Note: This is the first part of "Chant," a lengthy four-part poem. Part One traces the activities of the spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, from his landing in New York in 1965 to the end of 1969, four short years packed with transcendental events so numerous that only the most memorable are recorded. There is nothing concocted or exaggerated in this section. The events recorded are only those the author personally witnessed or experienced. Who could begin to chant all the glories of the spiritual master? The grammatical form utilized in this section, a long series of pronoun clauses, was developed a century ago by Whitman in "Recorders' Ages Hence," a Calamus poem.

nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya 
bhutale srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine.

I offer my humble obeisances unto His Divine Grace Prabhupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who is very dear to Lord Krsna on this earth, having taken shelter of the lotus feet of that ever-youthful, beautiful, transcendental Lord,

who, alone, in his seventieth year, threw family, society, friendship, love to the wind, left mother India and set sail around the earth to foreign, unknown shores because his spiritual master spoke to him in a dream,

who carried the glorious message of the munificent Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to a nation plagued with the leprosy of voidism and impersonalism, who brought an ageless message of love of Godhead,

who landed in Manhattan with saffron robes, a suitcase and seven dollars and wondered at maya's skyscrapers and empty, noisy dreams,

who, with white, pointed holyman shoes, walked through the snow to Times Square and laughed at Kali's cinema ads,

who accepted residence with hashish-yogis who believed they were moving the sun and moon,

who played cymbals and chanted Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami, "I worship Govinda the Primeval Lord," explaining to void-meditators that Krsna's transcendental body is unlimited, that He can extend His hand to all parts of His creation, that any one part of His body can perform all the actions of all the other parts, and that simply by glancing at nature He impregnated her with countless living entities and set the cosmic systems spinning and struck up the song of the universe,

who journeyed downtown, out of compassion, and set up quarters in Lower East Side narrow mice-ridden storefront and trusted Krsna to bring next month's rent,

who opened the storefront doors even to Bowery derelicts and clashed cymbals and chanted Sanskrit hymns to God, whose vibrations caught the ears of young psychedelic middle class renegades searching for alternatives to their legacy of lies and materialism,

who had and everlastingly has infinite mercy, delivering it free of charge, a matchless gift, to whomever stops to hear,

who never, to my knowledge, turned one soul away, who effused them all with kindness, affection, truth,

who had mercy on my soul one bright July morning amidst the roaring Manhattan traffic of Houston and Bowery (Most holy spot! Transformed to Vaikuntha by his feet! Bowery transformed to Vaikuntha!),

who lectured every morning on Second Avenue and as the gold of dawn lit his face played cymbals and chanted softly, careful not to awake the neighbors lest they pour hot water through the floorboards,

who opened Bhagavad-gita and explained Sri Krsna's message verse by verse and set His names Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare on the lips of the young,

who, by contact only, warmed their hearts and lit the fires of love of God in their souls and smeared their eyes with the ointment of devotion,

who defied cheap popular adoration by truthfully telling the youth of America that to have Krsna the soul must be pure, free of everything,

who supplanted the old white-bearded Judaic-Christian God with a beautiful, blue adolescent Boy and evoked gopi tears from the eyes of men,

who led his flock to Washington Square to chant, was invited off the grass by the cops, sat complacently anyway on the asphalt and Hare Krsna'd as nervous sailors flicked their cigarets,

who initiated his first dozen disciples with a fire sacrifice in his apartment, told them their real, spiritual names, chanted their beads, threw rice and ghee in the flames (Svaha!) and sat smiling amidst the smoke as they coughed and ran to open the windows,

who listened, tolerant, to the threats of Jewish, Catholic and Protestant mothers accusing him of stealing their sons, and offered them bananas, apples, dates and tangerines and charmed them with his smile,

who every Sunday afternoon for a month sat down on the ground in Tompkins Square Park, pounded a bongo and chanted Hare Krsna three hours straight while dancing angels dropped exhausted and Lower East Side Ukranians and Poles stared uncomprehendingly and grumbled,

who delivered a beautiful lecture on the spiritualization of energy to a thousand empty seats in midtown's Judson Hall while across the street hundreds flocked to hear the Boston Pops at Carnegie,

who patiently endured the red tape visa harassment of immigration offices and allayed the fears of his children as they swore to follow him to India,

who, on a sudden invitation, jumped a jet to Frisco, telling his New York disciples he'd return in a fortnight, and after four months' absence laughed, "You have not reckoned a day of Brahma."

