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Krishna Venta (born Francis Herman Pencovic; March 29, 1911 – December 10, 1958) was an American cult leader. He was the leader of a Californian religious group in the 1940s and 1950s. Venta founded his WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, and Love) - Fountain of the World cult in Simi Valley, California.
Pencovic was born in San Francisco in 1911 to Albert Pencovic, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, and his wife Maude Busenbach, born in Utah. Pencovic graduated from high school in Elko, Nevada. He married twice and served in the United States Army during World War II.
After World War II, Pencovic started his "religion". In April 1948, he stated: "I may as well say it, I am Christ." Krishna claimed to have been born on another planet, Neophrates, 240,000 years ago. This planet purportedly occupied the same orbit as Earth does currently. Pencovic also alleged it was humanity’s first home. As Pencovic's canon goes, Neophrates moved inexorably closer to the sun and became uninhabitable. According to him, a fleet of great rocket ships, each more than a mile long and capable of carrying 35,000 people, then set off to colonize the dark planet that would become Earth. Naturally, their leader was the soul that would one day manifest as Krishna Venta. Along the way, Venta would bestow revelations upon such notables as Melchizedek of Salem, Kukulcan, Quelzalcoatl, Masaw, Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, the Buddha, the angels Moroni and Gabriel, and Jesus Christ. All of this was detailed in Krishna Venta’s history of humanity which detailed a series of periodic near-extinction-level events with distinctly theosophical and Mormon overtones. In 1951, he legally changed his name to "Krishna Venta" in California.
The Fountain of the World first gained national exposure in 1949 when the news reported that Fountain members were 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. They volunteered for other humanitarian efforts including fighting wildfires, offering shelter to those in need and feeding the homeless. They also drew attention in the press for uniformly dressing in robes, going barefoot, and requiring its male members to grow beards and wear their hair long. In 1956, a second branch of the WKFL Fountain of the World cult was established in Homer, Alaska. The Fountain was marginally controversial because one of the requirements for membership was that one donate all worldly assets to the group before joining. For most who joined the Fountain, this was irrelevant since most had few possessions anyway.
Venta prophesied an imminent cataclysm, with the Master’s projected flock of 144,000 guaranteed to be saved, and to build a new world once the dust and blood had settled, a version well adapted to the Cold-War climate of the times. The coming cataclysm would be a racially motivated civil war in the West, particularly in America, where the blacks would rise up and bloodily vanquish the whites (with aid from Russia). Then the traitorous Russians would turn around and conquer the blacks, and try to take over the world. However, Krishna’s followers after spending the war tucked snugly away in a safe place would re-emerge from a secret valley, conquer the Russians and build a shining new world of equality, justice, and peace, with Krishna Venta in his rightful place as world messiah.
Venta was killed in Chatsworth, California, along with seven bystanders, on December 10, 1958 in a suicide bombing instigated by Peter Duma Kamenoff and Ralph Muller.  The two disgruntled former followers had accused Venta of being a fraud who mishandled cult funds and had been intimate with their wives. The two ex-cultists were linked to the blast by bizarre tape recordings in which they vowed: "to bring Krishna to justice". The explosion blew off the roof of an adjoining dormitory for children and touched off a brush fire that swept over 150 acres. Two children, both girls, ages 8 and 9, and a 59-year-old woman were seriously burned.
After his death two of his followers, Sister Thedra (Dorothy Leon) and Sister Wali, moved to Mount Shasta, California, where they channeled messages supposedly from him. Fountain membership at both sites declined rapidly following his death, and the cult had ceased to exist by the mid-1970s.
It is also purported that in 1968, ten years after Krishna Venta was assassinated, another Jesus-claimant by the name of Charles Manson and his coterie (including Susan Atkins) resided for several months at the Fountain of the World. Manson had even made an unsuccessful takeover bid. He was eventually booted from the commune, and moved his group to nearby Spahn Movie Ranch. There is debate over how far Krishna Venta’s teachings influenced Charles Manson, but there are strong parallels between Venta’s apocalypse and Manson’s Helter Skelter. A bloody race war in which the whites will lose to the blacks, after which Manson's family would re-emerge from a secret cave in the desert or “hole in the earth” and take over.
Sun Myung Moon and his followers also took up residence with the Fountain of the World community for several months in 1968.
- ^ California birth registration
- ^ Military Service Card, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1945
- ^ "2 BLAMED IN BOMBING AS DEATHS RISE TO 10— Tape Recordings at Scene Point to Pair; Sect Leader a Victim", Los Angeles Times, December 11, 1958, p. 1
- ^ Philip Jenkins (2000). Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. Oxford University Press. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-0-19-802933-5.
- ^ The Los Angeles Times reported on Dec. 11, 1958: The two ex-cultists were linked to the blast by bizarre tape recordings in which they vowed "to bring Krishna to justice". Ten people died in the explosion including Krishna Venta, Cardinal Gene, the two bombers, a seven-year-old girl and an eleven-month-old infant. Venta was identified by his dental plate. After waiting for his resurrection, Sister Ruth eventually had Venta buried at Valhalla Memorial Park, in North Hollywood.
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. The explosion blew the roof from an adjoining dormitory for children and touched off a brush fire that swept over 150 acres. The fire completed the destruction of the monastery and dormitory.
- ^ "Mount Shasta Myths Exploded", by Juan Hunu https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/155375
- ^ KRISHNA VENTA: THE CHRIST OF BOX CANYON, Skepticink
- Catton, Jr.; William R. (1957). What Kind of People Does a Religious Cult Attract? American Sociological Review 22 (5), 561-566 – via JSTOR (subscription required)
- Krishna Venta at CharlieManson.com
- Image of WKFL Fountain of the World cult members Elder Nekona and Priest Charles at their headquarters in Los Angeles, California, 1964. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (Collection 1429). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.