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Swami on Visit To Kaaawa Flock

This article, "Swami on Visit To Kaaawa Flock," was published in The Honolulu Advertiser, March 19, 1969, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Advertiser Religion Writer

"London is vibrating to the 'Hare Krishna' mantra..." according to a recent report in a British newspaper. 

The same thing could be said of the Windward community of Kaaawa. 

That's because Kaaawa is playing host to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, spiritual leader and founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, just as London did some time ago. 

The 74-year-old Swami is paying a four-week visit to the temporary headquarters of the Hawaii chapter of ISKCON at 51576 Kamehameha Hwy. 

Wearing a beatific smile, an orange gown, hush-puppy shoes and white socks, the swami leads his followers in chanting and dancing at ISKCON kirtans (worship services) at 7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. 

ISKCON kirtans are colorful affairs. Some of the men wear dhotis (flowing robes) and some of the women wear saris

Some finger beads as they chant. Others have two painted white lines on their forehead. 

"Everyone asks us about the white lines," a young woman disciple said. "In India it's common to wear a mark showing one is a vaishnava (devotee) of Vishnu or Krishna.

The young woman was Mrs. Gary McElroy of Kaaawa. Mrs. McElroy also is known as Govinda Dasi. 

Spiritual Names 

ISKCON's spiritual Master awards spiritual names to his followers at initiation. The word "brahmachary," signifying a knower or pursuant of Brahman, the Absolute, is given to denote an unmarried student living a regulated, celibate life of full service to the Spiritual Master. "Adhikary" denotes a married man. And the words "devi dasi" denote women, either married or not. 

"Just because we dress differently I hope you won't misidentify us as hippies." Mrs. McElroy said. "Drugs and illicit sex are prohibited once you have found Krishna Consciousness.

"For initiated members there is no need for intoxication of any sort. People take drugs to achieve a blissful state. We achieve a blissful state simply by association with the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Truth by a chanting process.

16-Word Chant 

She said devotees chant a 16-word mantra: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Hare means the energy of the Lord; Krishna is the Supreme Lord: Rama the Lord. 

Mrs. McElroy said ISKCON was founded by the Swami in July of 1966. 

"He came from India on the order of his Spiritual Master to preach love of God the people of the West," she said. "The Swami is in a line of disciplic succession going back directly 500 years to the time when Lord Chaitanya appeared in India, and from there back still further - 5,000 years - to the time when Krishna first spoke the Bhagavad Gita to His disciple Arjuna.

"And before that to Lord Brahma, the first living entity within the universe, who appeared at the time of Creation.

She said Krishna Consciousness is experienced as "a process of self-purification.

Open Secret 

"Its means and end are an open secret, and there is no financial charge for learning Krishna Consciousness or receiving initiation into the chanting of Hare Krishna," she said. 

"The gist of devotional service to Krishna is that one takes whatever capacity or talent he or she has and dovetails it with the interests of the Supreme Enjoyer, the Lord, Sri Krishna.

"The writer and poet write articles and poems for Krishna, and we publish periodicals in this way.

"The businessman does business in order to establish many temples across the country."

"The householders raise children in the science of God, and husband and wife live in mutual cooperation for spiritual progress.

"Krishna Consciousness is a powerful and life-changing force."

Photo: Reposing Swami: "A life-changing force.

Reference: N/A