New documentary looks at the birth of the Hare Krishna movement

New documentary looks at the birth of the Hare Krishna movement

Film's directors will be at a screening in Ashcroft on July 20.

The documentary film Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami who started it all will be showing at the Ashcroft HUB on Friday, July 20 at 7 p.m. The event is by donation, with partial proceeds going to the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department, and the film’s directors, John and Jean Greiser, will be in attendance at the screening.

The film tells how Prabhupada—an unassuming 70-year-old Swami from India—arrives in New York City in 1965, alone and without support or money in a country with unprecedented introspection and a questioning of societal norms roiling America. Prabhupada carries only the ancient scriptures he has translated, and a firm faith in his teacher’s request: “Offer spiritual wisdom to the people of the world!”

Suddenly thrust into the raging counterculture movement, Prabhupada speaks of the world’s real need, which is not necessarily satisfied by political or social revolutions, but by a revolution of consciousness. This divergence from the status quo successfully captures the attention of a generation of youth.

Prabhupada shares the idea that the way to find real happiness, love, and freedom is to search within and connect to your true self. All this, the Swami says, begins by simply chanting a rhythmic, meditative 16-word mantra.

This universal message resonates with more and more people, including musician George Harrison, whose hit song “My Sweet Lord” features the Hare Krishna chant. From there, Prabhupada’s movement explodes, and his followers—now known as the Hare Krishnas—become a familiar sight, chanting and dancing in the streets of major cities throughout the world.

Not everyone is enamored with the enthusiastic, and at times overzealous, fervour of Prabhupada’s young followers. As more people join the movement, parents and community leaders begin to view it as a dangerous cult. Devotees are charged with brainwashing and are taken to court in a controversial case that threatens to undermine everything that Prabhupada has worked for… .

Hare Krishna! is the true story of an unexpected, prolific, and controversial revolutionary. Using never-before-seen archival material, Prabhupada’s own recorded words, and interviews with his early followers, the film takes the audience behind-the-scenes of a cultural movement born in the artistic and intellectual scene of New York’s Bowery, the hippie mecca of Haight Ashbury, and the Beatlemania of London, to meet the Swami who started it all.


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