Category Archives: a. Hinduism for the West

Swami Chidvilasananda

“Gurumayi’s striking beauty rivets attention wherever she goes…[H]er energy seems inexaustible. Her grace, delightful wit, and respectful regard for the needs of each devotee have expanded Siddha Yoga’s appeal beyond what even Muktananda achieved.” (Brooks 136)

 Swami Chidvilasananda, often referred to as Gurumayi Chidvilasananda or simply Gurumayi is the current leading guru of Siddha Yoga. Gurumayi is a female Guru, who was born in India, who now resides in the United States of America. After studying yoga under the leadership of her own guru Swami Muktananda, she became the head guru of Siddha Yoga when he passed on his title to her in a five day fire ceremony called a yajna; which was celebrated during the time of his birthday in 1982 [Swami Muktanananda passed away later in that same year]. (Caldwell 27) Siddha Yoga is a form of yoga that is very much about finding energy inside one’s soul and discovering personal inner peace through meditation and connection with their guru.

Siddha Yoga has become a major trend in North America, and the SYDA or Siddha Yoga Dham of America that was created by Swami Muktananda, and has been carried on by Swami Chidvilasananda, is a non profit organization that has dealt with a great deal of controversy (Harris 92). Siddha Yoga’s claim to fame is an extremely intense meditative state known as guru”shaktipat“. Shaktipat is described as a cosmic orgasm that one feels after they connect with their guru (Neimark 60). There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the practice of Siddha Yoga, and the gurus that lead this spiritual activity. There is much controversy surrounding how much money the SYDA appears to have. The SYDA owns more than three hotels worldwide and has a variety of wealthy celebrity followers (Harris 92). Some have gone so far as to call it a cult; others have questioned the sexual integrity of the gurus; however there are valid arguments on both sides of the spectrum. Some criticize Swami Chidvilasananda of not living a truly pure and holy life; claiming that she, and other Siddha Yoga Gurus are simply concerned with money and fame, and others regard her as one of the most powerful and influential yogic gurus of her time.

Born in Mumbai India in 1955 under her given name Malti Shetty, Gurumayi experienced shaktipat at the age of fourteen and at age fifteen began studying under her guru Swami Muktananda. She moved to the ashram (a hermitage in which she studied religion and yoga) to study yoga seriously. Swami Chidvilasananda accompanied her Guru on many tours as his English translator, and in 1982, both Shetty and her brother, Subhash Shetty were appointed to be the successors of their guru; however in 1985 her brother stepped down, leaving Gurumayi to be the sole successor of Swami Muktanananda or Baba, as he was called by his students and devotees. [Baba meaning father.] Some have criticized Gurumayi for the “falling out” that she had with her brother, claiming that it is not spiritual or holy to have a relationship fall apart, and that it is just as it is in secular life; criticizing the way she dealt with the situation (Healey 12). Gurumayi is the current Guru of Siddha Yoga, which has two main ashrams for people to learn the practices in; one in India, and one in New York. There has been controversy surrounding the practice of Siddha Yoga, claiming that it has a likeliness to that of a cult-like religion, (Healey 5) however Gurumayi’s students seem to feel a deep appreciation for the fact that she not only lives her life purely, but truly tries to bring her teachings into every day-to-day life. She has many interactions with her students and spends a great deal of time with them to offer guidance and teachings (Brooks 159). Gurumayi is known for her kind heart, and her caring attitude towards all human beings. Her students respect her greatly and put her at the center of their spiritual lives. (Brooks 136). Siddha Yoga places emphasis on self-evaluation and tries to eliminate personal negativity, and negative tendencies within one’s life.

The practice of Siddha Yoga was first introduced to the West in 1970 by Swami Muktananda during his first excursion out of India. Siddha Yoga, the word Siddha meaning perfect master (Healey 6) is a practice of yoga in which its main purpose is to achieve shaktipat through the guidance, chants and presence of a Guru. Shaktipat is the ancient method of awakening the kundalini energy, which creates enlightenment at the base of the spine, and sends the body into an orgasm-like state, that causes the body to shake and pulsate upon achieving this sacred energy. When people experience shaktipat through the practice of Siddha Yoga they lose all control over their physical selves, often screaming, pulsating, or physically moving around the room. This energy can only be achieved through the presence and touch of the Guru; and through shaktipat it is said that one can truly achieve self-realization and Atman. Contrary to controversy about Siddha Yoga and its sexual nature; it is said that if one finds a true guru, one who is fully devoted to the art of Siddha Yoga, that it is not about sexual pleasure, but about losing touch between the inner and outer self, and experiencing a more divine power and ecstasy. Achieving shaktipat is said to be the feeling of “seeing the Divine in different forms” (Tymn 180). Gurumayi herself said that “When you experience it, you see light everywhere, you find joy in everything. You experience happiness in times of happiness, but you are also able to experience happiness in the midst of sorrow. This is the greatness of meditation.” (Chidvilasananda 46)

Another important aspect of Siddha yoga is the importance that its devotees place on grandiose ceremonies, such as yajnas. Yajnas are extremely important and have helped to characterize Siddha Yoga. Swami Chidvilasananda holds yajnas many times a year, that attract Siddha Yoga students and Brahmins from all around the globe. Brahmins travel from India to attend Swami Chidvalasananda’s yajnas, as months of hard work and preparation go into preparing for them. During these sacred fire ceremonies, Gurumayi sits and observes, while Brahmin priests adorn her with garlands and perform sacred rituals. Gurumayi holds herself with great dignity and always puts her position as great Guru first and foremost. (Brooks 135) In Gurumayi’s yajnas food and gifts are offered to the Gods and burned in a sacrificial fire. Yajnas and yoga are said to be alike in the sense that yoga offers sacrifices to the Gods as well; however the fire of the yajna; in yoga is an internal flame. Gurumayi has taught numerous courses in the ashram, which emphasize the importance of sacrifice in ones day-to-day life. She teaches that sacrifice is the secret to fulfilling a pure and whole life. (Brooks 136) Love, peace, patience and self awareness are very important aspects of Siddha Yoga, often taking a great deal of time and inner reflection to truly master.

Gurumayi places a great amount of importance on love, calmness, happiness, and inner peace. A young man that attended a retreat led by Gurumayi in Mexico said that “These two weeks were the happiest weeks of my whole life. They gave me a new vision of myself and the world we live in. Never in my life had I experienced so much love, nor did I know that so much love was possible. We just sat down to talk about the day and it was pure ecstasy. Or sometimes we just sat in silence looking at each other and we cried out of love” (Brooks 140). Siddha Yoga focuses on the simplicity of life and helps people to understand what happens within themselves to create pure ecstasy throughout any aspect of life. Another practice that is unique to Siddha Yoga is guruseva which helps a student to gain wisdom by working under the instruction of their guru. The idea of working to gain wisdom is important in Siddha Yoga. For example students of Gurumayi have volunteered to chop vegetables for hours at a time; while chanting throughout the whole process. The idea behind the work is that “unselfish action purifies the mind.” (Brooks 144) Guruseva can take form in any day to day activity; for example washing dishes, doing chores, creating art are all forms of Guruseva. The use of work to diminish ego and create a connection to the gods is extremely important to Siddha Yoga devotees, but only if the work is done with no thought or expectation of reward. The acts of Guruseva must be done selflessly in order to reap its rewards. Guruseva is comparable to the feeling of kundalini in that it creates a deep interior experience. Students who do guruseva experience realizations within themselves, and intense feelings of calmness and love (Brooks 144).

Much of Swami Chivalasananda’s time is spent traveling the globe, spreading the word of Siddha Yoga, through the use of chants, workshops and intensives. There are approximately three hundred Siddha Yoga meditation centers worldwide, located in Europe, North and South America, India and Australia to name a few (Brooks 143). Gurumayi is said to be such a powerful leader of Siddha Yoga, that her devotees do not have to be in her presence to feel her spirit and teachings. Many of her students have seen her through focused and intense meditation. Devotees have said that Gurumayi has appeared in meditation and in dreams where she has provided guidance to them. Many of Gurumayi’s students have felt her presence when she was not physically with them. For example a school teacher in Perth Australia was struggling with a young student’s behavior, when she saw Gurumayi walk through the door and smile lovingly at the boy, giving hope to the teacher (Brooks 147).

Regardless of where Gurumayi is in the world, her presence is honored by her devotees. When she appears at conferences, workshops or intensives often she is greeted with a great amount of emotion and joy from her students.   She works hard to prove that she is a strong leader, and tries to live her life in a way that shows example to her students of how to achieve peace and harmony with ones self. Gurumayi provides a realistic approach to her work in the fact that she also talks about inner turmoil. Siddha Yoga requires personal work and sacrifice to find oneself and she has displayed acts of sacrifice in her own life to teach her devotees.

“Where is heaven? Where is Hell? Within us. Each one can create a heaven, each one can create a hell…Look within. Meditate. It just happens. You find your own joy, you find your own inner peace.” (Chidvilasananda 49)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Caldwell, Sarah (2001) “The Heart of the Secret: A Personal and Scholarly Encounter with Shakta Tantrism in Siddha Yoga” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 5, No.1:9-51

Haruni, Elisa Santos, Ferreira Dourado Rueda, Adriana Amelia Benedito-Silva, Ana Leite De Moraes Ornellas, Felipe Leite, Jose Roberto (2008) “Evaluation of Siddha Samadhi Yoga for Anxiety and Depression Symptoms: a Preliminary Study.” Psychological Reports, Vol. 103, No. 1: 271-274.

Healy, John Paul (2011) “Involvement in a New Religious Movement: From Discovery to Disenchantment.” Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, Vol. 13, No. 1: 2-21

Harris, Lis (1998) “O guru, guru, guru.” New Yorker, Vol. 70, No. 37: 92

Neimark, Jill (1998) “Crimes of the soul.” Psychology Today, Vol. 31, No. 2: 55

Mutananda, Swami and Chidvilasananda, Gurumayi (1991) Meditate. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Durgananda, Swami Muller-Ortega, Paul E Mahony, William K Rhodes Bailly, Constantina Sabharathnam, S.P. (2000) Meditation Revolution: A History and Theology of Siddha Yoga Lineage. Muktabodha Indological Research Institute.

