Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ISKCON 50 Meditations: May 23, 2016
By Satsvarupa dasa Goswami   |  May 23, 2016

A First Taste of Ecstasy

In the very beginning I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by Bhagavad-gita classes by the Swami, but soon they took over my life.  When I wasn’t there I was thinking about them, doing the chanting, and trying to read his book.  Other things started to lose importance.  It was like a magnet, heading for that storefront.  In the beginning, I would do other things sometimes.  One night after a delicious time at the storefront chanting and singing and getting into the atmosphere of the Swami, I left the storefront and got a pizza and a coke and thought that was also delicious.  It was like a part of the same thing, to have a pizza and a coke sitting at the counter in a racy Puerto Rican neighbourhood, gobbling down a pizza in the summer and thinking, “Krishna!  Krishna and everything.”

I didn’t have the whole thing together because there weren’t any rules and regulations.  It wasn’t like nowadays.  (If I did something like that in the later stages of knowing Prabhupada, I would think, “Boy, I was just at the temple and now I’m in maya.”)  In the beginning, we had no idea what was right or wrong.  It was just great to be chanting Hare Krishna.  The more association I got with Swamiji, the more it got me to thinking about all those things I had done before meeting him – eating pizza, playing a jazz record … Bit by bit, Swamiji indicated that all those things should be replaced.  No, I shouldn’t eat pizza, I shouldn’t drink coke, I shouldn’t listen to jazz.  I shouldn’t even listen to Ravi Shankar.  Those things were sense gratification.  To love Krishna, I couldn’t have any sense gratification.  There were right ways to do things.  We innocently took to his instructions.  We wanted to do what he said: “Okay, no sense gratification.”

Then I decided that there was no way to make such a transformation while living on Suffolk Street, so I moved to a new apartment.  It was like a new life.  A new sleeping bag (I left behind the bed, all the records, the cats, the marijuana, the LSD.)  I moved in and painted the walls white, chained my typewriter to the radiator, remembered to bring my work clothes.  No sense gratification.  Early in the day I would make my own capātīs like crackers and put slices of tomato on them and then cover them over with a dish.  Then later I would return to my own Hare Krishna lunch of a crisp capātī and slice of tomato.  At night, some milk.  Life was good.

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