Are you missing the Hare Krishna yet?

As a 17-year-old college freshman at the University of Colorado in Boulder back in the ‘70s, my buddies and I used to sneak liquor into the student section of CU football games. Everyone did.

One time, I partied and drank right through the fourth quarter with a friend named Steve, together with our mutual friend named Jack Daniels. After the game, Steve and I stumbled up to the Hill, a retail/residential area adjacent to campus that was a gathering spot. Leaning on one another on the sidewalk with no particular destination in mind, we saw a VW Beetle pull over. A woman cranked down the window and shouted out “Hey, you wanna party?”

We did. We loaded into the backseat of the Bug, and off she drove.

She took us maybe a mile to downtown, and led us into a good-sized apartment. As promised, there was a party going on. We joined in. We noticed there was no liquor, but we’d already had more than enough.

After an hour or two, the party became more organized. The music stopped and someone gave a vague talk that would have been hard to follow even if we weren’t drunk. Then everyone chanted, something like:

Shingay Ringayah

Shingay Ringayah

Shingay Ringayah

Shingay Ringayah

A young woman got up and gave a testimonial about chanting. She explained that she had been lonely, and so she had chanted to have a boyfriend. Sure enough, a boyfriend came into her life and the two of them were really happy now. She pointed out the boyfriend as if to prove the story. He beamed.

Then more chanting.

A guy got up and described how badly he had wanted a saxophone. So he had chanted for a saxophone and, sure enough, one came into his life and made him happy. I saw no saxophone in the room, so we had to take his word for this.

More chanting.

It got a little tedious, but Steve and I figured that everyone would soon take their clothes off. We decided to stick around for that.

But they remained clothed. They just told stories and chanted. It was literally sobering. Silly stupor sunk into stultifying stupidity. We decided we’d had enough of this chanting, story-telling, fully-clothed, liquor-free, so-called party. We told our hosts we’d like to be taken back to the Hill.

They explained they didn’t have time to take us back, so we should just stay. For a long time.

And so we did for another hour or two, then asked again to be taken back to the Hill. They told us no. They weren’t taking us back. So we told them we would just walk back, and started for the door.

They stood between us and the door. Their light banter suddenly took on a serious tone. “No, you’re staying here.”

Steve and I glanced at one another, nodded slightly, and bolted through them to the door. We flung it open and dashed outside.

They came after us, and we ran. They chased us a good two blocks but we finally lost them and walked back to the Hill. Fortunately, as you’ve surmised, we still had our clothes on.

The Hare Krishna were a sect or cult founded back in the ‘60s, inspired by eastern religions. They shaved their heads, wore saffron robes, played hand cymbals, and appeared on streetcorners and especially at airports. This was long before there was any airport security, and so they could go right to the gates without a ticket. They pestered people to talk with them, to buy books from them, and, ultimately, to join them.

They were a nuisance, but harmless. Unless, of course, you joined them, as a couple hundred thousand people reportedly did. But I never knew any of them personally. They were basically a joke.

They didn’t do drugs or even alcohol. They were not violent insofar as I knew. Some were women, but they were the old-fashioned kind – they had no chicks with dicks. They didn’t poop in the gutters, didn’t attack police training facilities, and didn’t vandalize pregnancy centers, They looked clean and dignified in their pretty saffron robes. Their chants did not include the N-word, or any other word that I could recognize. I don’t know where they lived, but it was not in sidewalk tents.

I don’t know whether the people in Boulder that night were Hare Krishnas, but maybe. Whoever it was and whatever their shtick was, they were probably overly aggressive in their recruiting methods, but no one got hurt that night. (Ah, what a turning point that might have been in my life. Talk about the robe not taken.)

They seemed reasonably decent and civilized, at least until they chased us down the block. I know very little of their religion, but it clearly had a spiritual aspect along with a lot of cymbal-ism. It was deeper than today’s global warming or DEI or gender fluidity or pot religions. As I survey the filthy woke squalor of downtown Denver this evening, I miss them.  

