News coverage of Srila Prabhupada and his movement.
This article, "Western Cult Has New Deity: Lord Krishna" was published in Washington C.H. Record-Herald, January 24, 1970, in Washington Court House, Ohio.
By SUSAN EVERLY
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Midafternoon in the hurrying crowd, six young men in long saffron and white robes, their heads shaved, sway past Saks Fifth Avenue begging with extended conch shells and chanting to their Lord Krishna.
Sunday when the drug and crime infested East Village is sleeping off another Saturday night, young people in a walk-up second-floor storefront quietly dress multicolored wooden deities and prepare food for a Sunday feast in honor of their Lord Krishna.
A 17-year old boy shaves off his long shaggy hair and leaves his home and parents in suburban Long Island to serve his new Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna is the god of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which claims to have temples in more than 20 locations in the country.
The new Western cult serving an ancient Hindy deity is part of a growing interest among young people of Eastern philosophies - and Eastern ways of life - which stress spiritual experience rather than material concerns. In recent years there has been a growth in the United States in devotees of yoga, of interest in Zen Buddhism, in Indian music and the wearing of Eastern garb.
Krishna devotees are mostly in their late teens and early 20s. Many were hippie-types; some were drug users.
"We're not going to get the Midwestern college kid," said Chandan Acuarya, a member of the East Village temple. "We're going to get the kid with the long hair who has sensed that it is a money-grabbing world."
Chanadan, 22, was formerly Christian Kindler, a rock musician and commercial writer in Montreal. "I was making all kinds of money, but I was going out of my mind," he said. "That's why I'm here."
The key to the new Hindu cult is the chanting of the ancient 16-word mantra: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
"This is the authorized process by which one can develop an unalloyed love of God - God realization," said Brahmananda, president of the New York temple. "This chanting establishes a link between the living entity and the absolute truth."
Translated, the Hare Krishna asks: "Krishna, Oh my Lord, give me relief from illusion of this world and attraction to the material world. Bring me to serve you."
The colorful Sunday feast draws many more people than the 30 some devotees.
Then a crowd of young people flock to the temple. Some are attracted to the cult's philosophy: some are curious; some come for the free meal.
Chanting begins softly as burning incense coils a thin smoke throughout the room. One robed devotee, tinkling finger cymbals, rises slowly and sways before the flower-decked altar.
A brief sermon informs the visitors of the values of Krishna consciousness. "Transcendental bliss" can be theirs, they are told.
Then the rugs are rolled and devotees and vistors settle down for a vegetarian feast. Some visitors linger and go out into the street chanting and begging with the robed devotees.
But for the initiates, Krishna Consciousness is more than a Sunday lark.
It is a way of life founded in 1966 when Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta arrived from the East with what he said was the "divinely appointed task" of carrying to the West the prescribed method for devoting to God - the chanting of the Hare Krishna. He set himself up in a lower Eastside storefront. The curious came, some remained, and the temple was founded.
Krishna life is highly regulated for all followers. Beginning at 5 a.m., their day is crammed with devotions, ritual cleaning of themselves and the temple, other chores and chanting and begging in the streets.
Following the law of the Vedic scriptures, they give up all intoxicants, drugs, alcohol, coffee and tea, abstain from sex except for procreation within a Krishna marriage, avoid gambling: and don't eat meat, fish and eggs.
This article, "Krsna movement comes to town" was published in The Morning Herald, January 27, 1973, in Hagerstown, Maryland.
By DAN ELLIOTT
It could have been the Salvation Army, but the words were different and the clothes were all wrong.
Five young men with their heads shaved nearly bald and wearing ankle-length robes stood at Public Square Friday afternoon, chanting, beating drums and spreading the word of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, "Spiritual Master" of the International Society for Krsna (pronounced Krishna) Consciousness.
The society promotes a non-violent religion founded in India 5,000 years ago.
Krsna consciousness, they say, is an "ecstatic" slate of awareness of God, achieved through chanting and meditation.
