Passage to India (Chapter 12)

The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das

Part II: San Francisco, 1967
Chapter 12

Passage to India

Paradisio isn’t quite paradise. The birdstool on the Buddha was no doubt portentous. There is very little sunshine. Behind the beach house, to the east, a mountain range blocks out the morning sun, and by midday, clouds and fog roll in. The temperature is also rather cool for July.

To fully recover, Swamiji needs lots of sun. He especially misses the morning sun. He feels that if he can just get enough light and heat, his condition will improve. Because of this, he begins talking of returning to India, and this upsets us. We’ve supplied the nicest place possible near San Francisco, but we can’t supply the sun.

Moreover, Swamiji regrets having no close temple contact. He wants to visit a temple at least twice a week, but the winding road into San Francisco is too arduous.

He speaks more frequently of India. He wants to consult Ayurvedic doctors, who generally prescribe natural herbs recommended in certain Vedic writings. And then there’s Indian massage, another art unknown to us. Swamiji complains that Western doctors know only how to cut with knives and stick with needles. We don’t know what to suggest. We feel inadequate, helpless.

After the Rathayatra festival, Swamiji tells me that I should live at Paradisio and work full time on the final manuscript of Bhagavad-gita. In New York, Brahmananda continues to negotiate with publishers. The books must be printed at all costs. My job: prepare the manuscript nicely.

“It must be well stated in the English language,” Swamiji insists. “If there are any questions about the translations, you may ask me. Remember, edit for force and clarity.”

Daily, I try to clarify and strengthen the sentences without changing the style or meddling with the meaning, and, needless to say, this is very difficult. I soon find myself consulting Swamiji on every other verse, and occasionally he dictates an entirely different translation. The verse translations themselves are most problematical because they often differ from the word by word Sanskrit-English meanings accompanying them. What to do?

“Quit bothering him,” Kirtanananda tells me. “Whenever anyone’s in his room, he talks to the point of exhaustion.”

True. He talks sitting up. Then he leans back and talks. Then rests on one elbow. Then lies on his side, still talking, still clarifying, still praising Krishna.

At this time, he tells Haridas: “I no longer have a physical body. It is all spiritual.”

Haridas leaves his room almost in tears. “Swamiji’s more beautiful than ever,” he tells me. “Is it possible for your spiritual master to make spiritual progress?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “He says that spiritual life is always dynamic.”

“He seems to be vibrating on a much higher platform now,” Haridas insists.

“Others are saying the same,” I say. “But it could be just our perception.“

“He’s chanting more now,” Haridas insists. “Even more than at Mishra’s, more than I’ve ever heard him chant before.”

“I wouldn’t want to speculate about it,” I say.

More

Mantra Rock

Mantra Rock Concert

“Sunday, January 29, 1967 marked the major spiritual event of the San Francisco hippie era, and Srila Prabhupada, who was ready to go anywhere to spread Krishna Consciousness, was there.

The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service — all the new-wave San Francisco bands — had agreed to appear with Srila Prabhupada at the Avalon Ballroom’s Mantra-Rock Dance, proceeds from which would go to the local Hare Krishna temple.

Thousands of hippies, anticipating an exciting evening, packed the hall.

At about 10 p.m., Srila Prabhupada and a small entourage of devotees arrived amid uprorious applause and cheering by a crowd that had waited weeks in great anticipation for this moment. Srila Prabhupada was given a seat of honor onstage and was introduced by Allen Ginsberg, who explained his own realizations about the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and how it had spread from the small storefront in New York to San Francisco.

The chanting started slowly but ryhthmically, and little by little it spread throughout the ballroom, enveloping everyone. Hippies got to their feet, held hands, and began to dance as enormous, pulsing pictures of Krishna were projected around the walls of the ballroom in perfect sync with the beat of the mantra.

By the time Srila Prabhupada stood and began to dance with his arms raised, the crowd was completely absorbed in chanting, dancing and playing musical instruments they had brought for the occasion.

As the tempo speeded up, the chanting and dancing became more and more intense, spurred on by a stageful of top rock musicians, who were as charmed by the magic of the maha-mantra as the amateur musicians had been at the Tompkins Square kirtanas only a few weeks before.
The chant rose; it seemed to surge and swell without limit. When it seemed it could go no further, the chanting stopped. Srila Prabhupada offered prayers to his spiritual master into the microphone and ended-by saying three times, “All glories to the assembled devotees!” The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood buzzed with talk of the mantra-Rock Dance for weeks afterward.

Allen Ginsberg later recalled, “We sang Hare Krishna all evening. It was absolutely great — an open thing. It was the height of the Haight-Ashbury spiritual enthusiasm.”

108 Imporant Slokas from the 1972 Bhagavad-gita As It Is

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The Hare Krishna Cookbook

Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition “Online”

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Srimad Bhagavatam Online

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Raja-Vidya the King of Knowledge

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Important Slokas from the Brahma-samhita

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Slokas from the Sri Isopanisad

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Prayers By Queen Kunti (Slokas)

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Gajendra’s Prayers of Surrender (Slokas)

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A Short Statement of the Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness

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July 9th Letter

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The Hare Krishna Explosion

Reference Material/Study Guide

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