Devotees and Jimmy Hendrix in Hawaii.
Govinda dasi: 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 (a venue for outdoor concerts and other large gatherings in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii). 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.
We 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.
The 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 gatekeepers, 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.
Because 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 around 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.