News coverage of Srila Prabhupada and his movement.
This article, "Hare Krishna, religion and way of life" was published in The Journal Herald, October 4, 1975, in Dayton, Ohio.
By Carrie LaBriola
Journal Herald Religion Writer
It might have been the Berkeley Quad or Harvard Square, except it was McKinley Park behind the Dayton-Montgomery County Public Library.
A van pulled up Tuesday afternoon and six members of the Hare Krishna movement piled out. A few passersby paused to watch while they unloaded a portable altar and an assortment of instruments.
All had shaved heads, save for a long strand at the middle back, called a flag, representative of their belief in God, explained their spokesman Brahma Das - Servant of God.
They were dressed in loose trousers and simple cotton shirts. All wore necklaces of beads and several had strips of paint down the forehead and nose. All are symbols of renunciation and devotion to God, Brahma explained.
"IF YOU walk down the street of a city, there is nothing to remind you of God," he said. "They show people we are cultivating spiritual knowledge. The social norm is not like this. Within modern, materialistic society, we are deviants. But, within our society, modern materialistic society is deviant."
When the altar is arranged, with two oriental rugs on the grass in front, it is unveiled and the six bow to the ground in reverence, then begin the concert. Two play small cymbals, one a harmonium, another a a long-necked stringed instrument, the fifth claps and Brahma plays a drum.
As they play, they sing the familiar chant - "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare." Both are names of God - Krishna means "the all-attractive person" and Rama means "the supreme enjoyer."
THREE YOUTHS stop to watch and listen. A drunk recalls being on the Burma Road in '42, "so I know what it's like." He says when they are finished playing, he plans to cut their hair, then laughs and says he is "only kidding."
Another youth and an older man also pause to observe, then two women with shopping bags. An older woman crosses the street, listens for awhile, then asks, "What next?"
Brahma, formerly Robert Jancula, 23, is a native of Pittsburgh. He was a student at the University of California at Berkeley when he met some disciples of the movement playing music. He notes that "chanting has hypnotic effects," indicating a pair of well-dressed businessmen who have paused to listen.
"I FELT the philosophy they were giving me was more complete than anything than any other I had heard in life," he says. That philosophy was "the convincing understanding of the existence of God and our relationship with him."
Brahma says he dropped out of Berkeley after two years and joined the movement, because "real knowledge isn't just a matter of data. Education comes from the Latin word educare, to lead out. Real knowledge leads out of unhappiness and the problems of life and gives a realizaton of a higher nature. University education is only data. Most of them only forget it when class is over," Brahma laughs.
And he laughs often. He is not at all solemn or pious, but spritely and very outgoing and enthusiastic. He was given his Indian name by his guru when he was initiated.
HIS MOTHER likes to chant and dance, he says, and is pleased with his choice. But his father isn't sure; he's disappointed. Brahma points out that "he can't go down to the bar and tell his friends his son has joined a crazy group that shaves their heads. He's a nice man, but he's set in his ways." Everytime he calls home, his father asks when he will leave the movement.
A long-haired youth has joined the small band sitting on the rugs. As they play, he listens raptly. At last, one of the monks takes him aside to a bench and talks to him about the philosophy. This is the spider, a role usually played by Brahma.
"The chanting is like a web," he says. "People get caught in it. The spider goes out from the web and takes the tastiest morsel, the juiciest, the most likely suspect."
LATER, Pete Houvouras, 17, who was on his way to visit a friend when he stopped to listen to the chanting, says he has "read all about this" before. "I guess you could say I'm into it." The philosophy appeals to him "very much," he says, but he goes on his way rather than joining the group. A couple of people came back to Ghetto's Palace Yoga Institute, where their bus is parked, after an appearance Thursday afternoon, but Brahma says they may not move on to Columbus with the group.
A Dayton Fire Dept. crew stops at the curb, watching. Brahma says they rarely have trouble with the police, although they occasionally run into some restrictions.
Members of the movement are vegetarian and follow the Bhagavad Gita. They believe that "chanting helps develop spiritual consciousness," Brahma says. When they are not singing and playing the instruments, they chant silently on beads in a small pouch slung over the shoulder.
THE TRAVELING program was started a year ago with one bus and 17 men. There are now six buses and 125 men. Brahma is leader of a group of 15 who are visiting college campuses. They spent two days lecturing and chanting in philosophy classes at the University of Dayton. Yesterday they left for Columbus, where they will spend about a week. They came to Dayton from a week in Cincinnati.
As they go, they invite people who are interested in their philosophy to travel with them. The others at McKinley Park Tuesday were from Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Kansas City.
They tell their listeners that "the goal of human life is not simply economic advancement," says Brahma, "but they're conditioned to that by the media and the aristocracy."
