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ISKCON Hawaii 1969

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The Kam Day Parade

—by Govinda Dasi

1969-01-29-34The Kam Day Parade is a yearly event commemorating the reign of the Hawaiian King Kamehameha. This parade is known to draw thousands, so we were naturally anxious to take advantage of this opportunity for propagating Krishna consciousness.

Despite the uncertainty due to rainy weather, the boys started into town the day before the parade, collecting banana leaves, flowers, etc. for decorating our truck to make it look like a float. They worked nearly all night on it, and meantime the girls made trimming and painted signs for decoration, so that by morning the truck was no longer recognizable as a 1960 GMC pickup, but was rather a beautiful flower-laden Krishna consciousness float.

1969-01-29-35We arrived at the Magic Island Fairgrounds at 8:00 next morning, and finished the decorating, then got in line at 10:00 and waited two hours for our turn to move out. At noon the announcer called out through his microphone: “The Hare Krishna Temple—step out!” So we began our five mile march down the main street of Honolulu, before 55,000 people, TV cameras, etc. Goursundar, Balabhadra, Turyadas, and Sudama, and a new boy named Charles were dancing and chanting before the float; Jadurany, Jayasri and Govinda Dasi sat atop the float singing and tossing flowers to the crowd; and Vamandev was driving the truck beneath its layers of leaves and flowers. Our procession was bewildering to most of the people, but a number of young people chanted as we passed, many adults clapped, dozens of children scrambled after the flowers tossed down by the girls, and many simply gazed in awe—for we were undoubtedly the most unusual and unexpected float in the parade! The other floats bore Hawaiian hula dancers, ukulele players, actors appearing as Hawaiian kings and queens, etc., but we had nothing to do with Hawaiiana, so the officials seemed a bit embarrassed.

As we reached the end of the march, the Iolani Palace Gates, we approached the largest part of the crowd, including the government officials. We went right up to the speaker stand, then off to the side and the parade was over. We were escorted by motorcycle patrolmen back to Magic Island to dismantle the float. We were televised again on the evening news broadcast.

It was a successful appearance since many thousands heard the Holy Name, along with khartal and mridanga, and saw the small procession of devotees for the first time in their lives.

Kirtan Hawaiian Style

Jimmy Hendrix, we were told, is the biggest in the rock business, so there were thousands of people, mostly young, expected at his shows at the Waikiki Shell. Sure enough, the Shell was jam-packed on Friday night, May 30; the gate was 26,000 in all. It was crowded both inside and outside when we arrived there with our cymbals, bells and guitar.

There were only four of us, Sudama, Turyadas, Barbara, and myself. Goursundar and Balabhadra had gone to Maui and the Big Island, Hawaii, to search out land or a suitable house for a temple and/or ashram there.

