Open in App
Open in App

News Articles

News coverage of Srila Prabhupada and his movement.

Krishna 'Ho Ho'ers' don Santa's breeches

This article, "Krishna 'Ho Ho'ers' don Santa's breeches" was published in Journal and Courier, December 23, 1975, in Lafayette, Indiana.

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. (AP) - Members of a Hare Krishna group have traded in saffron robes for Santa Claus suits and are passing out candy canes and shouting "Ho, Ho, Ho" to try to raise money for their cause.

The followers of Hare Krishna, a religious movement with roots in India, generally shave their heads except for a top-knot, wear flowing robes and slowly chant the praises of their Lord, Krishna. 

This Christmas, six of them have hidden their shaved skulls under Santa caps as they pass out candy canes to occupants of cars backed up at a stop light in busy north San Antonio, Drivers are asked for donation of $1 each and are given a candy cane and a book on Hare Krishna whether they contribute or not.

"Dressing up as Santa Claus, people can relate to us," says Jyotir Das, of Houston, who took his name when be joined the sect. "Sometimes they have a difficult time relating to us with our bald heads and thing like that."

"Christmas is a time of loving; of sharing what we have. And the most valuable thing we have is to give part of ourselves ... and we try to share Krishna.

Many of the motorists want nothing to do with Krishna and the police have received many complaints and inquiries about the Santas. 

"A lot of them have a hard day at work," says one Santa. "There's always hide problems. Sometimes they call us names and ignore us, but you know, it's all part of life. We try to understand.

The side walk Santas, who have a permit say they are collecting enough money to pay for printing their literature and the candy canes - which they say are special. 

"It's all sanctified," one Santa says of the candy. "It's offered to the Lord first. Just by eating it you become purified.

Photo: Hare Krishna Santa Claus: Jyotir Das, a Hare Krishna disciple, is one of six devotees in San Antonio, who are stopping motorists, giving them a candy cane and asking for a $1 donation during the Christmas season. (AP Wirephoto)

Reference: Journal and Courier, Unknown Location, USA, 1975-12-23

DEVOTION AND BANK BOOKS - New cults attracting thousands

This article, "DEVOTION AND BANK BOOKS - New cults attracting thousands," was published in The Muncie Evening Press, December 22, 1975, in Muncie, Indiana.

Editor's Note: The Moonies with their flowers and pamphlets, the Hare Krishna devotees chanting on streetcorners, the Children of God and their free love version of the Bible. 

They are members of religious commune groups which demand total devotion and sometimes bank books from their flocks. Part one of a series of three articles examines these groups and why their leaders, "The New Messiahs," have attracted so many youthful converts.
(First in a series)

NEW YORK (AP) - New messiahs are arising across America, idolized by young converts who seek the truth and reviled by parents who accuse them of brainwashing. 

Teachers or preachers, they offer the truth, the way, the light. Holy men or hucksters, they hold out a promise of knowledge, happiness and the path to God. 

They offer love and warmth and community. In return, some demand not only souls, but also total devotion and savings accounts. Some call them withdrawal groups. 

So tight is the grip on many young recruits that critics accuse them of mind control. Distraught parents have kidnaped their zealous children from groups and "deprogrammed" them. 

There are hundreds of groups, but the best known are the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Children of God sect, the Divine Light Mission of 17-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji and the Hare Krishna movement. 

"It's a unified family of brothers and sisters," says Ron Johnson, a 19-year-old Moonie from Austin, Tex. "We'll go around and meet people and try to help them out. The whole purpose is to train people to be missionaries.

"I've never before felt God's presence so strongly," says Diane Hunt, 26, a former clerk who found Moonism. "I felt it was either go or stay. I felt it was God's will.

Some, like the Unification Church and Hare Krishna movement, are big business, and young idealistic converts relinquish their possessions to hawk flowers, candles and candy to finance their way to God. 

"Extreme groups demand total commitment and some provide a total life, completely set off from the mainstream of society," says Robert Ellwood, professor of religious sociology at the University of Southern California. 

Many recruits to the new cult scene stepped out of the counterculture of the 1960s and the psychedelic experience.

Here is a rundown of the major groups: 

UNIFICATION CHURCH: Its leader is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a 54-year-old Korean evangelist who claims a world-wide church and an American following of 30,000, including a core of 7,000. He teaches that Christ will come again, take a bride and father a blessed human race. He is strongly anti-Communist. 

"Rev. Moon comes as a spiritual father," says Nell A. Salonen, U.S. president of the group. "He is the individual through whom God speaks" - once at Madison Square Garden. 

Moon himself is a millionaire with extensive Korean holdings that include gun and tea manufacturing. The church has $10 million in property in two New York estates. 

He demands total devotion from his clean cut disciples, known as "Moonies" who regard him as a father. The most devoted live in communes, relinquish their savings and personal property to the church and even permit Moon to select their marriage partners. They proseletyze on streetcorners and sell flowers and candles to raise money. 

The group is strongly opposed to free love, alcohol and drugs. The Unification Church has been vigorously criticized by parents who claim their children have been brainwashed and programmed. 

"I'm ecstatic, I'm going to be a pioneer," says Debbie Dobson, a 20-year-old Moonie from Massachusetts. 

CHILDREN OF GOD: The Children of God is a secretive Christian sect with an estimated 100 communes in North America and Europe. It is a fundamentalist group that sprang from the hippie and Jesus movements and applies a sexual interpretation to the Bible

Like the Unification Church, it requires total devotion from its members who regard themselves as the enlightened "children of God." Many members have renounced their families and material possessions and many parents have accused the group of imprisoning and brainwashing their children. 