Tymn, Michael E. (2006) “Secrets of Shaktipat.” Journal of Spirituality & Paranomal Studies. Vol. 29, No. 3:179-180.

 Related Topics

PRASAD

Swami Muktananda/Controversy surrounding his practices

Siddha Yoga vs. other forms of Yoga

Gurumayi’s various projects

 Related Websites

http://www.siddhayoga.org/

http://www.siddhayoga.org/gurumayi-chidvilasananda

 

Article written by Jaimee Jarvie (April 2013) who is solely responsible for its content.

ISKCON (The International Society for Krsna Consciousness)

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness was founded in the United States of America in 1966. It was started by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in New York City (Bryant and Ekstrand 2). Though Bhaktivedanta is the sole leader of this movement, he “does not ever make a direct claim to God, only to being His representative on earth”(Daner 19).  The mission of this movement is to bring western society the Vedic cult of Krsna worship (Daner 1). This society also seeks to accept the doctrine of bhakti yoga (Daner 6). The International Society for Krsna Consciousness is one of the most well known eastern religions in the Western hemisphere (Bryant and Ekstrand 1). Because this movement was started in America, it is mainly populated by so-called converts to Hinduism. As this is a fairly new movement in the Hindu tradition, their modes of worship and their beliefs are not well known to the rest of the world. Also, it is not fully understood by mainstream culture why this movement became so popular.

The International Society for Krnsa Consciousness, when it was first created, appealed mainly to the people who were disillusioned with American society (Daner 8). Larry D. Shin said that “…almost all had been in a state of crisis before they joined the movement. By ‘crisis’ I mean most often psychological crisis: a sense of identity confusion, not being quite sure where to place one’s values, search for meaning, religious crisis”(Gelberg 64). The people that joined the Hare Krsna movement were dissatisfied with the materialistic world, only because they had been so invested in it (Gelberg 65). Because the International Society for Krsna Consciousness was started in the sixties, most of the converts and followers were part of what became known as the counter culture. These people were mainly hippies (Daner 7). Because these people were dissatisfied with society, the fact that the International Society for Krsna Consciousness practices communal living is also enticing; it provides a way for them to have a sense of freedom from the society that they are so disenchanted with (Judah 174).  What enticed these people to this movement, and still does, is the ideas and of the Hare Krsna movement. The converts to the International Society for Krsna Consciousness like the philosophy and ideas of this movement because it does not focus on society; it instead focuses on worshipping a personal God, therefore making it an extremely personal experience. Judah states that “[t]his need for the expression of love in worshipping and serving a personal, living deity is probably a predominant factor uniting all devotees of Krishna” (Judah 173). The converts to the International Society for Krsna Consciousness were also drawn to the movement because they enjoyed the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra and the sense of community and togetherness that is found among the devotees to Krsna (Judah 165).

As stated above, one of the main enticing factors to this movement is its beliefs. The beliefs of this movement focus on the Hindu deity Krsna. One of the foremost beliefs of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness is that of “theistic intimacy”(Bryant and Ekstrand 14). Theistic intimacy is the belief that you can have a relationship of uttermost love with a deity or member of a godhead. In the case of the Hare Krsna movement, this intimate relationship is with the Hindu deity Krsna. The followers of the Hare Krsna movement also practice what is known as bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is the idea of conceding one’s self to the deity Krsna, and improving your relationship with him (Judah 87). The International Society for Krsna Consciousness believe that in order to achieve bhakti they must achieve the eight preliminary aspects of bhakti (Daner 35). These aspects are: Recognizing the deity Krsna as refuge; serving a guru; reading the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam; singing praises to Krsna; thinking solely of the deity Krsna; serving and worshipping the deities; performing rites and rituals taught by the guru; and kneeling before the deity and the spiritual guru (Daner 35).

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness has a variety of ways of worshipping and showing their devotion to the deity Krsna. Many of these ways of worshipping are manifested in how they live their lives. Through living communally, the followers of the Hare Krsna movement show their devotion to Krsna and their desire to gain an intimate relationship with the deity. Another way that the members of the Hare Krsna movement worship is through the act of chanting. The mantra of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness is called the mahamantra, and it means the great mantra (Bryant and Ekstrand 35).

The mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is in public and in private, and is said to be the most important religious responsibility of the Hare Krsnas (Bryant and Ekstrand 35-36). Another way that the members of the Hare Krsna movement worship is through the aratrika ceremony in their temples. This ritual is a way in which Krsna is greeted, and it is performed six times daily (Daner 45). This ceremony begins with chanting, after which food is brought out on platters for the deities to eat. Next, incense is offered to the deities, followed by a lamp with five wicks. After that water in a conch shell is offered, then a handkerchief, and next a flower. After these a fan made out of peacock feathers is offered, and last a yak tail attached to a silver handle (Daner 46-47). Another way that members of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness worship and show their devotion is through festivals. One of the important festivals celebrated is Chaitanya’s birthday. Another important festival celebrated is the festival of Lord Jagannatha (Judah 96). There are many other festivals celebrated by the Hare Krsna movement, but these two are the most commonly celebrated.

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness is one of the most notable branches of the Hindu tradition. Because it originated in the United States of America in the 1960’s, it had a great impact on the generation that was a part of the counter culture.

References and Further Recommended Reading

Brooks, Charles R. (1989) The Hare Krishnas in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Bryant, Edwin F. And Ekstrand, Maria L. Ed (2004) The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. New York: Columbia University Press.

Daner, Francine Jeanne (1976) The American Children of KRSNA: A Study of the Hare KRSNA Movement. Dallas: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Gelberg, Steven J. Ed. (1983) Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: Five Distinguished Scholars on the Krishna Movement in the West. New York: Grove Press, Inc.

Judah, J. Stillson (1974) Hare Krishna and the Counterculture. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Rochford, E. Burke Jr. (1995) Family Structure, Commitment, and Involvement in the Hare Krishna Movement. Oxford University Press.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Bhakti-yoga

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Counterculture

Krsna

Chaitanya

Lord Jagannatha

Aratrika ceremony

Mahamantra

Bhagavad-gita

Srimad-Bhagavatam

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://iskcon.org/

http://news.iskcon.com/

http://iskconuk.com/

http://www.krishna.com/

http://www.sivanandadlshq.org/teachings/bhaktiyoga.htm

http://www.sanatansociety.org/yoga_and_meditation/bhakti_yoga.htm

Article written by Brittany Turner (Spring 2012), who is solely responsible for its content.

Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada

Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada (Founder of the Hare Krsnas)

Srila Prabhupada was born Abhay Charan De to parents Gour Mohan De, a cloth merchant, and mother Rajani on September 1st, 1896 (Gowami 1983: 5-6) His childhood home was located at 115 Harrison Road, situated in the northern Indian section of Calcutta, India. His father belonged to the aristocratic suvarna-vanik merchant caste, was pure Vaisnava, and raised his son to be just as Krsna conscious as he was. Young Abhay accompanied his father, mother or servant daily to the temple near their home to worship, showed his strong faith which was evident even in his childhood. This devotion was helped of course by Gour Mohan’s wishes for his son to achieve Vaisnava goals and become a  servant to Radha and Krsna. Employing a professional mrdana (a kind of drum) player to teach Abhay the rhythms for accompanying kirtana (a form of musical worship), Gour Mohan was determined to give his son all the teachings to enable him to reach the prescribed Vaisnava goals, even if this went against his wife’s wishes. Rajani was skeptical about the importance of her son learning to play the mrdana, and while she too was a devote follower of Krshna consciousness, she wanted Abhay to grow up and become a British lawyer. This however did not stop her from modeling her perfection of Vedic housewife duties, showcased through her attempts to keep her pet child, Abhay, safe from danger, disease and death. At age six it became clear which path Abhay favored, as he asked his father to bring home deities of his own to worship. Bringing home Radha-Krsna deities, Gour Mohan and Rajani watched their son from this day forward offering food first to these effigies, and putting them to rest at night in perfect imitation of his fathers own puja (Goswami 1983: 9-13).

While Abhay Charan De’s  religious beliefs and talents continued to grow, so did his intellect in school. However, even Abhay was subject to the tradition of arranged marriage and was wed to Radharani Datta. Living apart, Srila Prabhupada was to finish his college degree before taking on full responsibility of supporting his family. But, in his fourth year of college, Abhay began to feel reluctant about finishing his degree. This was due to the influences of Subhas Chandra Bose, who was a spirited nationalist and eventual leader of the Indian National Army. Bose charged the student population to align with the Indian independence movement and forsake their studies. This proclamation was also echoed by another notable figure, Mohandas K. Gandhi. Gandhi, who was a spiritual entity instead of a just a political one like Bose, had a profound impact on Abhay, who began listening to Gandhi and abiding to  his messages. When Gandhi said that the foreign run schools, like the one Abhay attended, did nothing more than instill a slave mentality, Abhay was left with a decision to make. Even though he finished his studies in 1920, after his fourth year, Abhay refused his diploma thus showing his devotion to Gandhi’s call to boycott the British rule of India (Goswami 1983: 14-15).

Inspired by Gandhi, Abhay continued to follow his lead and strengthen his own spirituality while working as a department manager at Bose Laboratory in his hometown of Calcutta, India. It was his religious quest however that led him to meet his spiritual master in 1922, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (Rochford 10). Initially unimpressed by the work of Thakura, it was only through a friend’s encouragement that he visited him. Upon their first meeting, it was Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who asked why, as an educated young man, Abhay did not travel the world spreading the message of Lord Caitanya. From this bold question Abhay went on to make many more insightful inquiries which left him so impressed at the end of their first meeting that he accepted Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura as his spiritual master in his heart. Until Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s death in December 1936, Abhay was a devote follower and friend, visiting him whenever time would allow as his family had moved to Allahabad in 1932 for business purposes. Abhay truly embraced Thakura’s ideal of spreading Krsna consciousness around the world and began to preach from his home. He wrote an essay and poem which were published in The Harmonist, gaining him the title of kavi, “learned poet” (Goswami 1983: 18). However, being a humble man, his most glorious moment was when this poem reached his master and gave him joy. The last conversation between himself and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was one that had the most profound impact on his life and how he chose to get his message out.  Thakura told him, “If you ever get money, print books” (Goswami 1983: 91) which is just what Abhay did (Goswami 1983: 15-20).

