While reading through Srila Prabhupada's letters, I found His Divine Grace referring to a newspaper article about his movement. I found it an interesting idea to try to fish the article out and see what was it about. After a little browsing, here it is. I hope to find some more to add up to this series as these articles may provide some unseen photographs of Srila Prabhupada and his disciples and give us a glimpse into the contemporary perception of the Hare Krishna movement and the way Srila Prabhupada dealt with it.
This article appeared in the 'Daily Californian' written by Harlan Jacobson, who was a senior in Psychology, on May 22, 1968. Here is an excerpt:
'This article is for those students who are dissatisfied with the gross materialism of life - even college life - and want something better. If you're the complacent type, cast your eyes elsewhere.
In San Francisco at 518 Frederick Street, not far from the Haight-Ashbury dropouts, fifty young men and women have organized a religious commune that could change the world. It is called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It offers a most palatable and exciting presentation of the method and theory of God-Consciousness.
The service I attended last Friday began as the last rays of the evening sun shone on the devotees. Its orange streaks lit up the dark rug and the paintings of Krishna which lined the wall.
The carved altar was elaborately decorated with flowers and incense.
The service, called Kirtan, officially began at seven o'clock with the blowing of a conch shell. For ten minutes prayers were chanted for the spiritual master, Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta. Then everyone began to repeat a chant called the Maha Mantra. It went: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.
They chanted with eyes closed, clashing cymbals, sitting cross-legged, dancing in ecstasy. The chanting, which continued for thirty minutes, was followed by a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita, and was followed again by another thirty minute chanting session.
The chanting made me feel good. There was something in the sounds of the words that seemed to warm those who chanted them.'
Srila Prabhupada writes in his letter:
My Dear Harer Nama,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated May 24, 1968, along with the news article published in the Daily Californian, p.9, on Wednesday May 22, 1968. The pictures and the statement are very appropriate and I hope this article will attract the attention of many students.
Actually this Krishna Consciousness movement is the greatest need of the present day situation of the world. It is authorized approved and very old, and practical. It can be accepted by any person in any part of the world; that is already tested. Now each one of us has got a great responsibility to spread this movement as far as possible and that is the greatest service to the suffering humanity. You are a student of psychology, so you can study this movement more clearly than others, and try to spread it to your best capacity.
Regarding your 2 questions: For offering prasadam simply prayers to the Spiritual Master is sufficient. The process is that everything is offered to the Spiritual Master, and the Spiritual Master is supposed to offer the same foodstuff to the Lord. When a thing is offered to the Spiritual Master, he immediately offers to the Lord. That is the system, and as we come by parampara system, it is our duty to go through the right channel—namely, first the Spiritual Master, then Lord Caitanya, and then Krishna. So when we chant prayers, we do this, Bande ham Sri Guru . . . and gradually to the Goswamis, then to Lord Caitanya, and then to Radha Krishna. That is the praying system. But offering the prasadam to present everything before the Spiritual Master whose picture is also in the altar, means that the Spiritual Master will take care of offering the foodstuff to the Lord. Therefore simply by chanting the prayer to the Spiritual Master, everything will be complete.
I think a copy of the Daily Californian in which the article has appeared may be sent to each center of our society, and by that they will be encouraged. If possible, kindly arrange this.