They take Bibical names and follow strict schedules, study the Bible and learn a trade. 

The sect was founded in 1968 by David Moses Berg, now in Europe. Berg wrote a series of letters giving his views on everything from international politics to sexual mores and techniques. 

DIVINE LIGHT MISSION: The Divine Light Mission is an Indian sect led by Guru Maharaj Ji, a plump, high-living 17-year-old compared by his followers with Jesus, Buddha and Krishna. He is called the Perfect Master of the mission founded by his father in India.

The mission claims 500,000 American followers and eight million in India. It keeps track of its disciples with a computer, employes a public relations staff and has wide business interests including a janitorial service. 

About 3,000 followers are actively involved and about 1,000 live in ashrams - communes for celibate living and meditation. 

Maharaj Ji lives with his wife and child in a Malibu, Calif., mansion and has two airplanes, a Rolls Royce and three Mercedes Benz autos. 

His mother has denounced him as a "playboy" who leads a "despicable, nonspiritual way of life" while espousing an aescetic, vegetarian lifestyle. 

He has promised to reveal God and establish world peace. Disciples must meditate in order to receive knowledge and practice tongue contortion and eyeball pressure to taste "divine nectar" and see "divine light.

HARE KRISHNA: The Hare Krishna movement is part of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and claims thousands of saffron-robed followers in temples across the U.S. 

"Krishna" means Supreme Being in Sanskrit and followers believe they can achieve ecstasy by leading an aescetic life, swaying and chanting "Hare Krishna.

The followers with shaven heads and pigtails are a familiar sight on many streetcorners, in airports and subways where they sell candy and flowers and seek donations for good works. 

To lead the righteous life, devotees are required to give up alcohol, drugs, coffee, tea, meat, fish and eggs. Gambling and illicit sex are prohibited. 

Many have given up their possessions to serve the movement which has spread to communes in most major American cities and maintains some farms. 

Concern over youthful converts is widespread, especially for the Moonies, Children of God and Hare Krishna devotees. 

The Citizens Engaged in Reuniting Families, is a nationwide anti-Moon organization which advises parents: 

- Do answer all communications from your child in sincere, firm but unrecriminating language. 

- Do not send money to your child or to the group; without economic support the group cannot survive. 

Deprogramming is gaining momentum. 

The process may involve kidnaping the convert and requires hours or days of argument and reason to wear down the new religious beliefs. Deprogrammers call on family and friends. They hammer away, laughing, scoffing, listening, always reassuring the young person of their love. 

Lee Roth, 26, of Freeport, N.Y., was taken away and deprogrammed last summer after four years in the Hare Krishna movement. 

"I hated the deprogramining at the time, and I hated my parents for it," Roth says. 

"I realize now I was brainwashed and I intend to discourage any young people from getting involved in any cults.

Photo: SOULS AND CASH ... New messiahs are arising across America, offering young converts love and warmth and community. In return, some demand not only souls, but also total devotion and savings accounts. - AP Wire-photo.

Reference: The Muncie Evening Press, Unknown Location, USA, 1975-12-22

Krishna Society's Projects in India

This article, "Krishna Society's Projects in India," was published in The Hindu, January 2, 1976, in Chennai, India.

A team of sanyasis and brahmacharis of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness camping at Srirangam at the residence of Sri Rangaraja Bhattar of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple for four days from December 23, attracted a number of youth by their inspiring bhajans.

A member of the team, Achyutananda Swami, an American by birth, who was initiated by Srila Prabhupada, founder of the society, explained the work of the society and said the hippie cult and frustration among youth were due to lack of religious teachers to mould the youth on the right lines. "Frustration is everywhere in the world and India is not an exception," he said. 

Two specially notable centres run by the society in India are the International Vedic University at Mayapur, 90 miles north of Calcutta, and Brindavan. Mayapur is the birthplace of Chaitanya. Another of Srila Prabhupada's project is New Vrindavana, a 1,000 acre Krishna Conscious Farm Community in West Virginia. 

Prabhupada has started a Gurukul in Dallas, Texas, for 200 boys and girls between the ages of five and 15. They are taught Sanskrit besides subjects like arithmetic and geography. 

A notable project of the society in India is the International Sanskrit University at Kurukshetra near Delhi. One of Prabhupada's disciples, Alfred Ford, now Ambarisa Das, a nephew of Henry Ford has undertaken to construct it at a cost of $20 millions. 

Sri Achyutananda said ISKCON was developing community farm projects all over India and two farms, one at Mayapur and another near Hyderabad, have already started functioning. 

At Mayapur there is a gurukul, where children in the age group 5 to 15 are given training in Sanskrit and the sastras

The members of the team said that during Christmas Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita released by the society were sold to the value of over Rs. one crore in the United States alone. - From Our Tiruchi Correspondent. 

Reference: The Hindu, Unknown Location, India, 1976-01-02

Chain-Gang Hero of Hare Krishna

This article, "Chain-Gang Hero of Hare Krishna" was published in Pensacola News Journal, December 11, 1976, in Pensacola, Florida.

AP Religion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - He sat cross-legged on a throne of pillows, an aging swami, clad in saffron dhoti and tunic, a garland of flowers and tulsi beads about his neck, his brown brow daubed with gold-colored sandalwood pulp. Devotees, on entering, knelt and bowed to the floor before him. 