Watch for my book on April 18, “High Attitude – How Woke Liberals Ruined Aspen.”

14 thoughts on “Are you missing the Hare Krishna yet?

  1. Yep, I’m old enough to remember them. Seem to recall there were a few at Colo. State in the late 60’s when I was there. Had no personal contact until sometime in the late 70’s(?) when one tried to get me to buy one of their books (The Bhagavad-Gita: As It Is). Haven’t thought about them in many years though am reminded every time I watch their bit part in ‘Airplane!’.

  2. I remember them in Atlanta, in the 70’s. A seemingly harmless group we’d walk past unafraid while avoiding eye contact. Kinda miss them myself now that you mention them.

  3. A kid I knew joined them. They had an Ashram in West Virginia. I don’t think they would have chased you. There were a lot of cults then. The Hare Krishnas were kinda “bliss” addicts. They were often kids who were burned by the whole drug thing but not ready to take the path of middle-class life. I remember going to a meeting in NYC. Macrobiotic brown rice, incense, sitting on the floor, and listening to a lecture on consciousness. And chanting. Fascination with Eastern mysticism was part of the 60’s shtick. For me, I figured Jesus and Moses had already covered the required territory.

  4. Wonderfully whimsical writing, Glenn.
    Kinda reminds me of the time when I got a ride from a couple of lesbians while I was hitch-hiking. We got to their place about 1 AM, so they graciously offered me their daughters room until morning. About 2 AM, the daughter enters the dark room and announces: “Michael, if you can hear me, this is (Her forgotten name). Anyway, we want to adopt you. Sleep well and good night, Michael”. Did I mention, I never saw, much less met the daughter, this happened in Boise – and I was in my late 40’s?
    Yeah, by 7:00 AM I silently left the residence and a prayer.

  5. The prophet Joel enjoined us to “Rend your heart. Not your garments.” The Krishnas invited us to “Empty your mind. And your wallet.”

    • Amen and Amen, Forevermore*
      (*Does not include Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Franklin Graham, Et Al, Holy Bible pimps.)

  6. Hare Krishnas. Airports. Nostalgia.

    I would rather have to deal with an army of Hare Krishnas, Moonies and/or Jehovah Witnesses at the airport than a half dozen statist TSA goons.

    Wow … how the times have changed.

      • Young people would have no idea of the reference, it was very much a part of the times and in fact they just seemed to fade away eventually.

  7. You killed me with “The robe not taken”! Hare Krishnas are just a sect of Hinduism. The Beatles even got into them at one point and George Harrison stayed pretty involved for a while. A lot better than today’s Hairy Criminals.

  8. The Krishnas, in the 1980’s, served a free vegetarian meal once a week in Boulder in their house up on the hill. Their food was delicious. The only thing was that you had to chant for a half hour with them. Harry Harry Harry Krishna…Krishna, Krishna, Harry Harry And then I would throw in a Joe Joe Joe Hova. I even bought their cookbook. I still make some dishes from that book.

  9. when dh came back from Vietnam the hare krisna’s weres pitting on him and the other veterans and got into a fight with them and the police came and arrested the hare krisnas. nowdays they would probably get away with it, so they WERE VIOLENT

  10. Then there was Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism. This was a lightweight modernist version of Buddhism for relatively normal people. The group met in people’s homes and chanted nam myoho renge kyo.

    One benefit of Nichiren Shoshu is that in this group, it might have been possible to meet someone of the opposite sex who wasn’t a space cookie. When you joined, you took home a little portable shrine called a Gohozon.

  11. We pulled up to Mt Rushmore and met people back in ’79. One of them came up an pinned a flower on me. Immediately she demanded money, so I threw a dollar at her. I was a teenage douche bag. I threw the flower at her and demanded my money back. Needless to say that wasn’t happening

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