Hare Krishna in popular culture

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Contributions to popular culture involving direct reference to the Hare Krishna mantra, or the Hare Krishna movement include the following.

In music[edit]

Beatles influence[edit]

After coming in contact with the Hare Krishnas in 1969, some of the Beatles took an interest in the movement.[1] This interest is reflected in songs recorded by the band and its members.

  • The Hare Krishna mantra can be heard sung by George Harrison in the backing vocals of his song "My Sweet Lord" (1970), and the track "Living in the Material World" (1973) contains the lyrics: "I hope to get out of this place by the Lord Sri Krishna's grace. My salvation from the material world." Other Harrison songs that reference Krishna include "It Is 'He' (Jai Sri Krishna)" (1974), "Sat Singing" (1980) and "Life Itself" (1981). Harrison also chanted the Hare Krishna mantra when he was attacked by a man who broke into his home on 30 December 1999.[2] Harrison survived the knife attack, and continued to praise Krishna for the remainder of his life. Of the four Beatles members, only Harrison was actually a Krishna devotee, and after he posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009, his son Dhani Harrison uttered out the phrase "Hare Krishna" during the ceremony.[3]
  • The mantra was released as a single by the Radha Krishna Temple (London) in August 1969 on the Beatles' Apple record label. This single, like the 1971 Radha Krsna Temple album, was produced by George Harrison.
  • The words "Hare Krishna" are included in the lyrics of some of John Lennon's songs also, such as "Give Peace a Chance" (1969) and "I Am the Walrus" (1967). They can also be heard in the backing vocals of Ringo Starr's 1971 hit "It Don't Come Easy", which was again produced by Harrison and co-written by Starr and him (although originally credited to Starr only).
  • A year and a half after Lennon's apparent adoption of the phrase in "Give Peace a Chance", his song "I Found Out" (from 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album) contains a verse on Hare Krishna, dismissing it as "pie in the sky".

Music[edit]

Straight Edge subculture[edit]

In the 1980s, several bands and individuals from the punk-related straight edge subculture took interest in the Hare Krishna doctrines, leading to a number of prominent straight edgers becoming official members of the movement. Due to the influence of a Hare Krishna named Larry Pugliese, Krishna Consciousness found its way into the New York hardcore scene in the mid-1980s and became known as Krishnacore.[8] Pugliese established a house in nearby northern New Jersey for fellow devotees to live in, and sponsored free food distribution (in Tompkins Square Park) and clothing drives as well as concerts for the punks and skinheads hanging out in what was then a rough and tough Lower East Side.

Early devotees included John Joseph and Harley Flanagan of the band Cro-Mags, Ray Cappo of Youth of Today, and Vic DiCara, former guitarist for Los Angeles band Inside Out, who established quite possibly the most famous of all of the newly dubbed bands, namely 108.[9][10] Krishnacore bands sing about Krishna and Krishna Consciousness the same way that a Christian band would sing about Jesus. Other notable Hare Krishna punk and hardcore musicians include: Shelter, Cro-Mags, Run Devil Run, Request Denied, Poly Styrene and Lora Logic of X-Ray Spex.

In movies[edit]

  • Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), a Hindi movie which centers around the hippie invasion of Kathmandu, Nepal. The name of the film itself shows this. The film also features the Hindi hit song "Dum Maro Dum", which includes the chant "Hare Krishna Hare Ram".
  • In The Laughing Policeman (1973), after Walter Matthau's character leaves a strip club following his interrogation of the club owner, Hare Krishnas are singing and dancing the mantra and a group member approaches Matthau and is briefly seen conversing with him and presenting him with literature.
  • In the John Waters movie Female Trouble (1974), Taffy (Mink Stole) returns home and announces she is joining the "Hare Krishna people", and Dawn (Divine) warns her she will kill her if she does. Later, Dawn performs several crimes including knocking her daughter unconscious with a chair and later killing her for becoming a Hare Krishna.
  • In the film Audrey Rose (1977) the entire premise of the film is based upon Hare Krishna philosophy and there are more references to Hare Krishna is this film than any other film made to date.
  • In the Cheech & Chong movie Up in Smoke (1978), police detectives attempt to infiltrate a battle of the bands contest dressed in robes taken from a group of Hare Krishnas.
  • The hippie-themed Hair (1967) contains the whole Hare Krishna chant as a song, and in the Miloš Forman film Hair (1979), Hare Krishna followers are depicted dancing about at a be-in.
  • In Dawn of the Dead (1978), a Hare Krishna zombie is seen throughout several scenes. Its bizarre appearance made it one of the more memorable zombies in the film, and it led to NECA producing an action figure of it in its "Cult Classics" line. The character can also be seen in the 2004 movie remake.
  • Hare Krishnas have been on the receiving end of several jokes in ZAZ comedy films including The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) and Airplane! (1980).
  • In The Muppet Movie, Hare Krishna becomes a sort of a running gag, in three places: First, Dom DeLuise is lost in the swamp, runs into Kermit the Frog, and says "You, with the banjo, can you help me? I have lost my sense of direction!" to which Kermit replies, "Oh, uh, have you tried Hare Krishna?" Second, in the El Sleezo Cafe, upon seeing Fozzie Bear's act, Kermit says "this guy's lost." To which the waiter behind him says, "Maybe he should try Hare Krishna." As he walks away Kermit says "Good grief, it's a running gag." Finally, when Kermit and Fozzie stop by the Presbyterian church where Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem is set up, the sign outside says "Lost? Have you tried Rev. Hare Krishna."
  • In Roller Boogie (1979), one character throws in the towel and becomes a Hare Krishna to forget disco music and roller skating after learning that the roller boogie contest is going to be canceled.
  • In Time After Time (1979), when H. G. Wells travels to the future in his time machine, he encounters a group of Hare Krishna devotees on the steps of the California Academy of Sciences.
  • In Airplane! (1980), two Hare Krishna devotees are asked to contribute to "The Church of Religious Consciousness." Their dead-pan reply "We gave at the office."
  • In Stripes (1981), John (Bill Murray) and Russell (Harold Ramis) get their hair trimmed, while Ox (John Candy) exits completely bald, holding his cut hair in his hands and looking astonished. Russell jokes around and starts dancing and singing, "Hare Krishna!"
  • In Time Bandits (1981), a picture of Jagannath is shown on the boy's bedroom wall. When the characters are running from the "Supreme Being", Jagannath is in front of them.
  • In The Devil and Max Devlin (1981), a sankirtan van hits and kills the main character. The Hare Krishna devotees jump out of the van, surround the man who is dying, and perform a kirtan while the camera pans over their stricken expressions.
  • In Blade Runner (1982), Hare Krishna devotees appear performing sankirtan in a short segment during a street scene.
  • In They Call Me Bruce? (1982), Hare Krishna devotees are depicted.
  • In The Karate Kid (1984), Daniel claps two sanders together and sings "Hare Krishna".
  • in The Goonies (1985), The mother talks to the older son: "if you don't bring your brother home, I'll commit Hare Krishna!" The son replies: "That's hara-kiri, Ma."