To his Hare Krishna followers, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada represents and speaks for God.

"Generally people are working on the bodily concept of life," he said in one of his rare interviews. "We are working on the spiritual platform ... those working on the bodily platform are working on the dead platform ... We are working on the platform of life."

This disjunction of spirit-life from matter, a dualism characteristic of eastern religions which see the physical world as a binding prison from which the soul seeks escape, ran through the circuitous discourse of two hours, laden with earthy analogies.

He described the material existence of most people as like being in jail, hammering bricks, while he and his followers are trying to teach the others that "jail life is no good," that to live in the jail is not desirable.

"We are trying to educate the prisoners," he said. "They are such fools and rascals that they cannot understand that without jail one can live.

They are "working hard ... hammering bricks," he added, and are envious because his disciples are not also "hammering bricks" and participating in "jail life," but his disciples know it is not "good business" - that it is "punishment. This is real knowledge.

Asked if that wasn't a negative view of earthly existence, he said it "is a fact ... a positive understanding.

Told that traditional western religions, Judaism and Christianity, cherish the physical world itself as good, he said, "That is ignorance.

In connection with questions about whether the Hare Krishna view didn't tend to cut followers off from concerns in this world, he was asked what he thought of Jimmy Carter. 

"I do not know of him, nor do I care," he said. Told who Carter is, "What improvements have been made by having this president and that president? The world has had so many hundreds and thousands of presidents. What is the improvement in spiritual knowledge? ... We are more for the spirit-soul than the body.

When he said he personally never voted in elections, he was asked if his disciples followed his example. "I do not know," he said, adding that voting for this man or that man offered no "spiritual benefit," which "is our concern.

His movement is called the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, which he founded here in 1966.

It has about 10,000 fulltime communal members in about 100 temples across the country, and claims 50,000 to 100,000 part-time supporters.

General secretary  Bali Mardan, 28, said it took in more than $2 million last year in sales of its magazine, "Back to Godhead" and 55 books of Vedic scripture which Swami Prabhupada translated from Sanskrit into English.

The swami, who turned 80 this fall, was asked about criticism from parents and ex-members who say the group uses "brainwashing" in its heavy indoctrination of hours of daily chanting of 1,728 Hare Krishna rounds.

"It is due to misunderstanding," he said. "They do not understand what kind of education we are giving. We are giving education on how to become free of the hammering in the jail ... They do not understand that we are talking on the spiritual platform and they are on the material bodily platform.

He explained, in the typically oriental religious view, that the objective is for the spirit to get free of the body - the jail. "That is the ideal life," he said. "That is the goal. When the soul lives without this material body, then it is liberated.

However, he said, most people "cannot understand that life can be lived without hammering bricks.

This reporter, taking his leave after the long session, himself seated on the floor, barefoot as was required, said, "Well, I have to go hack and hammer a few bricks.

Photo: To his Hare Krishna followers, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Pradhupada represents and speaks for God. Founder and leader of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, he says, "Generally people are working on the bodily concept of life. We are working on the spiritual platform.

Reference: Pensacola News Journal, Unknown Location, USA, 1976-12-11

Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna

This article, "Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna - It's a plea for serenity, for peace, for God and sometimes even for an unabashed handout" was published in The Vancouver Sun, December 5, 1969, in Vancouver, Canada.


Hare Krishna. Krishna. Krishna. Hare. Hare. Can you dig it? It's something else all right. Walking down Granville Street, you're not ready for confrontation with four chanting bald-headed boys dressed in old sheets. But there they are. And you can't deny their presence, particularly when they're panhandling. One very articulate young man puts the touch on you. At the same time, he's delivering an intelligent speech about his religion being newly introduced to western culture. He pushes a tin plate filled with coins in front of you, asking for a donation.

"This is for offerings. You can give whatever you want. We're setting up Krishna temples all over North America and we need funds to keep them open. You're invited to our feast, every Sunday at 4 p.m. It's really wonderful. Everybody chants the great mantra and you can eat as much as you want. It's only vegetables also. We don't eat any meat at all. And we would really be glad if you came.

On and on he goes in this quiet monologue. This particular young man is about 20. He is clean featured, with an utterly guileless face. ("We humbly request you chant this Mantra and your life will be sublime.") The young man is stocky, broad shouldered, and exudes an atmosphere of strength and certitude. He also affects a stooped over posture which may serve to indicate his benign attitude. But he won't be put off. He keeps talking to you. You may abuse him, curse him, laugh at him, ridicule him, whatever you will. He goes on. He's a believer. Still it all seems like a super hype. Just some new freaks out on the street hustling. 

There were four of them. They were located mid-block on the sidewalk opposite from the crosswalk, between Robson and Smithe. Two were sitting crosslegged on the ground. One was a particularly elongated and emaciated young man who had his eyes closed. His head was rolling back and forth. He seemed to be in a deep state of mesmerization. He pounded rhythmically on a mid-eastern style drum. On his head he wore a long cloth stocking type hat with a tapered end. It was similar to the ones you see in the old catalogue. Once they were common sleepwear for cold winters, an adjunct to striped pyjamas. He was very intense, obviously dedicated. 

Sitting next to him was a much softer looking young man, rather an intellectual type, wearing glasses. His head was completely shaven bald except for a pony tail. He looked at the people as he sang, his gaze suggesting a bestowal of blessings on the passerby and the people who stopped to stare. He was minipulating a pleasant cadence out of some hand cymbals. Both were actively chanting. The quality of their voices was good and the mood was peaceful and beautiful. They chanted: "Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna. Krishna. Krishna. Hare. Hare. Hare Rama. Hare Rama. Rama Rama. Hare Hare.

