Toronto Star Article! Where did the Hare Krishnas go?

4,319 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » Toronto Star Article! Where did the Hare Krishnas go?

Hari Bol Prabhus,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I hope all is well with you prabhus. I thought I would bring it to your attention that two days back the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest and most widely-circulated newspaper, ran a story about our temple here in Toronto. It was on the front page of one of the main sections of the paper (I’ve attached an image). It’s focus was on the coming-of-age of the Hare Krishna and, while there are small parts of the article that we didn’t full agree with, overall it’s very positive! Here’s the link: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/880402–where-did-the-hare-krishnas-go

Hare Krsna!

Your Servant,

Keshava

Hare Krishna devotees, seen here inside the temple on Avenue Rd. in Toronto, have toned down the missionary zeal so apparent in the '60s and '70s.

Hare Krishna devotees, seen here inside the temple on Avenue Rd. in Toronto, have toned down the missionary zeal so apparent in the ’60s and ’70s.

CURTIS RUSH/TORONTO STAR

Curtis Rush

Staff Reporter

So, whatever happened to the Hare Krishna movement?

Back in the 1970s, robed members of the sect were frequently seen on street corners, chanting the “Hare Krishna” mantra, with their hair shorn.

These days, you are more likely to see robed Anglican bishops occupying a corner of Bay and Front Sts. and passing out literature.

Krishna devotees haven’t gone into hiding, but they have toned down the missionary zeal from those crazy days of counterculture movements.

As one senior devotee says, “we are now more interested in quality than quantity.”

Formed by his Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1965, the Hare Krishnas of the time were full of brashness and ideals. Now, you see a gentler side, with mostly South Asians attending the temple with their young children.

This fresh injection of Hare Krishnas has brought to the temple the most affluent and educated members in the movement’s history. They are young bankers, computer consultants, software developers, dentists, PhD students. They drive Mercedes, Audis, BMWs, wear Western clothes and live in opulent homes, some with altars built so they can worship at home.

The Hare Krishnas worship Krsna, thought to be the source of all incarnations of God. An offshoot of Hinduism, the movement teaches followers that through chanting and meditation they can achieve true bliss, a higher state of consciousness and self-realization through the instructions of the spiritual master.

Lifetime members not only chant a 16-word mantra to Hare Krishna, sometimes lasting hours a day, they agree to abstain from meat, gambling, alcohol and illicit sex.

The decline of the movement began in part with revelations of child-abuse scandals at boarding schools in the U.S. and India in the 1970s and 1980s. Money troubles followed, and their world changed.

Another setback came earlier this year with a California Supreme Court ruling that kicked the Hare Krishnas out of Los Angeles International Airport.

In Toronto, there are believed to be 300 to 500 hard-core members, although leaders say actual numbers around the GTA are much higher.

David Arthur Reed, professor emeritus at Wycliffe College who studies religions and spirituality, said he’s not surprised the movement has shifted away from its highly evangelistic phase.

“Many such groups that were part of the idealism of the time have dwindled away,” he said.

A big draw is the weekly Sunday feast at the temple in the tony Rosedale neighbourhood on Avenue and Roxborough Rds. The event includes a service, kirtan (chanting and dancing) and a heaping vegetarian meal.

This emphasis on good food, also served six days a week to the general public, prompts followers to quip that their movement is the “kitchen religion.”

The Hare Krishna movement has long appealed to 58-year-old Bhaktimarga Swami, formerly John Peter Vis, who is among 15 monks living in the temple. In 1972, fresh off the farm in Blenheim, Ont., and repulsed by the slaughtering of animals, Vis came to Toronto expecting to see hippies but noticed something different on the street corners.

“At the time people had all this long hair, and there were these guys singing and dancing with no hair and I thought this was a bit odd, actually shocking,” the monk recalls. The fine arts student at Cambrian College in Sudbury latched on and never looked back.

The higher education of new members is used to counter any argument that the membership is being brainwashed, or that this is a cult.

“These people are too smart to be brainwashed,” a senior devotee says. “They’re no dummies. They are graduates of universities.”

And they are tech savvy as well. The have Facebook pages and their videos are posted on YouTube.

Bhaktimarga Swami maintains his own blog ( www.thewalkingmonk.org) and the international temples compete to see which one can produce the more attractive website.

Wealth doesn’t clash with the simplicity and austerity of the movement says another devotee, Dr. Haleh Ashkevari, a Markham cosmetic and implant dentist.

The faith teaches her “that if I’m good at what I do, I should keep doing it.”

The members believe that only when you misuse your material wealth, or use it for only self-gratification, will you get bad karma.

The wealth effect — some would say the snobbery effect — has turned up as a small issue inside the temple’s walls.

When a new devotee is introduced, the first question often asked is: “What do you do for a living?”