The five devotees, all from Toronto, were distributing books and pamphlets by the spiritual master, as well as a nook called Bhagavad-gita, the holy book of the faith. Hagerstown was one stop on a two-month tour the devotees were taking.
The reception they got at the square wasn't exactly a warm one.
One of the young men, Kripa Sindhu (Servant of the Ocean of Mercy), began chanting on the corner, and a group of young boys giggled.
"Hey, sweetie, why don't you get a haircut?" somebody yelled in jest.
Some people ignored the missionaries while others just snickered.
But the hecklers didn't seem to bother Kripa. "We try to remember they've lost their spiritual consciousness," he said.
"Our main duly is to distribute books," Kripa said. "You can't convert people in two minutes."
But the devotees believe that the books themselves are enough. "It's the highest science of God-consciuusness," Kripa said, "If people would read the literature, they would accept it. It's the perfect science."
Kripa joined the society two years ago. He discovered the faith at a peace rally. Everyone else was fighting, he said, but the Krsna people were sitting in a group, chanting peacefully.
"I visited the temple every Sunday for about two months, and every time I talked to a different person."
"Then they asked me if I wanted to move into the center, which was what I wanted to do."
All the devotees live communally in about 60 centers across the nation. They derive their income from the manufacture of incense.
Children live with their parents at the centers until they are five years old, when they are sent to school in Dallas, Tex.
"It's to everyone's benefit," Kripa said. "It's better to teach the love of God than to build family attachments, which end at death anyway."
The devotees dress the way they do "to renounce the physical world," they said.
"We don't give up physical things," Kripa said. "There is nothing wrong with the material world. It's how it's used that's wrong."
"Take atomic energy. There's nothing wrong with atomic energy, but it shouldn't he used for bombs. It's how it's used that makes it wrong."
Kripa looked down the street where the other devotees were stopping shoppers and explaining their faith.
One asked a young woman if she'd like to have a pamphlet. She gave an embarrassed smile and said, "I've already got one, thanks," and hurried by.
Photo: Kripa Sindhu with his literature
This article, "Hare Krishna Religion Takes Hold" was published in The Tampa Tribune, January 22, 1972, in Tampa, Florida.
This austere, severely disciplined movement turns away from material pleasures and relies on "Krishna," another name for the Lord.
By JIM DeGENNARO
Tribune Staff Writer
At 4.30 a.m., two hours before the sun rises, Jeffrey Juliana, a devotee of the Hare Krishna Consciousness movement, showers, dresses, and offers food to Krishna in the Sri-Sri-Radha, or temple room.
An hour later, the broad-shouldered 18-year-old and four other Krishna people residing at 207 W. Woodlawn Ave., huddle close together in a circle for meditation.
This intense prayer session is followed by a cleaning of the temple and a breakfast of dahl (vegetable soup). After the simple meal is finished, the devotees hold scripture classes and study, the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, translated by A. C. Bkaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spiritual master and founder of the Hare Krishna movement.
A LUNCH OF bread sticks and vegetables is offered to Krishna at noon followed by sankiratan. During this ceremony, the devotees go out door-to-door to preach the word of God.
Dinner, taken at 6 p.m, is succeeded by more scripture classes and an hour of free reading. The devotees take rest at 10 p.m.
A day in the life of a Krishna person is disciplined. Their temple is a monastery and the devotees are monks who lead austere but happy lives.
"We watch no television or movies and play no games because we're deriving all our pleasure from our devotional service to Krishna," Juliana said. "We lead a disciplined existence, but who has ever been hurt by discipline?"
JULIANA, WHO has been a devotee three weeks. does not have a spiritual name because he has not been formally initiated into the religion. He will receive his holy name when he spiritually advances in the Krishna movement and is graced by God.
Another house devotee, Pustakrishna, has been graced by God after a year in the Krishna movement. When asked what religion he belonged to before becoming a Krishna person. the 21-year-old said. "Show bottle religion. I was simply practicing religion one day a week, and only several hours that one day."