None of the crowd of about 50 people joined in the chanting. It was a Friday night and Granville was full of a heavy weekend crowd, on their way to the movies, going bowling, or just making the scene. The two other members of the Krishna group kept approaching the passersby, asking for offerings. But they weren't just begging, not by any means. They had a whole presentation, which sounded quite sincere. One of the two solicitors had his head shaved, like the others, but the other young man, who had approached me, wore a white rag turban around his head. He was the more aggressive solicitor. 

In general, the people did not know how to react to the four. Perhaps most disconcerting was that they were all Causcasian. In our western Christian culture, it is very difficult to accept such an abrupt meeting with a "foreign belief" when openly practiced by four young members of our own society. Even the hippies seemed to have a hard time digging the scene. Many of them actually resented the infringement on their territory. Panhandling is getting to be awfully hard for longhairs on the street without these "Krishna cats" pushing in here. 

"They're taking all the bread, man. I can hardly make it any more," said a young hippie. "I'll have to get me a new costume.

There were no restrictions on who was asked to give an offering. They approached everyone, inviting them all to come to the Sunday feast or an evening chant at the Radha-Krishna Temple, located at 260 Raymur. They handed out small cards on which was printed an invitation to the temple and the great mantra. While two of the boys worked on the people, the other two just kept chanting. It was very hard work for the four of them. There must be better ways to make a living, so there must be more to this. The chanting was infectious and had a strong magnetic appeal. 

The stocky, turbaned boy approached me for an offering. I asked him how he reconciled begging with his beliefs. He told me, "All things can be good, depending on their use. Even money can be good, if it furthers sublimity. With this money, we bring more people toward peace. That is good.

Then the police force arrived. Two cops drove up in a police car and parked alongside. Two approached on foot. Krishna was surrounded. What would happen? 

The police weren't at all uptight, however. One of them, a thin, wiry fellow who sported a De Gaullish type moustache seemed to have a hard time suppressing a smile. Obviously the cops didn't even know what to do about this or how to take it. Were these kids really serious? The policeman on foot had a confab with the guys in the car. As it turned out, what they seemed primarily concerned about was the congestion of sidewalk traffic on a weekend. They very politely told the Krishna boys to move to a less trafficked spot. The chanting stopped. There was a vacuum where had been their melodious singing. They were a very positive addition to the weekend Granville scene. 

By this time I was really entranced. I decided to forego seeing Midnight Cowboy and stick with this show. Admittedly I was a little self-conscious walking beside the four Krishna cats. Perhaps the police were watching me too. They might even confiscate and smash my camera. Was I being subversive? Maybe I shouldn't get involved. But I already was. 

We walked down a block or two. Although there was no chanting while they searched for a new spot to set up their prayer booth, they continued to ask for offerings as we walked through the milling crowd. Approximately three of every 10 people gave them something. Many others ridiculed them. 

As we walked, the boy with the turban told me a little about their life and their way. "We've got to believe deeply, or we couldn't take the abuse ... or the weather. We're harassed left and right. The hippies don't like us and make fun of us, but I don't care about that. I used to be a hippie. I went through the whole drug thing and all of it, and there's no love there. This is something real, and it's not easy. We're celebrate. We only eat certain foods. No fish, meat, or eggs; mostly fruits and vegetables. We pray constantly. It's the way to peace and love.

He went on to tell me some facts about Krishna. They believe in Krishna consciousness. In other words, once you become conscious of Krishna, or God, you have everything. By chanting His name, by giving off good vibrations, they become part of God. Everything they do is for Krishna. Everyone belongs to God. He is the proprietor of all things. The devotees of Krishna are in the shelter of God. Krishna is eternity and knowledge. The chanting makes one happy. It is ecstatic. It puts you in the constant presence of Krishna. You transcend materialism. You are happy and have no anxiety. God is absolute. There is no difference between Himself and His name. You may call Him Jesus or Jehovah, or anything. It is all the same. It is all Krishna. Everyone can become joyous, happy, and free if they will chant Krishna and follow His ways. Krishna is the life of transcendental ecstasy and transcendental knowledge which lead to self-realization.

Chanting beads are worn on the hands. There are 108 beads plus one summit bead which represents Krishna. You chant on the beads. always going towards Krishna. The great mantra has sixteen words. They are prescribed for sell-realization. The devotees of Krishna wear one piece of cloth, 12 feet long. The purpose is to wear the simplest clothing, foregoing materialism. They shave their heads except for a centre hairlock. The purpose of this is to openly detach yourself from vanity and the material life.

Photo: THE CLEAN-SHAVEN EXPONENTS OF KRISHNA ... "Even money can be good"

Reference: The Vancouver Sun, Unknown Location, Canada, 1969-12-05

Krishna Temple Rites

This article, "Krishna Temple Rites," was published in The San Francisco Examiner, November 8, 1971, in San Francisco, California.

The official opening of the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple yesterday was accompanied by the kind of intense enthusiasm that's usually generated by a fundamentalist Christian revival. 

More than 50 Hare Krishna devotees, clad in saffron robes, danced, chanted, clapped and explained the four principles of spiritual advancement to some 200 guests. 

The principles are vegetarianism, celibacy and the abstention from gambling and all intoxicating stimulants, excepting religion of course.

To illustrate the merits of one of the principles, a 15 course vegetarian meal was served. 

