|(continued from My Early Days, below…)
As we lifted the golden gulab jamuns from the fragrant ghee into the shimmering sugar syrup, Upananda continued his tale:
Sydney’s first tiny Hare Krishna Temple had been in the inner-city suburb of Potts Point. In their spare time, Bali, Upendra, and friends used to chant with drums and cymbals in The Domain, a vast, well-kept expanse of parkland dotted with sprawling old fig trees near the city.
The Domain was well known as a ‘Park for the People’, where thousands had flocked for years to watch cricket matches and military reviews. More recently, it had been host to protests against the presence of nuclear bases and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Within walking distance of their small temple, it came alive every Sunday afternoon, offering instant crowds that eagerly gathered around anyone who had something to say. Philosophers, evangelists, political activists and popular heroes would proselytise atop ladders, in the same way as in ‘Speakers’ Corner’ at London’s Hyde Park.
As the Hare Krishna devotees arrived each week, dozens of various speakers would already be standing atop ladders and boxes. They promoted a vast array of doctrines – creationism, rationalism, pacifism and republicanism to name but a few.
Fundamentalist Christians with banners proclaiming “Ye Must be Born Again” and “The End is Nigh” vied for attention with real and quasi-religious preachers. Communists and Anarchists stood beside Irish revolutionaries and old Aborigines singing songs.
In the archival photo above, we see, from right to left, Upendra (playing drum), newly-arrived Christine (later to become Vaibhavi), her partner Chris (later to become Caru), Upananda, Govinda Nandini, and Govinda Nandini.
After chanting and addressing the crowd for some time, Upendra, accompanied by Upananda and friends, would extend an open invitation to the crowd to return with them to the temple for a ‘Love Feast’.
The devotees would then walk back across the grasslands, followed by an assortment of hippies and ‘free-spirits’, past the wharves and up the staircase on the cliff face that led to the quaint old temple at Potts Point.
to be continued…
Posted by Kurma on 8/2/07; 5:10:58 AM