The story [of Srila Prabhupada] is, like many true stories, highly improbable. An elderly Indian swami comes to New York City in the mid-1960s on a vaguely defined mission. Charged by his teacher in India to bring his spiritual message to the West, he arrives in New York with no prior knowledge of America, no base of support, almost no money, and no clear plan of action. He moves about the city somewhat aimlessly, lives for a while in an artist’s loft on the Bowery, and finally — with help from a few early followers — rents a storefront building in the area known as East Village, the heart of the 1960s’ drug and counterculture movement. There he begins to preach an unlikely message of sexual restraint, abstention from drugs, and purity of mind and body and in behalf of devotion to the Hindu God Krsna. What follows is a remarkable tale of faith, determination, and success beyond anyone’s expectation.
From the foreword to Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol. 2, Planting the Seed. By Professor Thomas J. Hopkins, former chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College