Open in App
Open in App

News Articles

News coverage of Srila Prabhupada and his movement.

'Hare Krishna' Cultists Chant Down City Streets

This article "'Hare Krishna' Cultists Chant Down City Streets," was published in Williamsport Sunday Grit National Edition, July 25, 1971, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

A GROUP of young New Yorkers think they've found the key to happiness - and it doesn't include drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. 

The secret is a 5,000-year-old, chant, the Great Mantra of the Krishna Consciousness. It goes: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Members of the Krishna Consciousness movement find this chant "blow their minds," without the need for drugs. The chant has become a familiar sound in New York City, where cult members have set up headquarters above a laundry. 

KRISHNA Consciousness, as a religious-philosophical movement, was founded in India about 5,000 years ago and has changed very little since then. Its devotions consist mainly of chanting to reach a state of spiritual ecstasy. Its devotees shave their heads, wear gaily colored robes, and reject sensual and material pleasure. 

They rise before dawn, spend several hours daily chanting, retire about 10 p.m., and bathe twice a day. Cult members do not smoke, drink, take drugs, or attend movies. They practice celibacy, except in marriage for procreation. Everyone in the movement is a strict vegetarian. 

THREE nights a week, the cultists assemble in the New York Krishna Temple to chant and revel in the "Presence of God." Walls are covered With photographs of stern, shaven-headed men, movement dignitaries such as Sri Srimad A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who, according to the caption, is "the founder Acharya of Iskcon and the Greatest Exponent of Krishna Consciousness in the Western World.

Another sign on the wall reads: "Lord Chaitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, wants the Hare Krishna Mantra to ring in every town and city in the world to make one world of fully Krishna-conscious servitors. His pure devotee His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is fulfilling this great Dream.

The movement is financed mainly by private donations and money the members obtain by begging in city streets. New Yorkers apparently are quite generous - despite rumors to the contrary. Perhaps the sight of half a dozen young men and women in peach-colored robes gently swaying and chanting is exotic enough to make even a so-called hardened New Yorker part with a few dollars. 

Photo: Cult Members Lay Prostrate on Temple Floor and Chant Along New York's Fifth Avenue 

Reference: Williamsport Sunday Grit National Edition, New York, USA, 1971-07-25

Who is Hare Krishna?

This article "Who is Hare Krishna and why are they doing all those strange things on Fifth Avenue?" was published in New York, September 6, 1971, in New York, New York.

By Richard M. Levine

********************************************************************************** 
"... Susie found Jesus 'too impersonal,' the Maharishi a 'bogey yogi,' but with Krishna Consciousness she found the Way Out...

**********************************************************************************  

All Saturday night and into the early morning hours of Sunday, devotees prepared for the Vedic marriage that would take place that afternoon between Susie and Swarup. The kitchen crew baked huge stacks of chupatties and rolled hundreds of sweetballs for the wedding feast, while the flower detail strung garlands of pink roses and white carnations to be worn by the participants in the ceremony. Two brahmacharis - unmarried men - scrubbed and waxed the linoleum floor of the temple room until they could see their faces peering into it. In the sewing room, a few girls made silk cushions and bolsters for the throne-like chair on which the Spiritual Master would sit when he visited the Brooklyn temple, as he was expected to do any day now, and talked about their hope that the more comfortable Srila Prabhupad could be made to feel, the longer he might be induced to stay. At 3:30 a.m., Rukmini rose sleepy-eyed from the floor and, taking a silver bell in one hand and a brass tray filled with fruit salad, yogurt and cream of wheat in the other, went to wake the deities up and serve them breakfast. She sanse back holding a miniature bed and smiling blissfully to announce, to no one in particular. "It's going to be a great day for Krishna Consciousness."

Outside the sewing circle, Susie gave some final touches to her wedding sari - red Thai silk with more than enough gold thread in it to satisfy the Vedic prescription that an opulent marriage is an auspicious one. She was a pretty, blond-haired twenty-year-old whose overall cookies-and-milk wholesomeness seemed only accented by the gold nose ring she wore in one nostril. 

Like most of the 120 devotees living in the temple. Susie had been involved in Krishna Consciousness less than a year and was not yet an initiated member. She grew up a doctor's daughter in a pleasant ranch-house suburb of Portland with a pool down the block. Leaving her all-Oregon junior free-crawl trophy at home, she became, by her midteens, a roving flower child. With a stop-off for a year at Northeastern University in Boston. Susie has lived in half the hippie haunts from Venice, California, to the caves of Crete, knowing all the while that there had to be something more than drugs and sex and revolution now. She found Jesus too "impersonal," though, and the Maharishi, with his $50-mantras, a "bogey yogi," so it was not until she came across a group of devotees in Germany last summer that she felt she had discovered a bona fide answer ... the Way Out. She traveled on, but kept rereading an essay by the Spiritual Master called "Krishna, the Reservior of Pleasure," which promised a scientific method for leaving behind one's gross material body, the realm of the witch Maya, and reaching back to Godhead. Shortly after returning home, Susie became a devotee - much to the dismay of her parents. "Oh Krishna," she said now, smiling her little girl smile, "I can't wait to leave this rotten material world and enter the Spiritual Sky.