The temple has been in operation for several months, but a Krishna spokesman said the official ceremony due to the campaign commitments of Mayor Alioto, who was to be the guest of honor. 

The Mayor, however, was still a no-show. He is in Vancouver, Washington to testify in his controversial fee - spliting civil trial. 

Vallejo Mayor Florence Douglas gave the dedication address to the Hare Krishna devotees and friends in front of the newly remodeled temple at 455 Valencia St. 

"I am always happy to congratulate those who are dedicated to doing good," said Mrs. Douglas. 

Those in attendance at yesterday's service included the parents of several members of the cult was to invest the building with the highest spirit of God. 

The grand opening was previously scheduled for Oct. 31.

Photo: HARE KRISHNA DEVOTEES HAIL OPENING OF NEW TEMPLE. Jubilation accompanies cutting of ribbon by Vallejo Mayor Florence Douglas

Reference: The San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco, USA, 1971-11-08

Eastern Religions

This article, "Eastern Religions" was published in San Antonio Express-News, November 21, 1971, in San Antonio, Texas.

By John Dart 

LOS ANGELES - Jesus talk is "in" today in many youth circles, but that hasn't forced the gurus to unfold themselves from the lotus position, pack their chanting beads and head back to Asia. 

Eastern religions - whose practitioners demonstrated amid public attention in the 1960s that bored middle-class people could be engrossed by spiritual matters - still find adherents in America.

Three groups showing particular growth since their U.S. debut during the last decade are the chanting Buddhists of the well-organized Nichiren Shoshu sect, the yellow-robed devotees of the ascetic Hare Krishna movement and the transcendental meditation followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

THE LOS ANGELES area serves as U.S. headquarters for Nichiren Shoshu and the Maharishi's following, and is considered an important religious center for the Hare Krishna movement. 

Southern California has proved hospitable in the past, of course, for such Orient-oriented groups as Self-Realization Fellowship, Vedanta societies and Zen Buddhism, which continue in comparatively quiet ways. 

And Los Angeles is still a "must" stop for most touring gurus

A 13-year-old guru - Balyogeshwar Shri Sant Ji Maharaj of Dehra Dun, India - visited his band of a dozen Los Angeles devotees last summer at a house near the Hollywood Bowl. 

In publicity releases stamped "Top Sacred," the sponsoring Divine Light Mission described the young master as "empowered to impart the imperishable Word of God to all sincere aspirants who seek for perfect tranquility of mind through spiritual insight.

A larger group, the Ananda Marga Yoga Society, which has established an ashram (retreat house), also hopes to bring its spiritual leader from India to the United States. He is Shri Shri Anandamurtijii (known as Babajii). 

"But Babajii does not just go around zapping everyone with bliss," cautioned the society's local newsletter, displaying the same mixture of seriousness and humor shown by the Divine Light Mission. 

Teachers appointed by Babajii have toured the United States since 1969. One teacher known as Dadajii initiated 60 persons during a three-day stay here last August, bringing the number of Los Angeles area disciples to more than 200. 

Despite the Jesus Revolution,

the mystic religions from Asia

still find adherents in America.

TIBETAN BUDDHISM also began developing footholds in the United States in the late 1960s. The major impetus came from refugee lamas and sympathetic Westerners who wished to preserve the religion from extinction - a threat in Tibet where Communist Chinese dominate. 

Most of the lamas are in cooler parts of the country - such as the monasteries in Barnett, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., under the guidance of Chogyam Trung pa. 

The Oriental religion that has attracted the largest following since its U.S. introduction in the 1960s is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and is Japanese rather than Indian or Tibetan in origin. 

The Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism, most commonly called the Sokagakkai in Japan, claimed about 25,000 U.S. followers in 1965. Now an estimated 200,000 persons are active members. 

In Nichiren Shoshu, the priests perform only traditional religious functions such as weddings, funerals and conversion ceremonies. Only two priests are assigned to the United States: one based at the four-year-old temple in Etiwenda, 45 miles east of Los Angeles, and another at a temple in Hawaii.

Active members are urged to do three things: 

- Chant "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" and read 1.5 chapters of the Lotus Sutra for one hour each morning and evening. 

- Attend discussion meetings at homes of members and strive to meet monthly quotas of converts. 

- Subscribe to the three-times weekly World Tribune, edited at the U.S. headquarters building fronting the beach in Santa Monica. 

"The first several years the membership was practically all teenagers and those in their 20s," said Joanne Murad, a headquarters staff worker. "In the last couple years, we have been getting more and more people in their late 20s and 30s as well as older persons - usually parents and grandparents of young members.

The object of worship is a paper scroll, the Gohonzon, which each new member receives to place in his home. 

The results of worship are greatly enriched lives, both spiritually and materially, according to testimonial after testimonial printed in the World Tribune

Aside from contacts made through proselytization efforts, Nichiren Shoshu seeks public visibility through its musical and marching groups, particularly its all-girl fife and drum corps. The sect had a winning entry last April in Washington's Cherry Blossom Parade. 

EVEN GREATER public recognition has been obtained by the Hare Krishna movement, though their style of life has kept their numbers smaller than the pragmatic Nichiren Shoshu sect. 

The robed, shaven-head followers of the Hare Krishna movement can be seen on busy sidewalks of major U.S. cities - singing, dancing and passing out information about the movement. The chant - which uses the words Hare, Krishna and Rama - became familiar to many through the rock musical "Hair" and popular records. 

Founded in 1966 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prahupada, the movement, formally called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has grown to more than 32 chapters in America. 

