The following article appeared in the New York Times on October 10, 1966—only one year after Prabhupada arrived in America. Srila Prabhupada commented that the New York Times was the most important newspaper in the world. "This article marked the beginning of my movement," he said.
Swami's Flock Chants in Park to Find Ecstasy
Fifty Followers Clap and Sway to Hypnotic Music at East Side Ceremony
Sitting under a tree in a Lower East Side park and occasionally dancing, fifty followers of a Hindu swami repeated a sixteen-word chant for two hours yesterday afternoon to the accompaniment of cymbals, tambourines, sticks, drums, bells, and a small reed organ. Repetition of the chant, Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta says, is the best way to achieve self-realization in this age of destruction. While children played on Hoving's Hill, a pile of dirt in the middle of Tompkin's Square Park, or bicycled along the sunny walks, many in the crowd of about a hundred persons standing around the chanters found themselves swaying to or clapping hands in time to the hypnotic rythmic music. "It brings a state of ecstasy," said Allen Ginsberg the poet who was one of the celebrants. "For one thing," Allen Ginsberg said, "the syllables force yoga breath control. That's one physiological explanation." "The ecstasy of the chant or mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare has replaced LSD and other drugs for many of the Swami's followers," Mr. Ginsberg said. He explained that Hare Krishna, pronounced Hahray, is the name for Vishnu, a Hindu god, as the "bringer of light." Rama, pronounced Rahmah, is the incarnation of Vishnu as "the prince of responsibility." "The chant, therefore, names different aspects of God," Mr. Ginsberg said.
Another celebrant, 26-year-old Howard M. Wheeler, who described himself as a former English instructor at Ohio State University, now devoting his full time to the swami, said, "I myself took fifty doses of LSD and a dozen of peyote in two years, and now nothing."
The swami orders his followers to give up "all intoxicants, including coffee, tea, and cigarettes," he said in an interview after the ceremony. "In this sense we are helping your government," he added. However, he indicated the government apparently has not appreciated this help sufficiently, for the Department of Immigration recently told Swami Bhaktivedanta that his one-year visitor's visa had expired and that he must leave, he said. The case is being appealed.
The swami, a swarthy man with short-cropped grayish hair and clad in a salmon-colored robe over a pink sweater, said that when he first met his own teacher, or guru, in 1922, he was told to spread the cult of Krishna to the Western countries through the English language. "Therefore in this old age (71) I have taken so much risk."