In contrast, Pustakrishna now devotees every day of the week to Krishna. When not praying he chants the sacred mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Hare means energy of the Lord while Krishna and Rama are names for the Lord.
"The Lord is present in his name and everything relating to Krishna has the same potency," he said. "His name, his form, his word - everything is all one."
PUSTAKRISHNA WAS in Dacca during the Bangladesh uprising and believes that political strife led to the war between India and East Pakistan.
"Our view is that the politicians are not solving the real problems of life, namely birth, death, disease, and old age," he said. "No politician himself is free from these four miseries of material existence, therefore one must accept the higher authority of the scripture coming through the chain of disciplic succession."
Krishna people disdain material pleasures most other persons are accustomed to and rely on. They have no desire but to serve Krishna, and in turn, Krishna provides them with all they need to survive.
"Krishna is described as the owner and controller of everything material and spiritual. Therefore, one should accept only that quota which he requires, elsewise, who is he stealing from but the Lord." Pustakrishna said. "So this Krishna consciousness is trying to re-educate the masses to spiritual life recognizing God as the center of all activity."
THE ORIGIN OF the Hare Krishna movement, as interpreted by the spiritual master is that: "The Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great apostle of love of God and the father of the sankirtana movement, advented Himself in the city of Navadvipa in Bengal, India. This was in February, 1486, by Christian reckoning."
"By the will of the Lord there was a lunar eclipse on that evening. When Lord Caitanya was born during the eclipse, then, the whole of India was roaring with the holy sound of Hare Krishna."
In the three months that the Krishna people have been in Tampa, they have been met with a "very nice response," according to Pustakrishna. The young devotee teaches a Krishna course at the Unisersity of South Florida which includes instruction in authorized transcendental meditation and study of the Bhagasad Gita As It Is. Every Sunday at 4 p.m., the Krishna people hold a Krishna Vegetable Love Feast for the public.
Devotees of Krishna Conciousness pass through four orders or ashrams of life. The Brahmacari, or celibate student, has the option of marrying or remaining single. While single, the celibate student lives and studies in a section of the temple called the Brahmacari ashram.
IF THE DEVOTEE marries, he becomes a householder or grhastha. In later life he can accept varnaprastha which is a transition stage where one breaks all worldly ties with friends and family. Finally, one accepts sanyassin, the renounced order of life. The sanyassins only engagement is developing pure love for God by engaging body, mind, words, and senses exclusively to Krishna's service.
The Krishna people realize that their appearance sometimes draws stares and jeers from people on the street, but this cajoling is taken as another material aspect of the world which is disregarded.
New devotee Juliana, before becoming a Krishna person, had shoulder-length hair. His head is now shaved except for a small sikha, or pony tail, on the back of his head. He wears beads which signify his respect for Krishna and the traditional dotie or skirt.
"I SHAVED my head for cleanliness and because our spiritual master recommends it, and by pleasing our spiritual master, we obtain the grace of God," he said. "I am trying to disassociate with everything material; that's why it doesn't bother me when people gawk at me. I am just a spirit within a body anyway."
According to his devotees, the spiritual master predicts that the Hare Krishna movement will turn the hippies into happies.
"The counter-culture people are changing because they're discovering every day that they cannot obtain any lasting happiness from drugs or illicit sex," Juliana said. "So, they are looking for something real and God is reality. Love is the ultimate trap and Krishna is the fountain of love."
Photo 1: Krishna children Bhaktin Juniper, 5, and Bhakta Milly, 6.
Photo 2: New devotee Jeffrey Juliana prays in the Temple, a ritual he performs each time he enters.
Photo 3: Krishna devotee Juliana reads scriptures in the Temple.
Photo 4: Devotee Strums Guitar In Celibates' Study ... Krishna people find joy in simple pleasures.
Photo 5: Youth prepares to leave Tampa temple for travel to other cities to spread the word of God.
Reference: The Tampa Tribune, Unknown Location, USA, 1972-01-22
This article, "Followers Say Serenity, Perfection Found In Hare Krishna Chant" was published in The Orlando Sentinel, January 3, 1972, in Orlando, Florida.