The false entanglements of the material world: Susie's mother and stepfather, for example. After many trying telephone calls from Brooklyn to Newburgh, New York, Mr. and Mrs. Hammond agreed to attend the wedding and even cover its costs, so long, at least, as the payment could be made in the form of a tax-deductible contribution to the temple. At the moment, Susie was more than a little nervous about her parents' visit. She and Swarup had paid a call on them a few weeks before to announce their intention to marry, and although Swarup had been on his best behavior, even letting his black hair grow in for the occasion, it had not come off too well. Susie's stepfather, a retired Air Force colonel, asked Swarup just what he planned to do in life and was not entirely satisfied with his answer, which was that he hoped to serve the Spiritual Master and Lord Sri Krishna to the best of his abilities and help his wife do the same. But it was Susie's mother who put up the real fight. She started out calling Swarup by his karmic - outsider - name. Stevie, and ended up grilling them on their sex lives, imagining God knows what went on in that temple in Harry Krishna's name. As it happened, Susie and Swarup had absolutely no sex lives at all, but Mrs. Hammond shifted gears smoothly and hit upon the clincher. "You two can't get married!" she blurted out, "Why, you've never even kissed!

It just proved Srila Prabhupad right. Love among karmies was nothing but lust, a perverted reflection of man's true attraction for God. Not so in Krishna Consciousness. Susie and Swarup hadn't kissed - or held hands or even talked much before then - because a prohibition against sex outside of marriage was one of the Four Regulative Principles, the others being no eating of meat, fish or eggs, no intoxicants (LSD to weak tea) and no gambling.

Reference: New York, New York, USA, 1971-09-06

Sunday Loving Feast

This article "Sunday Loving Feast," was published in Winnipeg Free Press, September 18, 1971, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.   

Sunday, and the "very nice" feast is soon to begin. The Radha-Krishna Temple on Park Avenue is on the third floor of what was once the Pine's Bowling Alley; where the pin boys used to stand an altar has been erected for worshipping the one-foot-tall Jagannatha Deities. The ball-return gullies have been filled and levelled off; the floor is waxy brilliant. Where the bowlers used to throw for strikes, there is now a sumptuous throne reserved for the spiritual master, and on it a symbolic portrait of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Pradhupada, who introduced Bhakti-yoga to the West in 1966. 

It's almost 4 PM and visitors are starting to trickle in. All must remove their shoes before entering the temple, one of several rules of etiquette. Religious texts must not be put on the floor, and before entering the ceremonial room of the temple, the devotees should remove their socks and bathe their feet in a plastic wash basin. And the feet should not be pointed toward the deities at the altar. Most devotees, as a rule, prostrate themselves on the floor when they enter the temple to render their humble obeisance before the Lotus feet of their spiritual master. 

Each devotee has a function in the upkeep of the temple. There are administrators, cooks, a clean-up squad, a person in charge of incense, and so on. Much of the Sunday feast is prepared by the only girl living in the temple, Urvasi devi dasi a pujari - priestess - who was recently married to Sripati. Although most devotees remain celibate, when a Krishna marriage takes place it is considered of the highest order since the couple is dedicated to a spiritual life and to the service of Lord Krishna. Part of Urvasi's function is to look after the temple deities, and to bring prasadam - the food offering - to the altar. 

It is very difficult for anyone to understand Krishna Consciousness by speculating about it mentally. One must experience the chanting and dancing. And so the Sunday feast is directed toward getting people to join in the ceremony. 

The guests at this Sunday feast are a combination of regulars and first-timers who met the devotees during sankirtana and were invited to the temple. They are young hip types, intellectual types, junkie types, street children, lost, lonely souls and the usual Sunday freeloaders, who have come for the free prasadam. But even they are supposedly benefited; some of the most sincere Krishna devotees came originally looking only for a meal. 

The "female vagabond" from Phillips Square has come along, as usual; and there is a young, dark-eyed man from India who, I'm told, has come several Sundays just to watch but doesn't get involved in the ceremony; and Harold Abrams, a student who spent a month with the devotees to write a paper on them and found himself so impressed "by their graciousness and nobility" that he returns often. In all, about 50 people are present in the temple, with its strong fragrance of incense. 

With the guests sitting around him on the floor, most in cross-legged Buddha position, Sripati begins by stating that congregational chanting and the worship of Lord Krishna can help everyone whose lives are otherwise being wasted. 

"If you turn away from the sun, then immediately there is the shadow of your own body. If we are not in the light, then automatically we are in the darkness. There is no in between.

And the recommended way for getting out of the darkness is to become "Krishna Conscious"

The guests are now led into the ceremonial room. There is dancing and chanting, followed by the aratrika (pronounced arteek) ceremony. This is the sacred ritual. The curtains of the altar are pulled back and Urvasi presents to the deities offerings of food, incense, flowers, a waving of handkerchief, peacock feathers and yak-tail whisks, and an offering of flames. 

