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From Brooklyn to Benares and Back

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This is Dada’s memoir.  It chronicles his life,  from his upbringing in New York right up to the present time. It give an inside glimpse showing how he was attracted to the spiritual path and how he went on to become a world-traveled monk , singer-songwriter and author.

“Many spiritual books try to enthrall with colorful language about the many states of nirvana. Dada’s
text is not like that. His words are even keel, just like the author. They live and teach equanimity of mind.

One joins him for a journey in authenticity, in humanity. From his early   days watching to in Brooklyn, to his meeting with the famous hippies of the 60s, to his transition to an editor and then to a monk. One flows. We go with Dada to Europe to Japan to Syria and then back to New York. In this journey, this peaceful journey, we share in Dada’s calm approach to giving, to living the right life.
And to challenging our comfort zones. If we wish for the Divine to carry us, we need to first let go. Dada’s life has been an example of that. Read his book. And let go. Wade shallow or dive deep, but go in the water and the let the flow carry you to you. “
Professor Sohail Inayatullah,
Tamkang University, Taiwan, Author of Transcending Boundaries

Author Interview

Reviews next prev

  • Vividly descriptive of his childhood in Brooklyn in the 50s and 60s, the author guides the reader gently but soundly through these cataclysmic decades of experimentation, protest and awakening. We follow Dada, ever a seeker, through spiritual and personal rites of passage, courageously trying on different spiritual hats only to remove them quickly. Eventually he finds his true home in Ananda Marga, unselfishly dedicating his life as a whole time worker in service of humanity. This tale brims over with adventure and excitement as it ebbs and flows within the author's psyche and then outward in intensely human interactions throughout his travels and work. The well-crafted language lulls us into a sense that we are with Dada, that we know him, and that he is part of our family. Indeed, ever present in the narrative that stretches to several continents, only to land us right back where we started in Brooklyn is the one constant we are given—change. Yet, oh, what we have seen through Dada's eyes and how we have been invited to change!and grow.

    Mirra Price

  • The author does a great job of introducing the reader to his younger years when he began his journey. I learned about the history, culture, and experiences of a youth growing up in the 50s and 60s. How fascinating! I savored this part. But, his curiosity and desire to find the “right” path is clear and potent, and kept me reading on. Dada does a great job of bringing us with him to these different experiences searching for his calling, where he could sense it just was not it. And then, when he finds his path, the reader can feel the love and purpose flowing through Dada’s words. We feel resolution. The middle of the book is chalk full of new experiences and obstacles that Dada faces on his quest to fulfill his purpose. Some are exciting and kept me reading beyond what I intended, while others had me reflecting on my own purpose and responses if I were in those situations. Dada relays his stories in a clear voice, as if the reader were listening to him talk. His one-pointed devotion towards his path is inspiring. At no point does he back down, but instead he does the best he can and watches what happens. I enjoyed reading this memoir, and hope that others will take the opportunity to explore the unique life of a yogic monk.

    elizabeth mccullum

  • Excellent summary of a well-lived life. Goes down smoothly - easy read. A pleasure to know this man and what he has done.

    Steven Landau

  • I have read a lot of spiritual memoirs. Most of them have been inspiring, but not all of them have been well written. Dada's book inspires me not only because of the spiritual stories it contains, but also because it was crafted by someone who has honed writing and editing skills. Dada's grasp of language allows him to be a true teacher by weaving complicated philosophy within a concrete, understandable story. For example, Dada explains the concept of PROUT or Progressive Utilization Theory--an alternative economic system given by his spiritual master based on spiritual principles--through a simple give-an-take conversation between two people on a train. Never have I heard PROUT explained so simply, thoroughly and concisely. The time spent reading this book was like having an erudite spiritual companion at my side.


  • Dada's folksy style is easy to read and displays his personality well. The many stories from the radical '60's featuring iconic personalities like Ram Das, Brian Wilson, Alan Ginsberg and more were fascinating to me. It was great to hear all these first hand witness accounts from this important period in modern history. The story arc of Dada's life, taking him to India, Europe and beyond, meeting his Guru and detailing his own maturation as a yogi and missionary monk were all very engaging for me, particularly as I follow the same tradition. But I think the story would appeal to anyone with an interest in Eastern spirituality and social change. Much to learn here.

    The Monk Dude

  • Dada's book is simple and straightforward. "From Brooklyn to Benares and Back" is an easy read that chronicles a fascinating time for Eastern Spirituality in the U.S.: the 60s and 70s. For the first time in my life, I wished I was born earlier so I, too, could experience what Dada describes. Dada shares a series of stories and several times while reading this book I laughed out loud. It's incredible to read about the trials and tribulations of a non-traditional monk. No sitting in a monastery here! More like camping in the woods with no food and no money, but something magical always happens.


  • I picked up the book and couldn't put it down until I had read the whole thing. Following the life of someone from my generation who started out with a fairly typical childhood yet took a unique turn was fascinating. The author was a Brooklyn boy who faced many challenges... on a shoestring... to serve others for decades! It's hard to comprehend, but it all makes sense as he delivers the account of his life in a friendly, conversational voice. Recommended to neo-humanists and anyone who wants to be be reassured that love and caring didn't die in every soul when flower power was replaced by disco!

    Amazon Customer

  • Dada tells a wonderful story of his transformation from a Brooklyn boy to becoming an Ananda Marga Monk. The story is a fun read that is full of wisdom, insight and humor and covers the key events of social change that occurred in America and the world from the Cold War to where we are today. Dada offers an inside view of how a spiritual path can be chosen and taken throughout a lifetime while carrying throughout all the trials and challenges the key that Love IS the Best!

    Mike H.

  • It takes you along on an incredible journey! Follow along on a yogic monk's personal spiritual journey while he travels around the globe working at service projects. An enjoyable read with lots of detailed information from the 1950s to the present.

    Joyce Marusarz

  • It was fascinating to follow a Brooklyn hippie type turn into a yogic monk. Then follow his spiritual commitment as he goes from the U.S. to Europe. He had to sneak into India because members of his organization were usually black listed at that time. He gives you a good glimpse of a totally different world there. He was also posted in Berlin before and after the wall fell. I found the book to be very enjoyable to read as well as full of interesting information

    Susan Deckhart

  • This book paints a portrait of a life of dedication, lived in obedience to a higher calling, while attuned to the ebb and flow of historical and cultural events. It was delightful to follow the pop culture interests of the author (such as his love of baseball and music), especially when juxtaposed to his search for deeper truths. Such a juxtaposition gives the impression of a well-rounded life. An inspiring book.

    Andy Douglas

  • It an excellent narration of the experiences of a monk. Simply wonderful.

    Kishan Sood

  • Wonderful read! The stories are quite inspiring, and his journey uplifting. The book is very well written; it makes one feel as though he is sitting with you in conversation. I hope he writes more--well worth reading.

    Kathy Runde

  • I loved the journey the round trip journey and its juxtaposition of East/West and secular/spiritual. Dada's is a very easy writing style to follow which takes the reader to a wide variety of remarkable places and times - a very enjoyable voyage!

    Craig Runde

Get a Signed Copy of Dada's Memoir

You can buy From Brooklyn to Benares online at various merchants but here is the only place where you can get a signed copy of the book!