1969-01-29-37We sat down just beside the ticket office and gate and began chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, with the sound of Hendrix’s mammoth amps rumbling in the background. Very soon a circle of fifty or so people gathered; some joined, some stared, some left and were replaced by others. This went on for a couple of hours, with more and more remaining to join us in chanting. In fact, we began to hear Hare Krishna singing coming from within the Shell—and as we learned later, Hendrix’s equipment was not working properly, so it was a bad show, and everybody inside began to chant Hare Krishna along with us. The show was called off early and re-scheduled for Sunday. The people began to stream out the gate, and many joined us, forming a circle which got larger by the minute. I got up and began to dance around the circle, inducing others to join us. A few joined at first, and many others stood around clapping and singing loudly Hare Krishna. Then as the show was closing down, thousands of kids streamed out the mouth of the Shell, looking for excitement. They found it. Hundreds began crowding around, loudly singing, and began dancing madly, dancing round and round, jumping up into the air, arms upstretched crying, “Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare!” The frenzy of the mob increased in tempo, and almost instantly there was an ocean of arms and heads, waving and shouting, “Rama Rama, Hare Hare!” Everyone was radiant, smiling, joyfully relishing the beauty of Krishna Samkirtana. A little boy climbed a tree above to see the singing ocean, and I handed him a picture of Lord Chaitanya to hold up high above the crowd. The mob, unknowingly, was performing the greatest yajna (sacrifice) for spiritual upliftment in the present age of Kali! I lifted up my arms to reach up to Lord Chaitanya’s Merciful Lotus Feet, and hundreds also began lifting their arms, swimming in the Ocean of Mercy surrounding the Lotus Feet of our Preceptor, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj. It was so beautiful to witness this Ocean of Mercy flowing so freely for all. All were glorifying Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with Harer Nama Samkirtana. The crowd’s pace heightened, and the police were pushing them, trying to make way for the remainder of persons leaving the Shell. The chanting crowd was now so large that it was blocking the gate, so Sudama and Turyadas started a parade to lead the mob into the park to continue chanting on the grass beneath the full moon and banyan trees. The whole mob followed them to the park, and I remained to gather the Hare Krishna banners, scattered instruments, magazines, etc. In the park the chanting continued at a heightened pace, and I began selling BTG magazines. Then four police cars screeched up, blue lights blinking, and insisted that we disperse. I explained patiently that being a religious organization we were chanting the Names of God, etc., but they were interested only in park permits (which, incidentally, are not available at all), so we had to leave. Turyadas, Sudama and I began to lead the mob in a parade to the sidewalk. Then Sudama turned and gave a short talk and invited everyone to our Sunday Love Feasts in Kaaawa. “You don’t need a permit. There’s seven acres of land. Just come and we can chant Hare Krishna all day and all night!” The crowd nodded and roared. Then we were given a ride home by some very interested young people.

1969-01-29-38The next night there were only three of us, and we began chanting outside in the same spot. This time we displayed a big sign, advertising the Hare Krishna Love Feast, and a brightly colored Hare Krishna Mantra Banner. We hung these high from the tree’s limbs so that when the mob gathered they could see the banners. This time, the same thing happened. Just as quickly—hundreds were dancing and roaring to the sound of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. There was once a break in the chanting (which was long out of control), and due to the instigation of others the crowd began chanting, “We are one, we are one …,” but very quickly, within five minutes, they tired of this and returned to resounding loud vibrations of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The tumultuous chanting and dancing mob once again overwhelmed the gate keepers, so Sudama led them in a parade into the park, where the chanting continued for some time until once again the police came, complaining of our permitless trespassing in the public park.

1969-01-29-36Because Friday night’s audience was dissatisfied with the show, Hendrix jammed on Sunday for free—so there were lots and lots of people there on Sunday, and we were there again too. By now, everyone was talking about Krishna’s Bliss, and the “far-out chanting things” of the two nights before, so we had no trouble getting our crowd. This crowd wasn’t so rowdy, but was standing together, all two hundred, singing loudly, but peacefully. One boy held up candles and incense. This time there was only Turyadas, Frankie and I, so Turyadas stood in the middle of the chanters strumming the guitar, while I chanted round the outside playing cymbals, and Frankie sold BTG magazines. Everything was nice; everybody was chanting and loving it, but once again, the police started complaining and pushing the crowd to break it up. The police were very unsympathetic and not interested in Krishna consciousness. We had to stop at their insistence. But we had already made our main propaganda and met with overwhelming success on all three nights.

Heroine Govinda Dasi

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The title for this article was suggested by our Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada]

Hawaii: The Pleasure Fair was a program for young people, held in the Waikiki Shell (a huge park and amphitheatre) on June 20 and 21, 12 noon till 12 midnight, which drew over 12,000 youth both days. There were musical performances, arts and crafts displays, distribution of young peoples’ publications, etc.

Goursundar, Balabhadra, Turyadas, and Frankie went in early on Thursday, June 19th, the day before the Fair opened, in order to construct our booth. They got a donation of small planks, which they nailed together to build a simple shed roof frame which they covered with canvas. The walls were made of bamboo screens. The next day they again came early and decorated the booth with altar, cloths, banners, etc. It was undoubtedly the nicest booth in the whole Fair. We got an electrical extension so that we could play the tape recorder and also use it as an amplifier in our kirtans there. We had a dozen friendly musicians for whom we got free passes to play with us on stage.

