine Grace jauntily strolling down the sidewalk, his head high in the air, his hand in a beadbag. He struck me like a famous actor in a very familiar movie. He seemed ageless, though later I found out that he was seventy years old. He was wearing the traditional saffron colored robes of a sannyasi, the renounced order, and quaint white shoes with points. Coming down Houston Street, he looked like the genie that popped out of Aladdin’s lamp. I was fresh from a trip to India, and His Divine Grace reminded me of the many holy men I had recently seen walking the dirt roads of Hardwar and Rishikesh and bathing in the Ganges. I had gone to India to look for a guru but had returned disappointed. It was on this bright July morning, when I was least expecting it, that Sri Krsna, out of His infinite mercy, sent guru to me. The old Vedic adage—by the grace of Krsna you get guru, and by the grace of guru you get Krsna—was justified. Afterwards, Srila Prabhupada (as we were later to call him) often told me, “If you are sincere, you don’t have to search out your guru. Krsna will send him.” So amid the hot clang and clamor of Houston and Bowery, guru had found me out.

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Krsna lila: The Divine Forms and Pastimes

…The boys who are playing with Krsna and herding cows in Vrndavana are not ordinary living entities. They are highly developed sages who have acquired perfection by the accumulation of pious activities in past lives. For those who are under the spell of materialism, Krsna is an ordinary boy, but these cowherd boys in Vrndavana accept Him as their Master, and their Supreme Lovable Object. Consequently, all the individual boys and girls who sport in Goloka Vrndavana enjoy Krsna’s spiritual bliss. Similarly, the gopis are not ordinary cowherd girls, but are great sages who transform themselves in order to enjoy conjugal love with Krsna. Lord Caitanya spoke of them in this way: “Oh what penances did the gopis perform to eternally enjoy the beauty of the Lord Krsna? They drink His beauty with their eyes and they fill their eyes, their limbs and their hearts with celestial visions of His beauty. O, blessed are they, for they enjoy that sublime beauty which is the sweetest in the creation and which has no equal. The pure love of the gopis is like a glass that reflects this sweetness and these attributes. As the Lord sees these reflections, His sweetness increases and so does the love of the gopis. And both His sweetness and their love grow and grow as though competing with one another. And though both attain new brilliances, neither admits defeat in this wonderful competition…”

Krsna lila: The Divine Forms and Pastimes
By Sriman Hayagriva das Adhikari
From Back to Godhead Magazine 1970 Vol. 1, No. 32

Lord Krsna’s pastimes, His appearance and disappearance, are continuous and eternal throughout the universe. As far as these pastimes are concerned, there is no stoppage. It is hard for the common man to understand how Krsna’s lilas (pastimes) can be eternal. To our conception He was present on earth 5,000 years ago, and now He is gone. We compare Him to ourselves. We remain on this planet for 100 years at the most and then, like a bubble, we pop and disappear. Although this is true for ourselves, we should not compare our condition to that of the Absolute Godhead. His Body is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge, whereas ours is mortal and full of misery and ignorance. Consequently we cannot understand how Krsna’s lilas are eternal.

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The Guru: Via Media to God

I like these early articles published in Back to Godhead Magazine. The mood was different in the early days of this movement, as the emphasis was on preaching. We understood the importance of Hari Nama Sankirtan, Book and Prasadam distribution, and there was not so much politics and internal wrangling, as we see today. Devotees had such profound appreciation for Srila Prabhupada, and the Mission of Lord Caitanya. We were unified; “Srila Prabhupada built a house the whole world could live in”, and we were in a unique position to change the world. To go back to those early days, we need only to put Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, back in the center of all our activities.

The Guru: Via Media to God
By Hayagriva das
“Excerpted from ‘Back To Godhead’ magazine, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc., http://www.Krishna.com.” 1970 Vol. 1, No. 34

It is always best to assume that we are in the modes of ignorance, and at least we will be right on that point. When knowledge is staggeringly finite, humility is the best policy. On the spiritual path one tries to make progress to the modes of goodness and then transcend, for it is not always possible to transcend the modes all at once. God alone is perfect, and we are always imperfect, even in our so-called liberated state. It is because we are imperfect that we have to take shelter of the perfect.

