News coverage of Srila Prabhupada and his movement.
This article, "A Krishna returns to fold, says deprogramming failed" was published in The Boston Globe, September 3, 1974, in Boston, Massachusetts.
By Robert J. Rosenthal
With a touch of indignation showing through his normally anxiety-free Krishna consciousness, Edward Shapiro yesterday discussed his attempted deprogramming by anticult crusader Ted Patrick.
Shapiro, 20, has been a member of the Boston Hare Krishna Movement for 18 months. On Aug. 6, he went to his parents' home on Commonwealth Avenue, Newton, and found about 20 persons, mostly relatives and friends, along with Patrick and some of his aids.
According to Shapiro, a sturdy 6-footer, he was subjected to "intense psychological torture" during the next few days. He spent three days at his parents' home, then traveled to Albany, Montreal and Toronto with Patrick and his aids for further deprogramming.
"They broke me down after a certain point," Shapiro said, as he sat cross-legged on the immaculate wooden floor of the Boston Krishna Center on North Beacon street, Allston. He wore a long loose-fitting orange garment called a dhodi, and occasionally rubbed his hands over his shaven skull.
A short stump of hair at the rear of his skull was all that remained of his sikah, a topknot of long hair that male followers of Krishna wear to show their devotion.
Shapiro said that his sikah had been cut off during his deprogramming period. The deprogramming had worked for a while, Shapiro said, but it failed after he realized that he was slipping back into a "material, false life of glitter that I had chosen to leave before."
The deprogramming, according to Shapiro, included being locked in rooms, and constant verbal pressure, telling him that he had been brainwashed by phony followers of Hare Krishna. Shapiro said he was never physically assaulted but that he was violent on more than one occasion.
Nine days ago, Shapiro said, he was allowed to travel alone for the first time. He was flying from Toronto to visit his parents in North Carolina and had to transfer planes in Washington. While waiting for a flight, he met a Hare Krishna brother and decided to come back to Boston.
Soft-spoken Shapiro says he hopes to be a preacher of the Krishna faith and finds it incredible that he could be taken from the life he was trying to lead, a life he describes as "holy and moral."
"Those people psychologically tortured me," he said. "They kept me confined. Finally I just cracked and went along with them. In Canada they would take me out to bars for intoxicants and I would smoke cigarettes. They had me breaking my vows."
There is some anger toward his family, who could not be reached for an interview.
He said that he had long talks with his 18-year-old brother. "I asked him the purpose of life and he couldn't tell me. I'm interested in his welfare, but he is not following a worthwhile existence," Shapiro said.
Shapiro, who dropped out of Brandeis University after a year, says: "We are here to spiritually inquire why things are happening. Why is there birth and death? By questioning life one can get the impetus to get out of the entanglement of the world."
The Krishna center has 32 residents who share food and raise money by selling flowers and incense, which they make. Men and women live in separate quarters.
The only decorations in the Victorian style house are paintings and tapestries depicting Krishna's activities and the glorification of other Indian gods.
Shapiro said: "I wasn't satisifed with my education and college situation. What I wanted to know was the purpose of life, and no one could tell me that. This is the first thing I've found that I've been wholeheartedly involved in. There is no anxiety here, no disharmony, no rivalry, only goodness."
Photo: Basu Copal, formerly Edward Shapiro, poses in the Boston Krishna Center on North Beacon street in Allston. (Globe photo by George Kizer)
Reference: The Boston Globe, Boston, USA, 1974-09-03
This article, "A large, exotic shift - Youth turns to spiritualism as hippies, radicals fade" was published in The Idaho Free Press, August 8, 1973, in Nampa, Idaho.
By Robert Strand
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - With hippies nearly extinct and radicals fading on the campus, vast numbers of middle class youth are turning their search for a changed word to a new spiritualism.
In a shift as large as it is austere and exotic, the talk of the day concerns yoga, meditation and the contemplative life. Drugs and easy sex are out, mysticism is in.
Mantra prayers begin at 4 a.m. A ritual master teaches walking on hot coals. Devotees spend hours in Asana postures.