On the first day of the Pleasure Fair, we were supposed to open up the whole event at 12 noon with kirtan, but due to the Fair’s opening later than scheduled, we went on stage at 2:30. It was a really beautiful kirtan performance. Goursundar played rhythm guitar, Turyadas bass and Turya’s nice friend, John, played lead guitar, with drums, cymbals, flutes, sitar—and several giant amplifiers. We could be heard for blocks around! It was a beautiful band! People very much appreciated it, and many boys and girls sang along with us. The shell is like an outdoor acoustical amphitheatre. The stage has a huge concrete shell-shaped backing, which, along with the giant amplifiers, sends out sound clearly a great distance—so Hare Krishna was vibrating throughout the Fairgrounds, as well as in the outlying park where thousands could hear. So the first on-stage performance of the Hare Krishna Temple band was a huge success.

Then after kirtan, we opened our booth, where Lord Jagannath stood on a silk-covered altar bearing flowers of all sweet sorts. We offered and distributed noon prasadam to all passers-by, and we held kirtan off and on all day, talked with people, played kirtan and lecture tapes, Govinda album, and distributed coconut luddu prasadam. Many hundreds of youth passed, stopped, and gazed at the merciful Lord Jagannath. Toward evening many people came and stood in a circle by our booth chanting. We had aratrik announced on stage through the amplifiers, so everyone heard that at 8:00 a beautiful ceremony as is performed each evening in the ancient temples of India, aratrik, would be performed at the Hare Krishna Temple booth. Many came to see the beautiful ceremony, and Lord Jagannath seemed very pleased with all the people standing and clapping.

1969-01-29-39One young man, known widely as Sai, came by our booth and bowed to make offering of fruit to the Lord. He chanted with us, and invited us over to his yoga tent to chant Hare Krishna. So at 9:00 we had a Hare Krishna parade over the hill. But up on the hill, where thousands of youth were roaming, the parade stopped and we were playing instruments and singing, and within minutes, a huge crowd of several hundred was jumping up and down, arms upstretched, dancing and chanting Hare Krishna joyously. This glimpse of Lord Chaitanya’s Mercy brought tears to the eyes of the devotees. This went on until we were asked to move on, because it was such loud singing that it was drowning out the group performing down on the stage, despite their amplifiers! So we had a big parade—chanting Hare Krishna—across the Fairgrounds. We tried to get to Sai’s booth, but the cops stopped us for some reason, so we all went back to the Hare Krishna Temple booth! (Lord Jagannath was happy to receive so many chanters.) We had a beautiful kirtan at our little outdoor temple. Sai later came to our Sunday Love Feast, and chanted with us, took prasad, and invited us to his ashram to hold a big Samkirtan party in the future.

1969-01-29-40Goursundar, Balabhadra, and Turyadas remained overnight at the Fairgrounds with Lord Jagannath, and Sudama, Jadurany, Jayasri and myself all came home about 2 a.m. to rest for Saturday’s 12 hour engagement there.

