The words Hare Krishna can tug at your heartstrings. Well, it did just that with a famous personality like John Lennon of The Beatles fame. Lennon was hugely associated with the Hare Krishna Movement in the late 1960s when this spiritual movement drew attention, like the Hippie culture. Some of the other prominent personalities who tried the Hare Krishna prescribed way of living are Steve Jobs, Allen Ginsberg (Author of Howl), Russell Brand (Comedian) and Kiwi model Vicky Overton.
But unlike with the Hippies, Hare Krishna devotees practiced austerities and lead lives that define spirituality as prescribed In the Bhagavad Gita. The movement has spread to all continents, and this year devotees celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), set up by Swami Shrila Prabhupada. Little Sri Lanka, too, is making big plans to celebrate the occasion on August 19.
The inner peace which Hare Krishna devotees experience is what attracted some of the famous personalities to this movement. Lennon began chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) and didn’t feel like stopping. Lennon said, “When I stopped chanting, it was like the lights went off”.
Lennon was once asked by a journalist where he got his strength from and he replied, “Hare Krishna”. His involvement with the movement led the way to the making of Radha Krishna Temple Album. With Lennon’s involvement with this spiritual movement, the album-comprising the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, Govinda Prayers and other devotional songs- made it to the top 10 of the music charts in London.
How many of these personalities remained with the movement isn’t sure, but as for Hare Krishna devotees what’s certain is the return back to Krishna’s world in the spiritual sky. The Bhagavad Gita assures devotees liberation from material contamination and worldly suffering if they lead austere lives and chant the Maha Mantra many times daily.
The movement has gathered pace around the world and there are over 400 Hare Krishna temples around the world. But few and few devotees live in these temples and now mingle with ordinary folk. Hare Krishna devotees are encouraged to find employment like other ordinary people in society. At present, one can even find Hare Krishna devotees in top business establishments. Middleburry College Professor Burke Rockford has said, “It’s possible there is a Hare Krishna devotee next door and you’ll not know”.
In this ‘era of quarrel’ the lifestyle prescribed for a Hare Krishna devotee guarantees a calm mind. The abstaining from non-vegetarian food, gambling, intoxication, causing bodily harm to a living being, lying and illicit sex provides the ideal platform to cultivate a steady mind. Bona fide spiritual masters affirm that Krishna consciousness is only possible when the mind is steady.
This steadying of the mind takes a long time through other methods. However, chanting the Maha Mantra is explained in the Bhagavad Gita as the quickest way to condition the mind and make an individual ready to enter the world of Krishna at the time of death.