Published on December 28th, 2023 | by Madhudvisa dasa

The Hare Krishna People — First Film about the Hare Krishna’s

The “Hare Krishna People” is the first serious film made about Srila Prabhupada’s International Society for Krishna Consciousness.  It is the story of the Hare Krishna People. It covers the history of how Srila Prabhupada was born as a pure devotee of Krishna and ordered by his spiritual master to preach Krishna consciousness in the Western, English speaking countries. It also explains the basic principles of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness and tours the early-1970’s world of ISKCON. At that time Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON was exploding all over the world and the Hare Krishna temples were just bursting with ecstatic effulgent enthusiastic young Krishna devotees who were dancing and chanting on the streets of all the major cities of the world and really creating a Hare Krishna revolution.

By the grace of Lord Sri Krsna, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born a pure devotee.

In 1933 Prabhupada was accepted as a disciple by a bona fide spiritual master and ordered to spread Krsna consciousness to the English speaking world.

Then in 1965 at the age of seventy Prabhupada, a renounced saintly person  with neither friends nor money came from India to New York City to fulfill the instructions of his spiritual master.

Prabhupada was destined to spark a revolution in consciousness, to ignite the Hare Krsna explosion.

Transcendental knowledge was first spoken by the Lord Himself  and has been passed down since that time from spiritual master to disciple in an unbroken chain.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora dasa Bhabaji, Bhaktsiddhanta Saraswati Goswami and Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

In 1966 Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON, widely known as the Hare Krishna Movement.

Prabhupada translates on a dictaphone original Sanskrit and Bengali scriptures into English. The tapes are then sent to ISKCON Press in New York.

The entire operation from typing to illustrating to printing is carried out by the Krsna devotees all of whom serve without salary.

The message is love of Krsna.

Krsna is recognized as God by all the great saints and the scriptures of India. He is the all-attractive person and the reservoir of pleasure.

To pass on the science of self realization Prabhupada is presenting the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Nectar of Devotion, and many other philosophical works. From a Los Angeles warehouse these literatures are shipped to centers in the United States and abroad.

Within a few years Prabhupada and his disciples have organized an ambitious book distribution program that every year sees thousands of tons of books distributed around the world.

The Krsna devotees say that by reading these books and chanting the names of God a person can attain God consciousness even in this difficult and disturbed age.

The most popular mantra is the now familiar:

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.

This chanting resounds from London to Mexico City, from Paris to Tokyo, from New York to Nairobi.

Here in London thousands flock to attend ISKCON’s annual Ratha-yatra festival. This festival is held in major cities around the world.

Constantly traveling Prabhupada often makes personal appearances. Here he is introduced to a New Delhi audience by the Canadian High Commissioner and garlanded by a leading citizen.

“Everything that we see, that is created by God, so you should at least recognize that it is God’s property, but they are thinking their property. So there must be no restriction.”

Prabhupada says God is great and we are very small. He is the supreme proprietor and everything should be used in His service. All living creatures are sons of God and are therefore equal. Thus Krishna Consciousness is beyond any sectarian and national limitations and is the perfect peace formula.

Prabhupada denounces so-called gurus who claim to be God. Such “Gods” are very cheap. “I am not God and you are not God. We are all eternal servants of God.”

“…on account of being seperated from Krsna, they do not know that. We are part and parcel of God, Krsna, we are not enjoyer.”

We asked Jadurani Devi Dasi, one of the artists at ISKCON press, to tell us about her involvement in the Hare Krishna movement.

“So I met Srila Prabhupada in 1967 and I was up in his apartment  and the first thing hesaid to me, because previously I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, so he said, “When you reach the top then everything else is included.” So that answered all the questions.

Just like if you have a million dollars all your ten dollar problems are solved. So he was implying that when you become Krsna conscious then all the other desires and aspirations and ambitions,  everything is fulfilled just be taking to the process of Krsna consciousness. And then he asked if I could come to his morning classes, and then I started coming and then when he saw that I had a propensity for painting so he gave me two businesses, he said, “Just be attached to Krishna and to painting.”