  • In Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Woody Allen's character considers joining the Hare Krishnas in his search for God.
  • In Relentless, stand-up comedian Bill Hicks refers to the Hare Krishna followers as "the fifth largest army in the world".
  • In Back to the Future Part II (1989) a group of devotees walks and chants at the back of a city square.
  • In Miami Blues (1990), the lead character (played by Alec Baldwin) breaks the finger of a Hare Krishna in the Miami airport, causing him to go into shock and die, and this leads to the police search for Baldwin's character.
  • In Dying Young (1991), there is a short conversation about Hare Krishna presence on airports, Victor pretending to be one of them.
  • In Philadelphia (1993) a man dressed and shaved like a Hare Krishna devotee is among guests at a gay party.
  • In Falling Down (1993), there are devotees briefly shown chanting on a street.
  • In Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), there is a scene in which Bonanza Jellybean (Rain Phoenix) says to Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman), "Did you realize that cowgirls have been around for many centuries? Long before America. In ancient India the care of the cattle was always left up to young women they called gopis. Being alone with the cows all the time, the gopis got awfully horny, just like we do here. Every gopi was in love with Krishna, a good-looking young god who played the flute like it was going out of style. When the moon was full, this Krishna would play his flute by a river and call the gopis to him. Then he would multiply himself sixteen thousand times - one for each gopi - and make love to each one the way she most desired. There they were, sixteen thousand gopis balling Krishna on the river bank, and the energy of their merging was so great that it created a huge oneness, a total union of love, and it was God. Wow! Quite a picture, huh?"
  • In National Lampoon's Senior Trip (1995), one of the characters, Herbert Jones, becomes a Hare Krishna after graduating high school.
  • In Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999), Steve Jobs is shown chanting the Hare Krishna mantra (about 9 mins in)
  • In Girl, Interrupted (1999), the Hare Krishna movement is briefly mentioned. When asked what her plans are after graduation, Winona Ryder's character responds, "I'm going to join the Krishnas". Her classmate replies, "Hare Krishna? That's interesting, actually."
  • In the first of the Final Destination trilogy (2000), in the first scene, a Hare Krishna devotee at an airport distributes a magazine with a death-related title, foreboding the tragic events that follow.
  • A scene in Osmosis Jones (2001) contains a small group of cells chanting Hare Krishna. This is barely noticeable, but present.
  • In Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003), one of the characters at the end is shown joining the Hare Krishna movement. They use footage of Srila Prabhupada arriving somewhere, and use an arrow to point to the character as being in the crowd.
  • In Jersey Girl (2004), when Maya asks Ollie to lunch, she says, "C'mon, you're ruining my karma level", Ollie responds with "You're trying to get square with Krishna?", to which she replies, "Hare Hare".
  • My Summer of Love (2004) features (in 20th-21st minute) the "Hare Krishna Hare Ram" song from Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) movie.
  • Aaron Naumann, a character in the film Bee Season (2005), becomes a Hare Krishna after rejecting Judaism.
  • In Children of Men (2006), someone is heard chanting the Hare Krishna mantra as Kee walks by astonished soldiers and refugees with her baby, the first child born in more than eighteen years.
  • In Pursuit of Happyness (2006), in 45th min there is a short appearance of devotees chanting on a street.
  • In Once (2006), Hare Krishna devotees can be seen very briefly in a street scene near the beginning of the film.
  • In Across the Universe (2007), when the song of the same name reaches the Sanskrit phrase "Jai guru deva om", Hare Krishnas walk down a subway train that is passing the train Jude is on.
  • In Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007), an Indian Bollywood film, the song "Bhool Bhulaiyaa" contains lyrics such as "Hare Krishna Hare Ram" portrayed on Akshay Kumar.
  • In Religulous (2008), Hare Krishna devotees can be seen very briefly during a montage sequence near the beginning of the film.

