Monday, August 9, 2010

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: My Visits to Non-Christian Places of Worship, Part IV

Rukmini Dwarakadish Temple

The Hare Krishna temple was almost exactly what I expected it to be. Although, I was a little weary of the area as I was drove past the temple and past all the apartment buildings where the Hare Krishna adherents lived. The outside of the temple had a palace-like facade, but cheaper looking. The inside of the temple looked more like a Disneyland exhibit than a place of worship with colorful statues reminiscent of a grade-school art show. The museum I went through was cheaply put together and not only informed viewers of the history of Krishna, but made an overt attempt at persuading me to consider becoming a follower of Krishna as well.

The first person I spoke with was named Shiva Dev. He said that his name Shiva is also god’s name and that Dev was Sanskrit for god. He is a follower of Hinduism, but his wife is a devout follower of Krishna. He said that he has attended services at a church and a mosque before and felt that all religions were a way to get to god. Mr. Dev was the one who explained about the ones who wore the robes and the markings on their foreheads. He compared those who wore the robes and placed the marks on their foreheads to “Christian priest and nuns,” that they were very devout.

I also spoke with Mamabu, whose name means, “to study.” He said that he was originally a Buddhist, the religion of his parents, but he was comfortable in “an atheist religion.” His future desire is to become “initiated,” which is to become like what we’d call a minister. To do this, he must take a vow not to drink alcohol, or to gamble, or to have illicit sex, plus he must submit fully to a master. Once he has taken the vows and studied the scriptures, he will take a simple exam to become initiated.

The service has the worshippers standing facing a stage, on the stage is several statues and some devoted followers who ring bells and wave fans; on the walls of the temple are several paintings of Krishna and other people. A leader sings the Hare Krishna song and the worshippers repeat the song after him. There are some people out on the floor who have drums and cymbals keeping the beat so the worshippers can sway back and forth, clap and dance. The tempo of the singing and music went up and down in waves until finally toward the end people are jumping and yelling, and the music is loudly played. During all this, other people carry incense and fire through the crowd to let the worshippers wave their hands through the flames and smoke and then they rub their faces and heads with their hands. This is because the fire and smoke has been offered to, and accepted by, Krishna.

After the grand crescendo comes to a close, the people sit on the floor as the temple president and the worship leader make announcements. After this, the people went forward in a line to be blessed by the “monks” and to make donations.

After the service, I went to a yoga room and was able to ask one of the leaders, Prithu das Adhikary, some questions. Mr. Adhikary was a pleasant fellow who sincerely believed in his religion. He said that devout followers showered or bathed each morning and then placed on their bodies 12 marks with clay, one of the marks was the ‘V’ on their foreheads, which stood for “Vishnu,” one of the names for Krishna. He also told us that Hare Krishna followers knew of Jesus and considered him not to be an ordinary being, he came to from the spirit world to preach love, because love is the only true religion.

Mr. Adhikary said that Krishna means “all powerful,” and also that “Hare” is the female part and “Krishna” is the male part of god. He said several times that the main problem with people is that we build the “Berlin Wall” between god and us. He also told us that to know Jesus is to know Krishna, and to know Krishna is to know Jesus. As far as atoning for sin, one should realize they have sinned, then feel remorseful, then make an effort at reconciliation, and then reconciliation can occur. The main way to reconcile with god is by chanting his name over and over. Hare Krishna is a religion full of severely deceived people.

Surrounding the temple were apartment buildings own by the temple and where the adherents lived. It was sad to see all the innocent children being condemned to follow such an ungodly religion held by their parents. Hopefully many will be reached before it is too late.

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