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News coverage of Srila Prabhupada and his movement.

Swami Decries Bodily Consciousness

This article, "Swami Decries Bodily Consciousness," was published in The Honolulu Advertiser, March 31, 1969, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Advertiser Staff Writer 

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is a small man with a large message. He is a Holy Man. 

The Swami, now visiting Hawaii, is spiritual leader and founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON). 

The other day he sat cross-legged on the floor of the Hawaii chapter headquarters, at 51576 Kamehameha Hwy., Kaaawa, and answered questions about ISKON. 

Q: What is the practice you preach? 

A: We are preaching the original practice. Things are impractical when they are unnatural. This is natural. To forget God is artificial and impractical, but to remember God is practical. We are originally connected with God. We are sons of God - part and parcel of God - and we cannot he separated from God. This separation is unnatural. 

Q: What is the basic idea behind Krishna Consciousness? 

A: That means originally we are Krishna Conscious. If one revives the original consciousness - that everything belongs to God - this is practical. The land belongs to God, the food belongs to God. He just allows us a certain place to stay and certain foods to eat. God has made these things, but people are fighting over them. They are saying. "This is my state, this is my country." This is nonsense. Everything belongs to God. There is no need of this artificial United Nations - we are united by nature. 

Q: If one were to begin to study ISKON techniques, what would one have to give up? 

A: One would have to give up this bodily consciousness - this nonsensical idea that, "I am this body." The body is just a bag of bones and skin. The soul is within this bag, activating the body. 

The body is constantly changing. We may call it growth, but it is a complete change. It changes continuously as it gets older, becomes diseased and so forth. Then it makes a final change in that it leaves this body and takes shelter in the womb of a mother. The soul gradually develops a new material body, but the soul is unchanging. 

Q: Does this mean you believe in reincarnation? 

A: It is a fact - it is not a question of believing. The child is reincarnated from one body to another, one world to another. Every second a reincarnation is going on. It can be ended by reviving our original position which is spiritual. We are not this matter; this is the main mistake everybody in the material world is making. 

Q: How much does this course of study cost? 

A: There is no charge. This costs nothing, but people simply don't come. They will go to some rascal who will charge $50 for a meeting because they want to get cheated. But this is the open truth that is here for you to understand at no charge. 

Q: ISKON members speak knowingly of happiness. Don't followers of Krishna Consciousness ever get angry? 

A: Yes, we can get angry. We are not artificial. A  human needs to get angry. We get angry with some rascal who is against God. Krishna can he angry. I am the son of Krishna. His qualities are in me. But we use our anger only for Krishna. 

Q: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had a plan to start teaching the people at 16. Will ISKON accept students this young? 

A: We can teach even the child without waiting until he is 16. This age limit is artificial. Even the child in the womb of his mother we can teach. In New York when I was teaching we had many children dancing. We even had dogs dancing because the feeling of spiritual ecstasy is pervasive. We are all sons of nature - we are united by God. This is true of the ants, cows, trees, even though they have a different boily form. This is the true concept of universal brotherhood. We don't say that one cannot learn because he is a child, because he is blind, because he is not rich. Does a child wait until he is before he eats? It is a necessity that he eat before that.

Q: What plans do you have for your teachings? What would you like to do next?

A: From here I will go to San Francisco and Los Angeles, then New York and Boston. I plan also to visit New Vrindaban, our ashram of West Virginia. 

Govinda Dasi, a young woman disciple: We hope to establish a similar ashram here if someone would step forward and donate some land. 

Q: How about a temple? 

The Swami: The temple is already here. There is no necessity of creating a huge building as a temple. We just want people to come and chant with us and listen to this philosophy. We see so many people who are suffering - they could come here and find what they are looking for. Of course, if somebody should offer to build a temple for us, it would be very nice.

The Swami Initiates 

The Swami performed an initiation ceremony Wednesday night at the Kaawa ISKON headquarters. 

The initiate was Bill Dove, 22, of Kaaawa, who was given the spiritual name Balabhadra Das Brahmachary. The word Brahmachary indicates that he is unmarried. 

The initiation ceremony included the lighting of a fire on a foundation of leaves, sand and flower petals. 

The initiate knelt down and touched his forehead to the ground in an act of obeisance to the Swami as a representative of Krishna. 

Then, under the Swami's direction, the initiate poured some water onto his right hand and raised it to his mouth. This was repeated three times.

Other followers chanted as the Swami poured a variety of dyes onto the fire so that the flames turned blue, green, white and vermilion.

The Swami then dipped a number of twigs into a bowl of ghee (purified butter) and added them to the fire. Other followers threw grain, bananas and flower petals onto the fire. 

"The significance of the fire ritual is that the initiate's material activities are burned up in the fire and he plants anew." Govinda Dasi, one of the Swami's followers, said.

"The fruit and other items are thrown on the fire as a sacrifice for the Lord."

As the fire ritual ended, the other disciples - some wearing robes, others with their heads shaven - began to dance to the rhythms of drums and cymbals.

As they danced, they chanted:

"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."

Photo: Swami lights "the fire" at initiation ceremony.

Reference: The Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii, USA, 1969-03-31

Editor's daughter finds her high purpose in religion

This article, "Editor's daughter finds her high purpose in religion," was published in Honolulu Star Bulletin, March 28, 1971, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

This is another in a series of articles on attitudes and goals of the new generation as reflected by the children of prominent Hawaii residents. 

Advertiser Staff Writer

On Maile's forehead was painted the traditional  tilaka: "Krishna's footprint, a sign of devotion.

Her right hand, meanwhile, fingered smooth beads of tulasi wood in a cloth bag at her side: "doing japa - to purify the sense of touch; a yoga to keep the senses centered on Krishna.

And she danced in her orange and white sari - up and down, from side to side - to the Vedic mantra (chant) prescribed for this time in history: 

"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Then, following an hour-long meeting at the Krishna Temple on McKinley Street in Manoa, 17-year-old Maile Griffin, the daughter of John Griffin, The Advertiser's editorial page editor, talked of her love for Prabhupada, her master. 

(Prabhupada - A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, 75, an Indian holy man - is the leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), an organization which follows the religious teachings of India's 485-year-old Sankirtan movement.) 

"You see," Maile started, "practically all of us here at the temple were rebels of some kind before. But we've become more practical now.

"Now, we're helping society in the highest way: through love of God, Krishna.