In television[edit]

  • Allen Ginsberg appeared on William F. Buckley, Jr.'s show Firing Line on September 3, 1968, and sang the Hare Krishna mantra as he played dolefully on a harmonium. Buckley commented that it was "the most unharried Krishna I've ever heard."[11]
  • In an episode of Lou Grant (episode #18, "Sect", February 6, 1978), Charlie's son joins the Hare Krishna movement, taking the name "Vishnu das".
  • Hare Krishnas have been mentioned and/or parodied a number of times on the comedy show Saturday Night Live. For example, "Christmas Tree Salesman" Season 4 Episode 75 (December 16, 1978), "Al Franken becomes a Hare Krishna" Season 4 Episode 86 (May 26, 1979), "Robin Williams' Monologue" Season 13 Episode 242 (January 23, 1988), and "The Penis Measuring Machine" Season 20 Episode 382 (March 25, 1995).
  • On The Wonder Years episode "Faith", the narrator says "once upon a time, our country was founded on faith". Devotees on sankirtan were shown, among a variety of other spiritual adherents (Season 3, Episode 18. March 27, 1990). Devotees on sankirtan were also shown in a montage of video clips from the 1970s in the episode "Triangle" as the narrator said "unexpected happenings" (Season 5, episode 6. November 6, 1991).
  • On In Living Color, Jim Carrey played a Hare Krishna in a sketch called "Krishna Cop" (Season 3, Episode 9, December 6, 1991).
  • In the episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Subway" (Season 3, Episode 30, January 8, 1992) the character George Costanza is robbed of all his clothes by a woman and enters Monk's Cafe wrapped in bedsheets. A patron mocks him by shouting, "Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!" and George responds, "How'd you like a Hare Krishna fist down your throat, you little punk?"
  • In The Simpsons episode entitled "Homer and Apu" (Season 5, Episode 94, February 10, 1994), after seeing Christians singing in an Indian airport, a Hare Krishna devotee remarks "Oh, great — Christians". Also, in the episode "The Joy of Sect" (Season 9, Episode 191, February 8, 1998) a Hare Krishna devotee asks Bart Simpson if he's ever heard of Krishna Consciousness. In reply to this, Homer Simpson says, "This, Bart, is a crazy man!"
  • Mad TV included a sketch called "Krishna Rock" (Season 1, Episode 105, November 11, 1995). The skit takes place at an airport where four Hare Krishnas in orange robes are chanting and dancing when one of them decides to leave the group for a girl but ends up begging to be allowed back in the group.
  • In the episode of South Park entitled "Starvin' Marvin in Space" (Season 3, Episode 44, November 17, 1999) there's a scene involving Mr. Garrison telling his class that, "The Hare Krishnas are totally gay." The second act starts with the four main characters (Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick) in their classroom at South Park Elementary. The scene opens, and reveals that we've come upon the class as a lecture is being finished. "And so, children, that's why Hare Krishnas are totally gay." Mr. Garrison tells his students, immediately before two CIA agents come into the classroom to take the boys in for questioning. Also, on the episode "Super Best Friends" (Season 5, Episode 69, July 4, 2001), Krishna is featured as a member of the "Super Best Friends", a crime fighting team of religious figures, along with Jesus, Joseph Smith, Muhammad, Buddha, Laozi, Moses, and Sea Man.
  • There is a reference to Hare Krishnas in That '70s Show, when Kitty found the devotees to be so nice that she almost got into their van with them.
  • Hare Krishna is referred to in the medical sitcom Scrubs, in the episode entitled "My Own American Girl" (Season 3, Episode 47, Production code 301, October 2, 2003), Dr. Bob Kelso complains that his son, Harrison, was "kicked out of the Hare Krishna sect for being too much of a hippie". Hare Krishna is also mentioned in the episode entitled "My Chopped Liver" (Season 5, Episode 110, Production code 517, April 4, 2006) when J.D. shaves his head.
  • In the HBO miniseries Angels in America (2003), there is a scene with Hare Krishnas singing on the sidewalk below Prior's apartment window.
  • Comedian Ross Noble devoted a portion his show Unrealtime (2003) to discussing an encounter he once had with some Krishnas, a tramp and a London bus.
  • On the House, M.D. episode entitled "Cursed" (Season 1, Episode 13, March 1, 2005), Dr. House tells his young charge Dr. Chase concerning the latter's father, "You breeze by him like he's a Hare Krishna at the airport."
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Helga on the Couch," child psychologist Dr. Bliss asks Helga Pataki if her mom notices her, to which she responds "My Mom?! She wouldn't notice me if I was an alien pod person chanting 'Hare Krishna' and spitting nickels."
  • Stand-up comedian and television presenter Russell Brand is often heard saying "Hare Krishna" upon his exit from a show or venue. For example, on the UK Big Brother show Big Brother's Big Mouth, Brand ends every show with the phrase "Hare Krishna." Brand has been a vegetarian since the age of 14,[12] and his abandonment of drugs and alcohol was done with the help of the Hare Krishnas, to whom he feels "indebted".[13] He was reported to have met a Hare Krishna International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) guru Radhanath Swami and appreciated him.[14]
  • Bree Van de Kamp, in the 12th Episode of Season 7 of Desperate Housewives, remarks that she'd rather shave her head and join the Hare Krishnas than help Beth Young.
  • In a fifth-season episode of Mad Men ("Christmas Waltz," May 20, 2012), set in late 1966, it is revealed that the character Paul Kinsey (played by Michael Gladis) has joined the Hare Krishna movement. He is depicted as having shaved his head and participates in early ISKCON meetings led by Prabhupada in New York City.
  • In Six Feet Under Season 2; Episode 4 "Driving Mr. Mossback" When asked what happened to her boyfriend, Clair sarcastically says that he joined the "Hare Krishna".
  • In 17th episode of 1st season of the series 24, scene 09:50 shows two Hare Krishna devotees near a pay-phone.
  • In 13th episode of 3rd season of Seinfeld , a man chants "Hare Krishna,Hare Krishna" in scene 20:25.

In fiction[edit]

  • Tom Wolfe includes a description of the Hare Krishnas along with the Maha Mantra in his book the The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968).
  • In the comic strip Bloom County (1986), a Hare Krishna devotee asks Opus the Penguin for some money, but Opus misunderstands "Prayer Temples for Hare Krishnas" as "Pear pimples for hairy fishnuts!", causing the Hare Krishna to say, "Just cough up some dough, Mac!" Berkeley Breathed wrote in one of the Bloom County books that the reaction was so overwhelmingly strong he made Opus a permanent member of the cast.
  • In The Face on the Milk Carton series (1990), Hannah, Janie's kidnapper, is a Hare Krishna. The movement is described within the first book in the context of a cult.
  • In The Tax Inspector (1991) by Booker Prize author Peter Carey, one of the main characters, Johnny, is a Hare Krishna.
  • The Hare Krishna Maha Mantra appears in Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy (1994).
  • In the novel Bee Season (2000) by Myla Goldberg, the character Aaron Naumann joins the local ISKCON temple after rejecting Judaism.

