The kindle version of Mukunda Goswami’s book Miracle on Second Avenue is available now.
The year is 1965. An elderly Indian swami arrives in New York City determined to start a worldwide spiritual movement. After a harrowing sea journey on a freighter, where he suffers two heart attacks, his only possessions are a few cases of books and eight dollars, he meets a few people willing to help him. From a small storefront on Second Avenue in New York’s East Village, a worldwide spiritual movement miraculously takes form.
In a vividly personal and up-close account of the beginning years of the Hare Krishna movement (1966-1969) in three cities: New York, San Francisco, and London, Mukunda Goswami, one of the first members of the religious group, describes the optimism and energy of those early followers of His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, whom they affectionately called “the swami.”
Mukunda Goswami takes us to the Bowery where he first helps the swami move from a dingy rented loft to a small Lower East Side storefront in Manhattan—thus founding the first Krishna temple in the West. Gradually the number of followers increases and includes many icons of the sixties such as Allen Ginsberg.
During the “Summer of Love” (1967), after opening a temple in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood (the center of the hippie movement), Mukunda and a handful of followers bring the swami from New York to join them. They host the Mantra Rock Dance concert, where the swami appears along with some of the biggest names in rock music. Thousands chant along with the swami, and cement the small movement’s importance to the American counter culture.
In 1967 this same small group of spiritual pioneers heads to London. There they befriend George Harrison and John Lennon of the Beatles. George helps them open a temple and produces the Hare Krishna Mantra “45” single which quickly rises to the top of the charts, turning Hare Krishna into a household phrase. A few months later George produces the Radha Krishna Temple album. One of the recording’s tracks includes the Hare Krishna Mantra and another track is the hit single called Govinda.
Success in these three cities catapults the small spiritual movement into a worldwide phenomenon. Mukunda Goswami brings the reader along with him to those years and those times. One feels the intimacy the early followers had with Srila Prabhupada, and we experience the movement’s formative years in those unusual times.
“Miracle on Second Avenue is the best description yet of those fine days of endless horizons, when everything was possible…”
— from the Introduction by Shyamasundar Das Adhikari