Krishna Venta

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A portrait of Krishna Venta taken in the mid-1950s.

Krishna Venta (born Francis Herman Pencovic; March 29, 1911 – December 10, 1958) was the leader of a California religious group in the 1940s and '50. Venta founded his WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith and Love) Fountain of the World cult in the Simi Valley, California.

The Fountain of the World became famous in the press in the 1940s and 1950s for uniformly dressing in robes, going barefoot, and requiring its male members to grow beards and wear their hair long. The Fountain was marginally controversial because one of the requirements for membership was that one donate all worldly assets to the group prior to joining. For most who joined the Fountain, however, this was irrelevant since few had many possessions anyway.

The group's activities included fighting wildfires, offering shelter to those in need, and feeding the homeless. They first gained national exposure in 1949 when the news wires carried the story that Fountain members had been among the first to offer aid to the victims of Standard Air Lines Flight 897R, which crashed into the Simi Hills, killing 35 of the 48 people on board.

Pencovic was born in San Francisco in 1911 to Albert Pencovic and his wife Maude Busenbach.[1] His father was Jewish immigrant from Roumania; his mother was born in Utah. Penkovic graduated from high school in Elko, Nevada. He married twice and served in the United States Army during World War II.[2]

After the war, Pencovic decided to start his own religion. In April 1948, he stated: "I may as well say it: I am Christ. I am the new messiah." He also claimed to have led a convoy of rocketships to Earth from the extinct planet Neophrates. In 1951, he legally changed his name to "Krishna Venta" in California.

He was killed in Chatsworth, California on December 10, 1958 in a suicide bombing instigated by two disgruntled former followers, Peter Duma Kamenoff and Ralph Muller, who had charged that Venta mishandled cult funds and had been intimate with their wives. (Kamenhoff and Muller had never presented any proof of their claims.)

A branch of the WKFL Fountain of the World cult was also established in Homer, Alaska prior to Venta's death. Fountain membership at both sites declined rapidly following his death, and the cult had ceased to exist by the mid-1970s.

Pencovic/Venta is also remembered because of a child support case his ex-wife brought against him, Pencovic v. Pencovic, 45 C2d 97, Cal Sup Ct (1955).

Photos[edit]

Painting of Krishna Venta
1949 Worcester Meeting, Rudi Balzer, Elsa Lackstrom, MKV, unknown, Signe Holme
WKFL Choir at Olive View Sanatorium, Olive View, California. Front L-R, Audrey, Babs, Patrice, Ruth, Jane, Elesha, Bitzi, Lila, Leta, Rear L-R Gene, Earl, Asaiah

The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 11, 1958:

The Fountain of the World Monastery in a wooded canyon near Chatsworth was ripped apart early yesterday by a heavy explosion which instantly killed the bearded leader of the cult, Krishna Venta, and seven of his followers.

Two ex-cultists linked to the blast by bizarre tape recordings in which they vowed “to bring Krishna to justice” were believed to have also died in the explosion.

Two children, both girls, ages 8 and 9, and a 59-year old woman were seriously burned.

The explosion blew the roof from an adjoining dormitory for children and touched off a brush fire that swept over 150 acres. Fire completed the destruction of the monastery and dormitory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ California birth registration
  2. ^ Military Service Card, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1945

External links[edit]