In video games[edit]

  • In Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988), Zak is approached by a Hare Krishna devotee, and sold a book called, How to Raise Your Consciousness and Lower Your Golf Scores!. This book can later be given to a guard in Katmandu to be allowed to approach a Guru, and then to a homeless man in a Miami airport, causing him to become a devotee himself.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) (1988), Larry Laffer approaches 2 Hare Krishna devotees in the airport, who are actually KGB agents (said to be "KGB-ishnas"). They leave the scene if Larry gives them a flower.
  • In Grand Theft Auto (1997), the text "GOURANGA!" is displayed whenever the player runs over a group of Hare Krishnas, who are occasionally featured as pedestrians. They are again featured in Grand Theft Auto 2 (1999) as one of the gangs the player can work for.[15]
  • In Max Payne 3 (2012), Max Payne tells his story when he saw the police "These bastards made the NYPD look like the Hare Krishnas"

In advertising[edit]

  • A 2001 advertising campaign for Kit Kat chocolates in the United Kingdom depicted Daleks (from Doctor Who) chasing people on the street saying, in the standard Dalek tones, "Give us a cuddle!" while the final shot had Daleks following a group of Hare Krishna devotees, chanting "Peace and love!" The advertisement concluded with the Kit Kat slogan "Have a break, have a Kit Kat," implying that the Daleks were having a break from their habitual killing.

Other[edit]

  • The Hare (computer virus), also known as "Hare.7610", "Krsna" and "HD Euthanasia", infected MS-DOS and Windows 95 machines in August 1996. The virus was set to read the system date of the computer and activate on August 22 and September 22, at which time it would erase the hard disk in the computer and display the following message: "HDEuthanasia by Demon Emperor: Hare Krsna, hare,hare."
  • Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and CEO of Apple Inc., mentioned the Hare Krishnas during his commencement speech at Stanford University on June 12, 2005: "I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles (11 km) across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on."[16]
  • Russell Brand says "Hare Krishna" several times when confronted by the press after the Andrew Sachs issue in October 2008.[17]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Hare Krishnas and the Beatles
  2. ^ Morris, Steven, "The night George Harrison thought he was dying", The Guardian, November 15, 2000.[1] Harrison is quoted as saying, "I made the decision to shout back at him to distract him. I looked down and shouted Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna."
  3. ^ http://omg.yahoo.com/news/george-harrison-gets-hollywood-walk-of-fame-star/21279
  4. ^ Tom Paxton - Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues Lyrics
  5. ^ Stevie Wonder - Pastimes Paradise Lyrics
  6. ^ Husker Du - Hare Krsna Lyrics
  7. ^ Murphy, Nicola (1990-06-02). "Banned! (So What's New?)". TV Week. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  8. ^ DoubleThink: Punk Puritan
  9. ^ 108 webpage
  10. ^ Punkbands: 108 review
  11. ^ Konigsberg, Eric, "Buckley's Urbane Debating Club: 'Firing Line' Set a Standard For Political Discourse on TV", The New York Times, Metro Section, p B1, February 29, 2008.
  12. ^ Ellen, Barbara (2006-06-18). "Interview with Russell Brand". London: The Observer. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  13. ^ Pendennis at The Guardian
  14. ^ "Brand's Krishna guru". 
  15. ^ Krishna is a gang that's name derives from Hinduism. They are featured as pedestrians in the original Grand Theft Auto and then become a gang that Claude Speed can take missions from in Grand Theft Auto 2. Krishna's leader, Sunbeam, is Claude's first contact in the industrial sector. The Krishna are at war with The Zaibatsu Corporation and the Russian Mafia. The Krishna's status is unknown during the end of GTA 2, though it is believed that they were slaughtered in the Vedic temple. In GTA 1 the player received a 'GOURANGA' bonus for running over an entire procession of Hare Krishna.
  16. ^ Text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, delivered on June 12, 2005.
  17. ^ BBC News, Russell Brand faces the press, October 2008

External links[edit]