Their bus, a converted Greyhound, is outfitted with an altar. The monks sleep on the floor.
"YOGA MEANS to only accept what is necessary for maintenance," Brahma explains. They receive donations from bystanders and sell literature and incense. Sometimes they may give a concert for a well-to-do man, who will give a donations to show his appreciation.
"We are dependent on God," says Brahma. "The point is we're trying to preach a spiritual philosophy of self-realization. If we worked in the factories, how could we preach?"
One of Brahma's companions, Dirshta Das - Servant of the Opulent One - is a political science graduate of Amherst College. Formerly David Maclachlan, 23, of Erie, Pa., Dirshta joined the group in Portland, where he was doing social work with alcoholics on skid row. He had been looking for "a philosophy I could plug into," he recalls.
"FOR SO long, I thought philosophy was very dry; religion was very unbelievable to me. I was ripe for a philosophy which embraced religious ideas, but not sentimental religious ideas, that could be backed up by philosophy."
Photo: Hare Krishna members chanting
Reference: The Journal Herald, Unknown Location, USA, 1975-10-04
This article, "Krishna singers brighten city" was published in The Sydney Morning Herald, November 13, 1972, in Sydney, Australia.
By NORMAN EDWARDS, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, University of Sydney
For some months, groups of saffron-robed, chanting, jingling Hare-Krishna devotees have been enlivening Sydney's otherwise unatmospheric footpaths.
Call this a gay scene, colorful and swinging or dismiss them as a bunch of nuisances, they are in any case fundamental to the Sydney City Council's new Strategic Plan.
This plan sets out to make the center again a place for people, to revive its once rich quality, to bring back atmosphere. In the light of this, it is sad that the continued activities of these people are threatened.
The Krishna singers, the newspaper boys, and a few fruit barrows are the only signs remaining in Sydney of a life-pattern traditionally rich in human variety. Pushing these people out of the way would seem to me to be a product of (a) puritanical beliefs (clean the place up); (b) a business mentality (they get in your way, these people, it's inefficient), and (c) a distinctively Australian intolerance of outsiders and of non-conformists.
Tidy attitudes like these underly the nature of many of our so-called civic improvement schemes: impressive buildings set in plazas, grand boulevards (Sydney's tower-lined William Street, hardly another Champs-Elysees), zoning of "undesirable" uses away from "desirable" ones. A tidy, homogeneous, artificially ordered ideology, finally boring and vapid, and nothing at all to do with the real order of life.
The best cities are the most vital, not those with the most in beautiful monuments. James Boswell in 1791 gave a good definition of cities; in speaking of London, and of those whp possessed attitudes such as these: "... whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium ... But the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible."
City centres which lack the variety and the rich, dense diversity of different people doing different things are indeed cold affairs. In Sydney, which is no exception, there are no sounds, only the noise of cars and construction sites in action, and few sights apart from the merchandise in the shop windows of a diminishing retail area steadily being displaced by more and more vertical acres of glass and concrete.
Where is the swinging set and where are the eccentrics? Where is the special flavour that makes London such a beaut place? Locally, this sort of behaviour is seen as intrusive.
The interesting fact is that the more dense and diversified are the public footpaths, the more crowded they are, the more people will want to walk there. The notion of wide spacious boulevards and of generous plazas may be fine visually but is a myth if one is talking about quality of life in downtown areas.
Sydney and Melbourne in the 1800s had the right quality. Life then was a pageant, with bootblacks and fruitos and pimps and pickpockets and clerics all jostling one another along the crowded footpaths. No doubt it had its seedy side, but it worked.
Isadore Brodsky paints the scene in "The Streets of Sydney": "The old sounds have gone - such sounds as the tramp, tramp of redcoats, the hum of the (tramway) cable beneath the road ... the precise whirring rhythm of the printing machines, the snorting of the horses over the nosebags, the loud 'Fisho! Fisho! Alivo!', the thin pipings of the penny whistle outside the public houses, the chatter of children going off (to school)..."
Even the smells (in Rome, smells are an acceptable part of the atmosphere; here, we are far too puritanical about such things): "... of hot tar in the woodblock, of curries and spices, of scented tobaccos, of peppermint sweets, of chaff, of fresh printer's inks, of water from the watercart spouting on the hot road and conjuring little stream eddies, of John Chinaman's vegetables and fruit baskets ..."
It would seem that this rich quality can no longer be, that economic forces which are too big to handle are going to go on changing the nature of the city centres from intricate human little worlds into one of giant filing cabinets, devoid of love. If in such a world there are still a few gay and innocent individuals left to lend a little sparkle to the scene, let them stay.
Reference: The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 1972-11-13
This article, "STAGE NEW DELHI REVIVAL - U.S. Krishna Chanters Tell It to the Hindus" was published in The Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1971, in Los Angeles, California.