Aratrika actually takes place several times a day, with the first offering at 4.30 AM (the devotees wake every morning at 3.30 AM). No food may be eaten by the devotees unless at least a portion has been offered first to Lord Krishna during aratrika. Their diet is vegetarian - rice, dahl (a lentil soup), chapatis, vegetables, fruit, and in the evenings purls, vegetables, milk and the marble-sized shortbread called "Simplies", short for "simply wonderful"

Back in the main hall of the temple the Sunday guests are told that in a few minutes a "very nice" play will be performed (very nice is the most popular phrase, and may precede almost any noun). The plays, presented every week, are short parables based on Krishna's "unparalleled pastimes" as described in the Bhagavad-gita and other religious texts. They are acted out with the devotees wearing simple, homemade costumes. A bow and arrow may suggest an archer, a devotee with a flower curled around his ear may be Lord Krishna. 

After the play, there is a short question period, and the devotees, through their training, are equipped to answer them all. This is followed by prasadam which is served on paper plates without cutlery (although forks are available if anyone asks), with the visitors sitting on the floor in groups of five or six. The devotees usually try to disperse themselves among the guests. But before taking prasadam, the devotee prostrates himself on the floor and recites a prayer. 

The meal is light, sweet and satisfying. And then there is more dancing and chanting. This is kirtana - indoor celebration. 

By now, anyone who hasn't started to clap his hands to the Hare Krishna rhythm, or chanted the transcendental words, must be a totally dour and gloomy soul. So slowly you find yourself being drawn in. The meal has been nutritious and makes you feel serene. The "female vagabond" is kicking up her heels. On the opposite side of the temple, those who are facing you all seem to be smiling blissfully. Harold Abrams and his girl friend are clapping and jerking their heads from side to side like dancers from Bali. 

Now everybody is moving around the temple in a kind of conga line. Only a few proud individualists haven't joined in. After a while, there's only one left, oddly enough, the young man from India. He's standing next to me, and now he raises his hands and he claps, once, twice, three times, until he has the beat and his body starts swaying and a wide grin breaks out upon his previously drawn face, and he swirls around the temple, chanting the melodious Hare Krishnas and Hare Ramas, while someone is tinkling a bell, and the whole temple, now that everyone is doing it, is suffused with harmony and joy. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. All of us totally, sublimely ecstatic. All of us, brief though it may be, enjoying this escape from the material jungle. From maya

As you joyfully dance past the Jagannatha Deities, as you clap your hands and perhaps, as the crescendo mounts, leap in the air with an ecstatic Ha-ray!, you can perhaps understand why so many people are doing it, and all you can think is that it's nice, very nice... 

Hare Krishna.

Reference: Winnipeg Free Press, New York, USA, 1971-09-18

Double Ring in the Nose and Fire Ceremony

This article "Double Ring in the Nose and Fire Ceremony," was published in The San Bernardino County Sun, May 25, 1971, in San Bernardino, California.

This was the scene in Hare Krishna Temple in San Francisco when 300 watched President Keshava Da Brahmachari, lower left, perform double ceremony. It united Tina Korsey with Jayanada da Las Adhikari and Tamala Davi Dasi with Trai Das Adhikari, both couples right, in marriage. For many in the happy throng it was just another traditional double ring in the nose and fire ceremony carried off in routine Krishna leaping and bell clanging fashion. 

Reference: The San Bernardino County Sun, San Francisco, USA, 1971-05-25

Krishna home in Rome

This article "Krishna home in Rome," was published in Winnipeg Free Press, June 1, 1977, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  

ROME (AP) - Krishna, the Indian god, has found a home in Rome despite some police frowning and a cool attitude by the Vatican. 

Two young women, an American and an Italian, and a Scotsman introduced the cult in Rome three years ago when they lived for several months in a youth hostel. 

Now they have a "temple" in a rented two-storey villa in a park just outside the ancient Aurelian walls off the Caracalla Baths. 

"We do not meet excessive difficulties with Romans," Alida D'Ambrosio, 24, the Italian founder of the Rome temple, said in an interview. 

Recently, a dozen of her followers in ankle-length Indian garments took their "Hare Krishna" dance and chant into St. Peter's Square under the windows of Pope Paul's apartment, but police promptly urged them away. 

The other founders, Pamela Borden, from Madison, Wis., and David Naysmith, from Edinburgh, have left for India. 

The residents of the Rome temple, who have devoted their lives to preaching and proselytizing, number about 50, ranging from 20 to 35 in age, Miss D'Ambrosio said. About one-third are women. 

The cult's world leader, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada, tried to be received by the Pope when he came to Rome in 1975. 

He was granted a meeting with Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli, head of the Vatican Secretarial for Non-Catholic Religions. 