While still in India Abhay had to suffer through WWII. He not only had to attempt to get enough food to ensure his families survival, but also had to fight with the government for paper on which to print his journal, Back to Godhead. While his determination to spread the only real scarcity of Krsna consciousness intensified, his business and family affairs began to abate as his major focus shifted to preaching. A major breakthrough at this time in his life was being invited to lecture at the Gita Mandir, an invitation that he gladly accepted. It was in this place, of Jhansi, that Abhay formed his first center. Leaving behind his business affairs in Allahabad to his son, Abhay was now focused on creating a spiritual movement in Jhansi. He was 56 years old (Gotswami 1983: 20-24).

It was after this age that Abhay truly hit a turning point. Getting a note in Jhansi that his home had been burglarized, he returned to Calcutta as familial responsibilities outweighed his preaching desires. With bills to pay and unmarried children to look after, Abhay came back to his family but continued to talk of God and preach just as he had done before. This angered his family who could not understand his devotion. It was this misunderstanding that eventually led Abhay to break from his family and business all together, when he returned home one night and found that his wife has sold his copy of Srimad-Bhagavatam for money to buy tea biscuits. Angered and upset, this final straw led Abhay to finally leave and pursue his goal of preaching Krshna consciousness and printing books (Gotswami 1983: 24-25).

The 1950s saw Abhay facing hard time. Scraping together enough money to print Back to Godhead, he went without proper clothing for the winter to fulfill his mission. From showing such devotion, Abhay was pushed past his tipping point after he had a dream in which Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura appeared and urged him to become a sannyasa (Goswami 1983: 34). After careful deliberation, Abhay knew what he must do and became Abhay Caranaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami after his formal sannyasa ceremony. After this ceremony, his desire to spread Krsna consciousness intensified, leading Abhay to finally begin printing books. Struggling once more to raise funds and sell his volumes, Abhay was forced to become resourceful, sending copies of his works to noted officials and utilizing their positive reviews to advertise. Transforming himself from humble beginnings to notoriety, Abhay was gaining fame in India, but desired to spread his message West. With this desire in his heart, it was on August 13th, 1965 at the age of 69 that Abhay boarded the cargo ship Jaladuta to begin his journey to America (Goswami 1983: 25-38).

Reaching New York City on September 19th, 1965 he walked with little more than the clothing on his back to the bus terminal to find transit to Butler to stay with friends, the Agarwal’s. Taking up residence in the YMCA, Abhay began writing to people of religious interest in New York City to grow his network (Goswami 1983: 42). It was through such letter writing that Abhay was able to become financed by Dr. Mishra, whose yoga studios became the first site of meetings for followers of Abhay’s message (Goswami 1991: 1-14).

Abhay’s next move was out of the yoga studio and downstairs into his own place. However, far from being a temple, this move was rife with poverty. With his name on the door, anyone could find him, and despite his meager surroundings in Room 307, the meetings were becoming a new source of life for Abhay and for his followers. However, this move too proved temporary. Abhay was subject to a great number of moves following this until he finally came to find a suitable apartment to call his own. This place would allow him to grab his footing for the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (Knott 29-30)

From this point forward, Bhaktivedanta Swami spread his message. Getting a feature in the local New York press, The Village Voice was of particular importance, as it allowed Abhay to grow the number of members in his lecture groups (Knott 32). From this growing population of followers, Abhay drafted the Seven Purposes of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, and the ISKCON really gained a hold. Circulating leaflets and invitations, the chanting of the Hare Krshna was touted as the drug of choice as it allowed one to stay high forever, because of their expanded consciousness. Thus the popular name for the ISKCON was born, and the Hare Krsna continued to thrive (Goswami 1983: 28-75).

On January 16th, 1967 Abhay left behind his devoted followers in New York and flew to spread his message in San Francisco. Awaiting his arrival this day was a group of about fifty flower bearing chanters, most of which knew the Swami only by reputation. Settling into an apartment at 518 Fredrick Street, this dwelling was now known as the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, attracting numerous followers from the first days of Abhays arrival. From this place, Abhay preached and held lectures for his many followers. He wrote in his office, getting his messages out and attending to the needs and problems of his devotees (Goswami 1983: 75-130).

However, Abhay longed to return to India and he fulfilled this desire in the summer of 1967. He stayed until the winter months, when he once again returned to the United States and travelled around, spreading his messages and publications across the globe, even coming into contact with John Lennon and Yoko Ono when the Hare Krshna recorded chantings for their record (Knott 34-37). From such public relations, Prabhupada’s message was widely received and the ISKCON grew, setting up head quarters all over the world. This was up until Abhay’s death on November 14th, 1977 at 81 years old (Rochford 10-11).

References

Goswami, Satsvarupa Dasa (1983) Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

Goswami, Satsvarupa Dasa (1983) Prabhupada: He Built a House in Which the Whole World Can Live.  Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

Goswami, Tamal Krishna (1999) Servant of the Servant: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,  Founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Dialogue & Alliance, 13(1), 5-17.

Knott, Kim (1986) My Sweet Lord: The Hare Krishna Movement. San Bernando: Borgo Press.

Rochford, E. Burke (1985) Hare Krishna in America. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

Related Topics for Further Reading

The Hare Krshna

Caste System

Mrdana

Puja

Krshna

Radha

Vaisnava

Kirtana

Mohandas K. Ghandi

Subhas Chandra Bose

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

Sannyasa

Srimad-Bhagavatam

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://iskcon.org

http://www.bbt.info/

http://www.krishna.com/

Article written by Jaycene Mock (March 2012) who is solely responsible for its content.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho)

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was born Chandra Mohan on December 11 1931 in Kuchwada, a village in the province of Madhya Pradesh (Gordon 21). He was the eldest of eleven children, and as a result of the death of his parents, he was raised by his grandparents (Urban 171). During his youth, Rajneesh suffered from both smallpox and asthma, which nearly resulted in his death (Gordon 22). When Rajneesh was five, his younger sister died (Gordon 22). This affected Rajneesh greatly causing him to refuse to eat as well as dress as a Jain monk and carry a begging bowl (Gordon 22). Rajneesh was described as a spoiled child by some, and as gifted by others (Gordon 22). Rajneesh’s grandfather slowly died of a stroke when Rajneesh was seven (Gordon 22). As a result of his grandfather’s death, Rajneesh attempted to protect himself from being hurt again by a death by becoming distant from others (Gordon 22). Rajneesh described his grandfather’s death as “the death to all attachments” (Gordon 22). During his teen years, Rajneesh’s girlfriend Sashi died, which affected him greatly (Gordon 23). Rajneesh would mock religion even though he searched through Christian, Buddhist, and Jain scriptures (Gordon 23). When he was nineteen years old, Rajneesh went to college in Jabalpur (Gordon 24). While at college he would frequently challenge his professors and began to, according to himself, run sixteen miles day and would lay on the floor for days at a time (Gordon 24). This resulted in Rajneesh being taken to an Ayurvedic physician known as a Vaidiya, who believed that his symptoms were resultant of “divine intoxication” (Gordon 24). Rajneesh suffered from depression and anorexia while he was at college and once attempted suicide (Urban 171). While in university, it was proclaimed by Rajneesh that on March 21, 1953 that he became enlightened (Gordon 24).

Rajneesh received his M.A. in philosophy in 1957 and taught at Raipur Sanskrit College and the University of Jabalpur (Gordon 25). He studied the work of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky (Gordon 25). Rajneesh continued to teach philosophy for nine years before he decided to leave the University of Jabalpur in 1967 in order to teach spiritual life (Urban 172). He took on a few disciples and the group met in an apartment in Bombay (Gordon 30). In Bombay, Rajneesh would comment upon scriptures from many different religions, and used these scriptures in order to reinvigorate people’s belief in these religions (Gordon 30-31). He became very controversial in India because of his teachings (Urban 172). For instance, he referred to Mahatma Gandhi as a masochist, a chauvinist and a pervert. (Urban 172). Rajneesh was introduced to westerners as a “sex guru” who was not against drugs (Gordon 38). This brought crowds of hippies to see him (Gordon 38). In 1971, Rajneesh began to refer to himself as Bhagwan, which means “the Blessed One” (Gordon 38), and in 1974, he created an ashram in Poona (Gordon 42).

Rajneesh’s ashram in Poona was created after he had sent many of his followers to work on a farm in Bapuji, with which his godfather was associated (Gordon 42). Rajneesh also sent some of his followers to work on another farm in Kailash, which Rajneesh’s family owned (Gordon 42). The ashram in Poona raised revenue largely from Westerners travelling to be with Rajneesh (Gordon 43). This money was used to purchase a large home in a wealthy neighborhood in Poona for Rajneesh to live in instead of his apartment in Bombay (Gordon 43). In 1981 the search for a new location for Rajneesh’s commune had become a major concern, and the search ultimately lead Rajneesh to the United States of America (Gordon 93). As Rajneesh’s health was deteriorating, his secretary Sheela, who had recently become responsible for finding a new location for the commune, had chosen America because of Rajneesh’s health (Gordon 93). The Indian government forced Rajneesh and his followers from his ashram and out of India by removing the tax-exempt status of the Rajneesh Foundation, and attempted to collect about four million dollars in income tax as well as taxes on sales, imports, exports, and property (Gordon 94).  This debt and the rumored impending arrest of Rajneesh for “inciting religious rioting” also influenced the move of Rajneesh’s ashram to the United States (Gordon 94). Rajneesh prepared for the move by sending followers to the United States to find large portions of land that could serve as the location for the new commune (Gordon 94).

