Srila Prabhupada was not yet known in Hawaii, especially since we had so little advance notice of his arrival. So I wanted to try to get as much good publicity as possible. I went to the TV stations and the local newspapers and radio stations to try to get the word out.
While arranging for news articles and TV coverage of Srila Prabhupada’s first visit to Hawaii, I met a young boy on the library steps in Honolulu. It was early morning, and the library was not yet open. I had come there to get the new “LIFE” magazine, which had recently printed a favorable article on Hare Krishna in America, describing Srila Prabhupada and his followers. I needed it for my publicity work. As I sat waiting for the library to open, I noticed a young hippy boy sitting nearby on the library steps also. I approached him and began to tell him about Krishna Consciousness, and Srila Prabhupada. He seemed very interested, so I invited him to come to our home and meet Srila Prabhupada. He did so, later that day, and he never left.
This young boy became Srila Prabhupada’s first initiated disciple in Hawaii. His initiation was the only fire sacrifice done at our Kaawa beach house. The name given him by Srila Prabhupada was “Balabhadra das.” He is now known all over the world for his wonderful cow and bull protection programs, since he founded “ISCOWP.” http://www.iscowp.org/index.html COUNTRY KIRTAN AT SUNSET POINT
During Srila Prabhupada’s month-long visit to Hawaii, we arranged several public speaking programs for him. One of them was held at “Sunset Point”, a beautiful and popular surf spot. We printed and distributed fliers everywhere, advertising it as a “Country Kirtan.” It was a lovely outdoor kirtan program, next to the ocean, in one of the most beautiful places on the Island. With refreshing ocean breezes, and gentle, springtime sunshine, it was a perfect setting.
Srila Prabhupada sat on a small seat in front of a palm tree, his harmonium placed in front of him. Many young people joined us that day; among them was a pretty young hippy girl who had been camping nearby. She later joined Srila Prabhupada in Los Angeles, and was initiated as Kausalya devi dasi. She later served in the first Kirtan Party in India, traveling and preaching as one of Srila Prabhupada’s famous “white elephants.”
Another young girl was very deeply impressed by Srila Prabhupada that day; she stood asking him serious questions in a sincere mood. Her name was Jill, and she soon became Srila Prabhupada’s second initiated devotee in Hawaii, with the name Jayasri dasi. Both ladies are long time devotees, and are appreciated by many.
So our original crew came to be Balabhadra, Jayasri, Turyadas, as well as Goursundar and myself. Somehow, we five worked well together, and began to spread Krishna Consciousness all over the Islands. For many months, we were the sole devotees in
Hawaii, so we became very much like a closely knit family. We still have affection and friendship for one another, and cherish the simplicity of those early days of Krishna Consciousness in Hawaii.
We remained at the Kaawa beach house for several months after Srila Prabhupada left. In early spring, a big Jimi Hendrix concert was advertised Islandwide. Goursundar and Balabhadra had gone outer island to explore preaching opportunities, so only Turyadas and I remained at Kaawa. We decided to go to the concert and chant, even though there was only the two of us. So since we had no vehicle, we went out onto Kam Highway and hitchhiked to town with some hippies who were headed in to the big concert.THE HARE KRISHNA HENDRIX CONCERT AT THE WAIKIKI SHELL
The Hendrix concert was being held at the famous Waikiki Shell, a huge outdoor amphitheater. Turyadas had his guitar, since he was a former band member. And I had a good pair of kartals. We began chanting outside the entry to the Waikiki Shell, where the crowds were gathering. Many youths stopped and watched, surrounding us in a circle. This was a new thing, after all. No one had seen this before–me in a lavender cotton sari, and Turya in his saffron brahmachary robes, dancing to the ringing of cymbals and strumming of guitar, and singing sanskrit mantra–so it caught their attention! It looked like a “cool-far-out-happening-sort-of-thing” so many youths joined us, clapping and dancing to the beat of the kartals.
And we chanted. And chanted. And chanted some more. Hours went by, and we kept on chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare…
For some reason, Jimi Hendrix never showed up for his own concert, so we became the main attraction–by default. When it was finally announced that Jimi Hendrix would not be appearing, the huge crowd began to pour out of the Waikiki Shell. Perhaps disappointed and bored, they joined in our chanting party. Then our chanting crowd became so large that the police had to escort the hundreds of fans away from the Shell, and out onto the nearby grassy meadow, where we held a huge kirtan with hundreds of Hendrix fans. It seemed like it went on for hours. It was a fantastic experience! One that neither Turyadas or myself will ever forget.
Another young girl came to us that night. By “chance” she was wrapped in a peach-colored silk sari, purchased from India Imports. She had never seen the devotees before–but someone said to her, pointing to us, “Your people are over there.” She later became known as Kusha devi, and was our second female devotee in Hawaii. Kusha devi, who helped sculpt the original Pancha Tattva Deities, continues to be a great inspiration to many devotees all over the world.
That same night, one young man sat in the bleachers waiting fb or Hendrix to appear, but kept hearing the unusual sounds of Kirtan in the distance. “Ching, ching, ching; Ching, ching, ching… He wondered what it was. Upon leaving the Shell, he too was swept up in the whirling, dancing, chanting crowd as it formed a moving mass that snaked onto the nearby meadow. This young man soon joined our temple, and became known as Babhru das, caretaker of the Tulasi gardens of New Navadwip. He also is a brilliant scholar and teacher, and serves as an inspiration to devotees everywhere.
That was one of our first big Kirtan adventures in Hawaii. We are still grateful to Jimi Hendrix and his promoters for so kindly arranging such a wonderful evening of chanting and dancing under the moonlight at the world-famous Waikiki Shell. And we are even more grateful for Krishna’s divine arrangements that allowed hundreds of youngsters to hear the Holy Names that fine spring night. And for sending sincere souls like Kusha devi and Babhru das. Hari bol!