Lord Caitanya advises that we take shelter of a sadhu, who is a holy man of spotless character, sastra, which is scripture, and guru, who is the perfect spiritual master. The scriptures should be the guidelines for the other two. The guru is liberated because he follows scriptures, and the sadhu is pure and honest because he accepts scriptural principles. The insistence on the authority of the scripture is to discourage people from inventing their own religions and to warn others against following such fabricators.

Actually, only God can establish a religion that is bona fide. Religion refers to man’s relationship with God or the Supreme Absolute Truth; it is neither a mere ritual, nor a set of regulations, nor a conglomeration of mental speculations concocted by man. Actual religion is to know God and one’s relationship to Him. And this is not possible unless God reveals who and what He is and reveals man’s relationship to Him. It is not that we can artificially say, “Oh, I think God is this, so I think if I do this or this I will become God, and then I’ll be happy.” One who invents in this way may be well intentioned, but he is actually misguiding himself and others.

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The Story of MATCHLESS GIFTS

The words “Matchless Gifts” means something very special to the followers of this Hare Krsna movement. The founder and Acharya of this movement, His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, arrived in the United States from India. Alone, and at the late age of 69, and practically penniless; in September of 1965, on the order of His Spiritual Master, Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Swami, He came by freighter steamboat, to attempt to spread this Krsna Consciousness to the western countries. He also asked Him to print books. In July 1966, in a storefront in New York City, He began the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, ISKCON, practically single-handed; except for a small group of bohemians and hippies, whom He attracted, while walking the streets of New York City.This small storefront building, had been a curiosity shop before Srila Prabhupada rented it, and someone had painted “Matchless Gifts” over the storefront window. At that time, no one realized just how prophetic these words were; for it was there, that this worldwide movement was started, at the storefront called “Matchless Gifts”. -Krsnadas

The Story of MATCHLESS GIFTS
By Hayagriva das

I walked around the corner with him, and he pointed out a small storefront building between First and Second Streets, next door to a Mobil filling station. It had been a curiosity shop, and someone had painted Matchless Gifts over the window. At the time I didn’t realize how prophetic the words were.

When I first met my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I felt that there was never a time when I did not know him. I never tire of telling of my first meeting with him on the streets of Lower East Side New York. At the time, I was hurrying from my Mott Street apartment, which had become a refuge for psychedeliacs, to a much quieter apartment on Fifth Street where I hoped to get some peace.

I was walking down Houston Street and across Bowery, past the rushing traffic and stumbling derelicts, and after crossing Bowery, just before Second Avenue, I saw His Divine Grace jauntily strolling down the sidewalk, his head high in the air, his hand in a beadbag. He struck me like a famous actor in a very familiar movie. He seemed ageless, though later I found out that he was seventy years old. He was wearing the traditional saffron-colored robes of a sannyasi; the renounced order, and quaint white shoes with points. Coming down Houston Street, he looked like the genie that popped out of Aladdin’s lamp. I was fresh from a trip to India, and His Divine Grace reminded me of the many holy men I had recently seen walking the dirt roads of Hardwar and Hrishikesh and bathing in the Ganges. I had gone to India to look for a guru but had returned disappointed. It was on this bright July morning, when I was least expecting it, that Sri Krsna, out of His infinite mercy, sent guru to me.

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Paramhansa in the Hills (Chapter 18)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969
Chapter 18

Paramhansa in the Hills

When we arrive at the foot of Aghasura Road, the devotees are waiting beside the powerwagon. The air is vibrant with the humming of bees and fragrant with the sweet aroma of white locust flowers.

The devotees offer obeisances as soon as the Lincoln turns down the driveway. They fall face down on the grass and gravel.

“Oh, there are many waiting here,” Prabhupada says, stepping out of the car. “Jai Sri Krishna!”

Little Dwarkadish, six years old, timidly obeys his mother and garlands Prabhupada with gardenias and red roses.

“Oh, thank you, Mr. D.D.D.,” Prabhupada says. “D.D.D.” is his nickname for Dwarkadish-das, who has just arrived with his mother from the Los Angeles temple. Present also are other recent arrivals: John and Susan, students from Ohio University, where Prabhupada lectured; Patita-pavana and Uddhava, two brothers from New York; Rupanuga and his five-year-old son Ekendra; and Nara-narayana, the carpenter who’s been helping Vamandev repair the farmhouse.

“So, where do we go from here?” Prabhupada asks.