"WE'VE GONE beyond the concept of self - where you're Leonard and I'm Maile. We've transgressed it. Each person is a pure-spirit soul, so we look at him that way.

"Like the way to help the Vietnamese - or the way to stop the war - is to give in the highest way. You can't change it from the outside, you've got to change the people.

"And this is what we're doing.

Several times during this interview, pretty Maile (her spiritual name is Maile devi dasi) made references to what she called body-consciousness. 

"LIKE SO MANY people on this Island are very race conscious. They're very body conscious," Maile said. "But it really doesn't make any difference, because it's only your body.

"But people think this body is The existence.

"They feed it, they decorate it. It's the ultimate end. And this relates to giving. Giving gives people the highest happiness; and so they give.

"But they give bodily associations.

GIVING BODILY associations, Maile said, isn't as relevant as spiritual giving. 

"Like my father. He makes a lot of money, but there's still something that doesn't satisfy. He still has to take vacations.

"I suppose if I'd had my choice before, I would have wanted to write editorials. But still, what he's giving people is incomplete. He's still working on the material platform.

"Say if everybody is elevated economically and socially to his platform, there'll still be something missing.

MAILE CITED cellular regeneration as evidence that human bodies are not enduring structures. 

"Like all your cells die every five years. There's a turnover of cells, so like I'm a completely different person than I was when I was 12 years old.

"But my consciousness is still there. It's never born. Like you couldn't remember yourself coming into this existence, because you've always been a pure-spirit soul.

"KNOWLEDGE CAN be used, though. Think about Shakespeare. The realizations he had were unique for his day. He realized the condition of material misery for one thing.

(Maile then interrupted her Shakespeare thoughts to quote from T.S. Eliot's poem. "The Hollow Man.") 

(She said: "We are the hollow men, the stuffed men. our heads filled with straw." Then ended with: "This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.") 

Then, getting back to Shakespeare, Maile said: "I mean, but what does Shakespeare have now? He's gone and had to take on another body.

YOUNG MAILE is a 1970's fascination: her head is into ancient Vedic scriptures, Eliot, Shakespeare; her body's committed to celibacy and a vegetarian diet; and she digs living communally, with three women and 11 men, in service to Krishna. 

"Do you regret any of your past life, before joining the Krishna Consciousness group?" Maile was asked. 

"Oh yes. I regret everything. I regret that I haven't learned about Krishna before. You see, if you weren't born into a family of devotees, you learned everything the wrong way."

MAILE SAID that she was first turned on to Krishna at Kalani High School, when members of the now - defunct Haiku Meditation Center visited the school to chant and preach. 

"What Sai (Sai Young, the Haiku group's leader) had to say was perfectly logical," Maile said. So she got more and more involved in the movement. 

(Young, 22, whose real name is Chris Butler, is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Willis Butler of Kailua.) 

Photo: Sari-clad Maile: "Each person is a pure-spirit soul...

Reference: Honolulu Star Bulletin, Hawaii, USA, 1971-03-28

Chant Hare Krishna To Reach Perfection

This article, "Chant Hare Krishna To Reach Perfection," was published in The Daily Tar Heel, March 28, 1969, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

All those interested in reaching perfection in life are asked to attend a feast of sacred food and chant the Hare Krishna Mantra this Sunday at noon. 

No previous experience necessary. 

The feast is arranged by Bhurijana das Bramachary to start a Krishna Meditation Society. It will be held at 107 Laurel Ave. 

The Krishna Society was brought to this country by an Indian holy man named A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami about three years ago. Swami said, "The transcendental vibration set up by the chanting of the Hare Krishna Mantra is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness.

Bramachary planned the feast in honor of Lord Ramachandra's appearance day. "Through these processes of eating the sacred food and chanting and reading from the Bhagavad-Gita, perfection in life can be reached." 

"Perfection is pure consciousness which we revive and become happy, peaceful and even blissful," said Bramachary. He added that the method is "simple, practical and very sublime.

Bramachary said there are no officers of the society now, but he plans to hold meetings at 7:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

The chant says, "hare krishna-hare krishna, krishna krishna-hare hare, hare rama-hare rama, rama rama-hare hare.

Other societies are at Ohio State University, University of Buffalo and the Universities of Seattle and Berkeley. 

Reference: The Daily Tar Heel, Unknown Location, USA, 1969-03-28

Krishna movement brings ancient Indian religion to Brooklyn

This article, "Krishna movement brings ancient Indian religion to Brooklyn," was published in Star Tribune, March 19, 1969, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

New York Times Service

New York, N.Y. 

The visitor, looking for the Radha Krishna Temple in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, encounters a friendly housewife who says, "Oh, you're going to the Harry Krishners. The neighborhood sure has changed. Now it's got all kinds. But I guess they're harmless, even with their funny clothes and all.

In the reception room of the brownstone at 439 Henry St. (formerly a Catholic convent), a pretty girl in a daffodil-colored sari and with a small gold ring in one nostril says, "Hare Krishna," and with a welcoming smile adds, "you're expected.

Leaving shoes behind - they are not permitted - the visitor pads up a staircase, following a devotee who explains that prasadam (the word means mercy of the Lord, which food is called) is ready. 

Walls are decorated with paintings of the Lord Krishna, the supreme godhead of Krishna consciousness, whom the scriptures say appeared 5,000 years ago and remained on earth for 125 years, taking 16,108 gopis (consorts) and fathering 10 children with each. 

Other paintings show Lord Caitanya, who is said to be an incarnation of God, and who "clarified" the Bhagavad-Gita scriptures 500 years ago and whose teachings the present movement follows. Photographs show the spiritual master, his divine grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the international movement from a Lower East Side storefront six years ago. 

The room is almost over-poweringly perfumed with incense. The movement owns the largest incense company in this country, called Spiritual Sky. Sales from the incense and recently added perfumes and toilet articles are $2 million a year, a devotee said. 

The hosts are two pairs of grihastas - married devotees. 

Rukmendi Dasi, whose karmie or outsider name is Wendy Buchwald, is a vivacious young woman center-parted hair over which she has draped one end of her sari. Her husband, Baradraj Dasdas, was known as Mark Buchwald in karmie life. 

Baradraj is an artist and Works at the society's printing press on nearby Tiffany St. Rukmeni's work is caring for the needs of the deity, sewing his costumes and making daily offerings of incense, food, water and flowers. 

