If His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada tried to enter the US from India today, chances are the spiritual master would be detained. But in 1964, the septuagenarian Vaishnava Swami was welcomed to the West with open arms and proceeded to detonate a transcendental love bomb on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that transformed the phenomenal world forever. This is the story told in the Hare Krishna! film documentary.
Prabhupada infiltrated the counterculture with the science and art of Bhakti (devotion) and swept a generation into his wake. With a universe of devotees at his feet, he spearheaded the worldwide Krishna Consciousness movement, rebranding the Sankirtan movement, and taking the Maha Mantra back to into the street. Like his predecessor from another Swami order, Paramahansa Yogananda, Prabhupada is the subject of a new feature documentary release. Awake! The Life of Yogananda, which essentially created a new market for spiritual films, as well as Monk With a Camera (2016) have both paved the way for this film Hare Krishna!
If Hare Krishna! film director John Griesser’s goal was to reintroduce the world to the magic of Prabhupada, he hit his mark. Hare Krishna! is the second coming of Prabhupada.
Griesser draws the viewer into to the magic of the Hare Krishna movement through an artfully crafted, seamless, multimedia medley, drawing from a wealth of existing archival elements including photographs, film, and video interviews combined with recreations, reenactments, and graphics to achieve a cinematic flow that takes you out of the theatre and into the moment. Composer Michael Mollura’s score captures Prabhupada’s distinctive energetic signature in a resplendent soundscape that is rife with the elevated guru’s decidedly sophisticated majesty. Mollura’s music is part of what takes us beyond the lens and into the lotus heart of Swami Prabhupada.
Prabhupada’s vibration is found in every frame. In the film, we get sense of 1960s, American-hippy naiveté through Prabhupada’s 19th century, Colonial Indian sensibilities. We also understand the decidedly enlightened arc, immutable faith, and selfless contributions of an elevated spiritual being who arrived in Manhattan on a mission from his master with a few Sanskrit texts and not much else. In little more than a decade of his time remaining, he propelled Krishna Consciousness into the global mainstream and synthesized a vast library of sacred Sanskrit wisdom texts to their essence.
“If we chant this vibration of transcendental sound with devotion and with attention that is the highest type of meditation and devotion.” -A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
For more information on the film, visit Hare Krishna the Film
Award-winning journalist, documentary director and long-term LA Yoga contributor Sam Slovick is the director, writer and producer of the Radicalized documentary, currently working on the Kirtan Road Dogs documentary.