Friday, July 12, 2013

When Kirpal Came to Town

And so it was, in winter 1963, the swami Kirpal Singh of the Ruhani Satsang sect flew in by jet to the Sunshine State to lay down his rap, during the time when the nation was reeling from the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the history-altering arrival of The Beatles to America.

An old article from this site tells us more than we probably ever needed to know about what was apparently the Swami's third Florida visit in short succession (either that or whoever made the newspaper ad above was really, really, confused) noting that among the stops on his goodwill tour, he hit up a Masonic Lodge, a Christian church, and the Seaquarium:

Arriving at Tampa Airport, Florida, on December 27, Kirpal Singh was greeted by Mr. Jess Mays, his Florida representative, Mr. Dean Schumaker, the Sarasota group-leader, and Mr. George Lawrence, the group-leader from St. Petersburg. The Master gave two public talks at the Scottish Rite Club in St. Petersburg, and was also invited to the Scottish Rite Club as guest-speaker for the United Liberal Church. He was presented with the "Key of the City" of St. Petersburg by the Mayor, Mr. Herman Goldner, on December 30. Television and press photographers were present, and in the evening the presentation ceremony was screened on two television channels. That evening Kirpal Singh spoke at the Women's Club in Sarasota, about fifty miles from St. Petersburg. Meditation sittings were again held each morning at St. Petersburg, and a large number of people were initiated into the Science of the Soul on December 31, New Year's Eve.

The Master's motorcade set off for Miami, Florida, on New Year's Day, 1964, led by Mr. Jess Mays. On arrival in Miami, Kirpal Singh was welcomed by Miss Jerry Astra Turk, group-leader for that city, and many devotees. The Master was the guest of Philip and Etta Perrin, two dedicated and loving disciples, for the duration of his stay in Miami. When the Master and his party arrived at the Perrins' residence, each visitor was presented with flowers. A continual buffet-service of meals was kept in operation at the Perrins' home, which was an "open house" for all devotees, seekers and friends. The Miami Herald interviewed the Master, and a very fine report of the Tour and the Master's mission appeared in that newspaper.

Three public talks were given at the Miami Senior High School's great auditorium, and further talks were given at the Ewing Gallery and the Congregational Church of Christ. These talks were all well-attended, as were the smaller and more informal talks given at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Perrin. On January 4, a reception was given at the world-famous Seaquarium of Miami by the Director of Public Relations, Mr. Roger Conklin, Jr., in honor of Kirpal Singh. Press reporters and cameramen followed the Master and his party as he was escorted through the Seaquarium. Great amusement was created when one of the dolphins rose out of the water and grasped the Master's coat-sleeve, gently tugging it as the Master sat at the edge of the tank. A sea-cow, noted as an extremely unsociable animal and generally preferring to ignore human beings, came up to Kirpal Singh and presented itself for a gentle stroking from the Master-Saint.

Actually, the manatee is a very social animal and loves people - which is part of why it's so endangered today - but let's not let that dampen our fascination for ol' Kirpal's savoir-faire. What I really wanna know is, what else did he get up to during his visit? Did he go to the dog races? Hang out on the beach at Pass-a-Grille? Knock back Grasshopper cocktails at Charles Villa?

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