Prabhupada told the Cardinal that Catholics should stop killing and eating animals if they wanted to become good worshippers. He said Christ was just another name of Krishna and that the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" refers to animals as well as humans. 

Miss D'Ambrosio said the Rome temple now was totally self-supporting through selling their books and the incense they manufactured. 

Reference: Winnipeg Free Press, Rome, Italy, 1977-06-01

Wandering Souls Chant Hare Krishna

This article "Wandering Souls Chant Hare Krishna," was published in Winnipeg Free Press, June 20, 1970, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

WASHINGTON (Special-TPNS) - "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna," chant two shaven-headed saffron-robed men in front of American University.

Students stroll past or sprawl on the grass, paying little attention.

"By chant we can spiritualize the atmosphere," explains Dinadayadri Dasi, who was trying to sell sandalwood-scented incense and literature about the Hare Krishna movement.

Takers are few, and the 18-year-old, sari-clad girl speculates that the student strike has generated an especially heavy atmosphere of "maya." Maya - the illusion that the physical world reported by the senses is real and potentially satisfying - offers the same kind of challenge to the Krishna devotee that sin offers to the revival preacher.

"Krishna," to the devotee, is the name of God in his highest manifestation. Chanting his name and attributes drives away maya and is the source of absolute bliss.

Dinadayadri wears a gold ring through her left nustril. The ring is attached by a fine gold chain to a companion ring in the top of her ear. She might be taken as a religious woman of India, but her U.S. origins are betrayed by her long golden hair and milky blue eyes.

Sings Name

She has been a devotee of Krishna consciousness and dedicated to singing the name of God - the Hare Krishna chant - for about five months.

Before that as she tells her story, she was known as Jeanne Clansen and lived in a commune near Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"We thought we were having religious experiences. We were being misled by false rascals, people like Timothy Leary."

Until last June she lived with her parents and was a high school student in Ferndale, Mich, a suburb of Detroit. But from the age of 15, she was, she says, a user of soft drugs, principally LSD and grass (marijuana).

"They were a big illusion. I thought they would give me self-realization."

"I was a wandering soul looking for absolute truth."

That sense of wandering is past for Dnadayadri now she believes. Her days - and her future - are planned in detail.

Dinadayadri's spiritual master, inspirer of the entire International Society of Krishna Consciousness, is a 75-year-old Indian religious teacher known as His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. The swami, "Prabhupada" as his followers affectionately call him, now lives in a $250,000 former Methodist church in Los Angeles, surrounded by 75 devotees including two who wait upon him constantly.

The swami may be full of years, but most of his followers in Los Angeles, in the Washington temple and in the 20 other temples throughout the United States are youthful. Few of the 500 full initiates are over 30 and many are in their teens. A similar youthfulness prevails among the hundreds more who have a more casual relationship with the society, inquirers, temple worshippers and part-time chanters.

For some searching young people, Krishna consciousness clearly offer satisfying answers. Five years ago what is now a flourishing movment was only a hope in the heart of Swami Bhaktivedanta, who arrived in New York from India convinced that he was called to introduce Westerners to the bliss of chanting.

Beards Offend

He believed that a proper understanding of spiritual ascetism called for men to be shaved on scalp, cheek and chin, and he was offended by the beards and flowing locks of the uptown swamis.

He saw that some accepted cocktails and smoked cigarettes, and was sure that people who live properly-regulated lives abstain not only from tobacco and alcohol but also from drugs, meat, fish, eggs and sexual intercourse (except for the procreation of children).

He took his dream in the East Village, where the hip explosion was just beginning and opened the first temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966.

At the temple, Gargamuni Das, now in Los Angeles, then a young Jewish dropout from Mesa College, Grand Junction, Colorado, and the swami, Gargamuni's brother, Brahmananda Das, now 27 and chief of the movement's publications division in Boston, also came to the movement in those early months.

So did Damodar Das, 20, who heads the Washington Temple. All devotees take one of the divine names as their own, following it with the suffix "Das" or "Dasi," meaning "servant of " or "handmaiden of."

Gargamuni, recently explained some of his reasons for accepting the Hare Krishna way.

Four days of Mesa College, he said, convinced him that "colleges are actually slaughter houses. Pictures of nude women dangle everywhere, and an atmosphere of sexuality covers the senses."

Gargamuni regards Judaism as the height of hypocrisy: "they sing God's name in one room and get drunk in the next."

But he is equally scornful of most other conventional U.S. social institutions. He dismissed churches as a front for business and an illusory haven that "the whole society is made up of cheaters," and he urgued that most people have organized their lives around a meaningless search for transitory sex pleasure.

"Do your realize that you are composed of 90 per cent mucous and 10 per cent stool and urine? That's all sex pleasure is - mucous, stool and urine," he said.

Marriage, however, is permitted for male devotees who are unable to submit to celibacy. It is required for woman intiates like Dinadayadri, whose chief task now is to wait upon the husband the movement has given her, Nara Narayan Das, 20.

"A woman's only purpose is to serve her husband." Dinadayadri said calmly.