The other couple are Bhadra (Connie Vologna Ball), a forthright 23-year-old, and Pariksit (Douglas Ball), who, like Baradraj, wears his head shaved except for the sikha, or flag of hair, at the back - "so krishna can pull out your soul.

The most irresistible member of the group is a gurgling baby whose birth certificate reads Tulasynanda Ball. Born four months ago, he now weighs 17 pounds. Tulasyananda smiles, blows bubbles and rubs at the freshly painted telok on his nose. He is being breast-fed until he is 6 months old. 

The devotees sit cross-legged on the floor and chant a prayer, then prasadam is presented. The first course is a sort of thick soup of mixed vegetables. There is a plate of herbed rice and flat buckwheat cakes that resemble Mexican tortillas. 

The main course includes various chopped and spiced vegetables, strips of fried eggplant, various mixtures of fruits and nuts, and round white sweetballs made of milk curd. Milk is the protein staple of the Krishna followers. 

The tray contains  no meat, fish or eggs. The destruction of living creatures (eggs are considered embryonic life) is one of the society's "no-nos." The others are intoxicants - meaning anything from drugs to Coke to weak tea; illicit sex - that is, outside of marriage and for reasons other than procreation: and gambling, even in the mind. 

In addition to restricting sex to once a month, the couple is required to chant 50 rounds of the mantra on their beads before engaging in sexual acts. Devotees are required to chant 16 rounds of the mantra daily: going at a fast clip, this can mean two hours. 

Bhadra is frank about her karmie life. She comes from an Italian family in Queens. She attended Catholic schools and at 18 left home for an apartment in Manhattan. 

"I got into the drug scene, the big rock scene, the political scene. I was a revolutionary one week, a groupie the next. I popped a lot of acid, speed and marijuana.

She worked as a commercial coordinator for CBS-TV. 

"I used to see those crazy Hare Krishna kids in the Village, dancing and chanting. One day a boy sold me a book for 50 cents. I read it. It was so nice. You can have God as a lover, a friend, or whatever you want.

She telephoned the temple and was invited to come to a class in the Bhagavad-Gita scriptures. After the class she went out and danced with the group and that weekend moved into the temple. 

That was three years ago. She met Pariksit in the movement. The former Douglas Ball was born on a farm in Ault, Colo., 22 years ago. He attended Colorado State for two years, noticed the Krishna chanters at student protests, and decided to quit college and join them. 

The marriage was arranged in that Bhadra asked the temple president if she might marry Pariksit. A year and a half ago they went through a civil ceremony and then a more elaborate one at the temple. Bhadra's father and some of her aunts attended. Her stepmother did not. She sees her father from time to time.

"My father wants me to be happy," she explains, "but the family wants me to make them happy in their way, to satisfy the senses, have money.

Even more difficult for an outsider to understand is how she will be able to part with her son when he reaches the age of 5. At that time he will be expected to attend Krishna consciousness school in Dallas, and his parents will see him only twice a year. "She'll cry," Pariksit says of his wife. "No, I won't, I'll be happy that he is advancing.

Bhadra spends several hours each morning working as a bookkeeper for the Spiritual Sky Co., for which she is paid $40 a week. That takes care of the rent and utilities. The couple eat at the temple, which also provides clothes bought at wholesale. 

"How can they live like that?" asks a Cobble Hill neighbor. How, indeed, can the young people live a day that begins at 3 am. and ends about 9 p.m.? And a marriage where sex is supposed to stop entirely for the woman when she reaches 30 and is no longer encouraged to bear children? (marriage is monogamous in the Western movement, and it is forever. Couples may not separate unless they "bloop" - that is, drop out of the movement.) 

"There's carrying on in there," said the neighbor, shaking his head at the temple. "You can smell that stuff all over the streets. They say it's incense, but I'll bet it's drugs. And, you know, they can have all the wives they want. Not like us Catholics.

"We have an image problem," admitted one devotee. But with centers in 62 cities around the world (27 in the United States) the movement is a far cry from the original store front in the East Village only six years ago. 

Reference: N/A

Swami on Visit To Kaaawa Flock

This article, "Swami on Visit To Kaaawa Flock," was published in The Honolulu Advertiser, March 19, 1969, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Advertiser Religion Writer

"London is vibrating to the 'Hare Krishna' mantra..." according to a recent report in a British newspaper. 

The same thing could be said of the Windward community of Kaaawa. 

That's because Kaaawa is playing host to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, spiritual leader and founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, just as London did some time ago. 

The 74-year-old Swami is paying a four-week visit to the temporary headquarters of the Hawaii chapter of ISKCON at 51576 Kamehameha Hwy. 

Wearing a beatific smile, an orange gown, hush-puppy shoes and white socks, the swami leads his followers in chanting and dancing at ISKCON kirtans (worship services) at 7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. 

ISKCON kirtans are colorful affairs. Some of the men wear dhotis (flowing robes) and some of the women wear saris

Some finger beads as they chant. Others have two painted white lines on their forehead. 

"Everyone asks us about the white lines," a young woman disciple said. "In India it's common to wear a mark showing one is a vaishnava (devotee) of Vishnu or Krishna.

The young woman was Mrs. Gary McElroy of Kaaawa. Mrs. McElroy also is known as Govinda Dasi. 

Spiritual Names 

ISKCON's spiritual Master awards spiritual names to his followers at initiation. The word "brahmachary," signifying a knower or pursuant of Brahman, the Absolute, is given to denote an unmarried student living a regulated, celibate life of full service to the Spiritual Master. "Adhikary" denotes a married man. And the words "devi dasi" denote women, either married or not. 

"Just because we dress differently I hope you won't misidentify us as hippies." Mrs. McElroy said. "Drugs and illicit sex are prohibited once you have found Krishna Consciousness.

"For initiated members there is no need for intoxication of any sort. People take drugs to achieve a blissful state. We achieve a blissful state simply by association with the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Truth by a chanting process.

16-Word Chant 

She said devotees chant a 16-word mantra: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Hare means the energy of the Lord; Krishna is the Supreme Lord: Rama the Lord. 

Mrs. McElroy said ISKCON was founded by the Swami in July of 1966. 