When Rajneesh went to the United States he spent some time in a mansion in New Jersey (Urban 172).  Soon after, Rajneeshpuram, meaning Rajneesh’s town, was established with the purchase of a sixty-four thousand acre ranch in Oregon (Urban 172). The purpose of this new commune in the United States was to transform the Earth, as opposed to the goal of the commune in Poona, which was to transform individuals through meditation and other techniques (Gordon 99). This commune in Oregon was used by the members, known as sannyasins, to use work as meditation and as the sannyasins worked together they would be productive and be in harmony both with each other and with nature (Gordon 99). Though it was originally meant only to be a communal farm, Rajneeshpuram was gradually becoming a city of its own (Gordon 100). In the fall of 1982, the local government of the nearby town of Antelope was taken over by the sannyasins through them holding all but one seat on the city council (Gordon 123). In 1983, the sannyasins had total control over the school in Antelope, causing a large number of Antelope residents to take their children out of that school and send them to school in the town of Madras, which was about forty-five minutes away (Gordon 125). The sannyasin led town government would not reimburse the Antelope residents the cost of busing their children to school in Madras (Gordon 125). At the peak of Rajneesh’s popularity, he claimed around twenty-five thousand followers in the United States, India and Europe (Urban 172). The Rajneeshpuram, under the control of Rajneesh’s secretary Sheela, adopted a rigid hierarchy, as seen in the Rajneeshpuram’s Peace Force (Urban 172). The Peace Force had colored armbands to distinguish the different levels in the hierarchy (Urban 172). As time went on, Rajneeshpuram began to start lawsuits against a number of different people on the basis of discrimination (Carter 229). The defendants in these lawsuits included, the Attorney Generals of the United States and the state of Oregon, the United States Secretary of State, the Director of Immigration and Naturalization Services, and the Governor of Oregon (Carter 229). These lawsuits were seen as an attempt to put off the anticipated arrest of Rajneesh (Carter 229). Eventually Rajneeshpuram came under federal investigation, which found a vast network of phone taps and hidden recording devices all over the commune (Carter 231). By October 23 1985 there was enough evidence collected to justify charges of “conspiring to fraud the United States and with ordering others to make false statements to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in order to hide sham marriages” (Carter 231). Rajneesh and several associates were arrested while making an attempt to leave the country, though charges related to this were not pursued (Carter 233). Rajneesh was charged with conspiracy and making false statements, to which he pleaded guilty and received a “$400, 000 fine and a ten-year suspended sentence, “allowed” to depart from the country voluntarily, and was placed on probation for five years” (Carter 237).

Upon his return to India, Rajneesh took on the name of Osho, as he felt that it were better than referring to himself as Bhagwan (Urban 181). In 1990, after having been back in India for only a few years, Osho died (Urban 182). After his death the popularity of his books experienced an increase (Urban 182). The commune that Rajneesh had established in Poona still functions as a resort for spiritual meditation, though it now operates under the name the “Osho Commune International” (Urban 182). “Osho Commune International” uses Rajneesh’s idea of a “religionless religion” and combines it with a number of other “generic New Age ideals” in order to market these ideas to the world (Urban 182).

Bibliography

Carter, Lewis F. (1990) Charisma and control in Rajneeshpuram. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gordon, James S. (1987) The Golden Guru: The Strange Journey of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Lexington: The Stephen Greene Press.

Urban, Hugh B. (2005) “Osho, From Sex Guru to Guru of the Rich: The Spiritual Logic of Late Capitalism.” Gurus in America. Ed. Thomas A. Forsthoefel and Cynthia Ann Humes. Albany: State University of New York Press. 169-192.

Related Topics

Gurdjieff, George

Ouspensky, Peter

Rajneeshpuram

Tantra

Websites Related to the Topic

http://www.osho.com

Article Written by: Tom Samoil (March 2010) who is solely responsible for its content.

Swami Sivananda Radha

Swami Sivananda Radha was the first western woman who became a sannyasin, a spiritual leader who placed great emphasis in the belief of one’s self and one’s surroundings to enhance one’s life. She had become a great yogi who taught for more than 25 years (Swami Sivananda, xxiii). Radha had been quoted as saying, “The main thing I try to do is have my students bring quality into their lives,]…[ to me, people are not spiritual if this quality is not there in their lives-even if they meditate six hours a day. By quality I mean that which comes from deep inside and shows up in their actions, their treatment of others and the way they do their jobs”(Himalayan Academy, 1988).

Swami Radha’s original name was Ursula Sylvia Hellman. Once she became a sannyasin her guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, gave her the name Swami Sivananda Radha. She would not be called this until later in life. She was born on March 20, 1911 in Berlin, Germany ( Biography). She came from a well to do family and was very interested in the arts. In her early life she became a creative writer, photographer and a professional solo concert dancer (Biography). She made history by being the first woman admitted into the Berlin School of Advertising in 1939 but unfortunately her career was ended as World War II started (Radha, 1990: xxiii). Radha was married twice, first to Wolfgang who was killed in the Second World War by the Nazis in the Gestapo for helping Jewish people escape Germany. Her second marriage only lasted one year; she was married to Albert Hellman who was a violinist and a composer. Albert composed many pieces of music that Radha danced to. He unfortunately died suddenly in Radha’s arms (Biography). When the Second World War ended Radha immigrated to Canada and lived in Montreal (Radha, 1990: xxiii).

Radha was not brought up in a religious house and questioned the meaning of life even from an early age. According to Radha’s own account, she took up the practise of meditation and while meditating she had a vision of a sage. Taking this as an important sign Radha sought out to find where this sage was and began writing letters to him; where in a letter he eventually “told her to “come home” to his ashram in Rishihesh, in the Himalayan Foothills” (Radha,1990: xxiii). She traveled to India in search for her sage and her life’s calling. She found what she was looking for in the guru Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. Swami Sivananda took Radha under his wing and taught her the teachings of eastern living and religious practices. “He challenged her to remember who she was and to think deeply about the purpose of life. His message was that truth can be found in a balanced life and to use discipline to avoid extremes” (Biography).  The Hindu religion believes that Karma yoga and selfless actions can assist towards making one divine; this became the most important teachings of Swami Radha’s work. She lived in a spiritual community where she was constantly surrounded by many spiritual students both beginners and advanced who collectively were masters of “various spiritual disciplines” (Radha,1990: xxiii). In the beginning of Radha’s schooling she was at first apprehensive as to how she would cope with the conditions and a new way of life. She had another student from another sannyasin tell her quite a few times that her sannyasin (Swami Sivananda) was not what she should be looking for in a spiritual leader. The first few months were the hardest for Radha but she persisted and learned a great deal from Sivananda. Swami Sivananda also taught her the Prayer Dance which she fully embraced with her dancing background. She taught her students this dance “as a means of safely directing emotional; and physical; energies into devotion” (Himalayan Academy, 1988).

After completing her spiritual education in less than a year Swami Sivananda told her to go back to Canada to spread the teachings she had learned to the Western people. She was extremely hesitant and nervous at first because she was worried as to where to begin when she arrived back in Canada. Who would accept her, and how would she come about finding the funds to establish an Ashram (Radha, 1990: xxiv)? According to one of Radha’s devotees, Barbra Huston, “Swami Radha came back to Montreal, with almost no money, and with the instruction not to take employment or speech lessons to moderate her German accent.  She was to “live on faith” and “speak from the heart”.  Though they were difficult years she was always provided for.  Bags of groceries would unexpectedly be delivered, [and] clothing would be offered”.

Radha had developed many unique and creative innovative approaches for psychological spiritual development. She created the Life Seal which is a very powerful form of self exploration through the development of one’s own mandala, using drawn symbols that represent different levels of personality (Radha, 1990: xxiv). Radha also created something called the Straight Walk which was adapted from an ancient Buddhist practice designed to purify and clarify thinking and perception of one’s thoughts (Radha,1990: xxiv). Her Ideals Workshop is said to be very still very sought after by her students; this is a type of training in dream understanding.

In 1962 Radha founded (Himalayan Academy, 1988) Yasodhara Ashram which is located in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia, Canada. This Ashram is her legacy.  This site is considered by her followers as the best of the east and west because it incorporates real eastern teachings with a slight modified twist so that western people will be able to understand the teachings and apply them to one’s own everyday life (Swami Sivananda, xxiv). Yasodhara Ashram is still in the Kootenay Bay area and it is still taking new students who are interested in learning the art of eastern practices. Radha passed away on November 30, 1995(Biography) and the Ashram has been taken over by Radha’s student Swami Radhananda who has been the Ashram’s head spiritual director since 1995. Radha also created a printing company called Timeless Books (located at her Yasodhara Ashram) and through this printing company she has written quite a number of books, a lot of them deal with different teachings and spiritual practises she has learned like “Kundalini Yoga for the West,” “Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language,” “The Divine Light Invocation,” and “Mantras: Words of Power.” She has written books about her personal experiences such as “Radha: Diary of a Woman’s Search,” and “In the Company of the Wise” these are just a few of the book she has written. “These books are popular and distinctive because they clarify the sometimes enigmatic Eastern teachings in a way that can be understood and applied in western daily life” (Biography). She also had contributed a few articles to new age medical journals and gave many speeches around Canada and the US about what she did and believed in.

 

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Biography; Swami Sivananda Radha. Retrieved February 17, 2010, from Swami Sivananda Radha

Biography website: http://www.yasodhara.org/wp-content/themes/naked/swamiradha_bio.htm

Himalayan Academy. Swami Radha; Canadian-Based Teacher/Author Brings Sivananda’s Mission to Western Shores. (1988,

January). Retrieved February 17, 2010, from Hinduism Today website: http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=478

Swami Sivananda Radha (1990) Radha Diary of a Woman’s Search. Palo Alto, CA: Timeless Books

Swami Sivananda Radha (1991) In the Company of the Wise: Remembering My Teachers, Reflecting The Light. Palo Alto, CA: Timeless Books

Interviewed Barbra Huston, a student from the Yasodhara Ashram

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Ashram

Guru

Ideals Workshop

Karma Yoga

Life Seal

Mandala

Sanyasin

Straight walk

Swami Radhananda

Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh

Yasodhara Ashram

Yoga

Yogis

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http:www.yasodhara.org/wp-content/themes/naked/swamiradha_bio.html

http:www.hinduismtoday.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Sivananda_Radha

http://www.banyen.com/INFOCUS/RADHA.HTM

http://www.yasodhara.org

Article written by: Justine Morgan (April 2010) who is solely responsible for its content.

