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'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 



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