BY WILLIAM J. DRUMMOND - Times Staff Writer
NEW DELHI - The Hare Krishnas have put on an old-fashioned, gita-thumping revival here in bustling Connaught Circus in an attempt to sink some roots in their spiritual motherland.
During six years of existence, the Hare Krishnas, whose holy book is the Hindu Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord), have spread like brushfire through the United States, California in particular, but are virtually absent from India.
Of the 34 centers of the Boston-based International Society for Krishna Consciousness, not a single one is in India. Seven are in California.
Indians in general are skeptical of the Hare Krishnas. Many Indians think of them as American hippies in Hindu clothing.
However, the Indians learned during the 10-day festival that the American gurus know their Vedic scriptures.
Inside the vast multicolored tent a few days ago, a thin, elfish-looking young American in a saffron robe sat crosslegged on a stage and answered questions from about 400 Indian listeners.
"When did Krishna Consciousness begin?" a listener asked.
Answer: "Because Krishna Consciousness is eternal, it is impossible to trace an origin. This means that there never was a time when Krishna Consciousness did not exist. So it can be said there is no point at which Krishna Consciousness has come into being from not being."
New York Accent
And so it went for more than an hour. The Hare Krishna guru spoke with a New York City accent right off the East River, but he knew his Sanskrit and the Indians were no doubt impressed.
Like most converts, the Hare Krishnas tend to have greater zeal than people who were born into the religion. Also, they tend to read the original holy book - the Bhagavad Gita - rather than someone else's interpretation of it, and therefore they exude a confidence that comes from their conviction that they are the depository of truth.
However, right now what India wants is not a purer form of Hindu religious thought.
It is a country that is trying to export more machinery in terms of value than cashew kernels. It wants technology, not theology.
On the other hand, if one listens to the Hare Krishna guru, one hears the urging to reject materialism, competition and technology.
A guru was asked what he thought of the American moon landing. He replied that it was simply a waste of time.
"If you want to transfer yourself from this planet to another planet, then you must follow the principles of the Bhagavad Gita," he answered.
"Krishna says that, if one goes back to my supreme planet, which is called Goloka Vrindaban, he will never have to come back to this miserable condition of life."
This religion of all-embracing spiritualism has found many adherents among Americans of the lost Berkeley-Woodstock-antiwar generation.
On street corners of most major American cities one sees them in their robes chanting the Hare Krishna mantra:
"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
According to their doctrine, "Hare" is the supreme pleasure potency of the Lord. Krishna is the original name of the Lord. "Rama" is another name of the Lord meaning the enjoyer, because Krishna is the supreme enjoyer.
The society was formed in New York in 1966 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is now 76 and is addressed as "his divine grace" by his followers.
According to the swami's authorized biography, he was born in Calcutta, educated at the university there and was a manager of a large chemical concern for a time before turning to the spiritual life.
He is called Prabhupada by his disciples. He claims a direct line of disciplic succession back 500 years to the time when Lord Chaitanya appeared in India, and from there back 5,000 years to the time when Krishna first spoke the Bhagavad Gita to his disciple Arjuna.
Some of Prabhupada's most memorable moments have come in San Francisco. It was there that he lectured at the Family Dog Auditorium.
Ride to the Sea
And, of course, it was there on July 27, 1969, that his followers staged Lord Jagannath's triumphal ride to the sea.
Prabhupada, accompanied by about 10,000 persons, rode in a 35-foot-high. brilliantly decorated cart from the Haight-Ashbury district through Golden Gate Park and finally to the ocean.
No comparable spectacle has occurred during the festival here in Delhi, which is to end Thursday. The tent in Connaught Circus holds perhaps 8,000 persons, and has occasionally been filled. As much as religious interest, curiosity is a main reason for the crowds because just as in Los Angeles, Boston or Honolulu, white men who shave their heads and wear skirt-like dhotis are thought of here as a bit odd.
Reference: The Los Angeles Times, New Delhi, India, 1971-11-21
This article, "Krishnas are back" was published in The Tampa Times, October 17, 1974, in Tampa, Florida.
By SARA SCHWIEDER
Times Staff Writer
The Krishnas are back in Tampa.
In their loose, flowing Indian garb and shaved heads, the Krishnas are once again chanting, dancing and spreading their spiritual word.
At a new Krishna Center opened this week, the devotees of the Hare Krishna faith will offer yoga, meditation and spiritual teachings in addition to the traditional vegetable dinners on Sundays for the public, they said.
"The thing that causes misery is that man forgets God," said Brisakapi, a devotee of the religious sect as he strolled among surprised picnickers at Lowry Park.
"If man would remember God, he could have all happiness. We're here to remind people to be God-conscious. We're here to show them they can be happy and live eternally," he said.