Bald, chanting dancers jump up and down in a trance lofting rose petals over idols of Hindu Deities.
Christians adopt the lift of St. Paul, and Jews return to the mysticism of the Sterm and Pious Hasidim.
Astonishing though the switch to spiritualism may seem, serious scholars see the impact on national life to be as potentially substantial as that of the Haight-Ashbury and the Students for a Democratic Society.
Just as most people knew somebody's son who turned bubble blowing flower child or shouting activist, so soon many may shake their heads over an acquaintance with a shaved skull, new turban or pajama pants.
The eastern mystical discovery by the young perhaps started with the trips of the Beatles and Mia Farrow to India and Maharishi Mahesh Yoga, mentor of the transcendental meditation technique.
Now TM, as it is called, is practiced by army generals, Wall Street brokers and California legislators. Its teaching has been proposed for the San Francisco school system.
Gradually since the Haight Ashbury turned from love to terror in 1967, Gurus, Dervishes, Roshis and Swamis came to lecture American youth. Lamas, driven out of Tibet by the Red Chinese, brought a Buddhist discipline new to the United States.
One rock star after another cried out messages of an Aquarian age to come, messages incomprehensible to youngsters' parents.
The list of all-out new spiritualists includes Alice Coltrain, Carol King, Clint Walker, Kate Taylor, John Fahey and Mahavishmu John McLaughlin.
In Berkeley, a recent dope-smoking audience was stunned when acid rock king Carlos Santana, known for hair to his waist, emerged on stage in a pow cut and an Indian shirt. He set up an altar with a photo of his guru, SRI Chinmoy, and gave a spiritual concert.
Jerry Rubin, one of the Chicago Seven activists, and Yippie co-founder, is very mellow these days experimenting with EST seminars, a synthesis of eastern techniques.
Another of the Chicago Seven, Rennie Davis, gave a Berkeley speech last April that shook the new left from coast to coast. He announced his adoration of a 15-year-old boy, the Guru Maharaj Ji whose devotees are expected to fill the Houston astrodome in November.
"If I didn't believe with my entire soul that Guru Maharaj Ji is going to save the planet, then I wouldn't be placing myself so far out in a limb." Davis said.
For three hours the SDS co-founder spoke softly and sweetly in the face of shouted obscenities from a furious audience of 1,000, mostly radicals.
When Davis allowed that President Nixon has good in him, too, a flurry of tomatoes flew, screaming youths rushed the stage, and Davis responded, "I love all of you very much."
Hippies and activists long were divided over whether the world can best be saved by changing the social system - or by changing one's self. Davis spent years storming the system, then switched.
The numbers involved in the Eastern and Christian varieties of the new spiritualism are impossible to pin down.
The Mandala, a Berkeley store dealing exclusively in the metaphysical and mystical, sells 75,000 books annually.
"Be here now," a book by Dr. Richard Alpert now known as Baba Ram Dass, has sold 300,000.
Alpert, a former Harvard professor who with Timothy Leary was a pied piper of LSD, returned from India as a spiritual teacher. He dismissed drugs as unnecessary.
"Spiritual Community Guide," an underground paperback, lists 371 Ashrams and related activities in California alone.
One scholar guesses the nation now has 500,000 practicing members of various Eastern religious groups, not counting TM enthusiasts and persons simply using yoga to limber up.
To that number may be added youthful thousands of the Jesus Movement with similar mystical impulses, and perhaps an estimated 300,000 neo-Pentaoostalists active in mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches.
Neo-pentacostals, born in the United States roughly at the same time as the flowering of Eastern groups, involves the entire age bracket in Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. Pentacostalists seek personal experience of God.
In the new spiritualism of youth, almost everyone is under 30, comes from middle and upper class families and is college educated. Eastern groups attract youths of all religious backgrounds, but Catholics and especially Jews appear in disproportionately high numbers.
Most have been heavy drug users, and all proclaim drugs are not needed to get high. They say righteous life can keep you high all the time.
Given their background, the significance may not simply be the new spiritualists' happening - as much as what they dramatize about doubts and hopes among young millions who never will go so far as to carry a dhoti or paint their foreheads with a tilak.
