The official name of Hare Krishna is the “International Society for Krishna Consciousness”. It was originated by a Hindu priest named Abhay Cheran (1896-1997) in Kolkata. In 1965, the 70-year-old Cheran went to New York City and started the Hare Krishna campaign and attracted many young members who were against the mainstream culture. Within the United States, the Krishna Consciousness Association has established centers in many cities. In the early days of its movement, we could see young Krishna followers in airports. They often wore distinctive robes and shaved their heads, played drum and chanted loudly—“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.” The Hare Krishna followers believe shouting out the Krishna slogan is the best way to free oneself from endless reincarnation. In the 60’s and 70’s, the Krishna Association received notoriety in their ways to control and punish its members by depriving them food, sleep, and personal properties. They were also accused of brainwashing and using deceptive methods in recruitment. A well-known musician who became a follower of Krishna was George Harrison, one of the Beatles, who dedicated his hit song "My Sweet Lord" to Krishna.
From 1992, the Krishna Consciousness Association movement looked different than before. There is no longer a rigid requirement to wear robes and to shave heads. Due to a Supreme Court decision, their members are barred from pan handling and chanting at airports. Since 1992, they no longer need to live and worship in communes or temples even though they still have to worship in front of the altar at home. They are required to devote themselves wholeheartedly with their hearts and souls to the Hare Krishna consciousness. Their full-time devoted members swear to abstain from drinking alcohol and eating any form of meat products. Their devotion routine includes waking up at three o’clock in the morning to start their prayers using a chain with 108 prayer beads. With each bead count, they chant a Krishna clause of faith, reciting all 108 clauses counts as one round. Krishna “faithfuls” are required to do 16 such rounds every day.
The believers of the Krishna Consciousness Association try to free from the trap of endless reincarnation by themselves without a mediator. They would work hard and being kind to each other while still wondering whether what they are doing is sufficient. For most of us who believe and are born again in the Lord Jesus, we are not completely free from life’s burdens and fatigue nor the temptation of sins—even the smallest of all sins. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 (NIV84): "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Come to Jesus would be our responsibility especially when there is nothing else we can do. 1 Timothy 2:5 says: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” What a difference of having Jesus as our mediator’s made! Jesus helps us reconcile with God the Father, and he gives us the glorious salvation that is full of praise. Amen!