“So this is Kesava. Kesava is a name of Krsna and it means, ‘one who has fine hair.’

“So God has hair, He has a face, He has a body, He is not impersonal. He is the creator and the maintainer, the destroyer, everything. And he is the dearmost friend of every living entity.

“And before you were asking how my consciousness has changed, just like a lilly leaf or something like that that is on the water even though it is on the water it is not touched by the water, so even though we are in the material world,  because we are working for a pure devotee and for Krsna we are not touched. We feel satisfied to be in association with Krsna’s lotus feet.”

Another engagement is the making of Spiritual Sky incense. The Krsna devotees believe that since everything belongs to Krsna, everything can be used in His service, including business. Spiritual Sky scented products company is a commercial enterprise started by Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to gather funds for use in spreading Krsna consciousness. The company markets and manufactures incense, oils, shampoos, soaps and other scented products. Spiritual Sky has doubled its profits each year since 1969 and is now America’s leading incense manufacturer.

A computer at the Los Angeles factory keeps the accounts, checks inventory, and bills incense orders and like any other Krsna devotee chants:

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Prabhupada’s disciples handle all aspects of the operation from dipping the sticks in scented oils to packaging, sales, distribution and manufacturing display racks.

From the Los Angeles factory Spiritual Sky products are shipped to temples around the world. “I never expected such a big business to blossom.” Prabhupada has often said. “Now it is our duty to use it to serve Krsna.”  When people buy Spiritual Sky products they will automatically think of Krsna and be benefited.

Los Angeles is not only the center of incense manufacturing, it is also ISKCON’s Western world headquarters.

The devotees assemble daily at 4:30 am before the Deities of Radha and Krsna.

“Chant sixteen rounds at least…”

At the time of initiation the disciple vows to abstain from extramarital sex, intoxication, meat eating and gambling. Initiation and marriage rights are performed by ancient Vedic fire sacrifice. Initiates also vow to chant some 25,000 names of God daily, a two-hour feat. And to serve the spiritual master without reservation.

Marriage means working together in Krsna consciousness. We asked a young husband why he joined the Krsna consciousness movement.

As a student I was sensitive to the problems confronting our society and I could see that our leaders were unable to deal with them. Despite their promises for materialistic advancement I could see that the people were becoming more and more dissatisfied. Even though we are very advanced materially something very basic is missing in our way of life. By understanding Krsna consciousness I realized that here was the philosophy that could fill the gap in our materialistic culture. By providing scientific practical understanding of God Krsna consciousness can give meaningful purpose to life and it is the duty of the leaders to provide this educational instruction to the people.Therefore I have begun the process of Krsna consciousness and I advocate it as the practical solution to the problems of our modern technological society.

Some of the women learn the devotional art of making dresses for the Deity of Krsna and His consort, Radha.

Milk, grains, fruit and vegetables are bought wholesale by the society and sold to its members at nominal prices. Devotees shop and prepare food for their families in a spirit of service to Krsna.

The children are taught to see Krsna or God as the central point in life.

Krsna conscious education is offered at Gurukula in Dallas, Texas for school-aged children. Gurukula or the place of the spiritual master is staffed solely by devotees. Here the children learn the science of Krsna as well as reading, writing, arithmetic and, believe it or not, Sanskrit.

Each teacher lives in full-time association with the children.

Another word that starts with “C”. Kimey? Chandra Muki

What’s a word that starts with “A”? Billey. Apple.

Who was the most merciful of all of Krsna’s incarnations? What’s His name?

The most merciful incarnation of Krsna.

Yes. Lord Caitanya. Jaya.

What is the sound that it begins with?

And what is the letter it begins with.

K. K for kirtan, K for Krsna.

The plays depicet the pastimes of Krsna. Generally they concern the slaying of a demon by Krsna or the Lord’s activities with His devotees. Here is one of Krsna’s pastimes enacted.