All respect Yoga and meditation, and practicing Christians and Jews still find appeal in the central thrust of the various oriental faiths, the changing or elimination of desire.
All seek joy and ecstasy in daily religious experience, and, with some exceptions, all think each major religion offers a true path to the same reality. Some paths, however, are held to be straighter.
All find American society degrading and corrupt from top to bottom, and all believe man - and his world - can be vastly improved, quickly.
New spiritualists firmly believe humanity verges on a quantum jump forward. It is called the NEW AGE, THE AQUARIAN AGE, the dawning of a new consciousness, or the coming of the Messiah.
Ivan Finmay, 21, former atheist and son of a Newark, N.J. liquor salesman, explains:
"Our parents worked hard to be middle class, and God was excluded from our life. He was cut out of the deal."
"Our generation seeks to experience the oneness of the world, to improve the planet, God promised to send us a Messiah, to show us how to improve ourselves and the world. We all feel he is coming in our lifetimes."
Having gone to the mystical roots of his own cultural background, Finmay lives in San Francisco at the House of Love and Prayer with the Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. The rabbi is widely admired in guru circles.
Finmay is a Hassidic Jew, but wears jeans instead of a long black coat and Williamsburg hat. He calls himself orthodox, but with his friends he rejects Hassidic sexual strictures and old world ways.
At the Healthy Happy Holy Organization (3HO) Ashram in San Rafael, Baba Bert, 33, onetime manager of the Grateful Dead Rock group, says, "There are only two directions to go. Either we are going to radically change the world, or we are going to blow it up."
Bert's Ashram, a 25-room mansion in an exclusive section, is one of 100 claimed operated in the U.S. under the teaching of Yogi Bhajan.
His followers, considering themselves sikhs, wear white caftans and turbans, and do not cut their hair.
Several hours daily are spent in meditation and kundalini yoga, but devotees work hard to live, as taught, "By the sewat of the brow."
In San Francisco, Norah Whiten, 24, education at the University of California and the Sorbonne, practices chastity at the Integral Yoga Institute which operates a dozen ashrams dedicated to Swami Satchidananda.
As usual, the building is sparcely furnished and immaculate - in sharp contrast with communes of hippies and activists. Potted plants and guru pictures are everwhere, even on the floor where devotees sit cross-legged for their vegetarian meals.
"May the entire world be filled with peace and joy," goes the Mantra they chant over and over awaiting everyone's presence before eating.
Miss Whiten, a San Jose businessman's daughter once arrested for her activist activity, has given up "the hate trip" of radical politics.
"When you spend all your time thinking of 'us' and 'them,' you get very paranoid," she says. "You spend so much time thinking of 'them,' you come to resemble 'them.'"
A pretty 18-year-old girl from Seattle, Carol Bollinger, daughter of a YMCA director, explains she has close-cropped her hair in the hope of becoming one of the swami's nuns.
"It always meant a lot to be to be popular with boys," she says. "But now I want to be able to love everybody."
The U.S. operation of Maharaj Ji, the boy god, is the Divine Light Mission whose 150 centers are linked by telegraph and telephone lines. Its new quality color magazine, "And It Is Divine," has a press run of 130,000.
In the Divine Light's two-tone Victorian house in San Francisco, Lynn Domenico, 24, former Golden, Colo., Catholic, hippie and activist, says, "Man, the Guru Maharaj Ji is the hottest guru on the guru circuit."
Her Ashram sends $5,000 a month in earnings to the Divine Light headquarters in Denver, and gets back $150 a week for food and other expenses of 18 residents. The $5,000 goes to financing the Astrodome event, a new city to be built in California, and evangelistic activities in the seven-story headquarters building.
In the past the young guru's devotees around the world have bought him a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes Benz and two private airplanes.
"My father says anytime I want a psychiatrist, he will pay for it," laughs Ryan Reisman, son of a Los Angeles corporation lawyer. But young Reisman says he has found peace, and "the only way to have peace is to have God rushing through your veins."
Faith in Maharaj Ji is absolute. Miss Domenico believes the guru will convert Mao Tse-Tung by 1975, and "in the next five years our organization will be feeding and clothing the entire world."
