Thursday, March 22, 2012

hare krishna


as a youth, i was fascinated by the hare krishna movement (then known as ISKCON). perhaps it was their prominence as stereotyped bit players in 1980s comedy movies such as airplane, they call me bruce, or more funnily on television shows like SCTV (krishna sings manilow) that drew me in. or perhaps it was the fantastical imagery of their beautiful toronto temple—housed in an impressive gothic looking brick church built in 1899—only a few blocks north from my great aunt's avenue road apartment. or maybe warm memories of a family trip to fiji in 1984 where my impassioned interest in an advertisement for a krishna restaurant led to a concerned talking to by my staunch catholic parents (if i ate there, would i fall victim to the "cult?" i thought, somewhat intrigued by the notion). my elementary school chum chris king and i went as far as recording a parody radio show (hare krisha news) to showcase our naivety, projecting the voice of a fictional devotee named gopi, based on an actual syndicated community channel krishna TV program called, back to godhead. godhead's mysterious theme song, mirrored w/ images of happy people walking down a countryside road, entranced me as a wide-eyed kid and has continued to enter my mind from time to time over the years ("what was that song, dammit?@#$%???"). since then, i've kept an eye on the krishna faith from a distance, surviving horrifying 1990s "news" stories on TV shows like inside edition (brainwashing, murder, etc...), and witnessing positive public affirmations of faith like the annual chariot festival in vancouver's stanley park. musically, no less than george harrison took deep inspiration from the krishnas (and eastern spirituality in general) which definitely piqued my curiosity. elsewhere, in new york (so the story goes), zulu nation honcho afrika bambaattaa discovered a mysterious soul-funk record called everything you see is me (1978), recorded by krishna devotees rasa (including the son of eugene mcdaniels), and introduced it to the hip hop community. rasa's "chanting" was later sampled to great effect by KRS-one on B.D.P.'s 1990 edutainment track, "beef." but returning to godhead... while the program was a distant relic in my brain, its haunting theme came rushing back after a recent gift from DJ dancing bear ("govinda" by the radha krsna temple (1971) on the beatles' apple records). here it was, in glorious stereo sound, a song i figured i'd never hear again. while my knowledge and understanding of krishna consciousness remains limited, the krsna temple LP can certainly put one in a blissful space. try early in the morning or late at night—the album was recently re-released as part of an apple CD/digital reissue campaign, available at the highlighted link above—and let its spirited chanting, meditative drones, and bubbling percussion take you away... PEACE


  1. don't forget the strange 90's crossover between hardcore/straight-edge punk and hare krishna consciousness (dubbed "krishnacore")...

  2. i was given a copy of the bhagavad-gita today by a group of hare krishna devotees who were chanting on granville street... i look forward to digging into it... PEACE