The devotees explain that God is not an old man with a white beard, He is the reservoir of pleasure and here he swings joyfully with Radharani. Thus the children learn that God is not a fearsome, alien or vindictive personality. He is the supreme friend and He allows himself to be pushed on a swing.

Krsna devotees are also teaching in high schools and colleges around the world.

..the word “Krsna” is divided into two syllables, “krs” and “na” and together these two words mean the greatest pleasure. Rama also means the reservoir of all pleasure. The more people that chant the more you will feel this room become surcharged by spiritual energy. This is a fact.

Transcendental sound vibration is made available on radio and television, on records and tape cassettes by Golden Avatara productions.

The self realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.

Apart from urban temple life is New Vrindavana. The Krsna conscious community in the West Virginia hill country. Kirtanananda Swami, president of the community, explains the project in this way.

Hare Krishna, we would like to welcome you to New Vrindavana. New Vrindavana is Srila Prabhupada’s country ashram,  one of his original ideas for spreading Krsna consciousness in the Western world. It was a great vision of presenting to everyone, not only in this country, but in the whole world, how one can become Krsna conscious living just as Krsna lived in Vrindavan, depending on nature and the cows. Simply on the basis of this simple life of some fruits and vegetables and milk man can become Krsna conscious. The economic problem is solved very simply and with the balance time saved one can prosecute Krsna consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada wrote us a number of years ago that if we at all want to develop the concept of New Vrindavana we don’t need to have much machinery. We don’t have to become very much concerned with the modern amenities, but simply to depend on natures beauty and the cows. So we are very fortunate here at New Vrindavana, so many cows they are coming, and the milk is coming. Daily now we are getting more than seven hundred pounds of milk and from the milk. We are making cheese, butter, ghee, so many nice sweets, rasagula, sandesh.

Now we are beginning to distribute these things to our temples and also they are distributing to so many people all over. ]That everyone can see what is this nice life of Krsna consciousness.

What Srila Prabhupada is giving us is a way of life. A way of awakening our senses to the eternal beauty of Krsna and Vrindavana is the land of Krsna. And now we are constructing here Govindaji temple. This temple will exhibit to the world this wonderful process of Deity worship, or seeing Krsna in the temple.

We want everyone to wake up to the blissful life Srila Prabhupada is offering to us. It is not dry but it is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss.

Whether in the West Virginia hills or on old Mexico the Krsna celebration is the same. On Sundays ISKCON holds an afternoon festival with free feasting and philosophy. This Mexico City Sunday festival is typical.

The women often make elaborate garlands.

Generally if a person sees a beautiful flower he offers it to his girlfriend, Prabhupada says, but if you are in Krsna consciousness you think, “O what a beautiful flower. Let me offer it to Krsna.”

Here Hihayia, a Columbian who is the president of the Mexico City temple, tells the Sunday guests that one should learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master, the self-realized person can give you knowledge because he has seen the truth.

The Sunday feasts take considerable preparation since no tinned or previously prepared foods are used. All meat, fish, eggs and even onions are shunned. Various savory dishes are prepared according to ancient recipes.The Krsna diet supplies the body with all necessary nutrients without pandering to the whims of the senses.

The devotees say that God owns everything and has no need of food but by such offerings the devotee is made conscious of Krsna. And loving reciprocation with God is established.

After the food is offered to Krsna it becomes prasadam or Krsna’s mercy. Devotees distribute this prasadam freely to everyone for its effect is said to be spiritually purifying. Thus every Sunday more than 100 Krsna temples world-wide are filled with guests who partake of Krishna’s mercy in the form of sweet rice and burfi and chapattis and halava and even something called “Brahmin spaghetti.”

Prasadam knows no national boundaries, no creeds or classes.

Here the devotees are distributing prasadam at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the societies European headquarters in London. Here, as elsewhere, philosophical differences are reconciled over ladus and tamarind water. Prasadam is also distributed throughout India by the Krishna devotees.

