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Indian Chant Replaces LSD

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


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