Visitor From Calcutta (Chapter 1)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva dasa

Part I: New York, 1966
Chapter 1

Visitor From Calcutta

I first see him just after crossing the Bowery at Houston Street. As he passes before the iron-mesh fence of a playground, I distinctly glimpse the aura of saintliness. I watch him through the rushing traffic and stumbling derelicts.

He strolls almost jauntily down the sidewalk. He is an old man whom age has never touched. Aloof from the people and bustle about him, he walks proudly, independently, his hand in a cloth beadbag. He wears the saffron robes of a sannyasi, and on his feet are quaint, pointed white shoes.

Only seven months ago, I had seen many saffron-robed monks and holymen walking the dirt roads of Hardwar and Rishikesh, and stopping beside the Ganges to bathe. For me, that had been a futile journey to the mystic East in search of the all-knowing guru.

But now—what’s this?

I look again at the pointed white shoes. Did this man follow me all the way from North India? Or did he just suddenly descend from the clouds onto Manhattan sidewalks? I decide I must speak to him.

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