who lectured a thousand Hell's Angels, hippies and teenieboppers in the strobe-flashing Avalon ballroom on the glories of Lord Caitanya's sankirtan movement and, hands upraised, danced with poet Ginsberg, Moby Grape, Grateful Dead and Big Brother to Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna as Tim Leary looked on benevolently,

who chanted and danced in a ring with longhair boys, girls, beads, beards and headbands below the shadow of Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park on bright March and April afternoons,

who lectured at Frisco Christian Yoga societies, to hippies in the Panhandle, to pacifists at Berkeley, to yellow, red, white and black nationalists, to anyone, everyone and no one in the streets and parks of Saint Francis,

who taught the students of Palo Alto a new dance the "swami" which in fervor surpassed the frug and watusi,

who led a nighttime firelit kirtan at Frisco beach, roasted potatoes and sang starlit hymns to Narada Muni,

who sauntered through Muir woods contemplating the redwoods and reflecting how tired their souls must be for having to stand so long without Krsna,

who, back in Manhattan, wore his body down chanting and glorifying the transcendental blue body of Krsna, cooking and writing for Krsna, and suffered a stroke that would have killed a mere man, left his body and then returned with the names of his love on his lips,

who sang to Yamaraj, Death, as he stood before him, sang songs of love to the lotus-eyed Boy with pink bottom'd feet,

who, in Beth-Israel Hospital, sat like a helpless child as demonic needles came at him, tolerated them and listened to the Western diagnosis: "Tell him to take it easy. The old man prays too much,"

who, after five days, baffled obscene doctors by walking out the sickward's pea-green walls to recuperate across country in the dazzling Pacific sands of Stinson beach,

who sat amidst a labyrinth of kelp horns and sea shells proclaiming that there are only devotees and demons, naught between,

who composed Sanskrit odes to the Primeval Spirit whose eternal teenage lips play a flute,

who wept in a Frisco storefront "Take to this process. I may be with you or not, but it is eternal." and bade farewell to his students who thought he was going to India to die,

who bathed in the sun wearing a turban and flying on a carpet as the Pacific crashed in his ears "All glories to the assembled devotees! All glories to the Pacific Ocean!" and finally, following the sun, whizzed to Delhi, Vrndavana and Calcutta to Ayur-Vedic physicians,

who bathed in the Yamuna, where Lord Krsna played His water games, and lived in Radha-Damodar Temple, where repose the samadhis of Rupa and Jiva Gosvami,

who traveled through India, defying pneumonia, looking for a house for his American children,

who returned to the U.S. via Japan, trying to see the mayor of Tokyo to institute the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in a glass American-made skyscraper,

who finally proclaimed the Japanese "not ready," and returned to a deluge of tears and flowers in Frisco airport,

who, surpassing the Chinese, instituted a yearly festival of Jagannatha love down Haight Street through Golden Gate to the beach, nine miles, and led twenty thousand before the cart of Krsna, Subhadra and Balarama,

who bowed to Radha and Krsna in Seattle and sat in new glory on the New York Vyasasana, the floating dais of praise, as his children fell at his feet,

who forgave his renegade disciples in Montreal with a garland of roses and a shower of tears,

who told golden beachboys in Honolulu and Kaaawa, Oahu that sun, beach and palm worship is all maya, that golden flesh, after all, is just a bag covering blood, bone, stool, puss, bile, urine and guts, all rotting moment by moment,

who danced to Krsna beneath the sun in L.A. and beneath the red, white and blue flashing neon illusions of Hollywood Blvd., Kali-yuga plastic America, and beneath the moon danced to Govinda and Radharani in a Manhattan alley, searching for a possible temple,

who proclaimed natural vegetarian prasadamism to the nation's hamburger stands, the cow-eaters of America, the pig-eaters, bird-eaters, fish-eaters, lamb-eaters, threatening them with endless rebirths as tigers,

who declared that Colonel Sanders of the Fried Chickens of Kentucky would have to undergo a chicken-birth-life-and-death for every chicken smeared with his recipe making its saucy way into the all-devouring mouths of the American karmavores,

who burst two thousand Ohio State students out their skins and jumped for joy on his dais in the All-American City,

