Monday, August 18, 2014

Srila Prabhupada's Appearance Day: The first TV interview in New York 1966

In september 1965, during the blossoming of America's hedonistic counterculture hippy movement, sannyasi A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, 70 years old and outside India for the first time, arrives in New York City. He comes to fulfill the instruction of his spiritual master, accepted as order, to spread the teachings of Lord Chaitanya in the English language.

An acquaintance of Srila Prabhupada remembers: 
“When he left Calcutta harbour for New York there was no one on the shore to bid him goodbye. He was alone. No friends, no supporter, no disciple, nobody.“ 
And when he arrives in America there is no one to greet him welcome...

The voyage across the Atlantic on board the Jaladuta cargo ship takes one month, during which time he suffers two severe heart attacks. But the trip itself is very smooth. Srila Prabhupada writes in his diary:
Mr. Travers told me that he had never such experience of calm & quietness of the Atlantic Ocean. There was always typhoon, cyclone, fog, etc. at least for days in every trip in the past. I said it is Lord Krishna's Grace. If such things as usual in Atlantic would have taken place, I would die.
He reaches New York with just some few personal possessions, a trunk full of his newly-published Srimad Bhagavatam books, and the equivalent of seven dollars. 

A plan is put into action: he goes to Tompkins Square Park, sits down and begins playing kartalas and singing the Hare Krishna mantra. And pretty soon things start moving. 

This is the first TV interview, from October 1966.

 The rest is history.

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