Divine Light followers, seeing their guru as "the perfect master," and are prone to argue that their's is the only true path.
Like the Hare Krishnas, they keep apart from the meeting of the ways, a local group bringing Eastern, Christian and Jewish mystical organizations together.
The Hare Krishnas, whose devotees renounce sex except for procreation, now have saffron-robed chanters on the streets of 65 cities. These followers of Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta predict the spread of their chant "to every town and village on the planet."
Among other mystic groups are the Sufi order, in the Islamic tradition, and Tibetan Buddhists, both gaining attention in intellectual circles, and Arica, a synthesis of oriental methods.
In San Francisco, American-born master Subramuniya offers disciples a 2,000-word language received in a vision, and Dr. Neville Warwick of the Kailas Shugendo sect teaches fire yoga.
The movements join the Zen Buddhists whose influence in the U.S. grew large in the 1950s, and Vedanta and Theosophical socieites, both of which have operated here for generations.
Among those involved in Eastern groups and practice are students of the Jesuit Theological Seminary, Berkeley. To concerned parents, the Rev. Michael J. Buckley, the rector, would say:
"If a person becomes more loving, more gentle and more peaceful by standing on his head, you should be delighted."
Father Buckley cites historian Arnold Toynbee's belief that the most important 20th century development will be, rather than technology, the confrontation of Christianity with Eastern religion.
Christianity, he says, is turning East where it will absorb new religious ideas and techniques - just as the early Christians assimulated Greek philosophy in the Mediterranean world.
Edward Espe Brown, a Zen Buddhist priest, comments: "The way Americans live hasn't satisfied young people. The standard way of relieving suffering - a well-paid job, a family in suburbia - hasn't worked."
"People seek something to improve their life - not the philosophy of Sunday go-to-meeting religion - but something that works," says the Rev. Earl W. Blighton. "There is a handbook for what works, the New Testament."
Blighton, who also sees the coming of a new age, is director of the Holy Order of Mans, a mystical group which has grown in a decade to operate 81 "stations" manned by 1,000 black garbed persons under life vows, mostly youths.
Jacob Needleman, author of the "The New Religions." says the notion that the intellect, through science and psychiatry, will solve all problems has soured.
"We have all we wanted - cars, TV, money, a sexual revolution, women's liberation - and it doesn't make people happy. The quality of life has not changed."
"Real religion is based on hard hitting psychology, telling us what is wrong with us, how we sell ourselves short. Ancient religion had this, and saw everything Freud saw, and more."
"Real religion has a practical method for changing the psychological structure of man. That, to me, is the religious core the west has lost."
Needleman and Father Buckley suspect the spread of Eastern practice in the U.S. will force a new Christian understanding of its own mystical traditions.
Among the young, hopes run far higher. They will ask Mayor Joseph L. Alioto to proclaim San Francisco a world spiritual center on the occasion of the autumn equinox.
Sam Bercholz, 25, Berkeley publisher, predicts that America will become "a beacon for the rest of the world" because "spiritual experience comes in desperation, and people are very, very hungry."
The forecast from the old red factory housing San Francisco's Sino-American Buddhist monastery - founded by young Americans who spend their time studying Sanskrit and Chinese texts - is more guarded.
Bhiksu Heng Ching, 29, formerly Steven Klarer and son of an air force colonel, leads a life so austere he sleeps sitting up, and has not lain down in four years. He says:
"A lot of it is faddism. But the time certainly is ripe for the real McCoy."
Reference: The Idaho Free Press, San Francisco, USA, 1973-08-08
This article, "Hare Krishna Sect Thriving in U.S." was published in Galesburg Register-Mail, August 27, 1973, in Galesburg, Illinois.
NEW YORK (UPI) - The Brooklyn temple of the Hare Krishna is alive with the odor of incense and the murmur of trance-like meditation to the Hindu god, Krishna.
Krishna worshipers, mostly under 30, are becoming a familiar part of the American urban street scene. They dance, chant, clap and ring bells to the throbbing rhythm of drums, their robes flowing, Shaved heads shining in the sun and makeup streaked across their foreheads.