Hare Krishna, however, is not new to Tampa. A sect of about 30 devotees operated out of another center through 1972 and early 1973. But the more visible adherents of Hare Krishna disappeared about a year ago.
"We were sent here," said Brisakapi, whose name stands for "servant of God." "In Miami, they decided that Tampa needed to be organized, so we came here."
Eight followers of the ancient Indian religion came from Miami to operate the center at 1204 142nd St., which also functions as their temple. There they pray, meditate and study the holy book, called the Bhagavad Gita.
When they are not doing that, you might find them chanting and singing on the streets of Tampa, passing out "blessed" flowers and beating a drum.
The Krishnas chant in public to purify those around them, they said.
Brisakapi says he has 'seen eternity'
By SARA SCHWIEDER
Times Staff Writer
He gave up a booming construction business and a fancy house in the Chicago suburbs to devote his life to Hare Krishna.
But Bill Bowes, now known as "Brisakapi," or "servant of God," has no regrets.
"My construction business was going very well, but I wasn't very happy," Brisakapi, 32, said.
"We lived just like normal people. I drove a big car with a telephone in it, and got drunk and did all the things people do, but it just wasn't making it," he said.
"When I took up Hare Krishna, I became happy. It really works. We're not doing anything phony - we're actually trying to know God."
The son of a prominent lawyer, Brisakapi was raised in the Catholic Church, but became "kind of an atheist" during college, he said. A friend introduced him to the Krishna faith five years ago.
His wife of 11 years also joined Krishna Conciousness, and they are raising their small child into the faith, she said.
Dressed in a long sari and nodding in contented agreement through the conversation, she seemed very far away from her wealthy Chicago family and its American way of life.
The couple lives in a sparsely-furnished home at 1204 142nd St., Tampa, which also serves as a new Krishna Center.
"We could see how unhappy most people are, and we saw them getting cheated every day, ripping other people off, the fake joy and the false values, the ugliness of modern life - and we wanted something better," he said.
"It's like we're all ants living in an ant colony. Someone waters and feeds the ants, provides light and dark, but none of them are aware of the colony's keeper."
"We're the same way. God provides the whole cosmos, but we're oblivious to it. I wanted to know the source of this world, the intelligence behind creation - I wanted to know the source of the cosmos."
Briskapi's All-American face and lively sense of humor ruin all one's carefully constructed stereo-types of the Krishna.
Photo: Brisakapi, formerly a contractor, adjusts his son's garment and beads.
This article, "Noise Prompts Soglin to Close Mall Festival" was published in Wisconsin State Journal, October 11, 1974, in Madison, Wisconsin.
By PATRICK B. BARR Of The State Journal Staff
Mayor Paul Soglin acted upon telephone complaints Thursday afternoon to put a premature end to what should have been a day-long Hare Krishna festival on the State St. mall.
He previously had endorsed the festival of the Chicago-based group of Bhakti yogis, as well as loaded them the city's showmobile. However, he instructed the Police Dept. at 2:30 p.m. to close down the festival which began at 9:15 a.m.
This not only put a stop to the festival but to the hope of the yogis that Soglin would visit and chant along with them.
Cindy Baker of the mayor's office said telephone complaints trickled into the office before noon, but increased after the lunch hour. Calls came in from students, and workers, she said, complaining about the noise from the amplifying system.
She said that rock groups that played at the same location in the past did so during the lunch hour and as a result did not disturb anyone.
It was one of a series of festivals at major college campuses throughout the Midwest intended by the painted-faced devotees of His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to spread Krishna consciousness.
Earlier in the day, with the showmobile and 42-foot multi-colored tent from Mayapura, India, as a backdrop, members of the group engaged in chanting and meditation.
Kailasa Chandra Dasa, festival organizer, explained that the goal of the festival was to try to awaken knowledge in people of their true existence. He said no one can understand the philosophy unless they perform pious activities in the code of goodness which will produce positive effects to both giver and receiver.
Yellow, white, and pink daisies, and prasadam (round, vegetarian, sanctified food which had been offered to Lord Krishna) were handed out to by-standers and passersby alike. Long multi-colored chains of carnations were strung on the ground in front of the showmobile.
Devotees moved throughout the crowd offering books for sale and explaining their movement.
The group of 40 (including women) came to Madison in their two vans earlier this week and gave presentations at St. Francis House and Nottingham Co-op. They will leave the city today for the Kishora-Kishori temple in Evanston, III., where most of them live.
Photo: The harmonium (an organ-like musical instrument), foreground, and Mrdanga drums weren't harmonious on State St. -State Journal Photo by Edwin Stein
Reference: Wisconsin State Journal, Unknown Location, USA, 1974-10-11