"Women have been conditioned to think they are equal to men, but living entities that take a female body are always inferior to those that take a male body."

"I am like a cow. But it is a very nice thing to be called a cow, because they are holy and Krishna loves them."

The movement operates a 500-acre farm called New Vrindaban 10 miles outside Wheeling, West Virginia, to which devotees' children are sent when they are six.

"It helps to diminish the family attachment between parents and children," Gargamuni said. At New Vrindaban devotees tend dairy cattle and grow what he described as "nice food stuffs."

"Nice" and "blissful" are constantly upon the lips of devotees.

Comfortable

Damodar dscribed the saffron dhoti, or long loin cloth he wears as "very comfortable, very nice."

Dinadayatri said that since she has begun to chant, she has built "very nice relationship" with her parents.

"They go to the temple in Detroit," she said, "Every time I talk to them, the more blissful they are."

She now is hoping that her parents will give her pearls to adorn her nose ring, which she wears, she said, "to please the senses of Krishna."

She added: "my parents by serving me are serving God."

For other devotees, however, attachment of Krishna means estrangement from their families. Damodar said that he corrsponds frequently with his mother (his father died last year). But his mother still finds it painful to address him by name that differs from the one she gave him, Daniel Clark.

He was married and a young film-maker in New York in 1967 when his eye was caught by a advertisement that Swami Bhaktivedanta could be chanting in New York's Tompkins Square.

"I took it up immediately, the experience was so ecstatic," he said. "It brought about immediate contact with God, intoxicating bliss."

It also brought about separation from his wife, who still lives in New York and concerns herself with politics and art. Damodar has dedicated himself to celibacy.

Milton McRween, 25, who lives at the Washington temple and wears Indian garb and a shaved head though he is not yet initiated, also broke with his wife over Krishna consciousness.

"She hates the whole idea," he said.

Mr. McSween, one of the few Negroes in the movement spent two years at Antioch College and three years in the marines before beginning the religious quest that led him to the movement:

"People in this age need more help than christianity is giving them," he said.

His search led him to experimentation with drugs, to the Bhagavad Gita, one of the classic Indian scriptures, and finally to the Hare Krishna movement.

Beg In Street

The financial base of the movement is unclear. The devotees depend considerably on their steet begging and publications and incense sales.

Their incense and other fragrance, which they import from India and put in to commercial form, are also for sale in some stores under the "spiritual sky" label.

Sandalwood is a favorite fragrance among those devotees, and an approaching chanting party can often be detected not only by the sound of music but by also the scent of sandalwood.

The movement also enjoys some heavy contributors, according to Gargamuni, most notably Beatles George Harrison, who has six devotees living and chanting on his estate in Devon. One of the movement's most honored items of merchandise is a record of the chanting of the devotees of the London temple that was issued under the Beatles on Apple Label.

At noon or thereabouts, they set out for up to 12 hours of chanting and dancing on the streets. If any devotee is bored by the endless repetition of the Hare Krishna chant, he does not speak of it.

"Through chanting," said Damodar, "love will emerge."

"Singing and dancing," said Gargamuni, "spread love and peace. It is better than the peace movement, which is spreading only conflict."

He added firmly: "Hare Krishna is much more powerful than any other form of the name of God."

And under his breath he softly hummed the endless chant.

Photo 1: To please the senses of Krishna...
Photo 2: ... I am like a cow

Reference: Winnipeg Free Press, Washington, D.C, USA, 1970-06-20

Singing worshipper

This photo "Singing worshipper," was published in Wausau Daily Herald, May 5, 1971, in Wausau, Wisconsin.

A young worshipper, holding a sleeping infant joins in the singing with a Hare Krishna group at a Sunday gathering in New York's Central Park. Hare Krishna, whose members worship an ancient Hindu deity, is developing communes in cities across the United Stated.

Reference: Wausau Daily Herald, New York, USA, 1971-05-05

Indian Chant Replaces LSD

This article "Indian Chant Replaces LSD," was published in Winnipeg Free Press, September 2, 1967, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

By PETER SHAPIRO

MONTREAL (CP) - A small group of Montrealers, some of them one-time drug-users, now are getting their "high" from an Indian chant to the Indian god Krishna. 

Operating from the Radha-Krishna Temple, a former bowling alley near McGill University, their day-long service is a sort of perpetual love-in - without LSD. 

While LSD "leaves you clouded," says Banamali Das Brahmachary, 20, who has used LSD, "chanting puts you into a natural state where you associate love with love and not love with color.

Banamali - his real name is Chaim Propinator - quit Sir George Williams University here in the third year to join the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which has six members in Montreal. 

"Chanting brings an over-powering feeling of love you might feel for someone which makes you want to scream or cry," he says. "But it's all directed toward Krishna, and through Krishna towards everyone.

Like the other five devotees, Banamali goes through the simple chant at least 1,728 limes a day, 16 rounds for each of the 108 cult beads he carries with him. This is the ancient chant: 

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

Refuge From LSD 

Not everyone in the cult is a former drug-taker. But of the 39 who inhabit temples in New York, San Francisco and Montreal, devotees here can name only two they think have never taken drugs. 

