Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West

Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West

by Joshua M Greene

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Overview

Discover the man behind the movement in this intimate biography of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

In 1965, a seventy-year-old man—soon to be known as Prabhupada—set sail from India to America with a few books in his bag, pennies in his pockets, and a message of love in his heart. He landed in New York at the peak of the revolutionary counterculture movement of the ’60s, and went on to spark a global spiritual renaissance that led to the creation of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which has changed millions of lives.

Through the depiction of Prabhupada as both an enlightened luminary and a personable, funny, and conscientious individual, Swami in a Strange Land shows why cultural icons such as George Harrison and Allen Ginsberg incorporated Prabhupada’s teachings into their lives, and why millions more around the globe embarked upon the path of bhakti yoga in his footsteps.

Carefully researched, skillfully crafted, and extraordinarily intimate, this narrative follows Prabhupada as he rises from an anonymous monk to a world-renowned spiritual leader. Set in locations as far ranging as remote Himalayan caves and the gilded corridors of Paris’s City Hall, Swami in a Strange Land traces the rise of Eastern spirituality in the West—and in particular, the rise of yoga culture and vegetarianism and the concepts of karma and reincarnation.

A remarkable journey into the deepest dimensions of the human experience, Swami in a Strange Land shows how one man with a dream can change the world.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608876440
Publisher: Mandala Publishing
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Pages: 340
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Joshua M. Greene has produced films for PBS and Disney, has served as vice president for New York’s largest PR firm, and was appointed director of strategic planning for the United Nations Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. He was also an adjunct professor at Hofstra University in New York. His previous works include the best-selling Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison; Justice at Dachau: The Trials of an American Prosecutor; Witness: Voices from the Holocaust; and Gita Wisdom: An Introduction to India’s Essential Yoga Text. In 1970, he was initiated as Yogesvara Das by Bhakivedanta Swami Prabhupada and served for thirteen years in Prabhupada’s society as director of French-language publications.

Read an Excerpt

Swami in a Strange Land

The Life of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


By Joshua Greene

Mandala Publishing

Copyright © 2016 Joshua Greene
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60887-644-0


Swami in a Strange Land
Chapter Five Excerpt. Text not final.

While visiting the United States, the Beatles heard a broadcast of the Kallman record on radio. Of the four superstars, George Harrison was most taken by the sound. He asked the band’s road manager to order copies of the album, and back in London Harrison distributed them to friends.

That year, interest in the Hare Krishna chant expanded in a variety of ways. On his posthumous album, titled Om, jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and fellow musicians opened and closed the improvised tracks by quoting Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita: "Rites that the Vedas ordain and the rituals taught by the scriptures, the oblation, the flame into which they are offered—all these am I.” That was also the year Jimi Hendrix released his album Axis: Bold as Love, with his own face superimposed over the image of Krishna’s Universal Form. Soon after, Allen Ginsberg appeared on William F. Buckley’s television talk show Firing Line and sang the Hare Krishna mantra to a nationwide viewing audience. Not long after that, folksinger Tom Paxton referred to the Hare Krishna chant in his song "Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues”: "So we all lit up and by and by / The whole platoon was flyin’ high / With a beautiful smile on the Captain’s face / He smelled like midnight on St. Mark’s Place / Cleanin’ his weapon / Chantin’ sumpin’ about Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.” Author Tom Wolfe added to the momentum by including a description of the mantra in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Before coming to America, had the Swami imagined what success would look like, he might not have foreseen such assimilation of the maha-mantra into pop culture. If he had been told, he would not have objected. "Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to cover his ears, pretending to not want to hear the chanting, as a way of tempting children to chant Hare Krishna,” he recalled. "However it is done, the chanting is potent and it will act.”

Through a combination of karmic good fortune, divine plan, jazz albums, pop songs and talk shows, the Hare Krishna mantra was spreading and the Swami’s following grew.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Swami in a Strange Land by Joshua Greene. Copyright © 2016 Joshua Greene. Excerpted by permission of Mandala Publishing.
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