The traffic signal on Orange Avenue blinked "Wait," then it clicked to "Walk," and Diana crossed the street. Clutched under her arm were two dozen pamphlets titled: "On Chanting Hare Krishna."
Seventeen-year-old Diana wore an orange-colored robe and worn-out tennis shoes. There was an earring in her nose, and her forehead had two streaks of white lines, which had been put on earlier that morning with wet clay.
THE ORANGE-ROBED girl made a strange contrast to bustling downtown Orlando, just a few days after Christmas.
Cars went by with clashing gears, the squeal of brakes. Shoppers made irregular patterns on the sidewalks as they exchanged Christmas presents, drifted into restaurants for coffee, and bargain-hunted at downtown stores which had red "Sale" signs In their glass windows.
Diana stopped passersby, and she gave them copies of her pamphlets. "We have to get out of our material entanglement and go back home to God," she was saying, handing out pamphlets and asking for donations. A woman with a full shopping bag gave her a quarter and Diana said, "Hare Krishna."
"MANY OF US are unhappy in the material world," she said. "We're desperately looking for something. We found it in Krishna. Everything is perfect in Krishna. Perfect."
Diana, from Phoenix, Ariz., first became involved in the Krishna movement because she felt "good vibrations" while repeating the famous Indian chant. Embracing the group made her one of a growing number of Americans who have turned away from the world, towards what they hope is a more fulfilling spiritual life.
Leaving behind the structured and orderly religion offered by the established churches, various groups are part of this movement. Many of them have taken to the streets, and they can be found everywhere.
IN ORLANDO, for example, a recent phenomenon is the "Jesus Freaks." They are mostly young people who consider themselves "Street Ministers," buttonholing people to tell them about their personal involvement with Jesus Christ.
Then there are what might be called the "loner" types. A 46-year-old Chippewa Indian from Ontario, Canada is one of them.
His name is Steve Sylvester Wawia. He's in Orlando now, taking time off from a five-year trek across the United States which "Jesus told me to do."
WAWIA AND his wife, Charlotte, covered 3,400 miles on foot. They took with them only a bedroll, and a change of clothes. They stopped to preach on the way at churches, tents or anywhere people would listen to what they consider to be the Word of God.
"Jesus told us to walk," explained the dark-skinned, black-haired Wawia as he sat on a bench in Eola Park. "He wanted us to do that so we could meet and talk to people on the way."
"We'll be off again," he continued, "as soon as God gives us a compulsion and tells us where to go."
35 Members in Orlando
THE GROUP to which Diana belongs, Hare Krishna, is a world-wide organization. About 35 members came to Orlando recently from one of their communes in West Virginia.
For weeks, the group has been traveling in five yellow school buses. When they move on to another town, they plan to leave behind a few members to start an Orlando chapter.
There are 1,500 preachers of Hare Krishna in the United States, according to a former Columbia University student who now calls himself Kirtanananda Swami.
LIKE MANY Krishna "devotees," he has a shaven head as a symbol of his faith. Wearing the familiar orange robe, with white clay lines on his forehead, he talked about himself in Eola Park during a vegetarian "love feast."
"I was a student at Columbia University in New York, getting my doctorate in History. I was not satisfied with what I was taught. I wanted something else from life besides working hard till you're 65, and then retiring to have a heart attack. I took a trip to India, without really having a clear idea of what I was going for. While there, I saw Krishna, but was not impressed."
He returned to New York, where he met the modern-day leader of the 500-year-old Krishna movement: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The year was 1966, and the Swami was in New York because his spiritual master had told him to "preach love of God to the people of the West."
Divine Grace Student
KIRTANANANDA SWAMI became his first student. Since then he has been active in the Krishna movement, reading, studying, traveling to India.
Kirtanananda says that the Krishna movement is supported by donations and by the sale of Spiritual Sky incense, which is made at the group's West Virginia commune.