And as for the future of the Krishna consciousness movement? One of Prabhupada’s first disciples, Rupanuga dasa Goswami gives us his opinion.

There have been literally hundreds of versions of the Bhagavad-gita in the Western world and not one of them has produced a single Krsna conscious person. ]But since the appearance of the “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” so many people throughout the whole world have revived their original dormant Krsna consciousness. People are becoming purified by this knowledge. It does not require a change in activity, that one shave his head, ]or change his clothes, give up his job or leave his family. What is required is a change in consciousness. A change in heart.

Five-hundred years ago Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that this movement will go to every town and village in the world.

This is the story of the Hare Krsna people.

About the Author

My first contact with a Hare Krishna was a most merciful Mataji in Oxford Street, London who sold me a "Higher Taste" cook book in 1984 while I was on holidays there. I started seriously reading Srila Prabhupada's books in Australia 1985 and by 1986 Srila Prabhupada had convinced me "Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead" and "we should surrender to Krishna." I joined the Hare Krishnas in Perth, Western Australia in 1986. Since then I have been chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, reading and distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and preaching as much as I can. That's my life and full-time occupation now really. I like it more than anything I've ever experienced before. Srila Prabhupada's books are so amazing... Even after reading them all many times they're still fresh and new. They are truly transcendental! That's it really. Now I'm just hankering to once again see the world chant Hare Krishna, dance and feast and float away in the ecstasy of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana movement as it did in Srila Prabhupada's physical presence. Let the whole world drown in the ecstatic flood of love of Krishna!

5 Responses to The Hare Krishna People — First Film about the Hare Krishna’s

  1. Vinod says:

    Is there suppose to be a video in this article? I see only a big white space on top.

  2. madhudvisa says:

    You will be always confused until you surrender to Srila Prabhupada and actually follow the process of Saddhana Bhakti that he is teaching us. That starts with surrendering to Srila Prabhupada and agreeing to live our lives in accordance to his orders. Then of course we have to surrender to the very basic things. We have to follow the four regulative principles: no illicit sex [sex is only for having children in marriage], no intoxication, no meat eating and no gambling], we have to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha mantra daily, and we have to read Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours daily. Without following these things at least we will not be in Krishna consciousness and spiritual life for us will be just imagination.

    But if we do actually surrender to Srila Prabhupada and accept his orders and live our lives accordingly, starting with the ones I have mentioned about but not limited to them, then we will reawaken the original Krishna consciousness that is there already within our hearts and Krishna from within our hearts and Srila Prabhupada from his books will guide us and we will never be confused..

    It is a quality of the mode of goodness that one can see things as they are, however if we are not in the mode of goodness, if we are in the modes of passion and ignorance, then it is impossible for us to see things as they are. Therefore if we want to see things as they are we have to elevate ourselves to the mode of goodness and to become Krishna consciousness we have to transcend even the mode of goodness.

    So it is not that you think something, your opinion, and I think something, my opinion. No. We both have to surrender to Srila Prabhupada and hear the transcendental knowledge coming from his lotus mouth and just accept it. It is not exactly ‘thinking’ that enables one to become Krishna consciousness. It is surrender, submissive hearing and service…

    Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

    Madhudvisa dasa

    • James Mansfield says:

      I got distracted while reading your response and I forgot I was planning to help chop veggies for prasadam tomorrow!
      Thanks for the response and…
      Chant in the name of the Lord to be free!

  3. madhudvisa says:

    You can evaluate ISKCON by seeing how closely they are following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada. And unfortunately they have in so many ways completely rejected the orders of Srila Prabhupada. They do not at all care about what Prabhupada orders, they think they are more intelligent and that they know better than Prabhupada and this is the problem.

    So ISKCON has now disconnected themselves from the disciplic succession and it is, like the Gaudiya Matha, asara, useless.

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