At www.sitproperly.com Eric Swanger maintains a down loadable archive of “Classic ISKCON Vinyl” from back in the day. Go check it out and you will find a review of each record (that’s what we used to listen to before the invention of the CD) pictures of the covers, streaming audio and a button to download it for your mp3 library.
Recently Eric says he received a package in the mail from his friend Alan. “Not knowing what to expect, I opened it and to my ridiculous delight were two Classic ISKCON 7 inch vinyl records.
One was from Radha Krishna Temple (Los Angeles). “The second one, however, nearly brought me to my knees.” Eric says. “I had heard of it before, but figured that I’d never get a chance to listen to it, let alone add it to my collection.”
“Sometime in the early 70s,” Eric says “Visnujana Swami recorded two songs with the Dallas gurukula and released a 7 inch. I remembered that Alan had told me about it,and how he received the record.”
Here is what Alan told Eric:
“One fine spring Saturday afternoon, almost 40 years ago, a Greyhound bus pulled into Riverside Park, a tidy, quiet park near two college campuses in the Bellhaven area of Jackson, Mississippi. It was a Greyhound bus, but no ordinary Greyhound bus–this was a bus from the Radha Damodar Traveling Sankirtan Party. For those too young to remember, the Hare Krishnas converted three Greyhound buses into mobile temples to bring the message of Krsna consciousness to every town and village in the United States and Canada.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, ears and nose as devotees poured out of the bus; a wondrously exotic sight of saffron and white flowing garments, shaved, tilaked heads, the ching-ching-ching sound of kirtals, and a smoky-trail of Spiritual Sky incense billowing out with each devotee as each stepped out of the doors of the bus. The first one out was carrying a sparkling fiberglass (mirdunga) drum, and wasted no time in producing an infectious, exotic, melodious rhythmic beat. Well, up until then, I had seen these other-worldly young men and women, chiefly in my travels to and around New York City. These were the cultish people who approached my dad and I at the Atlanta and New York airports, books and incense in hand for anybody that would stop and give a moment. Taking walks with my Hasidic grandfather in the Lower East Side of the city, we’d often spot a group of these young men wrapped in saffron-colored sheets, surrounding a golden, glowing little elderly Indian man whose feet seemed to glide above the sidewalk. The mass of shaved heads with little pony-tails would stop every so often as the little golden man appeared to be expressing a point, arms and hands waving about–little did I know then, that the little golden man was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement.
As the Hare Krishnas left the bus, the mirdungas and kirtalas multiplied to produce a sound that seemed oddly familiar, not to my ears, but to my soul. Immediately, a group of people were drawn in, mostly college students, some hippies, and myself, a young, soon-to-be Bar Mitzvah boy. We joined in a circle of exuberant, uninhibited dancing and chanting lead by the devotees. This was my first kirtan.
A day or two later, the local FM radio station (which introduced the London Temple Album to Jackson), announced that the Hare Krishnas were giving a lecture and meditation discourse at an apartment near Millsaps College. My mom, very liberal and open-minded, took me, after all, she was a big fan of ISKCON’s Spritual Sky incense (she bought from some devotees in New Orleans earlier that year), and hoped to replenish her supply. I don’t remember much about the discourse, other than chanting the Mahamantra that was printed on little cards given out to everyone present. “Please chant: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chant these words and your life will become sublime.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but the lecture was given by the mystical Vishnujana Swami Maharaja, as several years later confirmed to me by senior devotees at Mississippi’s New Talavana Farm Community.
Vishnujana was very kind to everyone, constantly smiling and patiently answering everyone’s questions. I remember tasting prasadam for the first time, thinking it was the most amazing food I have ever put in my mouth. Before leaving, Vishnujana made sure to thank everyone who attended personally, and gave my mom a KRSNA BOOK to which my mom gave a nice donation. Vishnujana Swami warmly thanked my mom, asked us to wait a moment, and briefly left the room. He returned with a 45 rpm record. My mom asked if it was a record of Indian music, to which Vishnujana laughed. I don’t remember his exact words but he explained it was a recording of a ‘bunch of ecstatic children screaming their love for God.’ We left that glorious evening, happily humming the mantra, KRSNA BOOK, Vishnujana record, and, oh yeah, Spritual Sky Patchouli Incense, in hand.
This record has given me and many friends years of listening pleasure. All thanks and praises to Eric, who painstakingly cleared out many scratches and clicks; now, this gem can be shared with so many others as it makes it debut into cyberspace.
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Jaya Vishnujana Swami Maharaja Ki !!!!
Aspiring to serve,
Click here to see the record and download the audio at Sit Properly Have a look around whilst youare there and see what else is on show.