Satsvarupa dasa Goswami is one of the first American disciples of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (better known as the Hare Krishna movement). Born in 1939 in New York City, Satsvarupa (then Steve) graduated from Brooklyn City College and served two years in the United States Navy. Upon returning stateside he became a social worker for New York City’s welfare department.
Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta tells the story of a remarkable individual and a remarkable achievement. The individual is A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: philosopher, scholar, religious leader, saint. The achievement is the revolutionary transplantation of a timeless spiritual culture from ancient India to twentieth-century America.
This first of two volumes begins with the story of the events leading up to Srila Prabhupada's meeting his guru, an encounter that ignited in Srila Prabhupada a slowburning flame of desire to take Krishna consciousness to the Western world. His early life was a period of patient and transcendent determination as he prepared for a mission that would later be crowned with astounding success.
In August and September of 1965 Srila Prabhupada traveled alone aboard a steamship from India to New York City, with no more than the equivalent of eight dollars in his pocket and no institutional backing, but with unshakable faith in Lord Krishna and the instructions of his spiritual master. It is the 1960s, an era in which the children of those who fought World War II were leading a sweeping revolt against a society losing its soul to godless mass consumerism. Into this milieu Srila Prabhupada brought a vision for a new kind of society, a society born of a radical transformation of human consciousness from materialism to the loftiest spiritual and ethical idealism.
By 1967 he had arrived in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, America's counter-culture capital, where he continued his work of calling America's youth to live up to their higher spiritual ideals and distributing the holy name of Krishna indiscriminately. By the end of the volume, we have seen Srila Prabhupada in England (meeting the Beatles), Holland, Japan, Africa, and finally back in India, where he triumphantly returned with his "dancing white elephants" – a group of his mostly Caucasian Western followers.
The research team assembled by the author traveled throughout the world to gather thousands of hours of interviews with hundreds of people who knew Srila Prabhupada; diaries and memoirs from his students; and more than seven thousand of Srila Prabhupada's letters. Then the author and his team distilled this voluminous firsthand source material into a rich composite view of Srila Prabhupada, a dazzling and colorful picture of one of the most remarkable lives of our times.