After about six months at the Kaaawa beachside, and then three months at Sunset Beach on the famous North Shore of Oahu, we decided that Honolulu was the best place to establish our preaching work. Though more costly, we somehow managed to rent a small house only a block from the University of Hawaii, on Honeywell Street.
So the five of us, Balabhadra, Jayasri, Turyadas, Goursundar, and myself, all piled everything into our old orange truck and headed for Honolulu. Once our altar was set up, with Kartamashayi gracing the small living room, the little Honeywell Street house became our first Hare Krishna Temple.
We then began having kirtans daily at the University of Hawaii campus, inviting everyone to our Sunday Love Feast. Public Sankirtan (Sankirtan meaning the congregational chanting of the Holy Names) and the Sunday Love Feast: these were Srila Prabhupada’s original programs. They are Srila Prabhupada’s Magic Formulas for spreading Lord Chaitanya’s Sankirtan all over the world! It worked very well. It still works very well, if someone takes the time to try it.
Our landlord at Honeywell Street was a very helpful realtor who began to search out a suitable property for us–one that would be large enough to expand our preaching work. He showed us a number of places, and each time Goursundar would take me to see them, I was disappointed. Then our landlord told us about a large house that was a short walk from our present location. It was, however, far too costly, and may be impossible for us to finance.
However, he gave us the address: 2006 Mckinley Street. Since I took a flower-picking walk in the neighborhood everyday, I went by the house the next day. I walked around the perimeter of the large three-story home, feeling the pulse of the place. I discovered the back door was open, so I went inside and roamed all over the building, up the stairs and into the big main living room. When I closed my eyes, I could almost faintly hear the sounds of kirtan echoing in this place. There was definitely something extraordinary about the house–it even had a small pujari room between the kitchen and the dining room. Intuitively, I knew. This was the place. This was the new Hare Krishna Temple of Honolulu!
I rushed home to tell Goursundar. He agreed to try for the financing, and surprisingly, the owners agreed to owner financing almost immediately! So we bought the house.
Even now, this continues to amaze me. This is an example of Srila Prabhupada’s Magic. Knowing more about the real estate and mortgage industry, as I do now, I still marvel that two twenty-year-olds–new to the Islands, with no job or job history, no credit history, and very little money–could purchase a big home in Manoa Valley, in the popular University district. It is as if Srila Prabhupada sprinkled some magic Vrindaban dust over our lives, and poof! We turned into extensions of Lord Chaitanya’s Sankirtan Army. Such is the power of the “Senapati Bhakta,” the Commander-in-Chief, Srila Prabhupada.
When we moved into the big McKinley house, there was only five of us, Balabhadra, Jayasri, Turyadas, Goursunder, and myself. Balabhadra had received a small inheritance so he paid the initial down payment on the house, and frankly, we had no idea how we were going to maintain the high monthly payments. But within one month, the house began to fill up with new devotees. Our daily Sankirtans, chanting in the streets, soon brought Kusha, Babhru, Govardhana, Tarun Kanti, Ananda, and many others.
Our public chanting programs now included several evening hours in Waikiki, and several daytime hours in downtown Honolulu, at Fort Street Mall. We distributed Back to Godhead magazines on the streets of Waikiki every day. On weekends, we served our Love Feasts in the park at Queen’s Surf, in Waikiki, near the Honolulu Zoo. We continued to go to any and all festivals and concerts, even though they sometimes kept us out late at night.
Srila Prabhupada clearly told us that the public congregational chanting of the Holy Names of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, is the only way to save this planet from the evils of Kali Yuga.
Nowadays, unfortunately, this instruction has somehow been pushed to the back burner, by Maya’s influence. Sankirtan–now commonly called “Hare Nama”–is an optional event only on Saturday night. The devotees are now busy with other work which has somehow taken on more importance than the original instructions. No doubt this is everywhere due to Kali’s influence, and it has become the norm. We have great hopes that the younger generation will again take up Lord Chaitanya’s banner and lead Sankirtan parties in the streets of America. It is our only hope.