Krsna Culture in Music
By: Jahanva devi
May 10, 2012 — CANADA (SUN)
Reprising a 2006 Sun series on the cultural impact of Krsna Consciousness on the western music scene.
Shortly after Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in the West a most astonishing phenomenon took place in the world of music. In the United States, Europe, South America and elsewhere on the planet, the Holy Name of Krsna manifested in musical offerings by devotees and non-devotees alike.
Without question, the Beatles’ interest in Krsna Consciousness helped to spark this revolution. But it was also the presence of the devotees, who brought Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtana mission to towns and villages on every continent, that caused this Krsna Conscious musical proliferation to occur.
By the early 1970’s, many records had been released that included song titles or lyrics featuring Sri Krsna or the Maha-mantra. These records manifested in all genres of music, from classical to jazz, blues, folk, pop, rock, and psychedelia. There were even releases of Beatnik poetry and comedy that played on the Hare Krsna theme.
Many of those who became followers of Srila Prabhupada in the 1960’s had connections to the counterculture movement. The counterculture comprised not only the hippies, but also the beatniks who preceded them, the yippies, and the anti-war peaceniks. The Krsna Consciousness movement was comprised of elements that were a common denominator amongst all these groups: sharing love and food, chanting, dancing, advocating peace and self-realization, and delving into the mysteries of the ancient eastern arts.
Personalities like Allen Ginsberg and George Harrison kept popping up in the popular media, and their association with Srila Prabhupada’s movement created important visibility for the Hare Krsna explosion. The devotees also gained attention by showing up at counterculture events, peace gatherings, be-in’s, and musical events that showcased personalities who are now famously associated with that era. Even Muhammad Ali shared the spotlight with Srila Prabhupada, at an anti-war peace concert Ali organized.
In retrospect, we find one very important common denominator, seen throughout this unique historical collection of artifacts. That is, that no matter when or where Srila Prabhupada and his Krsna devotees appeared, the mood and message was always the same — it was kirtan, bhajan, harinama sankirtana in the mood of Prabhupada and the Sampradaya Acaryas. No matter what sort of music was going on all around them, the devotees steadfastly preserved Srila Prabhupada’s mood in sharing our Krsna Conscious culture. Srila Prabhupada delivered the transcendental sound vibration of the Hare Krsna Maha-mantra purely and sweetly, and his disciples followed suit.