Stay High Forever

055_-_BTG_Year-1969_Volume-01_Number-26_Page_31

I enjoy reading and re-reading to old issues of Back to Godhead Magazine. And it seems the older the issue the more relishable the content, as is the case with this 1969 issue…

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das
Excerpted from Back to Godhead Magazine 1969 Vol. 1, No. 26

The joyful history of a dynamic transcendental movement

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare vibrates from a walkup temple on New York’s Lower East Side, from the sidewalks of Haight Ashbury, from Golden Gate Park, from a London flat, from student quarters in Hamburg and Amsterdam, from a storefront in Santa Fe, an exbowling alley in Montreal, a sprawling university campus in Ohio, from Old Vrindaban in India to New Vrindaban in the West Virginia mountains, and from Boston and Buffalo to Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver and across the Pacific to Hawaii.

Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The voices chanting the magic vibrations are invariably young. The chanting, accompanied by khartals (small hand cymbals), tambourines and drums, is often loud and frenetic. The dancing is vigorous. The middle-aged and elderly usually stand in doorways or look through windows, watching in amazement, unaware that they are witnessing a process of spiritual realization that has been practiced on this planet for thousands of years. They do not understand. No one really understands. The chanting just spreads. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna …

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Mad After Krishna (Chapter 9)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
By Hayagriva Prabhu

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 9

Mad After Krishna

Golden Gate Park is redolent with March flowers. The morning fog disperses early, and the days are cloudless and blue. Thousands continue to flock to San Francisco from the midwest and east, and our Sunday kirtans attract big crowds.

Sunday is always a day for strolling in the park, and as soon as we start ringing cymbals and chanting, people follow. Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Buddhist and ISKCON banners, flying from long poles, proclaim our ecumenism. We stake these in the field below Hippy Hill and set up the kettledrum. Haridas, Mukunda, Shyamasundar, Subal, and Upendra sit in a circle on the grass. We beat the rhythm slowly on the kettledrum, the cymbals clash, and the kelp horn announces the beginning of kirtan.

After we chant about an hour, Swamiji walks over from his apartment and enters the center of the circle, clapping his hands and dancing, appearing wonderfully bright in his saffron robes. He leads the chanting, playing his own personal set of cymbals, a large pair with slightly flared rims that resonate loudly. Although he is a half century older than everyone around him, his presence is dynamically youthful. As the kirtan soars, Swamiji is a child amongst children, dancing with hands upraised to the blue sky, placing one foot before the other, dipping slightly, encouraging everyone to dance.

Then something remarkable happens.

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Swami in Hippyland (Chapter 7)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 7

Swami in Hippyland

January 17, 1967. When Swamiji descends from the plane and enters the San Francisco airport, he is greeted by a group of about fifty young people. As he is questioned by the press, he extends his usual transcendental invitations.

“We welcome everyone, in any condition of life, to come to our temple and hear the message of Krishna consciousness,” he says.

“Does that include Haight-Ashbury hippies and bohemians?” a reporter asks.

“Everyone, including you or anyone else,” Swamiji says. “Whatever you are—what you call an acid-head, or hippy, or whatever—what you are doesn’t matter. Once you are accepted for training, you will change.”

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