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".


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 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.[6]

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.[7][8]

In movies[edit]

  • Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), a Hindi movie which centers around the hippie invasion of Kathmandu, Nepal. The film also features the Hindi hit song "Dum Maro Dum", which includes the chant "Hare Krishna Hare Ram".
  • 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 premise of the film is based upon Hare Krishna philosophy.[citation needed]
  • 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.
  • 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 which two Hare Krishna devotees are asked to contribute to "The Church of Religious Consciousness." Their deadpan reply: "We gave at the office."
  • 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 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 National Lampoon's Senior Trip (1995), one of the characters, Herbert Jones, becomes a Hare Krishna after graduating high school.
  • In Final Destination (2000), at 6:30, a Hare Krishna devotee at an airport distributes a magazine with a death-related title, foreboding the tragic events that follow.
  • Aaron Naumann, a character in the film Bee Season (2005), becomes a Hare Krishna after rejecting Judaism.
  • In Lila: The tale of a Gopi (2015), main plot revolves around a girl who ends up among a Hare Krishna festival and transforms as she relives the same hour again and again.

In television[edit]

  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 fiction[edit]

  • 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 novel Bee Season (2000) by Myla Goldberg, the character Aaron Naumann joins the local ISKCON temple after rejecting Judaism.


  • 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."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hare Krishnas and the Beatles Archived 2003-04-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  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[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Husker Du - Hare Krsna Lyrics
  5. ^ Murphy, Nicola (1990-06-02). "Banned! (So What's New?)". TV Week. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  6. ^ DoubleThink: Punk Puritan
  7. ^ 108 webpage
  8. ^ Punkbands: 108 review Archived 2006-08-23 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]