(Srila Prabhupada offering incense to Krishna at 26 Second Avenue, New York 1966)
As the Swami lectures, my hearing slowly adapts to his accent.
"People are driven mad by the illusory material energy," he says. "For sense gratification, we undergo crores and crores of births and deaths trying to enjoy ourselves independent of Krishna. But when our enjoyment is directed to Krishna, we are rightly situated. This is what is meant by turning from illusion to reality. The guru, the bona fide spiritual master, awakens this dormant, eternal relationship, and when it is revived, we can see, hear, and speak to Krishna.
"Therefore Lord Krishna tells us, 'Engage your mind in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Thus absorbed completely in Me, you will come to Me.'"
Interrupting the lecture, an old white-bearded Bowery bum enters and walks down the middle of the room. We sit in confused silence. He approaches the Swami.
What to do? The old beggar is wearing a raincoat and batterd hat. In his hands are paper hand towels and two rolls of toilet paper. Without speaking, he walks past the Swami and carefully places the hand towels by the sink and the toilet paper on the floor beneath. Then, clearing his throat and muttering something, he turns and walks out.
"Just see," the Swami says with satisfaction. "He may not be in order, but he has just begun his devotional service. Just see how naturally it comes. That is the process. Whatever we have—it doesn't matter what—we must offer it to Krishna."
(The Hare Krishna Explosion, Chapter 1)