The sect spread quickly across the country after it was introduced into the country from India in 1966. It has outgrown its temple and living quarters in Brooklyn, one of 45 in the United States, and is seeking a new building in midtown Manhattan.
Members - they call themselves devotees - and visitors remove their shoes in the temple to keep the floors clean. They often bow with forehetads touching the floor.
Artwork adorns the temple walls. "It's amazing the talent that Krishna gives these artists," a female devotee said during a recent tour.
She pointed to a painting of five wild horses, each a different color, pulling a carriage with two passengers. The horses represent the five senses with the mind at the reins and the soul in the back seat "being taken for a ride."
On Sundays, visitors to the temple are treated to vegetarian cooking, and introduced to the religion. Tosan Krishna, who changed his name from Thomas Allin when he be lame a member, said the desire to expand the Sunday program is one reason the sect wants a new building in Manhattan.
The Hare Krishna have another reason for wanting to move - an unhappy relationship with their neighbors, mostly Italian, in Brooklyn's working class Cobble Hill neighborhood.
"They're just not cosmopolitan," Tosan Krishna said of the neighbors.
The sect seems to be well off. It runs a profitable incense factory in California. Its centers sell incense, suntan lotion (organic tangerine or strawberry), religious books and a vegetarian cookbook. It operates a printing plant in Brooklyn.
"We focus everything on service to God," said Tosan Krishna.
This article, "'Hare Krishna' Objective is to achieve an elevated, blissful life" was published in The Brandon Sun, August 25, 1973, in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
By George W. Cornell - AP Religion Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - A high, weathered wall ringed the garden behind the big, red-brick building in Brooklyn. A sign on the front door admonished: "Srila Prabhupada needs quiet!"
Inside the front hallway, the air piquant with incense, another penciled sign advised: "Please walk softly and talk softly...Srila Prabhupada is here!"
The object of this concern was, as he is formally titled, "His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada," 76, founder and spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
"He's napping," whispered a devotee, Panchartna Das, 22. "He cannot be disturbed."
That apparently scuttled the interview, which had been scheduled in advance, with the elderly religious teacher from India who seven years ago started a movement in the West that has sung and danced its way across America.
In almost every major city nowadays you spot this followers, young men with shaven heads and topknots wearing saffron, wrap-around dhotis and tunic-like sirtas, sandal-footed young women in flowing saris with painted marks of dedication, the tiakas, on their foreheads.
"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna," they chant, swaying along. "Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
They thump their twin-headed drums, the kjol, and ring their brass hand cymbals, the kartals.
"It's great to go out on sankirtan - a chanting party in the street," said Omkama Dasi, 19, a young woman devotee operating the switchboard at the movement's temple on Henry Street in Brooklyn, N.Y.
All the Western followers, many of them young people disillusioned by hedonism or affluence, take Sanskrit names with various religious connotations symbolizing their change from "material" pursuits to a new "spiritual" path.
"We are vaishnav - lovers of God," said Goswami Bali Mardan, 26, an aide to the spiritual master and director of the New York temple, one of about 50 in the United States.
Most of the closest adherents - estimated now at 4,000 - live communally in the temples and surrounding apartment houses, going through their daily routine of chants, classes, work and vegetarian meals taken together.
"Our objective is to develop greater love of God and to achieve a platform of elevated, blissful life full of knowledge," Goswami Mardan said.
When people are out of touch with that reality, he added, they "think of themselves simply as bodies, but our real identity is spiritual - as souls, as eternal servants of God. If we don't understand who we really are, it is not possible to be happy."
The basic method of attaining this spiritual self-understanding is by chanting the name of God, called Krishna, and other sounds or "mantras" believed to release the mind from material concepts.
"Everything else follows naturally," said Goswami Mardan.
Studies are centred on the ancient Vedic literature of India, chiefly the Bhagavad Gita, which the group publishes as a source of financial support. They also sell incense, "Spiritual Sky," produced at their Los Angeles centre. Their monthly magazine, Back to Godhead, has a circulation of 300,000.
Members who hold jobs are enjoined to contribute 50 per cent of their income to the movement and members also accept donations on their musical expeditions into the streets.