"Some people who see us on the streets think we are idlers," said Karunasindhu Dasa, 23, the name taken by the financial secretary of the Los Angeles temple. 

"But we sleep only six hours a day," he said. 

The devotees rise at 3:45 a.m. each day for the first worship of the Deities at 4 a.m. The doll-like figures avid painted Deities are offered foodstuffs, incense, flowers, a waving handkerchief, a fan and a lamp. 

"Not everyone who wants to join has to shave his head or wear robes," said a Hare Krishna spokesman, "but there are four prohibitions: no intoxicants, no illicit sex, no eating of flesh and no gambling.

THE THIRD major Eastern movement that has demonstrated staying power in America is the transcendental meditation teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who has included the United States on his world tours since 1961. 

The Maharishi himself, with his long, wavy hair and beard presenting an unusual sight, was a newsmaker in the 1960s, including the time actress Mia Farrow and members of the Beatles were attracted briefly to his techniques. 

Two organizations devoted to teaching the Maharishi's technique have their headquarters in the West Los Angeles area. 

A practical, nonreligious approach is taken by the Students International Meditation Society, located near the University of California at Los Angeles. It claims chapters on 300 campuses. More than 65,000 persons have registered their names upon learning the technique, which is offered for the health and well-being of the student. 

The religious approach is used by the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in Los Angeles. Its president, Charles F. Lutes, who is also a vice president of the Maharishi's world movement, said about 75,000 persons have received training in 32 U.S. centers since SRM's founding it: 1959.

Jerry Jarvis, national director of the student movement, spends most of his time traveling with the Indian guru or raising funds for a training center to be built on land purchased 17 miles north of Santa Barbara, Calif. 

THE EASTERN religions predominantly attract non-Orientals. Nichiren Shoshu has a high percentage of Japanese who have been members for five or more years, but 90 per cent of the membership gained in the last four years has been non-Japanese. 

Why are Eastern religions continuing to interest numbers of young people? One reason may be the attention to environmental crises, says Mokusen Miyuki, assistant professor of religious studies at Southern California's San Fernando Valley State College. 

"A sense of totality - that everything is related to one another - exists in both Hinduism and Buddhism." Miyuki said. "This is very different from Christianity, which distinguishes between creator and created."

Concern for the ecology has made the Oriental concepts that an individual "is one with the entire environment" quite acceptable today to Americans, perhaps even desirable. 

Another attractive feature of the Eastern religions is the comparatively loose organizational structure (except for Nichiren Shoshu). 

Many guru-led groups are drawn together for the specific purposes of achieving a level of understanding or experiencing something of the transcendant, but otherwise are relatively unorganized, according to a researcher who has studied the Meher Baba. 

JAMES F. COTY of Heidelberg College, Tiffin, Ohio, said in a recent paper for the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion that the guru's authority is limited. 

"The individual follower ... is expected to choose and to follow a particular guru only to the extent that it helps him in his spiritual progress. There are other gurus available if he deems his progress unsatisfactory," Coty said. 

Coty indicates that the lack of formal organization will not necessarily lead to such groups fading from the U.S. scene. 

For one thing, the teastern teaching masters try to satisfy a widespread desire today for "authentic" mystic or spiritual experiences. 

Some sociologists and psychologists have said that new religious groups often tend to attract persons who have become alienated in some way - from family, friends, coworkers or society as a whole. Most religious groups would dispute that, however, naming followers who lead rather ordinary, content lives. 

The growth of Eastern religions in this country, however, is given an added dimension by a recent number of books about absorbing elements of Oriental religion into Christianity. 

Western man has become "impoverished" because "the contemplative life is fantastically underdeveloped in the developed and affluent nations," writes the Rev. William Johnston, a Roman Catholic priest who has worked in Japan for 20 years. 

In his book "Christian Zen," Rev. Johnston said Zen meditation could mean the recovery of the contemplative life without giving up Christian theology. "I can't help feeling That Western Christianity is badly in need of a blood transfusion," he said.

Photo: Sidewalk Chant. Santanandi (Mrs. Stephanie Andersen) tries to sell the Hare Krishna magazine as others in group sing, dance and chant.

Reference: N/A

Hare Krishna, religion and way of life

This article, "Hare Krishna, religion and way of life" was published in The Journal Herald, October 4, 1975, in Dayton, Ohio.

By Carrie LaBriola 
Journal Herald Religion Writer

It might have been the Berkeley Quad or Harvard Square, except it was McKinley Park behind the Dayton-Montgomery County Public Library. 

A van pulled up Tuesday afternoon and six members of the Hare Krishna movement piled out. A few passersby paused to watch while they unloaded a portable altar and an assortment of instruments. 

All had shaved heads, save for a long strand at the middle back, called a flag, representative of their belief in God, explained their spokesman Brahma Das - Servant of God.

They were dressed in loose trousers and simple cotton shirts. All wore necklaces of beads and several had strips of paint down the forehead and nose. All are symbols of renunciation and devotion to God, Brahma explained. 

"IF YOU walk down the street of a city, there is nothing to remind you of God," he said. "They show people we are cultivating spiritual knowledge. The social norm is not like this. Within modern, materialistic society, we are deviants. But, within our society, modern materialistic society is deviant.

When the altar is arranged, with two oriental rugs on the grass in front, it is unveiled and the six bow to the ground in reverence, then begin the concert. Two play small cymbals, one a harmonium, another a a long-necked stringed instrument, the fifth claps and Brahma plays a drum. 

