We’re all familiar with seeing men dressed in golden robes, ones we generally associate with Buddhists. The large difference is, besides religion, is the shaved head with a ponytail. You seem them on the Venice boardwalk, beating their drums, singing, looking almost cult-like.
For all we knew, they were.
Most people hate being proven incorrect, I am not one of them.
I was intrigued by this religious sect for most of my life, namely due to scant information. (My fault: laziness) Were they related to Hindus, or were they more Buddhist? The religion is from India, so I had a few possibilities floating in my mind. To set my ruminations to rest, I set out to explore the Hare Krishna community this past weekend.
Initially, I was intimidated by the temple. So many followers, and curious folks like myself meandered up to the stairs. We were greeted by dozens of footwear, and their owners’ chanting. I hastily slid off my shimmery high top Vans and put them on a shelf. I also mumbled a prayer to keep them safe, since I recently purchased them, and was feeling some buyer’s remorse. A sign that read, “Do not let your children play near shelf. There is danger everywhere.” made me actually consider lugging them with.
I enter the temple. There, a cherubic teenager lightly motioned to grab a mat. I thought she wanted me to purchase some treats that were propped up on the table across from her.
Just a nod, light smile, and a mat to take in the sermon. Hearing the gospel of Krishna, via the Bhagavad Gita was actually fascinating. I wedged myself between a few devoted, and a couple artsy folks. I scanned the room, distracted by the statues that sat above the commoners. I did my very best to absorb the inspiring words, and made many attempts not to be distracted. By anything.
The man, the myth… Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
An hour passed by, and there were some visitors that had multiple confusing questions. An older woman asked why is Krishna making her suffer, again in this life. She couldn’t understand why the Lord reincarnated her again to experience pain and suffering. I was curious how she knew she was a part of another crappy life. I left not understanding her situation, but I didn’t leave empty-handed. I silently scooted out the door, after I dropped off my mat. Nodding my thanks, the cherub murmured something I thought was about me buying something. I mouthed my best, “I’m sorry, but no thanks”, then scrambled out the door. She continued to follow me, and guide me towards the book tables. Sighing, I was prepping my “thanks, but no thanks”, routine. After conversing with yet another Krishna fanatic, I now had in my possession the Bhagavad Gita as it is, and another book about enlightenment. No charge. He graciously gestured towards the free food if I was interested.
Instead, I gathered my high tops, and new literature, then wandered contentedly into the evening.
Hare Krishna Cultural Center
3748 Watseka Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034