In the temple altar room, as lunch neared, a dozen barefoot devotees swayed before a bright, decorative altar, while candles glowed throughout the room, bells tinkled, smoke rose from censers and Indian music came from a recorder.
For their highly flavorful vegetarian meals - "prasadam" - devotees sit on the floor, men in one room, women in another.
"We try not to have too much association between men and women," said Omkama Dasi. "We want to think only of Krishna, and if we're together too much, that's hard to do until you reach a higher level of development."
Rules of the movement prohibit illicit sex, gambling, the taking of coffee, tea, alcohol or any intoxicant and the eating of meat, fish or poultry.
The spiritual master had been welcomed the day before at Kennedy airport with an outpouring of song, dance, showers of flower petals and garlands hung over his neck.
But there were no prospects in sight for the interview.
A smiling devotee, softly chanting as he counted out the chants on his beads, paused long enough to pass along the information that "the master" was having a backrub in the garden under the flowering magnolia trees.
This article, "Hare Krishna 'Life Is the Soul, I Am Not My Body,'" was published in The Palm Beach Post, August 17, 1971, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
SAN FRANCISCO - It was an unusual dinner party.
"We've been cooking for days," one of the hosts said.
"How many people are coming?" I asked.
"About 60,000," the young man answered.
Take that, Pearl Mesta!
The young man and his fellow disciples of the Krishna Consciousness movement were putting on a festival and a feast. The Hare Krishna Rathayatra festival was the fifth such annual gathering in the San Francisco area. The yearly celebrations are also staged in London, Tokyo and India.
Four thousand people actually showed up. but of these, only 300 were "devotees" of Krishna. The rest were onlookers invited to come if they wished.
A "devotee" wears saffron-colored robes and his head is shaved except for a lock of hair remaining at the back. One of them explained. "If I spend my life keeping up hairs, this is a waste of time. It is better spent in the service of the Lord."
The Krishna Consciousness movement was discussed by a devotee. "How can I enjoy THINGS?" he asked. "That's what this world is all about. Krishna worshippers want to counteract that. We must all give up the illusory struggle for happiness...along with the bodily conception of life. Life is the soul. I am not my body. People confuse themselves with things. Have you ever noticed when one car hits another? The man jumps out of his car and yells, 'You hit me!' The man was not hit... it was his car."
I will tell you this: If anyone got hit by one of the three mammoth juggernauts the Krishna people pulled 2.5 miles through Golden Gate Park, he would not get up and yell anything. He would simply not get up.
The three "rothas" were like giant parade floats with huge 10-foot wooden wheels. The rothas were covered with silks and flowers and carried incense burning pots. On each of the three gigantic carts was a wooden Deity form of their Lord. A devotee said the idols were "authorized worshipable forms of the Lord," Not exactly like the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost...but rather, Krishna, his sister and her husband.
During the march and at the feast, members of other persuasions got in their innings. Hundreds of "Jesus freaks," the fundamentalist youth who say, Jesus is their biggest "trip," distributed literature and rapped with the crowd.
One slightly older Jesus person repeatedly yelled at the entourage his allegiance to Jesus. Perhaps he felt it was necessary to shout in order to be heard over the chanting of the Hare Krishna.
Another group worked its way through the crowd asking registered San Francisco voters to sign petitions against a transit fare increase.
It's a miracle that women's lib and the black pride groups weren't there, too, because in the play the Krishna people presented, the "demon" was in blackface; and a devotee revealed that women were expert at cooking, but not quite so expert at explaining philosophy.
The police were there, though. They were on motorcycles, motor bikes, horses and in squad cars. But the gathering was not unruly, and about the only need for police was when a television crew inadvertently locked its equipment inside their truck and the cops picked the lock.
Anyway, the Krishna people really did serve 4,000 guests. Their dinner was organic bread, which tasted like a gingerbread brownie, cherries, grapes, and sweet little balls of honey, nuts, and sugar they called halvah.
By the way, there were no place cards. But the food was pretty good. And so what if 56,000 of the expected guests didn't show? Leftovers are to be anticipated at any party, right?