"He came from India on the order of his Spiritual Master to preach love of God the people of the West," she said. "The Swami is in a line of disciplic succession going back directly 500 years to the time when Lord Chaitanya appeared in India, and from there back still further - 5,000 years - to the time when Krishna first spoke the Bhagavad Gita to His disciple Arjuna.

"And before that to Lord Brahma, the first living entity within the universe, who appeared at the time of Creation.

She said Krishna Consciousness is experienced as "a process of self-purification.

Open Secret 

"Its means and end are an open secret, and there is no financial charge for learning Krishna Consciousness or receiving initiation into the chanting of Hare Krishna," she said. 

"The gist of devotional service to Krishna is that one takes whatever capacity or talent he or she has and dovetails it with the interests of the Supreme Enjoyer, the Lord, Sri Krishna.

"The writer and poet write articles and poems for Krishna, and we publish periodicals in this way.

"The businessman does business in order to establish many temples across the country."

"The householders raise children in the science of God, and husband and wife live in mutual cooperation for spiritual progress.

"Krishna Consciousness is a powerful and life-changing force."

Photo: Reposing Swami: "A life-changing force.

Reference: N/A

N.Y. judge rules Hare Krishna movement is bona fide religion

This article, "N.Y. judge rules Hare Krishna movement is 'bona fide religion'," was published in Arizona Daily Star, March 18, 1977, in Tucson, Arizona. 

Complied From Wire Services 

NEW YORK - The Hare Krishna movement was called a "bona fide religion" yesterday by the state Supreme Court justice in Queens, who threw out two indictments against officials of the movement that charged them with illegal imprisonment of two members and attempted extortion from the father of one of the believers. 

"The entire and basic issue before this court," said Justice John L. Leahy, "is whether or not the two alleged victims in this case, and the defendants will be allowed to practice the religion of their choice - and this must be answered with a resounding affirmative.

The indictments, handed down last year, were the first of their kind against the Hare Krishna movement.

The indictments allege that Angus Murphy, president of the New York temple of the religion, and Harold Conley, supervisor of women at the temple, held Edward Shapiro and Merylee Kreshour in the temple, illegally, by brainwashing them. 

Murphy was also accused of acting in concert with the movement and trying to extort $20,000 from Shapiro's father. The allegations were denied by Shapiro's son and by Miss Kreshour. 

The grand jury was convened after Kreshour said she was kidnaped by Galen Kelly, a Kingston, N.Y., private detective hired by her mother, to get her into deprograming. Her mother and Kelly were not charged, and the grand jury spent a month hearing testimony from former Hare Krishnas and parents around the country. 

Leahy, after finding that Kreshour and the younger Shapiro had lived voluntarily in the temple, and finding no case for attempted extortion, said: 

"The Hare Krishna religion is a bona fide religion with roots in India that go back thousands of years. It behooved Merylee Kreshour and Edward Shapiro to follow the tenets of that faith and their inalienable right to do so will not be trammeled upon.

"The separation of church and state must be maintained. We are, and must remain, a nation of laws, not of men. The presentment and indictment by the grand jury was in direct and blatant violation of defendants' constitutional rights.

The judge pointed out that the prosecution, during the hearing last month, had conceded that no physical force had been used by the defendants against Kreshour or the younger Shapiro, adding: 

"The said two individuals entered the Hare Krishna movement voluntarily and submitted themselves voluntarily to the regimen, rules and regulations of said so-called Hare Krishna religion, and it is also conceded that the alleged victims were not in any way physically restrained from leaving the defendant organization." Turning to the allegations of brainwashing, he said: 

"It appears to the court that the people rest their case on an erroneous minor premise to arrive at a fallacious conclusion. The record is devoid of one specific allegation of a misrepresentation or any act of deception on the part of any defendant.

Murphy heralded the dismissal of "mind control" charges against his movement as a victory for those who seek religious relief from "a dangerous and hellish world.

"When somebody's right to seek freedom on spiritual platforms is limited by the law, then I guess any other kind of liberty becomes meaningless," an elated, saffron-robed Murphy said. 

Murphy wore a garland of green-tinted carnations in observance of St. Patrick's Day and carried a "danda," a staff that signifies he is a Krishna monk, for his court appearance. 

Queens assistant Dist. Atty. Michael Schwed, who handled the case, said he had been told not to comment on the decision. He said the district attorney would decide whether to seek further indictments or appeal.

The director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Ira Glasser, hailed the decision. 

"Schwed had been sort of functioning like an avenging angel, claiming the power to decide what other people should believe," he said. "That is something our system, through the Constitution, prohibits government from doing and I think the court put Schwed in his place.

Leahy, who stressed that his decision is intended as a "dire caveat to prosecutional agencies throughout the length and breadth of the land," cited the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and said: 

"The freedom of religion is not to be abridged because it is unconventional in its beliefs and practices or because it is approved or disapproved by the mainstream of society or more conventional religions.

"Without this proliferation and freedom to follow the dictates of one's own conscience in this search for and approach to God, the freedom of religion will be a meaningless right as provided for in the constitution.

Reference: N/A

Attracting Youth Here: Cult Of Chanters

This article, "Attracting Youth Here: Cult Of Chanters," was published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1970, in St. Louis, Missouri.

By Connie Rosenbaum 
Of the Post-Dispatch Staff 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS HAS COME to St. Louis. The chanting cult that separates the spiritual flower children from the drug-set hippies has recently opened a temple at 4558 Laclede Avenue. In the sparsely-decorated, three-room apartment, the sweet-smelling scent of burning incense mingles with monotonous drum and cymbal music as devotees sing a 16-word prayer that, they say, leads to the sublime life. 

Vamandev Das and his wife, Indira Dasi, opened their center, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, four months ago. The group, they say, is dedicated to achieving peace, happiness and spiritual awareness by repeating the prayer or great mantra. Members express their service to the god Krishna by performing kirtans - prayers and chanted rituals, they explained.

The poet-guru Allen Ginsberg recently gained national attention for the fast-growing cult when he recited the chant of words meaning God in the court of United States District Judge Julius J. Hoffman at the Chicago Seven trial.

Outside the Gary Theater in San Francisco last summer, chanters with shaven heads and saffron robes continuously repeated the same mantra. Inside, the actors in the musical "Hair" accompanied themselves with brass cymbals as they sang the chant that they say produces supernatural vibrations.

KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS draws its devotees from the same population that a few years ago was turning to drugs and dropping out in Greenwich Village and Haight-Ashbury. They are mostly affluent, middle-class, suburban young people. However, the life style of the robed chanters is rigidly puritanical. 