“It’s two miles up that road, Prabhupada,” Ranandhir says, pointing at the muddy Aghasura winding its way down the creek through locust and maple.

“And we go in this?” Prabhupada asks, looking at the old powerwagon.

“It’s as strong as a tank, Prabhupada, “ Kirtanananda says, getting inside and starting it. The engine roars and smokes as he revs it up.

“Why not walk?” Prabhupada suggests.

We protest that the two-mile trek would be too hard on Prabhupada. Driving the power-wagon over Mr. Thompson’s property is quicker and easier.

Paramananda calls me aside to inform me that he couldn’t contact Mr. Thompson.

“He wasn’t in last night or this morning,” he says. “I guess it’s all right to drive over. He’s never refused.”

“Well, it’s an emergency,” I say.

Purushottam and Devananda load Prabhupada’s luggage in the back of the powerwagon. Prabhupada curiously asks about the vehicle’s model as he gets in. To cushion the jolts, we’ve placed clean pillows over the bare springs of the seat. Shama-dasi has even garlanded the dashboard.

Once Prabhupada is securely seated, Kirtanananda starts driving up the gravel road to Mr. Thompson’s farm. The powerwagon shudders and lurches forward. Hrishikesh, Paramananda, Ranandhir and I jump in back. The other devotees run behind in a hurried procession.

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The Guru and the Poet (Chapter 17)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969
Chapter 17

The Guru and the Poet

In his room, Prabhupada reads from an advance copy of Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, which he has paid Dai Nippon Press to print. Prabhupada is very pleased.

“Now that they have done this nicely,” he says, “we can make immediate plans to print our Krishna book.”

Kirtanananda and Pradyumna prepare prasadam for distribution tomorrow. New announcements are posted on campus: SWAMI BHAKTIVEDANTA AND ALLEN GINSBERG: A NIGHT OF KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS IN COLUMBUS. MAY 12. TRANSCENDENTAL PASTIMES. ECSTATIC ILLUMINATIONS.

Prabhupada talks about the financing of “the Krishna book,” which is to be a summary of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, dealing specifically with the pastimes of Lord Krishna in Vrindaban and Mathura. George Harrison is particularly interested and has offered to donate printing expenses.

“Just see how these books are attracting,” Prabhupada says. “My Guru Maharaj always said that books are the big mridanga.“

At nine p.m., Allen Ginsberg enters. He has just flown in from Louisville, Kentucky. Concluding a long tour of college poetry readings, he is eager to return to his Cherry Valley farm in upstate New York. When he sees Prabhupada, he smiles broadly.

“Hare Krishna!” he says. As always, Allen touches Prabhupada’s feet, offering obeisances, then sits cross-legged on the floor. “So, we’ll sing tomorrow?”

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Krishna, The Flower-bearing Spring (Chapter 16)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969
Chapter 16

Krishna, The Flower-bearing Spring

I return to West Virginia in time for a major snowstorm. Aghasura Road becomes a shimmering white path through a fantasy land of icicles. In the little farmhouse, nucleus of our transcendental village, it is impossible to keep warm. Cold air somehow seeps through the old floorboards and cuts through cracks. We stoke the woodfire in the steel oil drum. At night, the oil drum glows crimson, like a self-contained galaxy in the dark blue cold of space.

We are spared the worst northwest winds sweeping down from the Arctic and Canada, and across the plains from northern Ohio, for our wise pioneers built the little house on the eastern side of Govardhan Hill. Still, the sun rises late, reluctantly. We sit two hours in the predawn darkness, chanting aratik mantras, reading Bhagavad-gita, and stoking the fire. There are always logs to cut, brambles to break, firewood to haul in to dry before burning.

The predawn hours are the coldest. We stand wrapped in blankets before the little altar as Kirtanananda offers incense, camphor, ghee, water, handkerchief, flower, peacock fan, and yak-tail whisk to the Radha Krishna and Jagannatha Deities.

“When making aratik offerings,” he writes Prabhupada, “is it proper to meditate on the different parts of the Lord’s body?”

Prabhupada writes back no. “The Lord is actually there with you,” he replies. “And you are seeing all of His bodily features, so there’s no need to meditate that way. Food should be offered before aratik…”

Of course, this means getting up earlier to cook. We take turns tending the fire. I don’t thaw out until I’m in my office in Columbus.