 

 

Swami Vivekananda

Narendranath Datta was born on July 12, 1863 in Calcutta, India. His father was Vishwanath Datta, who was an attorney in the Calcutta High Court, while his mother Bhuwaneshwari Devi, was an intelligent and pious woman. His biographers tend to portray him in superlatives; according to these accounts, his early education began from home and had him learning Bengali, English and Sanskrit before he joined the Metropolitan Institution at the age of 7 (Arora 2). There he began to develop into a genius while still finding time to pursue other hobbies such as rowing, swimming and classical Indian music (Sil 29). As he grew so did his exceptional thirst for knowledge and it propelled him to the post-secondary institutions of Presidency College and the General Assembly’s Institution, where he originally had his sights set on becoming a barrister (Gokhale 36).  But in 1881 Naren’s life would change forever as he joined the Brahmo Samaj Society and met Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

The Brahmo Samaj was a movement of universalism that supported the religion of humanity and attempted to synthesize ideas from the East and West. It also protested against aspects within Hinduism, such as the caste system, polytheism and idol worship (Arora 4). Once a part of this group Naren met Ramakrishna for the first time where they began a close relationship. Naren became Ramakrishna’s favourite disciple which drew him into a world of religion as opposed to a world of law. This movement into religious thought had Naren by Ramakrishna’s side until his death in 1886, where he then took it upon himself to act in the name of the late Ramakrishna and spread his philosophies to a wider audience (Schneiderman 64). This was a challenging task considering just two years prior Naren’s father died suddenly of heart disease and left the family in extreme debt (Arora 6). But Naren progressed.

He continued to devote himself to the order of monks that were assembled by Ramakrishna before his death. Datta, their leader, encouraged an inner spiritual life but an external program of humanitarian and cultural activities (Arora 9).  It would later be the basis for the Ramakrishna order. But before the Order was assembled Naren and his supporters moved to Baranagore to live in an alleged “haunted house” where they could practice their ascetic way of life (Sil 47). The dilapidated building was one of the few places that they could afford after the death of their famous teacher. But Narendra was only there for a brief period of time, as he would soon take up renunciation and roam through all of India, and eventually most of the world.  He began a now renowned two-year journey throughout India in February of 1891, spanning from Varanasi and Mumbai to the Himalayas. Along his journies Narendra changed his name on several occasions before settling on his final monastic name of Swami Vivekananda in the city of Khetri (Arora 12).  Although he went by a new alias, Vivekananda continued to promote acceptance of the Vedanta, the spread of patriotism, and the acceptance of a harmony among different religious affiliations (Sil 52). He planned to carry on these teachings after his two-year trip by attending the Parliament of Religions meeting in Chicago in the fall of 1893.

While travelling to the United States, Vivekananda chose to pursue new experiences in countries like Japan, China, and Canada. Once he arrived he ran into the obstacle of not being registered as a delegate to take part in the Parliament, but with his charismatic personality and overt intelligence he befriended professors on the committee who chose the delegates (Arora13). In a short time he was recommended to be a speaker. When Vivekananda spoke he was not representing any specific religion or sect, he was representing India (Arora 14).  In the words of some bibliographers he was able to take all of the scholars and religious men to a place they had never been, where his words connected all religions and articulated the “oneness” of God and creed.

“if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time, which will be infinite like the God it will preach . . . which will not be Brahmanic, the Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these and still have infinite space for development.” (Teelucksingh 412).

Vivekananda’s words of wisdom evidently captivated many people, and he was asked, and agreed, to speak all across the United States and England. After three years of touring he finally returned to India in 1897, where he received a grand reception. Upon his arrival he called together his many disciples to complete the creation of a philanthropic association called the Ramakrishna Order, named after his main mentor (Gokhale 37). It is the combination of twin groups called the Ramakrishna Math and Mission which were initially established to combat the major issues in India, such as illiteracy, inequality among classes, female education, the economy, and cultural synthesis (Arora 19). The Math began in Barangore when the disciples of the dead Ramakrishna started their own monastic group before Narendranath Datta became the well-renowned Swami Vivekananda. But in 1897 the Mission was formed and eventually merged to create one great organization. Presently extensions of the group can be found all across the world; their main objectives continue to exist and are now present in more than the just Indian culture.

In 1899 Vivekananda left for the West again but was only gone for approximately a year, and upon his return he was stricken with illness that lasted for almost two years. Then suddenly in July of 1902 he passed away at the very young age of 39 (Miller 121). His life was short but focused, so he managed to express his and Ramakrishna’s views of the world. He continues to be recognized for his love of knowledge and religion. This enabled him to immerse himself in the sruti [divinely heard or revealed] literature of the Vedas and Upanisads, while still mastering other things such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. The lectures he gave in India and around the world about Vedanta and Yoga stressed concepts that were absent in the modern world and helped to change preconceived notions of India that were held in the West (Teelucksingh 415). Vivekananda’s philosophies were used by future figureheads in India such as Gandhi and allowed them to act as ambassadors of India. Therefore, it can be assumed that his teachings played a significant role in India’s struggle for independence, and that it received an improved appraisal from the rest of the globe (Teelucksingh 417).

References and Recommended Readings

Arora, V.K. (1968) The Social and Political Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda. Calcutta: ……….. …………Punthi Pustak.

Gokhale, B.G. (1964) “Swami Vivekananda and Indian Nationalism.” Journal of Bible and …………Religion, 32(1), 35-42.

Miller, David (1999) “Modernity in Hindu Monasticism: Swami Vivekananda and the …………Ramakrishna Movement.” Journal of Asian & African Studies, 34(1), 111-126.

Nikhilananda, Swami (1953) Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works. New York: …………Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center.

Schneiderman, Leo (1969) “Ramakrishna: Personality and Social Factors in the Growth of …………Religious Movement.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 8(1), 60-71.

Sil, Narasingha Prosad (1997) Swami Vivekananda: A Reassessment. London, ON: Associated …………University Presses.

Teelucksingh, Jerome (2006) “The Legacy of Swami Vivekananda.” Peace Profile, 18(3), 411-…………417.

Vivekananda, Swami (1956) The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda 6th ed. Calcutta: Advaita ………….Ashrama.

Related Research Topics

  • Ramakrishna Order
  • Brahmo Samaj
  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
  • Parliament of World Religions
  • Vedanta
  • Yoga Sutras
  • Bhagavad Gita
  • Patanjali

Notable Websites

Article written by: Terra Kaskiw (April 2010) who is solely responsible for its content.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Jiddu Krishnamurti was an influential Indian spiritual leader with worldwide devotion to his unique combination of Indian religious philosophy and mysticism (Shringy 353; Holroyd 10). Krishnamurti’s path as a spiritual leader began after he was brought under the care of the Theosophical Society, which was a group intent on preparing him to be a great world teacher and the physical vehicle for Maitreya Buddha, which is the Buddha’s next incarnation (Martin 8). In 1929, after approximately 20 years with the organization, Krishnamurti left Theosophy, and dissolved the Order of the Star, which was an organization formed to carry out his work (Shringy 31-32). When dissolving the order, Krishnamurti asserted that “Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.” For “Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.” (Shiringy 31-31) Any belief that becomes organized “becomes dead.” Krishnamurti instead desired “those, who seek to understand me, to be free, not to follow me, not to make out of me a cage which will become a religion, a sect” (Lutyens 272).

A successful summary of Krishnamurti’s ideas should start by saying he would likely find any attempt to provide an accurate account of his philosophy uninteresting (Martin 3). In fact, he would probably be averse to the label of philosopher, for he was not well versed in philosophy and was opposed to philosophical theories (Holroyd 9; Martin 3). Instead of being labeled a philosopher, he might be called a teacher; however, that label would also be inadequate, for he was only a teacher insofar as he led people to discover that nothing of importance can be taught (Holroyd 10). Krishnamurti thought truth must be discovered for oneself. However, despite rejecting philosophizing, he inevitably did talk and write about issues pertinent to philosophy (Martin 3). It is these contributions that will be considered here.

Krishnamurti encouraged people to push past the limitations of language, dogma, religious ritual, and even knowledge because these are claimed to prevent the mind from understanding the workings of itself (Jayakar 197; Rodrigues 71). His teachings consistently encourage audiences to become engaged in a journey inside their own minds. Krishnamurti’s view of the mind is central to understanding this journey; in Krishnamurti’s opinion, there is no dichotomy between unconscious and conscious states. He maintained that human consciousness includes what is normally considered to be the unconscious, and that the deeper levels of the mind are largely free of the conditioning by which the surface levels are bound. Krishnamurti claimed that because they lack conditioning, the deeper levels of consciousness can be explored and become a source of new things (Holroyd 50).

Krishnamurti thought that the mind was conditioned by reason and the expectations of our society, culture, and personal needs (Holroyd 50). He held that having a conditioned mind is an obstacle that needs to be overcome through insight in order for an individual to move to a higher state of consciousness (Rodrigues 67). Krishnamurti talked in multiple ways about the conditioned mind. One of these ways is through the analogy of the pendulum. He used this analogy to show that normal consciousness swings from past to future, and then reverses. Humans are always in one of the two states, either the past which consists of memories, or the future which consists of expectations. Krishnamurti claimed that at the center of the pendulum swing, the present exists, and it is at this infinitesimal moment when a preconscious state of mind can be cultivated (Holroyd 52). By training the mind to “live” in the present, it can be emptied of all content in order to facilitate a true awareness of what is (Holroyd 53). Awareness of what is comes through insight and signifies the development of the religious mind (Rodrigues 123).