Banamali stumbled into the cult after becoming "socially disoriented" by LSD. 

Two of the cult's devotees, Ranamali and Janardan Das Adikary, 23, a McGill graduate student in French literature, are Canadians. 

Hansaduta Das Adikari, 26, is one of three Americans who opened the Montreal temple last March. He was introduced by a friend in New York to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, spiritual head of the cult, became interested and joined. 

Swami, 72, is the guru - holy man - from India who founded the first Krishna Consciousness Temple in New York's Lower East Side in July, 1966. The seccnd was established in San Francisco's Haight-Asbury district last January and the third in Montreal. 

Devotees are taught by Swami to shave their heads each month leaving only a top-knot on the crown which they paint white and call a "flag" or "lightning rod." They streak while paint from the bridge of the nose to the hairline. 

They wear yellow dhotis, which look like an Indian sari, and cook vegetarian Indian food. Even their names come front Swami. 

Women Are Equal 

Janardan, still called Janis Dambergs outside the temple, is the only Montreal devotee who has kept his hair and Western dress. He says he made "concessions" for the university and for his wife, who is not a devotee. 

Women are considered equal to men in the cult, Hansaduta says. His wife, Himavatie Dasi, is a devotee. 

A dozen or so observers attend chanting services each evening, sitting cross-legged around the chanting devotees who perform an uncomplicated, solitary dance in time to tambourines and hand-cymbals, mumble incantations and discuss the words of Krishna. 

The chanting ritual, called samkirtan, was started in India 480 years ago by Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a disciple of Krishna. 

Most visitors to the Montreal temple come on Sunday when devotees hold the "prasadam live feast." Sometimes as many as 50 attend to chant and to eat Indian food. Most are of Indian background. 

Only at the feast is money solicited. Revenue for the temple also comes from boarders who pay $10 a week. Up to 20 a night, usually transients, have slept behind the curtains.

Reference: Winnipeg Free Press, Montreal, Canada, 1967-09-02

The Goal: 'To Shake Hands With God'

This article "The Goal: 'To Shake Hands With God'," was published in The Palm Beach Post, May 6, 1973, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

"All of the things I ever had have been disposed of," Welfeld said, "and by getting rid of everything. I'm now able to begin to purify my consciousness. I'm no longer contaminated.

Welfeld, now known as Bhakta H. has redecorated his van with large color photographs of 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 each.

Other posters show Lord Caitanya who is said to be an incarnation of God, and who "clarified" the Bhagavad-gita scriputure more than 500 years ago and whose teachings the society follows.

It's about 10 in the morning, and inside the old two-story building that has become the Temple, prashadum (food that is first offered to God) is being served. Hungry devotees pray for several minutes and then begin to eat the specially prepared food - sometimes without utensils. The large-portion meal is served twice daily. Usually, there is a salad, fruit and herbed potatoes or rice. The main course includes chopped and highly seasoned eggplant, a mixture of fruit and a dab of pasty sweet substance. Yogurt is a staple. 

Welfeld points out that meals contain no fish, meat, fowl or eggs. The destruction of living creatures - and eggs are considered embryonic life - is forbidden by God, he said. Other intoxicants, including coffee, tea and cola drinks are not permitted. 

The food is prepared and served by the few women devotees at the Temple who, according to Krishna leaders "have a propensity to cook. sew, bear children and be domestic." The women say they agree. 

Welfeld, 25, is candid about his Karmie life and frequently tells his story to those who will listen. He was raised in Baltimore's predominantly Jewish "Golden Ghetto." He spent four years in a pre-medical curriculum in college, where he had a C-plus academic average. 

"I used to be into drugs, music, the Revolution, nature - just about anything that was happening at the time," he said. 

Welfeld was a drummer with Mother Goose, a rock group, and appeared at clubs and lounges in South Florida before he became interested in Krishna Consciousness. There were several false starts, he said, before becoming a devotee, and usually he returned to "gratifying his senses.

"Finally I realized," he said. "that my true goal in life was to achieve perfection.

In January, Welfeld seriously began the attempt at spiritual development. He moved from a two-acre chicken farm in western Dade County to the society's temple on Kumquat Avenue. He shaved off his shoulder-length hair - except for a 3-inch Sikha, or piece of hair at the back of the head - and began wearing a robe.

At the Compound, the men, women and a few young children are continually involved in spiritual purification. They say they are making rapid progress toward an existence after physical death. 

The society, which was founded seven years ago by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in a Manhattan storefront, now claims more than 5,000 members. About 75 centers are located in major American and European cities, and expansion is what the society is most actively engaged in now.

