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At the Master's Feet

This article, "At the Master's Feet" was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 7, 1975, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The high-flying guru of Hare Krishna leaves town with a humble suggestion: try chanting. 


The guru is coming. Everything is ready. 

Over a hundred Hare Krishna devotees swarm inside the Philadelphia International Airport. There are blacks and redheads, Orientals and blonds, all wrapped in traditional Indian garments. They count the minutes until the plane from Chicago arrives. 

That plane will deliver their spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is a 79-year-old Bengali, the former manager of a successful pharmaceutical business. Seventeen years ago he left his family to become a Hindu monk. Decades before, he studied at the University of Calcutta and supported nationalism. 

"You can't imagine how much it means to us to have Prabhupada come to Philadelphia," says Bill Deadwyler, a doctoral candidate in religion at Temple. Deadwyler's spiritual name is Ravindra Svarup. He is the appointed president of the Germantown temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). "This will be his first visit to our temple. It's a great honor to have attracted him by the quality of our devotional service," says Deadwyler. 

A young mother wearing a golden nose ring says, "When I saw Prabhupada in New York, it was a blissful experience. He's really a brilliant intellectual.

A devotee named Vanamali lugs a stock of paperback copies of the Bhagavad-gita, ISKCON's basic scripture. Many of the 60 publications sold by the Hare Krishna are the guru's own translations. The movement makes about $35,000 a day from world-wide book sales. Preaching (sometimes more lucrative in Western dress) goes hand-in-hand with salesmanship. 

Segregated by sex to minimize temptation, Hare Krishna devotees welcome their spiritual master (center in large photo at left) to the Germantown temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). In the top photo on this page, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada occupies his throne. In the photo at left above, the wooden Lord Jagganatha deities represent the Lord of the Universe, his brother and sister incarnate. Krishna's "footprint" marks the child's forehead at right above. She inhales transcendental perfume of a flower offered to the deities. The guru is considered God's ambassador to Earth. Followers repeat two of Krishna's many names at least 1,728 times a day. 

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