On Tuesday evenings, we go to the beach with Swamiji and hold unforgettable Pacific Ocean sunset kirtans. Sitting on the sand, we watch the tide roll in, or chant and wait for the sun to dip below the horizon.
"Pacific means calm," Swamiji says. "That is because it is so big and great. When something is so great, it will naturally be calm because it has nothing to fear."
Haridas builds a fire beside a sand dune, and we dance and chant around it. Swamiji wears a scarf about his head, an old overcoat, and claps his hands and chants, "Govinda jai jai, Gopala jai jai, Radharamana Hari, Govinda jai jai."
Holding hands in a circle, we dance about the fire. Mukunda, Janaki, Shyamasundar, Malati, and Haridas play cymbals and tambourines. I play trumpet. Swamiji also dances, sometimes raising his arms in the air, sometimes clapping. As the stars begin to shine bright over the Pacific, and the foam and spindrift of waves recede in the dark, we sing "Narada Muni."
"You must write more such songs," Swamiji tells us, "songs praising the acharyas, great saintly persons. The bhakta in love with God wants to sing to Him and His representatives. And Hare Krishna, of all songs, is the supreme. It is the call of a child for his father, a call of pure love. Oh, there are many songs in the Vaishnava tradition, songs of Bhaktivinode Thakur, and songs of Mirabai."
After chanting, we roast potatoes and smear them with melted butter. Swamiji eats with us, sitting on a big log. And after potatoes, we roast marshmallows, and red apples stuffed with raisins and brown sugar.
As Orion and the Big Dipper shine brightly and the waves crash in the dark, we gather about the fire for warmth, and one last Hare Krishna. After this, we bow down on the sands, and Swamiji acclaims, "All glories to the assembled devotees! All glories to the assembled devotees! All glories to the Pacific Ocean!"
And we all laugh, Swamiji the loudest.
(The Hare Krishna Explosion, Chapter 9)