(Allen Ginsberg and friends chanting together on stage, Human Be-In, San Francisco, 1967)
Poet Allen Ginsberg had a lot of personal association with Srila Prabhupada, whom he respected and served on a number of occasions in New York and San Francisco. While being interviewed in numerous magazines, journals and newspapers over the years, Allen Ginsberg always gave credit to Srila Prabhupada for his sincere and serious efforts to spread Krishna Consciousness in the Western world through the chanting of Hare Krishna. Allen Ginsberg often began his poetry readings with the chanting, accompanied with harmonium or cymbals.
Question: Where do the East Indian traditions fit in to what was happening in 1967?
Allen Ginsberg: First of all, on a very basic level, you have the notion from Plato, “when the mode of music changes, the walls of the city shake." If you remember around the middle of the 1960’s, Charlie Mingus and Ornette Coleman began experimenting with monochordal music and began listening to Indian music. It was also about the same time that the Hare Krishna movement settled in the Lower East Side where I was working with them for a while and then settled with Prabhupad (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami) in San Francisco right after the Be-in in Haight Ashbury. Prabhupad was living there for some time, right off Haight Ashbury on Frederick street, I think. Then there was the singing in the street of the Hare Krishna people, the part of the street action or the notion of the street: street-fighting man or street smarts or street people."
(Allen Ginsberg, Spontaneous Mind, pages 452-468)