Jon Sims, now known as Avi Rama, the 21-year-old president of the Miami Temple, is an articulate young man who has been in the movement for nearly five years. He is regarded with respect and is considered an old-timer among other Krishna devotees. Preaching and missionary work is the highest service a devotee can perform for Lord Krishna, An Rama said, and soon centers will open in Key West and perhaps Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

"Our idea is to create a small community," he said, "and within eight months we hope to begin construction of a Taj Mahal-like temple in Miami.

The proposed temple, he said, will he built from funds collected from incense sales and donations.

He explained that contributions account for about $10,000 a month and another $10,000 comes from sales of Spiritual Sky, the country's largest incense firm, which the society owns and operates.

The soft-spoken Krishna leader has just returned from Jamaica, where he spent five days meeting with persons interested in the movement there. The Miami center, he said, will become a nucleus for the region and will assist in the setting up of temples as they become needed. 

Avi Rama appeared on national television and said he plans to meet with Jamaican government officials. "Mainly, I went there to chant the name of Krishna," he said, explaining that by "chanting the holy name of God, the process of self liberation begins.

Twenty-five-year-old Stephen Bridge, now called Sankarshan, who was initiated at the St. Louis temple two years ago, describes himself as a "problem devotee.

He said he has thought about leaving the Compound several times because it has become overly strict. 

"I like to read and study the Bhagavad-gita, but I don't have enough time here to do my reading," he said. 

Sankarshan considers himself an "unsuccessful" devotee because he still has desires for sex. Women devotees at the temple arouse his desires and he thinks maybe it would be better for him to live elsewhere.

"I want to be celibate for the rest of my life," he said, "but I'm still a lusty person, I still want to gratify my senses.

During the daily discussion of the scriptures, Sankarshan engages other devotees to examine themselves to see if they are making spiritual progress.

We must constantly be aware of our lust, he said. It's going to take a physical lifetime to become a pure devotee.

Sankarshan usually makes at least one daily trip into maya, or the world beyond the compound. I know where the Karmies in maya are at, he said, and I don't care for it, maya is simply an illusion, everyone is playing God out there.

"They're suffering, those Karmies are suffering, but they don't know it because they cover themselves with material happiness, but material happiness is only temporary," he said. 

"They're eating meat; they're killing other animals and creating karma for themselves - karma that they will have to suffer for," he said.

Sankarshan's hope is for mukti, the liberation from a material consciousness. "Someday, I'll reach pure consciousness, and I will no longer be contaminated," he said. 

At 6 in the evening, Welfeld and four other devotees begin sankirtan, the "complete glorification of Krishna." They put on clean orange-tinted robes and begin public preaching at the Tropical Pool apartment complex in southwest Dade County. 

The evening preaching occurs daily, during which incense and Krishna literature is distributed. Devotees ask for donations to help support the movement and its mercy program in Bangladesh and the drug rehabilitation project that the Krishnas say is in operation in several major American cities.

The "No Solicitors" signs posted on the building do not deter the group from proceeding. Apartment complex managers are avoided, and devotees start canvassing from door-to-door.

"I was playing music, smoking joints and popping Sopors," Welfeld told an interested person. "What I was looking for was a cheap high ... and I admit it was nice, but it didn't last long enough. I was a lusty person, just trying to gratify my senses, but it was all momentary." he said.

Through Krishna Consciousness, he said he has found that his college degree, his musical career, sex relations and material goods are "garbage.

A young accounting student invited Welfeld into his apartment and questioned him further about sex.

"Sex ... why else would you do it except for sense gratification? We're not into that," he said simply.

"I've given up sex completely ... except for procreation," Welfeld said, "it's like any other gratification of the senses, and we don't do it for that reason.

At the Coventry Apartments, the manager confronted Welfeld about "soliciting." The manager was told of the work of Krishna devotees, how they are helping people in Bangladesh and about the drug rehabilitation programs, but the man remained firm. "You've got to leave here ... you are on private property," he said. 

At about 9 p.m., the devotees meet and discuss the evening's activities. Each person has something to discuss while tabulating the dollar bills and change. The total is nearly $50 - considered to be average for 3 hours work.

"One guy got uptight because we looked into his window," Welfeld said, "and another invited us into his place ... you never know about Karmies.

"Krishna looks after us ... He protects us," they agree, on the way back to the Compound. 

An earlier afternoon preaching mission took some of the devotees to the high rise canyon on East Flagler Street in downtown Miami. Startled afternoon shoppers, businessmen and tourists seemed confused at the chanting delegation. The devotees say that downtown is an inappropriate area for preaching because most persons are in such a hurry that they haven't the time for serious discussion.

The weekly Krishna feast, held in a park in Coconut Grove, is more conducive to communicating the society's message. Usually, a scattering of street people, students, housewives and tourists partake of the free food and sometimes join the chanting and singing.

Richard Richman, 25, a college graduate, has recently become a devotee. Until his initiation he is known as Bhakta Richard, and his sense of humor has remained intact.