“Who cares what you do? It’s the consciousness that counts,” says a devotee, who did not want to be named. “It’s not what you own, it’s what you know.”

Although the membership is rich in material wealth and the temple is ornate inside, there is still a reverence for simplicity and sacrifice.

Yet that doesn’t always translate into life outside the temple.

“We haven’t seen anybody give up their Rolls-Royces,” the swami said with a wry grin.

Please click the "Like" button below if you haven't done so already!
 
 
 
4,319 Views / EMail This Post / Print This Post / Home » Toronto Star Article! Where did the Hare Krishnas go?
 


Comments • [comment feed]

1 Akruranatha

Interesting article. It is always good to see “Hare Krishna” in the press, and I guess they have to have an angle or “peg” for their story.

However, I am a little sad to see the theme so often is how we have changed, grown more mainstream, gone into “decline”, passed our evangelical phase. This is not the first article I have seen to adopt that approach.

In some senses this is true, no doubt. And it is nice to know that many of our devotees are successful, well educated, tech savvy.

I just think that if the story is that we have stopped being visible on the streets of the city, we need to do something to change that. We are not actually in decline, but we have changed quite a bit over the last 40-45 years.

I am hoping another big “evangelical phase” spurt is in our future, this time backed up by many tech savvy, well educated, wealthy and well connected devotees.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on October 29th, 2010

Comments are closed. Please check back later.

 
 
Home » Toronto Star Article! Where did the Hare Krishnas go?
 
  • Post Details

Author: Administrator Administrator's website Administrator's email
Post Date: Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Categories: Reports
Trackback: Trackback
 
  • Last update: Sun September 21

  • Who is online

    • 38 currently online
    • 170 maximum concurrent
    • 12155564 total visitors

    Registered users online

  • Registered users: 6394

  • Navigation

  • -OTHER INCOMING LINKS
  • BC VTE Bhakti Sastri Online
  • Bhaktimarga Swami's blog
  • Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
  • Bhaktivedanta College
  • Bhaktivedanta Institute (Alachua)
  • Bhaktivedanta Manor
  • Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network
  • Bhaktivedanta Vedabase Online
  • Cooking with Kurma
  • Darshan of SS Radha-Londonisvara
  • Dharmapatnis
  • Diary of a Traveling Preacher
  • Euro GBC
  • Forbidden Archeology
  • Gaudiya Vaisnava texts
  • Indradyumna Swami Media
  • ISKCON Bangalore Official
  • ISKCON Deity Worship Ministry
  • ISKCON Health & Welfare Ministry
  • ISKCON Ministry of Educational Development
  • ISKCON's Congregational Development Ministry
  • Iskcon-desire-tree
  • Iskcon.com
  • Jayadvaita Swami's personal site
  • Krishna Dharma's website
  • Krishna Lila Entertainment
  • Krishna.com
  • Krishnamarriage.com
  • matchlessgifts.org
  • Mayapur Academy
  • Mayapur Days
  • Mayapur International School
  • Ministry of Educational Development
  • Our Spiritual Journey
  • Parisisvara
  • prabhupadavani.org
  • Radio Krsna Central
  • Saligrama Sila site
  • Sridham Mayapura
  • The Bhaktivedanta Archives
  • The ISKCON Sannyasa Ministry
  • The Official GBC site
  • The official website of Radhanatha Swami
  • Trivikrama Swami
  • Vaisnava Calendar
  • Vaisnava Calendar Reminder
  • Vaisnava care website
  • Vanipedia
  • varnashrama.org
  • Vedic Astrologer
  • Vedic knowledge online
  • Vedic view on controversial issues
  • Website in Bengali language
  • Yadunandana Swami's personal site
  • Alachua Temple Live Podcast
  • Comments by author
  • Donate through searching
  • Founder Acarya
  • Incoming Links
  • Iskcon News TV Channel
  • Iskcon Radio stations
  • Iskcon Universe Feed
  • Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
  • Krishna conscious "youtube"
  • Krishna Conscious Media
  • Most commented articles
  • Most read articles
  • New Dwaraka Archived Lectures
  • Polls
  • Stats
  • Temple webcams
  • Thanks!
  • The last seven day's most read articles
  • New Gokula Farm Celebrates Local Community Work
  • TOVP Kartika Announcement
  • Ludhiana Rath Yatra On Nov.16,2014
  • Cow Protection Service Available At New Vrajamandala (Spain)
  • ‘Faith and Personality’ - a Holistic, Value Lecture for High School Students
  • Vaishnava Encyclopedia
  • Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project Update and Visvanatha Cakravarti’s “Gaura-gana-svarupa-tattva-candrika”
  • The teaching of Saint Francis are alive and well in the heart of a killing culture
  • Devotee v/s device- whose association do you seek?
  • Flourishing cow slaughter houses in India needs immediate closure

     
    "Artwork and photos courtesy of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com. Used with permission"