The cult's spiritual leader in the Western world is Swami Bhaktivedanta, who left India several years ago and established himself in New York. He has since moved to Los Angeles. 

For his followers to achieve a state of "true ecstasy." he insists on continuous devotional services to Krishna. He forbids the use of any drugs or stimulants that might induce a "false state of supreme joy." Devotees must refrain from alcohol, coffee, tea, cigarettes, meat, fish, eggs and poultry, as well as illicit sex and gambling. 

Despite these restrictions Krishna Consciousness is attracting many young people who have been disappointed with drugs and a permissive morality.  

"It's a lot different from acid," said a lean follower who had tried the chemical way. "Everyone wants to get high but chanting is the best way. It is legal, safe, free, and best of all, you don't come down."  

Bhaktivedanta has described the experience of "expanded consciousness" that many of his followers feel as an awareness of the soul's presence within the body. He has said that "it closely parallels an LSD-induced awareness of the spirit in all things as well as the euphoric state produced by the drug." However, he sees himself as a counterforce to drug advocates like Timothy Leary, and advises his devotees to "turn off, sing out and fall in."

Krishna Consciousness began in India 5000 years ago, it has heen said, when Krishna first spoke the Bhagavad-Gita (holy scriptures) to his disciple Arjuna on a battlefield. In 1966, Bhaktivedanta arrived in New York City to spread the word of the cult to the Western world. He set up a store-front temple in the Lower East Side that soon became a popular haven for the Greenwich Village underground. He also led chanting sessions on Sunday afternoons in Central Park which attracted an enthusiastic following, mostly of young people. 

Indira Dasi, who was then Iris Mendoza, was attracted to the group after attending one of those park sessions. The tiny, thin Puerto Rican girl married Vamandev in New York last fall and they moved to Columbus, O., to help start a temple. 

"We came to St. Louis last November because there were no other members here and it seemed like a ripe place to spread Krishna Consciousness," she said, "The Midwest is virtually untouched.

VAMANDEV was also a disciple of the swami in New York. Before being initiated and receiving a new "spiritual" name, he was Robert Pekala, a sophomore at the University of Vermont. He was studying philosophy and religion in the swami's class in September 1967 when he decided to do a research paper on the Krishna Consciousness temple in Montreal. Every Friday evening he would drive there to attend services and soon he was staying at the temple all weekend.

He read all the literature and learned the Indian prayers. 

After six months of study, he said, he decided to drop out of school and devote his life to the service of Krishna. He adopted the appearance of a religious student - a saffron robe and a completely shaven head except for a long topknot of hair (so that Krishna could yank him out of ignorance.) 

"We were all asking so many questions," Indira said. "They were the same that everyone wonders about: Where am I going? Who am I? What am I doing with my life? What does this world mean and where is my place? Why am I suffering and unfulfilled? I think we have found our answers by serving Krishna.

"In this present age, called the Age of Kali (hypocrisy and suffering), pure meditation is almost impossible because of the free mingling of the sexes and the distracting noises of the industrial environment," Vamandev said. "Therefore, chanting the mantra, three holy names of God, continuously is the prescribed method of liberating the body through the scriptures.

Adherence to other strict devotional activities, like reading scriptures and discussing them, aids in this process of self-purification, it was explained. Devotees also follow a carefully defined diet and eat only foodstuffs that are prepared as an offering to Krishna. 

"We fix what Krishna requests in the Bhagavad-Gita," Indira said. "He desires fruits, vegetables, nuts and rice. It is a good pure diet and many of the spiritual men have enjoyed long and healthy lives.

Prasadam, samples of this food, are distributed at the Sunday afternoon "Love Feasts" at the temple. Services are also held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 p.m. and every morning at 7. 

Last month, Vamandev started classes at St. Louis University on Tuesday evenings. More than 50 students enrolled in his "free university" course. He also lectures at Washington University on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Women's Building. 

High school and college students attend the chanting sessions most frequently, but Krishna Consciousness is also attracting young business and professional people who experience a release from tensions by singing the mantra with the group. 

Photo 1: Indira Dasi blesses prasadam, food for the Hindu god Krishna, at a Sunday "Love Feast." The painted markings on her face are a ritualistic telok. 
Photo 2: Vamandev Das (left foreground) and his wife, Indira, lead a group of chanters in the Hare Krishna mantra, or prayer. Their temple is an apartment at 4558 Laclede Avenue. (Post-Dispatch Photos by Richard Jamison) 
Photo 3: Vamandev reads from the Bhagavad-Gita (holy scripture) as Indira lights a candle. 
Photo 4: David DuVivier, a high school student, in front of a picture of Krishna. 
Photo 5: Indira prepares to beat a drum for the Hare Krishna chant. 
Photo 6: Cult members listen to a scriptural reading by Vamandev.

Reference: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Unknown Location, USA, 1970-03-29

Krishna meal plan strict, slimming

This article, "Krishna meal plan strict, slimming," was published in Chicago Tribune, March 15, 1976, in Chicago, Illinois.

By Theodore Berland

IF YOU DON'T think you can drastically change your diet, eat less, and be slim, consider the Hare Krishna. 

This East Indian religious sect offers good models of both controlled eating habits and behavior modification techniques. These are the conclusions of Betty Wedman, director of public affairs of the American Dietetic Association. She studied the Evanston Hare Krishnas as a registered dietitian and as a personal matter, since her brother recently became a yogi

First of all, the Hare Krishnas are lacto vegetarians. They eat milk and milk products as well as grains, fruits, and vegetables. They eat no flesh of any kind - neither fish, nor fowl, nor four-legged animal, nor eggs. 

THEIR EATING TIMES are rigidly controlled as part of their prescribed daily practices. Yogis arise at 4 a.m. to chant the first of their seven daily devotions. After their third, at 8:30 a.m., they have their early main meal of the day. It consists of dahl, a type of split pea soup made from dahl beans, hot vegetables, and spices; unleavened whole-bread [chapitis]; rice; and hot milk. In their food preparation, yogis use ghee [clarified butter]. 

At breakfast; too, each yogi is given a piece of fruit - orange, apple, or banana - to be eaten as a snack anytime until the late meal of the day. That is a modest meal of hot milk and ghee. pastry or bread, and some cooked vegetable. 

