Krishnas on Campus
Its a Friday night on campus as Laura Sura leads a small prayer circle in song, “hare kṛiṣhṇa hare kṛiṣhṇa…kṛiṣhṇa kṛiṣhṇa hare hare…hare rāma hare rāma…rāma rāma hare hare.”
This is the scene at the weekly meeting of the UNF Hare Krishnas, a club devoted to offering an alternative way of seeking spirituality to students.
Many students search for ways to connect with God on campus and the UNF Hare Krishnas do it through sung prayer and meditation. Sura, a club member was singing the Hare Krishna mantra, a 16 word mantra composed of three Sanskrit names of the Supreme Being; “Hare,” “Krishna,” and “Rama.”
The mantra is chanted in order to create vibrations which connect the consciousness with God. There are several things about the religion that attracted the members who met on Friday night.
”The food, the love and the energy…It’s just something that felt right and I made a personal connection with,” said club member Alex Coronado.
Coronado explains, “We hold meetings every week. We start out with yoga then move on to Japa meditation which is a form of personal meditation but in this club we like to do this as a group. Then we do Kirtan which is the sung prayer, our musical worship.”
Hare Krishna is the popular name for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (or ISKCON), a new religious movement based in Hinduism. Established in America in 1965, the Hare Krishna worship Lord Krishna as the one Supreme God.
Member Laura Sura is refining her concept of God through Hare Krishna. “God is a loaded question but he’s also an answer and he can be found in many forms. Through the Hare Krishna movement I found answers in the Bhagavad Ghita.”
The Bhagavad Ghita is an ancient 700-verse scripture in Sanskrit that is part of the Hindu faith and contemplates the concept of Dharma, a complex spiritual philosophy.
“What really attracted me is that it is not really strict or restricting or anything like that. I actually grew up Jewish and my Dad is a Buddhist. I would actually do Kirtan with him when I was young which is when we gather and sing and do call and answer,” Sura said.
“I’m a newcomer. I decided to come because I practice a different form of spirituality actually, not Hare Krishna but I practice Buddhism which is very close to Hinduism…it’s basically one in the same. It’s very vague,” said Corrine Schmaltz, who was attending for her first time Friday night.
“We get newcomers a lot because you can see us doing Kirtan on the green often. We also hold a lot of events here on campus such as Sacred Sounds, which was a Kirtan concert,” said Coronado.
RaeJeana Brooks closes the meeting by dimming the lights and leading the group in a Kirtan.
Brooks is the club President. “Krishna Club is a very new organization but we have already gone through a lot of phases. All of the members are just consistently beautiful and open. It is an absolute joy to keep spirituality open to those students who are interested in it.”