Knowledge was thought by Krishnamurti to be an impediment to perception of what is. His explanation of why this is forms his epistemology, or theory of knowledge. Krishnamurti’s goal was not for individuals to erase all of their knowledge, for some knowledge is clearly necessary for survival (Rodrigues 122). He rather placed his emphasis on knowledge that relates to values. This is the knowledge that informs people’s expectations or inhibitions, and is suspect because it acts as a barrier to the way people experience the world. If this knowledge informs someone’s expectations, then it prevents them from experiencing anything new (Holroyd 58-59). Having insight depends on shedding knowledge that biases experience of the world because it causes a distorted picture to be seen instead of reality. Religious dogma comes under this category of knowledge because it shapes an individual’s values, and thus their experience of the world (Holroyd 61).

Another impediment to true awareness of what is, according to Krishnamurti, is the self (Shringy 221-222). Like knowledge, the view of the self is also made up of the past; it is a collection of perceptions and memories to which people give substance. This collection of perceptions and memories is seen as the entity, or the “I,” that has agency in actions; it is through this misconception that people become more tied to the past, and further from the present where true awareness of what is exists (Holroyd 54). Krishnamurti claims to have eliminated the “I” from his experience, though the path to this elimination comes about not by any specific or concentrated effort, but by indirect means (Shringy 223). The elimination of the “I” is thought to accompany insight and is a hallmark of the religious mind. Through an acute awareness it becomes possible to dissolve the barrier between the self and its experiences (Rodrigues 109). This acute awareness is also the path to what Krishnamurti thought to be true intelligence. He said that a “sensitive awareness of the totality of life” is intelligence (Krishnamurti 122), without being caught up in the particulars, such as life’s “problems, contradictions, miseries, [and] joys” (Krishnamurti 121). It is necessary to have a choice-less awareness, or freedom from interpreting and evaluating each aspect of life, in order to see what is as it is (Shringy 223).

The mind that is free of thought that is capable of perception, and this is insight (Rodrigues 108). True insight into what is frees the conditioned mind. However, the movement from the conditioned to the religious mind cannot be experienced in any way because through insight the self is dissolved, and is no longer the separate agent necessary for experience to occur (Rodrigues 115). True insight into what is- is the movement to the religious mind, and according to Krishnamurti, religion becomes the activity of the free mind. The religious mind sees its connections with the whole of reality. Krishnamurti emphasizes that to understand the whole of reality is to understand oneself because they are one and the same (Rodrigues 124).

Revelation of what is- is a permanent and instant occurrence that ends conditioned thinking and induces Mind, which is a transformed state of consciousness (Shringy 147). The Mind in meditation is the religious mind, and this state is Truth. Truth is holistic in Krishnamurti’s view, for the heightened reality is both induced by Truth, and a manifestation of Truth; Truth to the religious mind is reality (Rodrigues 198; Shringy 74).

Bibliography and Related Readings

Holroyd, Stuart (2002) The Quest of the Quiet Mind: The Philosophy of Krishnamurti. Wellinborough: Aquarian Press

Jayakar, Pupul (1986) J. Krishnamurti: A Biography. Penguin Books

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (2003) Krishnamurti’s Notebook. California: Krishnamurti Publications of America

Lutyens, Mary (1975) Krishnamurti:The Years of Awakening. Boston: Shanmbala Productions Inc.

Martin, Raymond (2003) On Krishnamurti Belmont: Thompson/Wadsworth

Rodrigues, Hillary Peter (1990) Insight and Religious Mind: An Analysis of Krishnamurti’s Thought New York: Peter Lang Publishing

Shringy, Ravindra Kumar (1976) Philosophy of J. Krishnamurti: A Systematic Study New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers

Related Research Topics

Theosophical Society

The Order of the Star

Matraiya

Mysticism

Meditation

Ultimate Reality

Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of Self

Philosophy of Truth

Samnyasin

Moksa

Nirvana

Buddhism

Nityananada

Related Websites

www.beyondthemind.net/index.html

www.kfa.org

www.kfionline.org

www.kfoundation.org

www.jkrishnamurti.org

www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net

www.krishnamurti-canada.ca

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiddu_Krishnamurti

Written by Cam Koerselman (Spring 2009), who is solely responsible for its content.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi can be considered one of the most well-known practitioners of yoga not only in the eastern world, but in the west as well. Having studied under a Hindu guru in the 1950s, he has now come to represent an industry that is estimated to be worth over $3 billion (Economist 95). Some have come to know him as a “modern Vedic scholar and educator” (Riedesel 332). [The Vedas are the prominent set of texts found within the Hindu tradition, and are said to be divinely revealed; for more information about these scriptures see Rodrigues(2006)]. In 1959 his influence in the west became apparent when he immigrated to the United States and founded an “impressive” number of associations dealing with meditation (Aravamudan 33). Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s status rose when he received a two-month visit from the famous band, the Beatles, in 1968 at one of his sites in Rishikesh, India (Platoff 242). Perhaps one of the reasons why he has gained recognition in the west is a result of his fusion between eastern philosophy and western science. In 1972 the yogi aimed to take his views worldwide through the establishment of the World Plan Executive Council (Aravamudan 35). Here, the issues of politics, the economy, and existing social situations would be addressed on a global scale (Aravamudan 35).

Yoga is considered by Hindu philosophy as a darsana or an “event of ‘seeing’”(Burley 1). Basically, it is understood as a method for discovering the true reality of the universe. The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, which can be translated as “to yoke or harness” (Whicher 7). Some say that this unification is between the self (Atman) and the universe (Brahman) (Wilson 304). Nevertheless, there have been numerous philosophers and publications attempting to provide insight within this broad philosophy, one of which is known as the Yogasutra. Written between the third and fourth century, it is classified as a set of teachings aiming to provide followers a release from “sin, pain, and ignorance” (Burley 4). Complier of the text, Patanjali, uses the term yogas cittavrttinirodhah to say that in order to achieve this union with Brahman, we must first end the misidentification of our thoughts with our mind (Whicher 1).[For more information on the philosophic literature of yoga, see Burley(2007) and Whicher(2000)]. Many people, including Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, have applied the practice of mediation to cease this confusion. Nevertheless, just as extensive as the concept of yoga is the phrase yogi. This word is the nominative term for the term yogin, which is used to describe a student of yoga (Whicher 31). Therefore, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has come to represent a practitioner under the vast Indian philosophy of yoga.

One of Maharishi’s main innovations is the Transcendental Meditation technique. This form of meditation is intended to be practiced twice a day for fifteen to twenty minutes while in a comfortable, closed-eyed position (Riedesel 333). The yogi describes this activity as “turning the attention inwards towards the subtler levels of a thought until the mind transcends the experience of the subtlest state of the thought and arrives at the source of the thought” (Wallace 1752). What the yogi means by this is the ability to concentrate on a single feature that will eventually lead a higher realization or state of consciousness, and thus connect back to who we are as a person. This process is explored further through the concept of the four states of consciousness (which are expressed within the Maharishi Vedic Science): Transcendental Consciousness or Turiya Chetana, Cosmic Consciousness or Turiyatit Chetana, God Consciousness or Bhagavad Chetana, and Unity Consciousness or Brahmi Chetana (Nidich, Nidich and Alexander 143). From a cosmic standpoint, it is said that the purpose of these higher states of awareness are to merge the person with the universe. In the first state, Transcendental Consciousness, the awareness of the “unbound self” appears (Nidich, Nidich and Alexander 143). It is here where the body’s stress is “naturally dissolved” and the instability of emotion is stabilized (Riedesel 333). This first state is the main level that is achieved in Transcendental Meditation, and has been noted by Mahesh that through regular experience of this awareness, the conflicts that arise in life do not inflict on the “eternal freedom” of the self, or in other words, “Life is not lost to itself” (Nidich, Nidich and Alexander 143). [For more information on the states of consciousness see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1969)].

Along with the spiritual components of Transcendental Meditation, there is said to be physiological effects that accompany the practice. Studies have indicated it has the ability to decrease tension both mentally and physically (Wallace 1754). Furthermore, biomedical researchers assert that the ability to relieve certain nervous and cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, asthma, epilepsy, and hypertension looks promising (Holden 1176). The type of relaxation produced by this technique is different from what is found while sleeping, being awake, or under hypnosis (Wallace 1754). [For information on specific EEG readings see Wallace (1970)]. In fact, Maharishi points out that it is a pulsation between deep rest and activity within the entire nervous system; one he says that mimics the natural “expansion and contraction in the physical universe” (Holden 1177). Due to its ease of use and the ability for beginners to achieve this relaxation quickly, there are currently over half a million Americans practicing Transcendental Meditation, and over three million worldwide (Holden 1176 and Aravamudan 34). With the physiological research in place, it has even been implemented in prisons and rehabilitation centres since the 1970s, with the aim of helping at-risk people realize the possibility of voluntary control over the automatic nervous system (Holden 1176). Although there are traces of Hinduism behind the philosophy of Transcendental Meditation, the yogi is compelled to make it compatible with all faiths, and even takes this notion one step further by attempting to establish an alliance between religion and science (Aravamudan 33).

Transcendental Meditation is housed under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s objectively philosophic framework of the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI). With the purpose of attaining world peace, the yogi has fused together the conceptual ideas of religion including “ancient Indian Vedic wisdom,” with pragmatic elements of science such as psychology, in order to create this system (Holden 1176). The basis behind SCI is the ability to demonstrate how a set of fundamental principles- creativity and intelligence- permeate the biological world, which in turn, are reflected within the mind (Holden 1177). He describes creativity as the reason why change occurs, and it is constantly being reflected within the universe (Riedesel 332). Intelligence on the other hand, is the essential quality of our existence. It is a part of creativity since it is here that intelligence becomes illustrated. Both of these are what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi combines to form a science in the sense that they have ability to be verified through experimentation (Riedesel 332).