When we arrived back at the Fairgrounds on Saturday noon, we learned that Jesse (the boy who promoted the Fair) wanted to have a parade all the way down the Waikiki beach to advertise his Pleasure Fair. So we took up the idea, and began immediately to build a Jagannath Car (Vamandev did it in less than an hour!) and covered it with silks, and flower garlands, so that within an hour we had a very beautiful carry-car for Jagannath—to be borne on the shoulders of Balabhadra and Turyadas. We led the parade. About a hundred followed the cart out the Fair gates and down the side walk-Jagannath was going to the beach! We walked along the beach, chanting, playing mridanga and kartals, and hundreds of people saw the Lord’s parade. Some joined, some chanted, some only clapped, and many did nothing but watch the procession in wonder. We went down the full length of Waikiki beach and returned to the sidewalk of Kalakaua, the busiest street in Honolulu, all singing loudly Harer Nama. Many, many more saw in awe the Lord’s Pleasure Ride. We went through the International Marketplace, where hundreds heard the echo of the chanting—and, as we were told later, a radio microphone in the International Marketplace was lowered and the echo of our kirtan went over the air to hundreds more! Back on Kalakaua a number of “hippies” joined us, dancing and chanting down the sidewalk. On approaching the Shell fairgrounds, we invited them all to our Temple booth, where they joined us for aratrik and kirtan. We offered some apple juice (donated by Jesse) and distributed it to all the people in the parade. It was all very beautiful-everything perfectly timed, due to Lord Jagannath’s Mercy.

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At our booth we chanted and played recordings all day, and hundreds of people came throughout the course of the evening. There was a constant turnover of young people. We would take turns leading kirtan, with the help of the recorder as amplifier, and many joined us, asked questions, read our literature, etc.

Toward evening, I was crossing the hill and, passing an enclosed tent, I peeked in to see an altar with a man’s picture, flowers, candles, etc., and learned that it was a booth glorifying a prominent “incarnation” of God. A young man inside was giving an informal talk to a dozen or so persons, so I stopped in to see what he was saying. He was speaking of love of God, and how this could be achieved by a process of elevation through sense gratification, yogic powers, etc. At the highest point, he said, we understand that we are God.

I was astonished to hear these things, so I questioned him. “What scriptures do you follow?”

He said, “His own writings.”

“Who is this man you are worshiping?”

He said, “He is an avatar of God, he is Rama and he is Krishna.”

The so-called incarnation he was speaking of actually has none of the qualifications of God, and I was becoming angry that such an ordinary mortal was being passed off as the Supreme Lord. I began to speak loudly so that all could hear: “You have no scripture, you have no disciplic succession, you are blindly following the teachings of this rascal! What proof do you have that this man is God? Has he shown you any evidence? Krishna lifted Goverdhan Hill as a Child when He appeared on this planet, but this man has not done any wonderful thing. Rather, I see by his picture that he is old and wrinkled and ugly, ready for death to take him; and yet you so foolishly believe that he is God. In the Vedas, the avatars’ appearances are fully described along with the birthplace and philosophy of each avatar. There is no mention of this rascal! You say that he is the last avatar of this age, but the Vedic authorities say that Kalki will come in 427,000 years. You fail to mention Lord Chaitanya, who appeared 486 years ago, and propagated the Samkirtan movement all over India, who drenched the universe in love of Godhead. His mission, His golden color—everything—was described by Vyasadeva, the compiler of all the Vedas, 5,000 years ago. But instead of accepting the authorized incarnation of Lord Chaitanya, you believe the word of an ordinary man who tells you, ‘I am God, and you can become God too,’ without even asking for scriptural evidence or proof of his lordship. This is very unfortunate.

1969-01-29-42“In the last half-century, so many of these cheaters have come to this country from India to mislead the people, proclaiming, ‘I am God,’ and holding in their hand a cigarette or a wine bottle. What kind of foolishness is this? We are all suffering in this material world, kicked this way and that like dogs, and yet you say you are God? You can never become God! You are conditioned, controlled by God. God is supreme, you are minute. Qualitatively you are one with God, you have in your pure spiritual state godly qualities, but you can never become quantitatively as great as God. We are simultaneously one and different—qualitatively one but quantitatively different—like the gold ring and the gold mine. The quality is the same, but one is far more vast. Krishna states it plainly in The Bhagavad Gita: ‘My dear Arjuna, all these living entities are My parts and parcels.’ But instead of accepting Krishna’s words as they are, you are listening to some fool who will only mislead you. He can never give you any proof of his lordship. Krishna showed His Universal Form. He said to Arjuna, ‘You just surrender unto Me!’ But rather than do that simple thing, you choose to follow the imperfect speculations of some so-called swami, and consequently you are being completely misled.”