As they play, they sing the familiar chant - "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare." Both are names of God - Krishna means "the all-attractive person" and Rama means "the supreme enjoyer.

THREE YOUTHS stop to watch and listen. A drunk recalls being on the Burma Road in '42, "so I know what it's like." He says when they are finished playing, he plans to cut their hair, then laughs and says he is "only kidding.

Another youth and an older man also pause to observe, then two women with shopping bags. An older woman crosses the street, listens for awhile, then asks, "What next?

Brahma, formerly Robert Jancula, 23, is a native of Pittsburgh. He was a student at the University of California at Berkeley when he met some disciples of the movement playing music. He notes that "chanting has hypnotic effects," indicating a pair of well-dressed businessmen who have paused to listen. 

"I FELT the philosophy they were giving me was more complete than anything than any other I had heard in life," he says. That philosophy was "the convincing understanding of the existence of God and our relationship with him.

Brahma says he dropped out of Berkeley after two years and joined the movement, because "real knowledge isn't just a matter of data. Education comes from the Latin word educare, to lead out. Real knowledge leads out of unhappiness and the problems of life and gives a realizaton of a higher nature. University education is only data. Most of them only forget it when class is over," Brahma laughs. 

And he laughs often. He is not at all solemn or pious, but spritely and very outgoing and enthusiastic. He was given his Indian name by his guru when he was initiated. 

HIS MOTHER likes to chant and dance, he says, and is pleased with his choice. But his father isn't sure; he's disappointed. Brahma points out that "he can't go down to the bar and tell his friends his son has joined a crazy group that shaves their heads. He's a nice man, but he's set in his ways." Everytime he calls home, his father asks when he will leave the movement. 

A long-haired youth has joined the small band sitting on the rugs. As they play, he listens raptly. At last, one of the monks takes him aside to a bench and talks to him about the philosophy. This is the spider, a role usually played by Brahma. 

"The chanting is like a web," he says. "People get caught in it. The spider goes out from the web and takes the tastiest morsel, the juiciest, the most likely suspect.

LATER, Pete Houvouras, 17, who was on his way to visit a friend when he stopped to listen to the chanting, says he has "read all about this" before. "I guess you could say I'm into it." The philosophy appeals to him "very much," he says, but he goes on his way rather than joining the group. A couple of people came back to Ghetto's Palace Yoga Institute, where their bus is parked, after an appearance Thursday afternoon, but Brahma says they may not move on to Columbus with the group. 

A Dayton Fire Dept. crew stops at the curb, watching. Brahma says they rarely have trouble with the police, although they occasionally run into some restrictions. 

Members of the movement are vegetarian and follow the Bhagavad Gita. They believe that "chanting helps develop spiritual consciousness," Brahma says. When they are not singing and playing the instruments, they chant silently on beads in a small pouch slung over the shoulder. 

THE TRAVELING program was started a year ago with one bus and 17 men. There are now six buses and 125 men. Brahma is leader of a group of 15 who are visiting college campuses. They spent two days lecturing and chanting in philosophy classes at the University of Dayton. Yesterday they left for Columbus, where they will spend about a week. They came to Dayton from a week in Cincinnati. 

As they go, they invite people who are interested in their philosophy to travel with them. The others at McKinley Park Tuesday were from Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Kansas City. 

They tell their listeners that "the goal of human life is not simply economic advancement," says Brahma, "but they're conditioned to that by the media and the aristocracy.

Their bus, a converted Greyhound, is outfitted with an altar. The monks sleep on the floor. 

"YOGA MEANS to only accept what is necessary for maintenance," Brahma explains. They receive donations from bystanders and sell literature and incense. Sometimes they may give a concert for a well-to-do man, who will give a donations to show his appreciation. 

"We are dependent on God," says Brahma. "The point is we're trying to preach a spiritual philosophy of self-realization. If we worked in the factories, how could we preach?

One of Brahma's companions, Dirshta Das - Servant of the Opulent One - is a political science graduate of Amherst College. Formerly David Maclachlan, 23, of Erie, Pa., Dirshta joined the group in Portland, where he was doing social work with alcoholics on skid row. He had been looking for "a philosophy I could plug into," he recalls. 

"FOR SO long, I thought philosophy was very dry; religion was very unbelievable to me. I was ripe for a philosophy which embraced religious ideas, but not sentimental religious ideas, that could be backed up by philosophy.

Photo: Hare Krishna members chanting 

Reference: The Journal Herald, Unknown Location, USA, 1975-10-04

Commentary on splitting some 'hares'

This article, "Commentary on splitting some 'hares'" was published in The Daily Cougar, November 2, 1971, in Houston, Texas.


As president of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in Houston, I wish to express my disappointment at the coverage which we have received by the award-winning Daily Cougar. We are presenting a spiritual movement for intelligent men and women who have sufficient brain substance to understand a simple philosophy. 

Our simple philosophy is that every living being is not his material body but is pure spirit soul, part and parcel of Krishna or God. If we are thinking that we are Americans, Chinese, Russians, black or white, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.; that is called Maya or illusion. Due to this misidentification of ourself as either the gross bodily machinery or as the subtle mind, each of us is suffering the three-fold miseries of material existence and additionally, we become vulnerable to the cruel laws of material nature in the shape of birth, death, disease and old age. 

In this bewildered bondition, each of us is struggling very hard for existence, although the cruel laws of material nature will not allow a single one of us to survive. This illusory struggle, however, can at once be stopped by revival of our dormant Krishna Consciousness or God Consciousness. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, this consciousness is most easily aroused by chanting the holy names of God; Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. 

