The Hare Krishna Explosion
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
Hare Krishna Explosion

The Birth of Krishna Consciousness in America 1966 - 1969

By Hayagriva das

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tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprashnena sevaya
upadekshyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darshinah
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth. (Bhagavad-gita)


The first draft of The Hare Krishna Explosion was written in July, 1969, just after Srila Prabhupada's  first visit to New Vrindaban. At that time, I realized that the details of the beginnings of the Krishna Consciousness Movement had best be recorded while events were still fresh. Working from notebooks, diaries and memory, I compiled the first draft within a month. Then the manuscript remained packed away, until Srila Prabhupada left this mortal world in November, 1977. During those interim years, both the manuscript and my mind had accumulated some dust, but convinced of the value of anything dealing with Srila Prabhupada, I began again, and completed the second draft in 1979. For the next five years, as the Hare Krishna Movement continued to expand, I kept polishing and expanding the manuscript. Clearly, the Hare Krishna explosion was not about to fizzle. "Just as Krishna is always expanding," Srila Prabhupada had said, "anything related to Krishna is also expanding." In 1966, unknown to us, Prabhupada had truly launched a dynamic world religion.

Now, on the eve of the Twentieth Anniversary of Prabhupada's International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and the Five Hundredth Anniversary of the appearance of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, The Hare Krishna Explosion—by the grace of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga—is finally ready. In this endeavor, the Palace Press staff at New Vrindaban has been of inestimable help: Sriman Sundarakara dasa, production manager; Srimati Ragamathani dasi, composing; and Srimati Tulasi-devi dasi, layout. Without their selfless assistance, the dust would still be accumulating.

Hayagriva Dasa
Shila Ropananam Ceremony
Radha Vrinadban Chandra's Great Temple of Understanding
New Vrindaban
May 31, 1985


Although at first we called him "Swamiji," we eventually changed to the more respectful "Prabhupada," a Sanskrit word meaning "one who takes shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna."

"This is the proper form of addressing the spiritual master," he humbly suggested one day.

Somehow the strange word rang true, and from then on it was always "Prabhupada," a word that conjured for us the omnipotent Lord Sri Krishna Himself.

"Guru and Krishna are like two rails of the same track," he said, "always side by side. By the grace of Krishna, you get guru. And by the grace of guru, you get Krishna."

Who was this great master called Srila Prabhupada, and what was he like? To answer this is to answer the question Arjuna asked Lord Krishna millenia ago:

sthita-prajnasya ka bhasa
samadhi-sthasya kesava
sthita-dhih kim prabhaseta
kim asita vrajeta kim
"What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?"

Prabhupada's real identity defied analysis. I was surprised to learn that he had once been a pharmacist with a wife and children. Because worldy motives and passion never touched him, it was difficult to imagine him as a householder, as anything but the saffron-clad spiritual master, the paramhansa floating over the world like a swan over water.

"If you are drowning in the middle of the ocean," he said, "and someone throws you a rope, you do not stop to enquire, 'Oh dear sir, why are you throwing me this rope? What is your name? What country are you from? Why are you here?' No. The drowning man grabs the rope for dear life."

Since we were all drowning, few of us asked those questions. We grabbed the rope any way we could, assured of some ultimate victory in Vikuntha, a faraway spiritual universe.

In the closing words of Bhagavad-gita:

yatra yogeshvarah krishno
yatra partho dhanur-dharah
tatra srir vijayo bhutir
dhruva nitir matir mama
"And wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and whever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power and morality."

And wherever there is Srila Prabhupada, there will certainly be Lord Krishna.


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