The young man was very astonished to hear that we could never become God. He tried to argue, but was defeated on every point. Appearing like a fool before so many people, the boy was very upset and tried to compromise and stop the argument. He said, “All right, I will come down to your booth and we can discuss it further,” and he called in one senior student to talk with me.

1969-01-29-43A girl in the crowd was upset because I wasn’t “emanating love.” I told her, “How can I emanate love? This rascal is misleading so many people, and I am feeling compassion for them on account of their innocence. If the boy next to you was trying to kill you, should I not say something to stop him? Or do you think I should stand quietly, emanating love, and watch him murder you?”

She insisted, “I am everywhere, I am everything,” but I showed her that this was not possible. “You are finite, and are confined to your body. You cannot experience the pains and pleasures of my body, nor at any time in the future will such awareness come to pass. Why don’t you take Krishna’s teaching in Bhagavad Gita?”

She said, “Krishna was one man only, and there are many others to listen to. It doesn’t matter which way you do it; it’s all the same thing.”

I showed her the flaws in her thinking. In every Veda Krishna is established as the Supreme Personality of Godhead; never is He said to be just an ordinary person; this is stated plainly in The Bhagavad Gita and confirmed by Vedic authorities. But the girl was unable to abandon her misconceptions about the identity of God.

The senior student arrived on the scene, holding a cigarette. So I questioned him: “You claim to be God, but I see that you are serving Maya: does that mean Maya is greater than God?”

He said, “It doesn’t matter what I do, I can do anything, smoke 25 packs a day. That doesn’t change anything. It’s love that matters.”

I said, “You cannot share your love between God and Maya. If you really love God there will be some symptoms, and I see only symptoms of service to Maya.” I led him to our booth, and he began to tell me how he had been searching for God over nine years, and was still perplexed. “I’ve been studying for over nine years with so many different mental speculators, and I’m tired of intellectual games; I don’t want to argue.”

I told him, “O.K. You’ve tried these rascals for nine years, now you try Chaitanya Mahaprabhu,” and I put on a kirtan tape. He sat and listened to it, and the younger student also came down the hill and joined him.

He asked me if there was any kind of literature about our movement. I showed him The Bhagavad Gita As It Is and Back to Godhead; he wanted to buy a Gita but had little money, so he bought a Godhead. He admitted, “This way may prove better,” and said that he would like to learn more about Krishna consciousness.

Suddenly, a man came to our booth and began arguing that it is possible for something to generate from nothing (there was no necessity of a God or Creator), so Goursundar challenged him and told him that something can never originate from nothing. He offered evidence: we have no experience of something which has been spontaneously generated from nothing. Sometimes, in India, a scorpion is found in a bag of rice, and the less intelligent people think that the rice has produced the scorpion; but those who are intelligent can understand that actually the scorpion must have come from an egg laid by a mother scorpion. Similarly, some people may think that life has been spontaneously generated from matter, but those who are intelligent know that all life is the creation of God. The man was unable to defeat these arguments, and he became so angry that he struck Goursundar on the chin.

Goursundar was bleeding, and we were scheduled to appear on stage again. It took fifteen minutes to bandage Goursundar’s chin, and then we appeared on stage chanting Hare Krishna as the grand finale of the Fair. There were thousands of young people in the audience who appreciated our amplified kirtan. Afterward, we took Goursundar to the hospital, where he had to have ten stitches in his chin.

Having received bona fide spiritual knowledge from our Spiritual Master, it is our responsibility to spread this knowledge, even though there may be some inconvenience or even some danger of bodily harm. At least, because I have a girl’s body, when I shout and defeat the impersonalists, they may become very angry but they never hit me.

Not only did we have the opportunity of defeating the impersonalists and atheists who take pleasure in misleading innocent people, but thousands of people were able to enjoy the actual spiritual bliss of chanting Hare Krishna—Supreme Pleasure at the Pleasure Fair.

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