This article, "Few Students Respond To Hindu Worship - Converts Preach Krishna Consciousness Here," was published in The Stanford Daily, February 9, 1973, in Palo Alto, California.
By SRI KRISHN CHOPRA
"A dog can't control its sex urge. If you too can't, what's the difference between you and the dog?" His Holiness Satasvarupa Goswami asked the five students who turned up in a Tresidder meeting room to hear the first of several lectures given on campus last week by the Hare Krishna movement.
"Helluva lot," a Stanford student might respond. But the spiritual aura of the room, with the portrait of Lord Krishna, the burning incense and the saffron robed Swami sitting cross-legged on a dias, discouraged frivolity.
The Swami, a young American who was graduated from New York University with a degree in English, gave up comforts, his family, his name, sex and drugs, to adopt a concept of living totally alien to Western values. He shaved his head, took a Sanskrit name, donned saffron robes, and became a Sanyasi in the service of Lord Krishna in 1966. There are nearly 3000 more Americans like him.
As part of the "kirtan," Satsvarupa and two "godbrothers" Sahdev and Jivannanda Dasa, chanted "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Hare Hare" with a consuming passion and in a sweet, mellifluous voice. The glow of intense devotion lit up their faces.
Freed From Sex
"This is all you have to do to free yourself from getting yourself over-powered by sex and other material urges. Chanting 'Hare Krishna' will purify you and bring you back to God, the Supreme Krishna," Satasvarupa told his audience later. He added, "You don't have to shave your head like me. You can belong to any race, religion - that doesn't matter."
Perhaps it is this simplicity of approach that has drawn Westerners into the Hare Krishna fold. The convert is not required to spend hours meditating on the formless, or ponder over the profundity of the Vedas as required in transcendental meditation taught by many Hindu philosophers and preachers.
In this method, the converts just accept Krishna as the supreme Saviour and leave the rest to Him. Krishna is the name of God. He came to this world 5000 years ago as Lord Krishna. Hindu scriptures describe his life and deeds in detail. The Bhagvada Gita is the compilation of the teachings of Lord Krishna which he gave to one of his disciples, Arjuna.
Forms Of Yoga
All Hindus in India worship Krishna, though different groups may have different family Deities. There are a number of popular folk songs and verses on the life of Krishna as a child, the blue-complexioned, fun loving cow herder. The "kirtans" and chanting of "Hare Krishna" are part of the Hindu way of life.
The Hare Krishna movement here preaches the Bhakti Yoga, rather than the Hatha Yoga, which is the form of yoga most Americans are familiar with.
But Hatha Yoga requires considerable discipline and is very difficult to perform. In the Bhagvada Gita, Arjuna complains to Lord Krishna that he will not be able to perform the Hatha Yoga in its truly correct form. Lord Krishna then told him that the Yogi is one who always thinks of Him with love and faith.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a saint who lived in Bengal, India in the 15th century who popularised the "Hare Krishna" chant as being the cure-all for our material age. The word "Hara" is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord and "Hare" is the vocative of "Hara."
The spiritual master and the founder of the Hare Krishna movement in India, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is claimed to be a direct descendent in the line of disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who in turn is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna.
Hare Krishna movement followers here claim that they are the only ones who present the genuine teachings of the Gita and Lord Krishna because, in the line of 'disciplic succession' which they have traced through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, their Guru Srila Prabhupada, comes down directly from Lord Krishna.
Recently, Macmillan has published his book called Bhagvada Gita, As It Is which according to the author contains the original sayings of the Supreme God. Unlike other Swamis who try to interpret and give their own meaning to Gita, he says, "I am like a mailman who delivers the mail without opening the letter and making additions."
Krishna In America
This 77-year-old Swami came to New York in 1966 and founded the International Society of Krishna Consciousness which has grown into 90 centers and now has more than 5000 followers.
Why did he come to America? I asked one of his followers.
"He came here on the instruction of his spiritual master who asked him to go and spread Lord Chaitanya's message to the people of the West," one of his followers explained. "He chose America because he found that people all over the world were following America to Hell - so if America took to the Hare Krishna movement, they would follow the Americans to Heaven."
Photo: HARE KRISHNA - This unusual looking man is one of a group of American converts to Krishna consciousness who came to Stanford last week to explain their movement. However, few students attended their lectures.