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Enter, Srila Prabhupada (Chapter 13)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969
Chapter 13

Enter, Srila Prabhupada

In his long absence, Swamiji’s words haunt me: “Although I am practically on the path of death, still I cannot forget my publications. I wish that if I live or die, you will take very serious care for my publications.“

We are bewildered trying to keep the ISKCON ship afloat, subsisting on the only supplies left—the holy names, the words, the taped lectures, the few books and pamphlets, the memories and photographs.

“Although I am practically on the path of death….”

(Swamiji always said “practically” for “actually.”)

His publications! The Word in English! Before me sits the first complete draft of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, ready for final English revision. “It must be published at once,” he told us repeatedly. “Either get some publisher, or we print it ourselves. Complete it quickly.”

Leaving San Francisco, even revising the manuscript on the plane, I return to New York to work with Brahmananda, who is still hounding publishers.

In Matchless Gifts, we carry on, keeping silent vigil for reports on Swamiji’s condition. Every day, we wait for a letter from Swamiji himself, signed in a large, firm hand, “Your ever well-wisher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”

Soon letters from Kirtanananda begin to arrive. Word spreads. Swamiji and Kirtanananda were detained overnight in London because someone on the plane was infected with smallpox. A twenty-four hour quarantine. They were accomodated in a hotel by the airline. In the morning, Swamiji was feeling much better, and they were in Moscow in three hours.

Swamiji was not impressed by the stark silence of the Moscow airport. Nor by the peasant women mopping the floor, nor by the Marxist tracts. Women should be protected, and in every society there exists the four castes. How can the sudras, the working class be expected to dominate government? The four castes were proclaimed eternal by Krishna Himself. Mr. Marx cannot arbitrarily abolish them. Such is the illusion of demons.

“We stayed in Moscow about an hour,” Kirtanananda writes, then reboarded and were in Delhi by midnight. We arrived in the middle of the monsoons, so when we got off the plane, the hot and humid Indian air hit us. It was like walking into a scorching brick wall.”

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Passage to India (Chapter 12)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 12

Passage to India

Paradisio isn’t quite paradise. The birdstool on the Buddha was no doubt portentous. There is very little sunshine. Behind the beach house, to the east, a mountain range blocks out the morning sun, and by midday, clouds and fog roll in. The temperature is also rather cool for July.

To fully recover, Swamiji needs lots of sun. He especially misses the morning sun. He feels that if he can just get enough light and heat, his condition will improve. Because of this, he begins talking of returning to India, and this upsets us. We’ve supplied the nicest place possible near San Francisco, but we can’t supply the sun.

Moreover, Swamiji regrets having no close temple contact. He wants to visit a temple at least twice a week, but the winding road into San Francisco is too arduous.

He speaks more frequently of India. He wants to consult Ayurvedic doctors, who generally prescribe natural herbs recommended in certain Vedic writings. And then there’s Indian massage, another art unknown to us. Swamiji complains that Western doctors know only how to cut with knives and stick with needles. We don’t know what to suggest. We feel inadequate, helpless.

After the Rathayatra festival, Swamiji tells me that I should live at Paradisio and work full time on the final manuscript of Bhagavad-gita. In New York, Brahmananda continues to negotiate with publishers. The books must be printed at all costs. My job: prepare the manuscript nicely.

“It must be well stated in the English language,” Swamiji insists. “If there are any questions about the translations, you may ask me. Remember, edit for force and clarity.”

Daily, I try to clarify and strengthen the sentences without changing the style or meddling with the meaning, and, needless to say, this is very difficult. I soon find myself consulting Swamiji on every other verse, and occasionally he dictates an entirely different translation. The verse translations themselves are most problematical because they often differ from the word by word Sanskrit-English meanings accompanying them. What to do?

“Quit bothering him,” Kirtanananda tells me. “Whenever anyone’s in his room, he talks to the point of exhaustion.”

True. He talks sitting up. Then he leans back and talks. Then rests on one elbow. Then lies on his side, still talking, still clarifying, still praising Krishna.

At this time, he tells Haridas: “I no longer have a physical body. It is all spiritual.”

Haridas leaves his room almost in tears. “Swamiji’s more beautiful than ever,” he tells me. “Is it possible for your spiritual master to make spiritual progress?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “He says that spiritual life is always dynamic.”

