So I started in 1966, lecturing in a storefront and living in that apartment in 26 Second Avenue. Then gradually, these boys, American boys and girls, began to come. And then I started my kīrtana in Tompkinson Square. More and more, these younger Americans, they came to me, and things were organized. Then I registered this Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Society under religious act of New York in 1966, and gradually people took interest. People means the younger section. All the boys and girls, they were from sixteen... Not all sixteen, but there were sixteen. Kṛṣṇa dāsa was at that time sixteen years old. And... Between twenty to thirty. Only, I think, Keith—now Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja—he was at that time twenty-nine. Hayagrīva was, I think, twenty-nine. So in this way... This Hayagrīva, I met him on the street. After renting the apartment and storefront, when I was returning, this Hayagrīva, Professor Howard Wheeler, he was philosophically minded. So he asked me, "Swamijī, are you coming from India?" So I told, "Yes, I am coming from India." So, "Are you interested in Indian philosophy?" "Yes, sir." "So why don't you come? I have taken one storefront and apartment." So I came back. I showed him, "Here is my storefront and apartment. You come in the evening." So... (Hindi)
So the Hayagrīva and Kīrtanānanda, Keith, and some other boys, I think, Satsvarūpa...
Pradyumna: Ravīndra Svarūpa?
Prabhupāda: Ravīndra, yes, yes, he was there.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Mukunda.
Prabhupāda: Mukunda. In this way, five or six students used to come. Gradually, it developed. Then we started next branch in San Francisco, next branch in Montreal, next branch in Buffalo, Boston. In this way... Now we have got forty-five branches. So practically, we began work from 1968. '66 I started, but... And '67 I became very much sick. So I came back to India, and again I went there in 1968. Practically, this propaganda work began vigorously from 1968. So from 1968, '69, '70, and this, '71. So three, four years, all these branches have grown up, and now practically, throughout the whole continent, Europe and America, they know what is Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Due it to our propaganda. Just like these boys. You have seen they are chanting and dancing. We send street saṅkīrtana even the most busiest quarter of New York, Fifth Avenue. And they go. The American boys, they are very daring. Sometimes police arrest them. And police is not harassing. The public and police, both, they are now sympathetic, that "Here is a movement which is actually genuine and very beneficial to our people." They are sympathetic. And even some of the Christian priests, they are also very sympathetic. They say that "These boys, American boys, they are our boys. They're so nice that they're mad after God, but we could not give them. Swamijī has given them." So they appreciate. Actually, these boys, they come from Christian family, Jewish family. There are many churches in America. I was surprised. When I first went to Butler, that's a small county, but I saw there about dozen of churches. So I thought the American people are very religiously-minded. And actually so. The history of the American people, mostly they came from England for this religious purpose. So they migrated in America for being religiously advanced.
So American people, I very much appreciate them. They are religious. They have got very good potency for understanding God consciousness. That is my opinion. And I do not know why I was inclined to go to America. It was also Kṛṣṇa's desire. Because I thought that "If this movement, Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement... " Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that
- pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi-grāma
- sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma
That is His prediction, that "As many towns and villages are there on the surface of the globe, everywhere, this message of Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and Lord Caitanya's name will be there." So I thought that "I should go to America. If the American people take it seriously, then other people will take it." So actually, that is happening. These boys are so enthusiastic in preaching that on my word, they are going any part of the world. Any part of the world. They are prepared to go any part of the world. And just now I received one letter from my disciple Śrīmān Upendra dāsa. He does not know Hindi, and in the Fiji Island there are many Indians, but still, he is making propaganda. He's simply chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra door to door. They are also husband and wife. And people are very much appreciating.