This article, "Finds satisfying life in Krishna," was published in The Brandon Sun, February 27, 1971, in Brandon, Canada.
TORONTO (CP) - Hyman Zuckerman found his life unsatisfying so he changed his name to Rasananda Das Brahmachary and instead of practising medicine he became a disciple of a cult known as Krishna Consciousness.
Rasananda, 27, received his medical degree from McGill University last spring but instead of going into practice he moved into one of the cult's temples in Toronto.
In the temple where the air is redolent with the fragrance of burning incense and Indian cooking spice, Rasananda explained in an interview:
"Like the other disciples, I joined Krishna because my other life was unsatisfying."
The sect was established in the 1960s in New York by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Followers believe self-realization and self-purification can only be achieved through close union with Krishna, another word for the Lord.
They believe in reincarnation, vegetarianism, non-violence and kindness to all living things. The main activities are study and devotion. Wealth, alcohol, drugs, coffee, tea, meat, gambling and sex outside marriage are outlawed.
"We don't miss any of it because we have Krishna," said Rasananda. "Drugs we can especially do without."
"Most people seek pleasure in things like sex, food, drink, hockey, movies and TV. It's a waste of time because those things are emphemeral, unreal and unimportant. The only hope of fulfilment is through a life of utter devotion to Krishna."
Krishna means the all-attractive. One of the cult's main activities is the chanting of the mantra.
"The mantra is Krishna in sound," said Rasananda. "It glorifies him and summons people to worship him. When we chant privately in the temple, it's the genuine crying of a child for his mother."
The daily schedule for the 22 members in the Toronto temple begins at 4 a.m. The men shave their faces and heads clean, leaving a small tuft of hair on the crown.
"Our hair-style is a symbol of renunciation and also serves as an identification tag so Krishna can recognize us," said Rasananda.
The next four hours are spent in praying, chanting, studying and offering food at the altar for Krishna's blessing.
Breakfast is served at 8 a.m. with the men sitting on the floor around a rectangular bamboo mat and the women sitting around another.
The menu consists of plain yogurt, a cooked cereal and milk.
During the day, some disciples are assigned to household chores and others chant the mantra.
In late afternoon they gather again for prayer and devotion, eat a meal and by 10 p.m. the temple is dark and silent.
"We get along nicely on six hours sleep a night." said Rasananda. "We only stay in bed long enough to get rested to serve Krishna the next day. In the materialistic world, people use sleep as an escape from life."