So to bed at 10:30 p.m., usually alone since most yogis are celibate. Those who are not perform sex only for procreation. 

IN HER REPORT to a recent meeting of the local chapter of the American Medical Writers Association, Wedman said that the 60 yogis she studied have extremely well-controlled eating patterns. No food is touched before a sample is placed on the temple altar and offered for God's blessing. Yogis eat to please God, not for self-reward. This concept prevents nibbling. 

There are other foods that Yogis can eat. Yogurt is a mainstay, but only in the spring. They believe yogurt builds up unwanted mucus, making them susceptible to colds in the winter. 

They also eat fresh cheese, such as farmers cheese or cottage cheese. Aged cheeses are spurned. They are made by fermentation, which involves molds; and as molds are seen as small animals, they are in the forbidden-flesh category. 

ALSO FORBIDDEN are coffee and tea, as well as alcoholic drinks, cigarets, and all other intoxicants. 

As for behavior modification: The yogis are young Americans - the average age is 22 years - who have completely adopted an Eastqrn religion, diet, and nonmaterialistic way of life. They are essentially middle-class white. Wedman believes it is significant that most were Roman Catholics, as was her brother. She believes it means that behavior can be successfully modified by exchanging one set of rituals for another. 

I'm not suggesting that you convert to Hare Krishna, or any other yoga sect, to become as svelte as they are. I am suggesting that you can learn from their example. Intelligent vegetarianism is a very good way to lose weight and keep it off; I estimate each yogi eats about 1100 calories a day. 

YOU NEED a well-thought-out approach, such as the plan followed by the yogis, or ones laid out by the Seventh Day Adventists or by Frances Moore Lappe ["Diet for a Small Planet," Ballastine, $1.25]. 

ALSO, THE HARE Krishna, have some wonderful ways of preparing low-calorie vegetable dishes and low-calorie but high-protein vegetarian main courses. Many can be found in the excellent "Hare Krishna Cookbook" [Chilton Book Co., $1.95]. 

You may sample Krishna foods at the Sunday open houses beginning at 5 p.m. at the Hare Krishna Temple, 1014 Emerson St., Evanston. [Krishna temples in America are listed in the cookbook.] 

Photo: Keeping slim the Hare Krishna way may be extreme to most of us but a registered dietitian has found it to be a sound and healthful approach.

Reference: Chicago Tribune, Chicago, USA, 1976-03-15

An island in the sun

This article, "An island in the sun," was published in Tampa Bay Times, March 13, 1977, in St. Petersburg, Florida.


It is unlikely any of Howard Wellfeld's classmates at the University of Maryland would recognize him now, although he is only five years removed from campus life as the financially secure son of a prominent Baltimore surgeon. Even if one should recognize Wellfeld, 28, it is certain they would no longer know him. 

Wellfeld has removed himself to another world. Spiritually - and from all outward appearances, physically - he is not the full-maned, bearded and blue-jeaned jazz drummer who studied pre-med and psychology courses in the hope of following his father's professional footsteps. He is not even Howard Wellfeld now that he has been to India, the home of the spiritual master, and found Krishna consciousness. 

Call him Narahari Das, the identity he has assumed as a disciple of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the wrinkled, 81-year-old Indian mystic who introduced the West to Krishna consciousness with his English translation of the "Bhagavad-Gita," an ancient scripture believed to be the actual word of God. Narahari now spends his life in monastic devotion to Krishna, chanting and teaching the dogma to a colony of 65 converts who have erected a temple in a pastoral setting 10 miles west of Miami. 

Narahari's head is shaven except for a knot at the crown that Krishna may one day need to yank his soul into everlasting life in the eternal abode. A daub of yellow clay runs down his forehead to a point between the eyes as a sign of his devotion. He administers the temple as president, sitting yoga-style on the floor clad in a burnt orange dhoti, a loose, long loincloth that is the male version of the Indian sari. He is barefoot except when he slides on a pair of sandals to go outdoors. A gold wristwatch is the only modern touch to his appearance. The air is heavy with incense. He doesn't enjoy talking about himself. 

"I had been interested in yoga for years, but the answers never came. Where did I come from? Where was I going? Why isn't everyone happy? Why is there suffering with so much material wealth? I could see only futility in continuing my academic career." After taking a degree in psychology, Narahari dropped out, moved to Miami and tried to live a simple life in the yoga tradition while supporting himself playing in a rock band six nights a week. He found the worldly temptations of the nights did not mix with the ascetic life he wanted to lead in the daytime. 

"I had smoked a little, and I knew drugs were not the answer," he says. The answer came when a friend gave him the book "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is," written by Prabhupada (pro-voo-pod). "I was very impressed. I was convinced that he was presenting yoga in a way that answered everything." Narahari visited the small downtown Miami temple and soon took what he says was an irreversible step. He joined the movement. Since then, he has made two pilgrimages to India to study and to chant, and to swim in the holy rivers, and soon will be off on a third. "I will see the Spiritual Master (Prabhupada)," he says, his deep-set blue eyes beaming. "There is no other life for me. Materially speaking, I had everything before - health, looks, intelligence, women, friends. But I was interested in higher consciousness.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna 
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; 
Hare Rama Hare Rama 
Rama Rama Hare Hare 

The chant is repeated endlessly in the reflected light of the deity room, where two 4-foot porcelain images of Krishna stand side-by-side, wreathed in garlands of pearls and flowers. The cadence is kept by the beat of a two-headed clay madanga drum and the ching, ching, ching of saucer-size cymbals called kartals. The devotees stand behind Narahari, who calls the sacred words into a microphone, swaying slightly as he plays the madanga, eyes ever-fixed on the deities. 

Almost imperceptibly, the beat quickens. The chanters hop from one foot to the other, turning slow circles and clapping. The women form facing rows of four and side-step - three to the left, three to the right. Faster, faster, faster ... perspiration beads the faces ... eyes glaze over and smiles become breathlessly fixed ... the din reaches a frenzied crescendo and stops, resuming without pause at the slow, beginning pace. Again and again, hour after hour, the devotees chant their daily greeting to the Lord Krishna. 

The Hare Krishna movement (Hare is a complimentary form of address) began in the United States when Prabhupada opened a storefront office in New York in 1966. 

