This article, "Swami Decries Bodily Consciousness," was published in The Honolulu Advertiser, March 31, 1969, in Honolulu, Hawaii.
By ERIC CAVALIERO
Advertiser Staff Writer
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is a small man with a large message. He is a Holy Man.
The Swami, now visiting Hawaii, is spiritual leader and founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON).
The other day he sat cross-legged on the floor of the Hawaii chapter headquarters, at 51576 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaaawa, and answered questions about ISKON.
Q: What is the practice you preach?
A: We are preaching the original practice. Things are impractical when they are unnatural. This is natural. To forget God is artificial and impractical, but to remember God is practical. We are originally connected with God. We are sons of God - part and parcel of God - and we cannot he separated from God. This separation is unnatural.
Q: What is the basic idea behind Krishna Consciousness?
A: That means originally we are Krishna Conscious. If one revives the original consciousness - that everything belongs to God - this is practical. The land belongs to God, the food belongs to God. He just allows us a certain place to stay and certain foods to eat. God has made these things, but people are fighting over them. They are saying. "This is my state, this is my country." This is nonsense. Everything belongs to God. There is no need of this artificial United Nations - we are united by nature.
Q: If one were to begin to study ISKON techniques, what would one have to give up?
A: One would have to give up this bodily consciousness - this nonsensical idea that, "I am this body." The body is just a bag of bones and skin. The soul is within this bag, activating the body.
The body is constantly changing. We may call it growth, but it is a complete change. It changes continuously as it gets older, becomes diseased and so forth. Then it makes a final change in that it leaves this body and takes shelter in the womb of a mother. The soul gradually develops a new material body, but the soul is unchanging.
Q: Does this mean you believe in reincarnation?
A: It is a fact - it is not a question of believing. The child is reincarnated from one body to another, one world to another. Every second a reincarnation is going on. It can be ended by reviving our original position which is spiritual. We are not this matter; this is the main mistake everybody in the material world is making.
Q: How much does this course of study cost?
A: There is no charge. This costs nothing, but people simply don't come. They will go to some rascal who will charge $50 for a meeting because they want to get cheated. But this is the open truth that is here for you to understand at no charge.
Q: ISKON members speak knowingly of happiness. Don't followers of Krishna Consciousness ever get angry?
A: Yes, we can get angry. We are not artificial. A human needs to get angry. We get angry with some rascal who is against God. Krishna can he angry. I am the son of Krishna. His qualities are in me. But we use our anger only for Krishna.
Q: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had a plan to start teaching the people at 16. Will ISKON accept students this young?
A: We can teach even the child without waiting until he is 16. This age limit is artificial. Even the child in the womb of his mother we can teach. In New York when I was teaching we had many children dancing. We even had dogs dancing because the feeling of spiritual ecstasy is pervasive. We are all sons of nature - we are united by God. This is true of the ants, cows, trees, even though they have a different boily form. This is the true concept of universal brotherhood. We don't say that one cannot learn because he is a child, because he is blind, because he is not rich. Does a child wait until he is before he eats? It is a necessity that he eat before that.
Q: What plans do you have for your teachings? What would you like to do next?
A: From here I will go to San Francisco and Los Angeles, then New York and Boston. I plan also to visit New Vrindaban, our ashram of West Virginia.
Govinda Dasi, a young woman disciple: We hope to establish a similar ashram here if someone would step forward and donate some land.
Q: How about a temple?
The Swami: The temple is already here. There is no necessity of creating a huge building as a temple. We just want people to come and chant with us and listen to this philosophy. We see so many people who are suffering - they could come here and find what they are looking for. Of course, if somebody should offer to build a temple for us, it would be very nice.
The Swami Initiates
The Swami performed an initiation ceremony Wednesday night at the Kaawa ISKON headquarters.
The initiate was Bill Dove, 22, of Kaaawa, who was given the spiritual name Balabhadra Das Brahmachary. The word Brahmachary indicates that he is unmarried.
The initiation ceremony included the lighting of a fire on a foundation of leaves, sand and flower petals.
The initiate knelt down and touched his forehead to the ground in an act of obeisance to the Swami as a representative of Krishna.
Then, under the Swami's direction, the initiate poured some water onto his right hand and raised it to his mouth. This was repeated three times.
Other followers chanted as the Swami poured a variety of dyes onto the fire so that the flames turned blue, green, white and vermilion.
The Swami then dipped a number of twigs into a bowl of ghee (purified butter) and added them to the fire. Other followers threw grain, bananas and flower petals onto the fire.
"The significance of the fire ritual is that the initiate's material activities are burned up in the fire and he plants anew." Govinda Dasi, one of the Swami's followers, said.
"The fruit and other items are thrown on the fire as a sacrifice for the Lord."
As the fire ritual ended, the other disciples - some wearing robes, others with their heads shaven - began to dance to the rhythms of drums and cymbals.
As they danced, they chanted:
"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
Photo: Swami lights "the fire" at initiation ceremony.