"Beat the high cost of supermarket food," he exhorts. "Eat our prashadum ... it's free and you can have as much as you want." Mark Birenbaum, 24, who is now called Madana Mohan, became a devotee of Krishna in Los Angeles more than a year ago. He and his wife recently moved into a 25-foot screened in-boat that is drydocked on the Compound. He's outspoken about his motives for joining the movement: "I want to be able to shake hands with God.

He said that prior to Krishna Consciousness, he found "nothing could hold my interest very long ... not material goods, not sexual orgasm, not yoga ... I was always trying to get something for myself, but it never worked."

Madana Mohan's conversations are filled with references to the bliss that he says he now experiences. "It's happiness that doesn't stop, and through Krishna Consciousness I'm able to attain it. Everything is perfect, there is no hot or cold, there is no anxiety ... only perfection.

Madana Mohan, who described his bachelor's degree in psychology as "nonsense," said he doesn't consider himself fanatical or radical. "I'm a seeker of truth. and I know now that I've found it," he said. 

"Understanding Krishna Consciousness is a very difficult thing," he said, "especially if You are a meat eater." Eating cow meat - one of God's favorite animals - poisons the brain and the thought processes he said. 

"Meat eaters simply cannot understand the heaviness of this philosophy ... and only when you stop meat eating will your consciousness begin to be purified.

"I'm going back to Godhead after physical death. I know it; I'll be with God," he said. 

 

The Vocabulary of Hare Krishna 

Bhakta - A devotee, or one who practices devotion.

Caitanya - An incarnation of Krishna who appeared in the 1500s in Bengal, India. He was the inaugurator of the congregational chanting of the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, and his life was the most perfect example of the practice of the teaching of the Bhagavad-gita.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare - Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare - The maha-mantra, or great chant for deliverance. Krishna and Rama are names of the Lord, and Hare addresses the energy of the Lord. These names have been particularly recommended for chanting in this age.

Karma - 1) Material action performed according to scriptural regulations; 2) action pertaining to the development of the material body; 3) any material action which will incur a subsequent reaction; 4) the material reaction one incurs due to fruitive activities.

Karmie - A non-devotee, an outsider.

Krishna - The original name of the Supreme Lord in his original transcendental form; the Supreme Personality of Godhead, speaker of Bhagavad-gita

Mantra - (man - mind + tra - deliverance) A pure sound vibration to deliver the mind from its material inclinations.

Maya - (ma - not + ya - this) Illusion; an energy of Krishna's which deludes the living entity into forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord.

Mukti - liberation, freedom from material consciousness. 

Prashadum - food offered to Krishna, which becomes spiritual when offered and which can purify the living entities. 

Sanatana - eternal. 

Sankirtan - publicly preaching the glorification of Lord Krishna. 


A 5,000-Year-Old Movement 

Today's Krishna Consciousness movement started about 5,000 years ago in India when it is said that Lord Krishna appeared on earth and spoke the Bhagavad-gita (the Song of God). He instructed all living beings to surrender everything to God, and to do so would be the highest principle of religion.

More than 500 years ago, Lord Caitanya, said to be an incarnation of God, appeared in Bengal, and preached that the best way to revive the love of God in the modern age, was to chant the holy names of God: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare - Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Caitanya, a scholar, became well-known and began preaching the glories of chanting all over the subcontinent in his lifetime, the Krishna Consciousness movement became strong in India and Moslems, Hindus and Buddhists were converted into the non-sectarian movement. After his death in the 1500s, the movement faded, although a few persons continued to practice the philosophy.  

In 1900, Bhakti Siddanta Saraswaiti revived the movement and created a new following in India. One of his disciples was A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, an English-speaking  pharmaceutical executive. Prabhupada decided his mission was to preach Krishna Consciousness in English-speaking countries, and at the age of 50 he abandoned his business and family life and became a monk. 

In 1966, at the age of 70, Prabhupada came to Boston with $8 and later went to the East Village in New York and began preaching Krishna Consciousness to the hippies who lived there at the time. Today, seven years later, the movement claims more than 5,000 devotees and 75 temples. 

Photo 1: A Krishna Shaves His Head, Leaving a Sikha 
Photo 2: On a preaching mission in downtown Miami (left), afternoon shoppers seem confused by the chanting delegation. Devotees say that downtown is an inappropriate area for preaching because most persons are in too much of a hurry.
Photo 3 & 4: The food is prepared by women devotees (above and below), who, Krishna leaders say, 'have a propensity to cook, sew, bear children and be domestic.' The women say they agree.
Photo 5: The Marking on the Woman Above Is a Reminder That the Body Is Not To Be Used for Pleasure.

Reference: The Palm Beach Post, Miami, USA, 1973-05-06

Preaching at the University of Wisconsin

This photo was published in The Capital Times, May 16, 1970, in Madison, Wisconsin.

A member of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness carries out his Society's call to preach love of God to the people of the West by talking to two students on the University of Wisconsin campus. The Society, formed in 1966 by Prabhupada A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who came from India, is experienced as a process of self purification. (Staff photo by Bruce M. Fritz) 
 

Reference: The Capital Times, Unknown Location, USA, 1970-05-16