Hare Krishna followers govern themselves according to the 5,000-year-old Vedic scriptures, which they believe to be the absolute truth. The movement is described more as a spiritual science than a religion, in that it accepts the universality of God in all forms. The scriptures, as translated by Prabhupada, say there is neither birth nor death for the soul, which moves on, "like air carrying fragrance," at death. Those who qualify by the highest spiritual example reach the ultimate level of Krishna consciousness and find their souls, in the original body, returned to Godhead, the home of Krishna, for everlasting life. Those who do not achieve this level find their souls endlessly moving to other bodies. 

The Hare Krishna movement began in the United States in New York in 1966.


Prabhupada teaches it does not matter which religion one practices: "There is one God and nature's law. We are controlled by the Supreme. You may be a Christian, you may be a Hindu, you may be a Mohammedan - it doesn't matter. The Krishna consciousness movement admits anyone who wants to understand the science of God." Krishna is considered to be the same supreme diety worshipped by all religions. Prabhupada's role is being the temporal representative of God. 

The movement is dedicated to spreading knowledge of Krishna throughout the world "to convince people about the need for a spiritual life." Currently, it claims about 10,000 fulltime communal members in the U.S. and upward of 50,000 supporters. There are between 50 and 100 temples of various sizes. Precise figures are difficult to come by. Usually, questions are referred to Prabhupada's headquarters in India. The general secretary in this country, Boli Mardan, 28, told the Associated Press in December the society took in more than $2-million last year in sales of its magazine, Back to Godhead, and 55 books of Vedic scripture translated by Prabhupada. Narahari says he runs the Miami temple on about $20,000 a year and sends the surplus wherever he is told to send it. 

Happily, the work of spreading the word coincides with the society's chief revenue-producing activity - handing out literature in return for contributions. Two huge rooms at the Miami temple are stacked with Back to Godhead and other types of literature. Incense and flowers are also passed out. Devotees depart in groups daily to stand on the downtown streets, where they present a startling contrast to conventionally dressed pedestrians. More and more, they are covering their gleaming heads and putting aside dhotis for less bizarre attire, conforming for the sake of dollars. 

Although the society claims not to be an organized religion, in practice it is laden with religious taboos and cultic ritual. Members eat no fish, eggs or meat; single men and women are strictly segregated and celibacy is encouraged. Sex is permitted among the married solely for conception - only during the woman's fertile period. Marriages are arranged (and performed) by the temple president from among those who have expressed their desire to have children. To eliminate sexual distractions, husbands and wives sleep apart. This is also one of the purposes of the shapeless clothing. 

No building is entered without first removing the shoes, and on entering the temple the devotees are required to kneel, face the deities and touch their foreheads to the floor as a sign of obeisance. Chanting the mantra (a word that means mind-delivering) Hare Krishna 1,728 times daily is mandatory, beginning with the 4 a.m. service. There are specific bans on alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling. 

Yet while contending not to be a religion, the society seeks the tax-free status granted religious institutions under U.S. law and fights many of its legal battles on religious grounds. To this end, most temples retain legal counsel. On a recent day, Narahari was interrupted by an angry woman who demanded release of her young grandchildren, who were brought to the temple by their mother. The mother had abandoned a drinking, wife-beating husband, Narahari explained, and he told the woman he understood this was not kidnapping and the temple would "give her all the legal protection we can." The temple has been approved by Dade County authorities as a supervisory facility for young probationers because of its strict, drug-free atmosphere. 

The majority of the devotees are young adults (average age about 24) who found the movement before finding a niche in life. Some fled life into the movement, others drifted toward the security and purpose it offered when they had none of their own. Typical of the half-dozen married householders on the 8-acre property is Madana Mohan Das, 28, who four years ago was Marc Birenbaum, an unsatisfied graduate of the University of Baltimore. He and his wife and 16-month-old son live in a cozy, but threadbare, old trailer a few yards from the temple building. In return for their service, the temple provides most of their needs and pays him a $15 weekly salary. He was married in the movement and spent three months in India on his pilgrimage. 

Birenbaum says he got his paper (college degree) but wasn't qualified to do anything. "I started looking for what I was going to do ... I wasn't satisfied and I couldn't find anyone else who was satisfied." He was intrigued with philosophy, but disappointed to find "they all differed with one another. I wanted something absolute." His cell-like room in the back of the trailer is cluttered with Prabhupada's books and some 150 cassettes of Indian music and lectures on the scriptures, which he listens to nightly. (There is a single TV set on the property that is used only during major news events.) He will try to advance in the society by learning through various categories of Prabhupada's teachings. 

Each Sunday, the temple stages an outdoor "love feast" that feature; its pungent vegetarian fare. It is open, free of charge, to the public. Miamians who have been invited on the street frequently show up out of curiosity, lining up for heaping portions of food. 

The menu: cauliflower breaded with chickpea flour and deep-fried in ghee (clarified butter, a protein staple of the diet); potatoes boiled with sour cream and heady Indian spices; eggplant steamed in ghee solids and seasoned with turmeric, coriander, salt and pepper; steamed cabbage; potatoes and carrots deep-fried in ghee and seasoned with sour cream, rosemary and cumin; lemon cake with coconut frosting and eclairs, deep-fried in ghee and topped with an imitation chocolate frosting made of carob. The feeders and the fed mingle under the thatched roof of an open-air chickee while the house band - harmonium, madanga, tambora, flute, kartals and guitar - entertains with Indian music before an incongruous electronic amplifier. 

Visitors are greeted with the traditional garland of flowers and the words "Hare Krishna." There is no pressure to make a donation, but a booth is staffed with literature available for anyone in a generous mood. Later, as the shadows grow long, the devotees drift into the temple for the evening artika (greeting of the Lord Krishna) and some of the visitors follow, sheepishly removing their shoes. When the chanting reaches its frenetic pitch, many will succumb to the urge to dance and join the worshippers near the overstuffed throne at the back of the room reserved for a who-knows-when visit from Prabhupada. 

Not many will stay for Narahari's meandering lecture about entering the level of Krishna consciousness: "... traveling at the speed of the mind to another planet, passing trillions of years to capture a ray of light coming from a toenail of Krishna's lotus feet." Not even one of the faithful. She slid into an adjacent room, where she could be seen, a swishing figure in a sari, doing her weekly ironing.  