Within the Science of Creative Intelligence lie a few basic hypotheses. First, is the belief that every individual contains an “unlimited reservoir” of creative intelligence which is expressed through the human nervous system (Riedesel 332). However, Maharishi Mahesh feels that this expression is inhibited when a person is under stress. In other words, the physiological effects we feel when we are under pressure obstruct our ability to connect with the true and beneficial qualities of the universe. However, he proposes a solution to this obstruction through the practice of Transcendental Meditation. SCI purports that creative intelligence is experienced in this technique because it takes a person to the higher levels of consciousness, eliminating the stress, and as a result, allowing his or her “biomachinery” to function properly again (Riedesel 333). The yogi goes on to state that the aim is to maintain this increased level of awareness in order to establish “greater achievement and fulfillment in life;” to him, it is here where an individual has attained enlightenment. In the final hypotheses, we see that the influence of science in his philosophy has been fully integrated in his claim that these enlightened qualities are not only definable, but able to be scientifically investigated (Riedesel 333).

The contributions Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has made towards spirituality positions him as one of the most globally recognized yogic practitioners. Through the development of Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence, he has been able to bridge subjective philosophy with objective science. Although Transcendental Meditation explores the deeper levels of consciousness and connection with the universe, it is also seen as a practical aid in decreasing stress and creating positive physiological responses (Wallace 1754). As result, he has attracted both the spiritual seekers and the worldly dwellers alike. The Science of Creative Intelligence fuses this bridge stronger by making breaking down what can be considered a highly metaphysical process, enlightenment, into scientifically observable traits (Riedesel 333). With his appeal to both eastern philosophy and western science, there is no question as to why Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s insights have become so successful.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Aravamudan, Srinivas (2001) “Guru English.” Social Text 66 19 no.1. 19-44.

Burley, Mikel (2007) Classical Samkhya and Yoga. New York, N.Y.: Routledge.

Holden, Constance (1975) “Maharishi University International: ‘Science of Creative Intelligence’.” Science, New Series 187 no. 4182. 1176-1180.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1969) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary. Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin.

______ (2008) “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.” Economist 386. 8567. 95.

Nidich, Randi J., Nidich, Sandford I., & Alexander, Charles N (2005) “Moral Development and Natural Law.” Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality.17. 137-149.

Platoff, John (2005) “John Lennon, ‘Revolution,’ and the Politics of Muscial Reception.” The Journal of Musicology 22 no.2. 19-44.

Riedesel, Brian C. (1979) “Toward Full Development of the Person.” Personnel & Guidance Journal, 57. 7. 332-338.

Rodrigues, Hillary (2006) Hinduism–The Ebook. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books, Ltd.

Snider, Robert H. (2005) “New HealthRelated Applications of Maharishi Vedic Science.” Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality. 17. 547-551.

Wallace, Robert K. (1970) “Physiological Effects of Transcendental Meditation.” Science, New Series 167 no. 3926. 1751-1754.

Whicher, Ian (2000) The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga. Bali Nagar, New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd.

Wilson, Stephen R. (1984) “Becoming a Yogi: Resocialization and Deconditioning as Conversion Processes.” Sociological Analysis 45 no. 4. 301-314.

Related Topics for Further Investigation

Darsana

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Patanjali

Raja Yoga

Sankhya

Vedic Science

Yoga

Yogasutra

Yogi

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

http://www.maharishi.org/

http://maharishi-programmes.globalgoodnews.com/publications/books.html

http://www.mou.org/

http://www.mum.edu/

http://www.tm.org/maharishi/

Article written by: Mandi Jones (March 2008) who is solely responsible for its content.

Krishnamurti (Jiddu)

Legacy

Born into a Brahmin family in 1895, Jiddu Krishnamurti was an important man. His words capture many readers and listeners like that of a modern day God-man or Messiah. Numerous parallels to Hinduism and Buddhism are evident in his life even though he does not follow the religious values they have set in place. An example of these parallels can be seen in his renunciation of all statuses given to him by different people over his 91 years of life. The term samnyasin refers to the final stage in one’s life where a renunciation of all things occurs (Rodrigues 2006:357). This notion of samnyasin is akin to what Krishnamurti embodied. Furthermore, even though he would eventually renounce all religions (and even systems of learning) his Hindu background laid the seed of the life he was to lead. When Krishnamurti (or K as he and many others called him) was just one day old, a local astrologer, Kumara Shrowthulu, told K’s father that his new son would be a great man – encountering many obstacles on his way to becoming a great Teacher (Jayakar 16). His importance was, prophetically speaking, imminent.

Most of the books he has written are taken from oral lectures he gave throughout the world. The body of work he left behind is enormous with tremendous amounts of audio and visual materials available on the internet. A quick internet search reveals much of his body of work. Many different books can be obtained from any major retailer and many of the audio/visual resources available come from institutions bearing his name [an international website that offers audio recordings from 1966 to 1985 and a catalogue of video resources dating as far back as 1968 can be found at www.jkrishnamurti.org]. Along with the plethora of web-resources, many Krishnamurti foundations are still in existence. Foundations representing K are located in Spain, England, the United States, and Britain. In addition, Krishnamurti schools are also open in India, the United States, and Britain. Separately there are 42 countries worldwide that have autonomous committees in place sharing resources, transcribing books, and lecturing on audio/visual presentations they prepare with materials from Krishnamurti [see www.jkrishnamurti.org]. But to reaffirm, the background he was born into is seemingly causal towards the path he chose to lead his life.

Biography

Born in Madanapelle, South India, Jiddu Krishnamurti was the eighth child born to Jiddu Narianiah (father) and Sanjeevamma (mother). At 12:30 am on May 12, 1895 Krishnamurti was born in the puja room of his parent’s home. This room is an unusual place to birth a child as the room was to be pure and unpolluted in order to worship the household gods (gryha devatas) (Jayakar 16). The room was made auspicious by implementing Puspa (fresh flowers) and Dhupa (incense) and it could only be entered after a ritual bath and changing into clean clothes (Jayakar 16). Pupul Jayakar (1986) also states that birth, death, and the menstrual cycle are all ways of obtaining ritual pollution, thus, it is worthy to note that having a child born in the puja room is a strange occurrence. It is believed his mother, who was thought of as psychic, knew of K’s impending future through visions she had, otherwise she would not “have challenged the gods” by having her baby in this room (Jayakar 16).

As a child K was constantly sick, suffering frequent episodes of malaria which at one point kept him away from school for one year and when at school his “vagueness, few words, lack of interest in worldly affairs, and eyes that glazed out at the world, seeing beyond horizons” were thought of as some form of mental retardation by his teacher (Jayakar 18). Additionally, Mary Lutyens (2003) wrote in the original foreword of Krishnamurti’s Notebook about a “spiritual experience” K went through in 1922 that was followed by years of constant spine and head pain. Krishnamurti’s teacher felt he had some sort of a handicap. However, Charles Webster Leadbeater didn’t quite see the same thing. When he saw K playing with the other children he saw the boy who was to become a great spiritual teacher (Jayakar 24). Leadbeater met K four years after the death of his mother Sanjeevamma and what struck him about Krishnamurti was his kindness, or the unselfishness he exhumed when playing with the other children (Rodrigues 1990:9). Charles Webster Leadbeater was a European man in the Theosophical Society who would bring K to meet Annie Besant (the newly appointed president of the Society) by the end of 1909 (Jayakar 29).

The Theosophical Society was: “Based on the tenets of a universal brotherhood of humanity which sought to study ancient wisdom and to explore the hidden mysteries of nature and the latent powers of man. It established an occult hierarchy drawing from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, in particular the Tibetan tantric texts and teachings” (Jayakar 21). Coincidentally the co-founder of the Theosophical Society (TS), Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, wrote before her death in 1891 that the real purpose of the TS was to prepare for the coming of the World Teacher (Jayakar 21). Charles Leadbeater arranged a meeting between Krishnamurti and Besant which took place in late 1909 and by the end of 1909 Krishnamurti had entered the Esoteric section of the TS.

The transition that took place at this time is looked at as the time when K was “stripped of all his Indianness” (Jayakar 27). K and his brother, Nitya, were adopted by Annie Besant. They were told only to speak English, were only allowed to wear Western clothes, and they were “taught to bathe the British way” (Jayakar 27). Essentially, they were encouraged to grow up as young British gentlemen. The boys were also kept distant from their father to limit his influence. However, Narianiah (the boys’ father), felt that Annie Besant had misled him and he filed suit to regain custody. Annie Besant lost the case in both the local and High Court of Madras but she did win her appeal to the Privy Council. With the victory, the boys continued their schooling and would not see India from 1912 to 1922 (Jayakar 37). At this time, while in England, Krishnamurti developed a close relationship with Lady Emily Lutyens and her daughter Mary; feeling as though Emily Lutyens was like his foster mother (Rodrigues 1990:11). It was Lutyens who introduced K to all things a British aristocrat would encounter. Her daughter Mary was regarded as a friend and biographer who penned books about his life [see The Role of a Flower].

In 1911, the Order of the Rising Sun (to be renamed the Order of the Star in the East) was created with the purpose of preparation for the arrival of the World Teacher (Rodrigues 1990:10). This period would mark the first acknowledgments of his status as the “vehicle for the World Teacher.” His father Narianiah’s concern for his son’s well-being had come true (which led to the eventual lawsuit). In 1929, as leader of the Order of the Star, K gave a shocking speech in Ommen, Holland where he rejected organized religion and dissolved the Order of the Star. In the film, The Role of a Flower, Mary Lutyens talks of how the Theosophical Society was a very rich organization and Krishnamurti, in his renunciation, gave everything back to the owner and divested himself of all property. In this, the example of samnyasin rings true. He did not want to be followed; in fact, he never expected people to follow him in the first place (Rodrigues 1990:42). He didn’t want his talks held for enjoyment. His lectures were not for entertainment, though he did want people to pay attention. His attitudes also reflect the notion of moksa, which is “freedom from the bondage of ignorance into the liberation that comes with knowledge of the Self or Absolute Reality” (Rodrigues 2006:52). At this point in his life, K was being regarded as a secular philosopher that was hostile towards religion with representatives of the TS saying that the coming of the World Teacher had become corrupt and incorrect (Jayakar 80).