“He seems to be vibrating on a much higher platform now,” Haridas insists.

“Others are saying the same,” I say. “But it could be just our perception.“

“He’s chanting more now,” Haridas insists. “Even more than at Mishra’s, more than I’ve ever heard him chant before.”

“I wouldn’t want to speculate about it,” I say.

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San Francisco Rathayatra (Chapter 11)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 11

San Francisco Rathayatra

As the passengers file through the gate into the terminal, we all wait anxiously, wondering how Swamiji will look. Somehow, we cannot imagine him gaunt, disabled or feeble. It is difficult for us to accept that his body, the medium for his teaching, could in any way break down, in defiance of the great spiritual personality within.

He is the last off the plane, accompanied by Kirtanananda. Despite the severity of his stroke, he looks virtually unchanged, only a little weary. The girls rush toward him and burst into tears. We throw flowers taken from Golden Gate Park: rhododendrons and hibiscus. He smiles appreciatively, but says nothing, and this is strange. Instead of giving his usual airport talk, he looks to us to show him the direction out. He chants Hare Krishna softly, his fingers incessantly caressing the japa beads in the beadbag, counting the rounds.

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Soul Struck (Chapter 10)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 10

Soul Struck

During April and May, tourism and hippy fantasy soar to rare heights in the Haight-Ashbury. Like a Mardi Gras carnival, the celebration is cresting, rushing toward some indefinite Ash Wednesday.

Kirtans are wild and uninhibited. We often chant at the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms, during intermissions between rock groups. A “Summer of Love” festival is organized, and we chant at be-in’s in Golden Gate Park, at the YMCA and Psychedelic Shop, and with hippy sun worshipers at Morning Star Ranch.

The spring passes so quickly, perhaps because its days are filled with long hours of sunshine and festivity. Youths from all sections of the nation roam and lounge throughout the park, barefoot and dungareed, leisurely creating what they hope is a new community of love and peace, a world where no one is over thirty, where there is no violence, ignorance or death. And they chant Hare Krishna because they see ISKCON as an exotic flower in the hippy bouquet, something even further removed from twentieth century America, from the political activists and their endless strife. Generally, activists and Negroes shun us, considering us on far-out trips, dabbling in the cultures of undeveloped nations.

But what do they know of Krishna? Or of Swamiji? What do any of us really know?

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Flowers for Lord Jagannatha (Chapter 8)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 8

Flowers for Lord Jagannatha

The days of February are beautiful with perfect temperatures in the seventies, fog rolling off early, skies very blue and clear, sun falling bright and sharp on the lush foliage of Golden Gate Park. The park encloses the largest variety of plant and tree life to be found in any one spot on earth. We are at a loss to identify plants for Swamiji.

“When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu passed through the forests, all the plants, trees and creepers were delighted to see Him and rejoiced in His presence. Plant life is like that in the spiritual sky—fully conscious.”

“And these trees, Swamiji? How conscious are they?”

“Oh, spirit soul is there, but consciousness has been arrested temporarily. Perception is more limited.”

Swamiji strolls by men playing checkers, passes beneath the tall oaks, past the shuffleboard court, then stops and turns to speak.

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Back to Godhead (Chapter 6)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part I: New York, 1966
Chapter 6

Back to Godhead

“October 21, 1966. I walk into Swamiji’s room, offer obeisances, and he hands me the first three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which he had printed in India.

“Here,” he says. “Take and read.”

I open the books. In the front of each, he has written my spiritual name. “With my best blessings, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”

“Oh, thank you, Swamiji,” I say.

“That’s all right,” he says, smiling. “Now you compile this Back To Godhead magazine.”

Back to Godhead! That is, we were there once. It’s a question of recovering a lost land. As Swamiji says: “I have come to remind you of what you have forgot.”

Following the orders of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, Swamiji began Back To Godhead in 1944. Published bi-monthly in India from 1944 to 1956, Back To Godhead established Swamiji as one of India’s leading personalists. Now Swamiji enjoins Rayarama and me to introduce it to the West.

“Work sincerely,” he tells us,”and make it as big as your Time Magazine.”