Krishna is perhaps best known for its chant, which "is not an ordinary sound, but a transcendental sound," according to Kirtanananda. "It has the power to unleash the soul."
"IT GOES like this: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare. Hare, Rama, Hare, Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare."
The Krishna movement believes that God is everywhere, and man is all part of the perfect whole - "Everything is perfect." People cut themselves off from this perfect attachment to God by getting involved in material strivings, followers believe.
KRISHNA "DEVOTEES" urge a simpler way of life as a way of finding an attachment to God, a consciousness of Him.
Their beliefs are reflected in their simple life styles and in their way of dress. The white streaks on their foreheads are symbols of their faith. And the familiar tennis shoes are common because Krishna members do not believe in killing animals for food or leather shoes.
Krishna members are opposed to any killing, including mosquitoes. Members also avoid eating meat or eggs, stay away from stimulants and drugs, and promise not to have any sex outside of marriage.
All Ages Follow
THOUGH MOST "devotees" are in their 20s, there are younger members. Like 17-year-old Diana. And there are older followers, such as "Sheelavati devi dasi," who has two teen-age children.
What is behind the popularity of Hare Krishna and the other religious groups? Some interpret it as only the beginning of a worldwide return to God. Others say followers of these groups are seeking peace in a complicated world.
Some of the Hare Krishna followers seem to have found this peace. There is serenity in Diana's face as she walks among the more-worldly minded shoppers on Orange Avenue.
It is a warm afternoon. Some shoppers take her pamphlets. Diana smiles at them. "Everything is perfect," she says. The world moves around her, shifting and changing, but Diana thinks she has found something that is eternal.
This article, "Chanting for Krishna" was published in Independent Press-Telegram, January 24, 1971, in Long Beach, California.
Youths dressed like Oriental monks, playing drums and cymbals and tambourines, swaying to their jangling rhythm, and chanting... Hare Krishna... Hare Krishna...
It seems to be a scene from a travelogue, far away in place and time. But the youths are Americans, and the scene is occurring now in more than 25 cities across the United States, especially so in Southern California. Twice a week, they are in Long Beach at Third and Pine and at the Cal State Long Beach campus.
I first encountered the unlikely scene in front of a department store on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Like a dozen other passers-by, I stopped to watch.
A young man with shaven head, sandals and robes stood apart from the chanters. He offered incense and literature to the watchers - a magazine called Back to Godhead and a book entitled Sri Isopanisad.
I passed on the incense but "donated" $5 for the literature.
Reading later, I found the group is called The International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Krishna was an avatar (a deity descended from heaven to earth) and the charioteer of Arjuna, the chief hero in the ature in which Krishna advises Arjuna on duty and the immortality of the soul made Krishna one of the most popular of Indian deities. Krishna himself is often believed to be the human incarnation of one of the original half dozen solar deities who, in three giant strides, daily traverse the sky in Hindu theology.
It might he said this group is a recent nonsectarian offshoot of Hindu and Brahmanical philosophies whose origins go back 5,000 years in India - recent in that the movement was founded in the Western World in July, 1966, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a small number of American students.
From his humble New York storefront beginnings the Swami and a few disciples began to spread the word through chanting. Indeed, chanting - or sankirtan, as they call it - can be said to be the basic tenet of the faith in which all other activity is subsidiary. Between 10 to 12 hours daily are spent on various street corners this way and the movement believes this alone is the most effective means of God realization. Their literature states: "The effect (of chanting) is a clearing away of the dirt from the mind engrossed in the gloom of material existence."
After reading their literature, I decided to take advantage of an invitation card to a "sumptuous 15-course spiritual feasting at 4 p.m. Sunday," hoping I could talk to some of the followers in a more relaxed setting.
Their Los Angeles temple and world headquarters is part of a 30-center world complex with branches in seven countries. Formerly a Methodist Church, it was purchased by the group for $1.5 million. In California, there are centers also at Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Francisco and plans are underway to open a permanent branch in Long Beach.
Reference: Independent Press-Telegram, Unknown Location, USA, 1971-01-24