The rest of his life, up to his death from cancer on February 17, 1986 was a tremendous journey that led him all over the world. He spent his time talking with great world figures, scholars, and mass assembly audiences. He spoke an estimated 175 times per year, whether it was to 50 people or 8,000 audience members [see Rodrigues 1990:22 and www.kfa.org] and many of these dialogues are transcriptions that became the books available today. Although sometimes difficult to read [see Insight and Religious Mind: An Analysis of Krishnamurti’s Thought], his lectures have topics that are important to vast amounts of people. Fear, love, insight, truth, intelligence, freedom, religion, conditioning, desire, death and sorrow are all themes recurrent in Krishnamurti’s talks with important messages obtained from each topic. He also helped open schools across the globe that represented his ideals towards education and knowledge. Over his 91 years, Jiddu Krishnamurti showed incredible will in wanting to help set man free (Rodrigues 1990:19). With the ideas he has left behind, to say he strove to set humanity free seems more appropriate.


REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READINGS

Collins, Bob, & Jay, Sue (producers) (1986) The Role of a Flower [documentary]. Great Britain: Television South

Jayakar, Pupul (1986) J. Krishnamurti: A Biography. Penguin Books

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (2003) Krishnamurti’s Notebook. California: Krishnamurti Publications of America

Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1973) The Awakening of Intelligence. New York: Harper and Row Publishers

Krishnamurti, Jiddu, Rajagopal, D (Ed.) (1964) Think on These Things. New York: Harper and Row Publishers

Rodrigues, Hillary Peter (1990) Insight and Religious Mind: An Analysis of Krishnamurti’s Thought. New York: Peter Lang Publishing

Rodrigues, Hillary Peter (2006) Introducing Hinduism. New York: Routledge Publishing

Related Topics for Further Investigation

World Teacher

Nitya (brother)

Annie Besant

Lady Emily Lutyens

Mary Lutyens

Theosophical Society

Charles Webster Leadbeater

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

The Order of the Rising Sun (The Order of the Star to the East)

The Role of a Flower

Brahmin caste

Samnyasin

Moksa

Puja

Puspa

Dhupa

Gryha devatas

Buddhism

Rishi Valley School

Brockwood Park School

Oak Grove School

Links Related to the Topic

www.kfa.org

www.kfionline.org

www.kfoundation.org

www.jkrishnamurti.org

www.oakgroveschool.com

www.rishivalley.org

www.brockwood.org.uk

www.theschoolkfi.org

www.krishnamurti-canada.ca

Article written by Chad Eggebrecht (March 2008) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Hare Krsna Controversy

This article shall discuss the persecution of the Hare Krsna movement in the United States during the mid 1960s through to the late 1970s. In order to fully understand the persecution of this group, one must first know its history as well as the socio-political climate of the United States during this time.

Overview of the Hare Krsnas

The International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded by Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada. He was born in Calcutta and studied under Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Gosvami Maharaja who instructed him to spread Krsna consciousness to the western world (Daner 15, 16). Swami Bhaktivedanta traveled to the United States and arrived in New York City – which along with San Francisco was a haven for members of the counter-culture – in 1965 (Daner 17). He taught in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and gained several followers who became known as “Hare Krsnas” due to their Mahamantra [Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare (Daner 112)] (Daner 17-22). Swami Bhaktivedanta eventually traveled to San Francisco where he taught several icons of the counter-culture such as Timothy Leary [A professor of Psychology at Harvard University (1959-1963) Dr. Leary preformed experiments dealing with the usefulness of mind altering drugs (such as LSD) using himself and several of his graduate students as test subjects, which ultimately cost him his position. After he was dismissed from Harvard Leary became an influential member of the counter-culture and a champion for the legalization of psychedelic drugs. He died on May 31, 1996 and is commonly remembered for his controversial statement, “Tune in. Turn on. Drop out.” (Wuergler 274-276) ] and the rock band the Grateful Dead (Daner 17). ISKCON was officially formed in July 1966.

The Counter-Culture

With the assassination of the American president John F. Kennedy in 1963 much of the optimism that America had in the 1950s was lost. As a result many young people began to feel alienated from mainstream American culture and began to rebel against society’s traditional values. They held demonstrations for equal rights, protested the war in Vietnam and the abuse of the environment. Many began to search for inner meaning through Eastern philosophy and by taking narcotics (Stuessy 175-176). These youth embodied what has come to be known as the counter-culture. It was here that ISKCON found many of its followers. ISKCON was opposed to the accumulation of wealth. It encouraged non-violence [While ISKCON did not encourage violence it was not pacifistic. Unlike Gandhi, Swami Bhaktivedanta taught that violence is acceptable, and even necessary, so long as it is in defense. This view is based on Krsna’s speech (known as the Bhagavad-Gita) to Arjuna on the eve of Battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas as told in the Mahabharata (Judah 117)], felt that the United States government needed to be reformed, and that the education system needed to be over-hauled as it devoted too much time teaching students how to acquire wealth (Judah 112-124), all of which appealed to the counter-culture.

The Mainstream

Throughout much of the Cold War the Western World feared everything communist, which included most everything foreign (McCloud 38-39) and were constantly watchful for any infiltrating communist ideology, including religious cults. Starting in the mid-1950s periodicals such as Time, Newsweek, and Life began publishing articles warning people of “fringe,” “offbeat” religions and “California Cults.” An article in the April 12, 1965 Time even described joining a “fringe” religion as a form of neurosis (McCloud 25-45). These articles continued through the 1970s. Another article published in Time (in 1975) accused The Unification Church [The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity was founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in Korea in 1954. The group’s beliefs are based upon Christianity as well as Moon’s biblical interpretations. Due to the group’s strict communal living, group weddings, aggressive style of proselytizing and foreign origins it was a popular target for the American anticult movement. Members of the Unification Church are often referred to as “Moonies,” a derogatory name referencing the group’s founder. (McCloud 127-129)] of “psychological abuse” and “brainwashing” members (McCloud 127) which encouraged and elevated parents’ fears that their children could be involved with a dangerous group. Eventually most every new religious movement was considered a dangerous cult which employed coercion and brainwashing on its members (McCloud 127-159). During this time the Hare Krsnas took a large amount of criticism. Members were visibly different from the average American (they shaved their heads and wore saffron robes) and they took vows of poverty and lived communally, practices in direct opposition to the American Dream. The Hare Krsnas were also considered to be promiscuous, sexual deviants, attitudes derived solely from the label that they were a “cult” (McCloud 173) and not grounded at all on the groups teachings, for ISKCON was and is opposed to premarital sex (Judah 124-125).

Brainwashing and Deprogramming

As with virtually all new religious movements of that period the Hare Krsnas were accused of using brainwashing to convert people. The notion of brainwash permeated almost all of the 1970s’ culture; from the news to Saturday morning cartoons, brainwashing was everywhere. As with most organizations a number of members who had joined up earlier did leave ISKCON, for not all members of the counter-culture agreed with the group’s communal nature, feeling that it hampered their individuality (Judah 13). According to Larry D. Shinn, some of these former members may have provided “proof” of brainwashing as it is easier to say that they were coerced into joining the group than it is to admit that they chose to join (Gelberg 89-90). To “rescue” members from these cults a process called “Deprogramming” was employed. The modus operandi of the deprogrammer was to kidnap a member of a new religious movement and convince them that their beliefs were wrong (McCloud 137), essentially brainwashing the brainwashed. Interestingly, the media and mainstream religions that accused new religious movements of brainwashing converts did point out that deprogramming violated the right to freedom of religion. Although this may have been on account of the fact that many of Ted Patrick’s [News magazines such as Newsweek originally recommended Ted Patrick as a deprogrammer as he “removed hundreds of young converts from new religions”] (one of the most prominent deprogrammers of the 1970s) patients were members of small, Christian based groups that were similar to American mainstream religions (McCloud 138-141).

Before his death in 1977, Swami Bhaktivedanta appointed eleven disciples as his successors and instructed them to spread Krsna consciousness throughout the world. By the early 1980s they had established 130 temples outside the United States (Shinn 267).

REFERENCES AND FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING

Daner, Francine Jeanne (1974) The American Children of Krsna: A Study of the Hare Krsna Movement. Dallas, Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Gelberg, Steven J. (ed.) (1983) Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: Five Distinguished Scholars on the Krishna Movement in the West. New York: Grove Press.

Judah, J. Stillson (1974) Hare Krishna and the Counterculture. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

McCloud, Sean (2004) Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives and Journalists, 1955-1993. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press

Patrick, John J. and Gerald P. Long (eds.) (1999) Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: Documentary History. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press

Shinn, Larry D. (1987) “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” in The Encyclopedia of Religion. Edited by Mircea Eliade. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company

Stuessy, Joe and Scott Lipscomb (2006) Rock and Roll: It’s History and Stylistic Development. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Wuergler, Brad (1999) “Leary, Timothy” in Historical Dictionary of the 1960s. Edited by James S. Olson. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press

Related Topics for Further Investigation

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Bhagavad-Gita

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada

International Society for Krsna Consciousness (Hare Krsna)

Krsna

Mahabarta

Vaisnava

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

www.iskcon.com

http://www.krishna.com/ The official Bhaktivedanta Book Trust web site containing information on Vaisnava philosophy and beliefs.

http://www.krishna.org/Articles/2000/08/00066.html An interview with George Harrison about his experiences with ISKCON.

http://religion-cults.com/Cults/Eastern/E-CULTS.htm#hare A modern day argument against ISKCON which is very similar to those put forth by the anti-cult movement in the 1970s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hare_Krishna_Mantra

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISKCON

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._C._Bhaktivedanta_Swami_Prabhupada

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaisnavism

Written by Greg Gedrasik (Spring 206) who is solely responsible for its content.