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The Hare Krishna Explosion (Chapter 5)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva Prabhu

Part I: New York, 1966
Chapter 5

The Hare Krishna Explosion

“If Krishna sees you are taking one step toward Him,” Swamiji says, “He will take ten toward you. He is so happy to see you turn to Him. He is more eager to see us return to Godhead than we are to go.”

Back in the Mott Street apartment, I stare at myself in the mirror and repeat my new name. “Now you are Krishna’s,” I think, inspecting the new kanthi beads around my neck. “These are Krishna’s dog collars, and they don’t come off.”

We all optimistically resolve to try to follow the rules. For most of us, meat eating and gambling pose no problems. Rules governing sex and intoxicants, however, force some rapid changes in living patterns. I decide to convert the old Mott Street apartment into a brahmachari ashram. Down come the psychedelic posters, and up go pictures of lotus-eyed Krishna.

The next day at the temple, we find a new notice posted on the bathroom door. There are additional rules and regulations written neatly in ink by Swamiji himself.

NOTICE

All initiated devotees must attend morning and evening classes. Must not be addicted to any kind of intoxicants, including coffee, tea and cigarettes. They are forbidden to have illicit sex-connections. Must be strictly vegetarian. Should not extensively mix with non-devotees. Should not eat foodstuffs cooked by non-devotees. Should not waste time in idle talks nor engage in frivolous sports. Should always chant and sing the Lord’s holy names, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Thank you.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Acharya

Umapati says nothing when he reads the notice. Rayarama simply chuckles.
“No coffee, no tea,” he says, shaking his head.

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Second Avenue Fire Sacrifice (Chapter 4)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva Prabhu

Part I: New York, 1966
Chapter 4

Second Avenue Fire Sacrifice

September 8, 1966. Janmastami. Lord Krishna, we learn, is not born like an ordinary child. He appears. Five thousand years ago, in Mathura, India, He appeared as four-armed Narayana, attired in His transcendental garments. At His mother’s request, He assumed a two-armed form, like an ordinary child. Sri Krishna is most obliging to His devotees.

“Today we will fast,” Swamiji tells us. “Normally we do not fast all day. Krishna consciousness is not for one who eats too much or too little. Gandhi fasted many days for political reasons, but we don’t. In Bhagavad-gita, that kind of fasting is considered rajasic, or passionate. We fast according to regulations: Ekadasi, the eleventh day of the full moon, we take no grains. That is a partial fast. And Janmastami, there is complete fast all day until midnight. So today we will fast and chant, and tomorrow there will be initiation.”

There are eleven of us to be initiated. Roy buys us beads for chanting, a hundred and eight round wooden beads the size of marbles. Standing in the courtyard behind the temple, I string them into a rosary called a japa-mala. While chanting, I carefully slide each bright, red bead up the string and then knot it. It takes hours to complete knotting all the beads. When I ask Swamiji why there are a hundred and eight, he tells me that they represent the gopis, the Vrindaban cowherd girls beloved of Lord Krishna.

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Who is Crazy? (Chapter 3)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part I: New York, 1966
Chapter 3

Who is Crazy?

Twenty-six Second Avenue. Matchless Gifts. No doubt, to most New Yorkers, nothing more than the kind of squalid storefront someone might open a pawnshop in. What with traffic noise and our neighbors—Cosmos Parcels Express Corporation, Gonzalez Funeral Home, Weitzner Brothers Memorials, The Red Star Bar, and a Mobil gas station—no one would think it Vaikuntha. But for us, Matchless Gifts becomes a temple, a part of Vrindaban, because of Swamiji’s presence and the words spoken here.

Keith, Wally, and I rummage through the Mott Street apartment, gather souvenirs from the recent India trip—two rugs, a dozen paintings, three silk wall hangings, and two brass hookah tops—and take them to Second Avenue.

Then, unknown to Swamjji, we start decorating the Matchless Gifts storefront, turning it into a temple befitting Krishna’s messenger. That is, as far as we are able.

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108 Imporant Slokas from the 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition “Online”

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Srimad Bhagavatam Online

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Raja-Vidya the King of Knowledge

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Important Slokas from the Brahma-samhita

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Slokas from the Sri Isopanisad

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Prayers By Queen Kunti (Slokas)

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Gajendra’s Prayers of Surrender (Slokas)

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A Short Statement of the Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness

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July 9th Letter

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The Hare Krishna Explosion

Reference Material/Study Guide

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