Last week, I had an incredible experience that opened my mind to the Hindu Hare Krishna movement. I was fortunate enough to visit the extremely beautiful, ISKCON Temple in Dallas, Texas. This ordeal expanded my horizons on the way people worship, pray, and unite through religion. Once you are about to enter the place of prayer, you are asked to remove your shoes so you can be comfortable and get in the correct mindset.
When I first entered the sanctuary, I was speechless on how gorgeous the statue of Krishna is. There were many elegant flowers surrounding the sculpture on the stage and around the sanctuary, which set a calming mood. A woman also walked around with a flower for everyone there to smell. This is so the sense of smell can be engaged in the worship of Krishna.
When I saw people in the temple chanting and laying on the floor, it threw me off at first. However, once I started to understand that worshiping Krishna is a full body experience and an opportunity to connect with others, I was enlightened. The music and chants were foreign to me, but it did not prevent me from knowing that they were praising Krishna and singing about how to make the world a better place. I knew this because “ISKCON’s claim is for a higher morality”(Hopkins 185). Although, there are scriptures that the followers read, going to the temple is more for enriching the soul rather than listening to texts. This is so one can be with Krishna in whatever way is easiest for them.
All around the temple, there were fascinating paintings of Krishna. Behind each painting is a story of Krishna and the adventures he encountered throughout his life. Krishna liked to have fun as child and was even a bit of a “rascal”, as our instructor, Prajapati told us. For example, there was a painting of Krishna in a tree holding the clothes of women who were bathing in a pond. Krishna made these women come up to the tree one by one, naked, to get their clothes back. Another story is when Krishna manifested many duplicates of himself so every woman at a dance could dance with him.
The temple also had so much more to offer than only a sanctuary to pray and connect with Krishna. They had a gift shop and even a restaurant for people to eat after they were done praying. The gift shop contained scriptures, idols, clothes, and more for anyone to purchase. The restaurant had appetizing Indian cuisine and is a place where one can converse. The people who were praying, working there, and especially, Prajapati, were incredibly kind and helpful to my class and I and made the visit unforgettable. Overall, this trip was a delightful and educational experience that made me appreciate Krishna and ISKCON as a whole.
Hopkins, Thomas J. “ISKCON’s Search For Self-Identity: Reflections by a Historian of Religions.” The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change, edited by Graham Dwyer and Richard J. Cole, 2007.