who, lauding the "big mrdangam," bought a press, said, "This is my heart," and printed his own books in Boston,

who, having chanted six years in temples of Vrndavana, India, where Lord Krsna's lotus feet danced, walked two miles up a West Virginia dirt road, stopping only once briefly for breath, and founded New Vrndavana in the locust-flower'd hills,

who lived there in a shack, sauntered on morning walks through the locusts and maples and blessed the dandelions, blackberries and pokeweed with his gaze,

who sat quietly beneath a persimmon tree reading Srimad-Bhagavatam and musing over the Appalachians,

who boarded the jet age from New York to Hamburg, carrying over the Atlantic real Aryan Vedic civilization in his head and magic mantras on his lips, the Paramhansa on Lufthansa, descending on Europe on his silver swan, singing songs of Krsna-love for fractured Germany,

who, not knowing one word of German, lectured on ecstasy in a little storefront temple on Eppendorfer Weg, chanting Hare Krsna uber alles,

who defined real Aryanism life according to spirit, not to flesh to rapt disciples following him on a vigorous morning walk amidst cold, implacable North German beer consciousness, sausages and Volkswagens,

who sat before an Elbe sunset, holding up a picture of Radha-Krsna dancing on the lotus shaped Vaikuntha planet, and who smiled and transformed the Elbe into the Yamuna,

who descended on London reporters like a thundercloud and deluged them with the Absolute Truth "I have come to teach what you have forgot." "Which is?" "God."

who sang "Bhaja Govindam" to this century's British bards, the Beatles "What are you doing? Your philosophical speculation and grammatical word jugglery will not save you at the moment of death, so bhaja Govinda, just worship Krsna," and struck up a new song in George's heart,

who shouted down the new crows in London's Conway Hall and continued playing cymbals as their wings fluttered,

who founded a six-story Radha-Krsna temple a block away from a storehouse of ravaged Indian treasures, the British Museum, and despite a Gandhi exhibition began the Vaisnava colonization of England,

who buried his head in flowers and danced in ecstasy before the Lord,

who saw Arjuna throw down his bow at Kuruksetra and Lord Krsna and Balarama pass through Mathura with Their cows and boy friends as the city girls showered Them with flowers from their balconies,

and who at this moment deluges the blazing fire of the soul trapped in materials and drowns the conflagration of even the most obdurant (my own!) soul entangled in the great chain fire of action and reaction,

who even now insists on wishing me well despite my pigheaded gnawing at o'erchewed stool,

who knows the innate sweetness of the soul in love with Krsna and who delivers that love with truth, who draws it out the timid soul with truth and who demands its flourishing and wishes it well,

who resides at the lotus feet of Krsna eternally, who is His ambassador on earth, transmitting His message infallibly,

who views this universe to be no more significant than water in a calf's hoofprint,

who floats upon the tossing ocean of material and looks with compassion upon the countless dynasties of suffering souls struggling below,

who hears the discordant sounds of Kali's millennia and blends them in harmony to one song that anyone can sing,

who must play in the starry sandbox of the universe like a child with his toys,

who must laugh at the maya karmaval, the vast play of illusion, of America, of the world,

who must talk to Krsna alone at night, sitting on his bed, conferring, listening carefully to His advice,

who perpetually receives the waters of benediction from the ocean of mercy and who pours them forth in torrents to extinguish the flames of materialism,

who, always engaged in chanting and celebrating the message of Lord Caitanya, sometimes dances in ecstasy and trembles and quivers in his trance,

who, with his disciples, untiringly worships Sri Sri Radha and Krsna in Their temple,

who is always offering food to Krsna and who derives great satisfaction in seeing his disciples eat bhagavat-prasadam, the delicious mercy of the Lord,

who is eternally eager to chant and preach the glories of the loving exchanges between Lord Krsna and Radharani and who aspires to relish these pastimes at every moment,

who expertly assists the gopis, Lord Krsna's transcendental cowherd girl friends engaged in the perfection of Radha-Krsna conjugal love affairs, who makes various tasteful arrangements for Them,

who, as all scriptures reveal, should be honored as highly as the Supreme and Almighty Lord, for he is the Great God's most confidential servitor,

whose mercy enables me to receive the benediction of the mercy of Krsna and without whose mercy I cannot advance on the spiritual path, and who is therefore worthy of my perpetual obeisances and my worship.