We are presenting behind this chanting, a post-graduate philosophical study of God, as is contained in the voluminous Vedic literature, especially the Bhagavad-Gita. Those who are serious about utilizing this human form of life for elevating themselves beyond the animal platform of merely eating, sleeping, mating, and defending like the cats and dogs, should finalize their intentions by determining to go back to Home, back to Godhead where life is eternal, full of bliss and full of Knowledge. We are simply trying to present this ancient Vedic philosophy for the highest welfare of all living beings. 

Unfortunately, we must make the following corrections on the article about our movement which appeared in the Cougar on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1971. 

• Hridyananda does not mean "blissful heart." Hridyananda is any name and it refers to an expansion of God within the heart of all living entities. 

• Devotees do not "kiss the wooden floor" upon entering the Temple Room. We are offering our respects to our Spiritual Master who is a bona fide representative of Krishna or God. 

• Hridyananda is not the spiritual master of the Krishna Consciousness movement. I am the president of the Temple in Houston. Our Spiritual Master is His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 

• Hridyananda does not "interpret the actions of God." All devotees in Krishna Consciousness refrain from giving their own opinions of what they think God or his activities are. 

• The Hare Krishna Mantra is not a "motto," it is the holy name of God. 

• The handerchief is not soaked in water, it is touched with a drop of water for purification. It, as well as all other articles, are offered to the Spiritual Master, not the Supreme Lord. They are offered because they are nice. The article is of no importance, the sincere devotion with which it is offered is what counts. 

• We do not "blow a few notes through a large sea shell." We sound a conch shell because its sound vibrations are very pure, and the pure sound reminds us of Krishna or God who is All-Pure.

Reference: The Daily Cougar, Unknown Location, USA, 1971-11-02

Krishna singers brighten city

This article, "Krishna singers brighten city" was published in The Sydney Morning Herald, November 13, 1972, in Sydney, Australia.

By NORMAN EDWARDS, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, University of Sydney

For some months, groups of saffron-robed, chanting, jingling Hare-Krishna devotees have been enlivening Sydney's otherwise unatmospheric footpaths. 

Call this a gay scene, colorful and swinging or dismiss them as a bunch of nuisances, they are in any case fundamental to the Sydney City Council's new Strategic Plan. 

This plan sets out to make the center again a place for people, to revive its once rich quality, to bring back atmosphere. In the light of this, it is sad that the continued activities of these people are threatened.

The Krishna singers, the newspaper boys, and a few fruit barrows are the only signs remaining in Sydney of a life-pattern traditionally rich in human variety. Pushing these people out of the way would seem to me to be a product of (a) puritanical beliefs (clean the place up); (b) a business mentality (they get in your way, these people, it's inefficient), and (c) a distinctively Australian intolerance of outsiders and of non-conformists. 

Tidy attitudes like these underly the nature of many of our so-called civic improvement schemes: impressive buildings set in plazas, grand boulevards (Sydney's tower-lined William Street, hardly another Champs-Elysees), zoning of "undesirable" uses away from "desirable" ones. A tidy, homogeneous, artificially ordered ideology, finally boring and vapid, and nothing at all to do with the real order of life. 

The best cities are the most vital, not those with the most in beautiful monuments. James Boswell in 1791 gave a good definition of cities; in speaking of London, and of those whp possessed attitudes such as these: "... whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium ... But the intellectual man is struck with it, as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.

City centres which lack the variety and the rich, dense diversity of different people doing different things are indeed cold affairs. In Sydney, which is no exception, there are no sounds, only the noise of cars and construction sites in action, and few sights apart from the merchandise in the shop windows of a diminishing retail area steadily being displaced by more and more vertical acres of glass and concrete. 

Where is the swinging set and where are the eccentrics? Where is the special flavour that makes London such a beaut place? Locally, this sort of behaviour is seen as intrusive. 

The interesting fact is that the more dense and diversified are the public footpaths, the more crowded they are, the more people will want to walk there. The notion of wide spacious boulevards and of generous plazas may be fine visually but is a myth if one is talking about quality of life in downtown areas. 

Sydney and Melbourne in the 1800s had the right quality. Life then was a pageant, with bootblacks and fruitos and pimps and pickpockets and clerics all jostling one another along the crowded footpaths. No doubt it had its seedy side, but it worked.

Isadore Brodsky paints the scene in "The Streets of Sydney": "The old sounds have gone - such sounds as the tramp, tramp of redcoats, the hum of the (tramway) cable beneath the road ... the precise whirring rhythm of the printing machines, the snorting of the horses over the nosebags, the loud 'Fisho! Fisho! Alivo!', the thin pipings of the penny whistle outside the public houses, the chatter of children going off (to school)..."

Even the smells (in Rome, smells are an acceptable part of the atmosphere; here, we are far too puritanical about such things): "... of hot tar in the woodblock, of curries and spices, of scented tobaccos, of peppermint sweets, of chaff, of fresh printer's inks, of water from the watercart spouting on the hot road and conjuring little stream eddies, of John Chinaman's vegetables and fruit baskets ...

It would seem that this rich quality can no longer be, that economic forces which are too big to handle are going to go on changing the nature of the city centres from intricate human little worlds into one of giant filing cabinets, devoid of love. If in such a world there are still a few gay and innocent individuals left to lend a little sparkle to the scene, let them stay.

Reference: The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 1972-11-13