Who Are The Hare Krishnas?
George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord (Youtube)
They have been in existence since the 1960s. You must have seen them sing and dance on the streets with exotic musical instruments wearing flowing robes or the Sari. The males of this community stand out in the crowd with their unique hairstyle – a long tuft of hair at the back of a bald head. They also wear a U-shaped white marking on their forehead and usually carry a small bag around their neck.
They are a travelling group of monks, who are often seen at the airports, subways, supermarkets and streets around the globe.
So Who Are These Hare Krishna People?
Ideally, the community came into existence about half a century ago, when a Hindu monk from India arrived in the US to spread awareness on Lord Krishna and His teachings. Surprisingly today, the community has a decently vast following that spreads across the globe in every continent across 77 countries!
These peaceful Hare Krishna People chant and spread the name of the Hindu deity, Lord Krishna among the general mass. Their belief is based on the fact that every suffering of mankind can be dealt with one’s inner peace and enlightenment of the soul.
They follow a particular sect of Hinduism called Vaishnavism. The followers of Vaishnavism, or the Vaishnavites, worship Lord Krishna, who is an incarnation of another Hindu God, Lord Vishnu. Music and dance play an important role in their worship rituals and hence, the Hare Krishnas are often seen to break into a jig a in the middle of the streets!
The term, “Hare Krishna People” is however, western devised. The origin of these people dates back to 16th century AD to a small village in the estuaries of Bengal in the East. According to recorded history, a boy was born in the village of Nabadwip, who at a very young age, gave up all forms of material bindings and leaving behind his young wife, devoted his entire life in spreading the name of Lord Krishna.
His unique style of chanting the Lord’s name by dancing and singing around the village lanes quickly gathered prominence and a community was thereby formed.
The Foundation In The West
The community however gained popularity in the West during the 1960s and their fame is owed to a man named Mr. A.C. Dey of Calcutta, India.Mr. Dey of Calcutta, also known as Swami Prabhupada
Mr. Dey, who hailed from an affluent family of lawyers, became a monk, and travelled to the US to spread the words of his Guru. Later, he founded an organization named ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in New York in the year 1966.
The organization grew and gained popularity because it was at this time when America was seeking its spiritual understanding from the East, with many even travelling to India for a better spiritual life.
George Harrison With His Favourite Vegetarian Platter
Steve Jobs, George Harrison are some names that are associated with this community.
Serving Mankind Through Spirituality
The members of ISKCON since then took up the responsibility of serving mankind and spreading their beliefs. The organization depended largely on donations and earned named not only because of its spiritual connect but also because of its gastronomic culture. These Hare Krishna People ate a buffet of simple vegetarian foods, which was totally a new concept in the West at that time.
The people of this community chant the two words, “Hare Krishna,” which literally translates to Hail Krishna, thus they are often referred to as the Hare Krishnas.
The head-quarter of ISKCON today is located in a quiet town of Mayapur in Bengal, India (very close to the village where the 16th century boy was born). The town, until the late 60s, was an agricultural village that has now been transformed into a beautiful Vedic abode and is known as a popular temple town of the region.
This old temple is now being renovated
The new temple that is to come up in its place
Mayapur can be reached by a 3 hours bus ride from Kolkata (Calcutta). Regular buses are available from the Esplanade Bus Terminal in Kolkata and also from the ISKCON centre in Kolkata.
Other Popular ISKCON Centres Around the World
New Vrindavan, West Virginia
- ISKCON Vrindavan, India
- New Vrindaban, West Virginia, USA
- Londonishvara Temple, London
- Hare Krishna Temple, South Africa
- Radhadesh, Hungary, and many many more.