Photo 1: The chant, above. To the endless beat of a drum and ching of the cymbal, devotees whirl and chant the praises of Krishna. The daily devotion lasts hours.
Photo 2: Madana Mohan Das, 28, and his young son. Four years ago he was Marc Birenbaum, an Army veteran and unsatisfied university graduate.
Photo 3: During the Sunday feast, open free of charge to the public, a display of literature, honey, beads and other articles helps raise money for the temple.
Photo 4: After the frenzy of the chant, followers seat themselves on the floor for the lecture by Narahari, rear at microphone. Women thread garlands of flowers as they listen. 
Photo 5: A young devotee, clad in the traditional Indian sari, picks marigolds for distribution with the literature on Miami's downtown streets.
Photo 6: Howard Wellfeld: Living in a different world.
Photo 7: Porcelain figures imported from India represent Krishna in two symbolic forms. The deity room is the most sacred place in the temple.

Reference: Tampa Bay Times, Miami, USA, 1977-03-13

Hare Krishna - They live the name of God

This article, "Hare Krishna - They live the name of God," was published in Wilmington Morning News, March 11, 1971, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Text by Terry Zintl 
Staff photos by Ron Dubick and John Flanagan 

They're bald, they wear pajama pants, they sing and dance in a weird language, they wear gook on their noses. In the startled eyes of lunch-hour Wilmington, they are heresiarchial Hindus, zonked out of their skulls on vegetables. 

Although they may look like they come from another world, the people who have been singing and dancing every noon at the corner of 9th and Market Sts., are all born and bred Americans. Two are from New York City, one from Buffalo, N.Y., and one is a dropout from the Philadelphia College of Art. 

They are members of the Hare Krishna Movement, known more formally as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). They moved into the Hindu Center of 2307 Baynard Blvd. about three weeks ago. 

They are the advance wave of an informal order of Vedic monks that has spread rapidly since its arrival in this country in 1966. Hare Krishna people can be seen chanting, dancing and handing out candy or incense on street corners in at least 30 North American cities. 

Wilmington is just a stop along the way. ISKCON's eventual aim is to "carry the chanting of the holy names of God, Hare Krishna, to every town and village of the world.

THE ISKCON philosophy is simple. "Sing these names of the Lord and your life will be sublime: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The chant is their mantra, the prayer of their society. They repeat it a minimum of 1,708 times a day, from their awakening at 3:30 a.m. until nightfall. They say it constantly, on the street, in the shower, while they eat, even while they do something as simple as climbing a flight of steps. 

The result of this chanting, they claim, is to put the mind in a state of ecstasy. They say that by the constant "meditation on the name and form of the Lord," a man's insatiable sensual appetites dwindle away and he is able to realize the God-self hidden within him. 

For ISKCON members, the chanting also transforms one's life into a continuous act of devout dedication to God in the form of Lord Krishna. They practice bhakti yoga, which does not involve the usual exercises or meditation but instead, according to one writer, "the cultivation of a direct, intense, personal relationship between worshipper and worshipped." The Jesus people so widely publicized on the West Coast are also, in their way, following bhakti yoga

The lives of ISKCON members are completely centered around Krishna. His name is their prayer, his word, through scripture, their doctrine. They depend upon him for food and shelter, thinking always that "whatever Krishna provides is sufficient." They have no time for the "charlatans" from India or Japan in this country promoting various forms of yoga or meditation they regard as "impersonalist.

In their general philosophy, ISKCON members are as doctrinaire and as rigidly fundamentalist as any Mennonite or Southern Baptist. Everything about them - their dress, hairstyle, diet and activities - are dictated by literal interpretations of the Bagavad Gita, the Hindu sacred scripture. 

An ISKCON initiate takes four vows when he joins the society: he promises to abstain from meat, liquor and drugs, gambling and illicit sex - sex for anything other than reproductive purposes. 

As a way of dedicating himself and his body to Krishna, he shaves his head, leaving only the lock in back, marks his body with fuller's earth and dons the peculiar clothing of the society - which is actually a simple rectangular piece of cloth folded about the legs and tied at the waist. 

The fuller's earth noticeable on the forehead and the throat marks various spiritual centers of the body and absolves it from being what a member called "a slaughterhouse" of the other life-forms it is constantly destroying. The fuller's earth, the clothing and the shaved head all help, said one member, "to remind us who we are.

There are currently four Krishna devotees at the Wilmington temple. Their day begins at 3:30 a.m. with prayers and chants. Each member has a string of 108 beads on which he must do a minimum of 16 rounds of chants a day. 

About 7, the devotees begin to clean the temple and prepare the day's food. Before they eat any food, it is dedicated to Krishna with praying and singing. In that way, the devotees say, Krishna "eats" the food, converting it into spiritual energy for his followers and the sensual aspects of eating are transcended. 

A typical meal last week consisted of warm milk, fruit salad, some leftover vegetable stew and large wafer-like crackers made of ground beans and peppers fried in oil. The devotees ate largely in silence, sitting on the floor and using their fingers instead of knives or forks. 

The morning and afternoon meals are both prepared early in the day so the devotees may eat immediately after returning from the downtown area - they walk both ways, leaving the temple around 10:30. Evening meal is at 7 p.m., followed by scriptural studies. They go to bed about 10:30. 

The temple is open each night at 6:30 for a chanting session. In addition, a transcendental love feast is open to all each Sunday afternoon at 4. 

Despite the lukewarm reception they have received in Wilmington so far (the police have bothered them occasionally, but they have a $3 business permit that allows them to operate), the ISKCON members are not discouraged. "We provide the medicine," the leader said. "It's up to the people whether or not they want to take it.

And although their way of life seems difficult and unusual, for the devotees it seems the easiest and most natural path they could take. 

"All you have to do is chant Hare Krishna and the rest will follow," they claim. 

Photo 1: At a Sunday afternoon transcendental love feast at the temple, expressions of joy cover the faces of participants who join in the chanting of the mantra.
Photo 2: An ISKCON initiate listens to a reading from scriptures.
Photo 3: An earnest preacher, an attentive listener. 
Photo 4: Two men learn of Krishna. 
Photo 5: ISKCON members are zealous in their efforts to spread Krishna's name. In their daily missionary work at 9th and Market Sts., their chanting and literature attract occasional passers-by.
Photo 6: In an instructional session at the ISKCON temple, Lalit Kumar, leader of is the temple, reads from Vedic scripture while Richard Lavin listens. The altar in the background is covered with pictures of the society's founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Reference: N/A