Perhaps some of you remember the Hare Krishnas. They officially formed in New York in 1966 with the title International Society for Krishna Consciousness. They became quite visible in the late 1960s on into the 1970s. They were known for proselytizing around downtowns and at airports. Their popularity, I believe, was at least partly due to the band The Beatles popularity and their association with the Hare Krishnas, in particular George Harrison. Surely everyone remembers his solo hit after The Beatles split entitled “My Sweet Lord”. It was a very popular song that is still played in some venues to this day. It was about his longing to see the Supreme Lord, Krishna. Even the words Hare Krishna are part of the lyrics.
Anyway, in the early 1970s, I went into downtown Louisville to shop at a particular store. As I approached the entrance, I saw a Hare Krishna guy standing there.
“I would like to give you this book,” he said as he handed me a copy of the Bhagavad-gita.
I grabbed it from his hand, thanked him, and began to enter the store.
Somewhat panicked, he said, “WAIT! We ask for a donation in return for the book.”
I said, “I don’t want to give a donation. I thought you said you were giving me the book.”
“Well, yes, but we ask for a donation.”
“Are you saying I can’t have the book unless I give you a donation?”
“We ask for at least three dollars.”
I handed him the book back and went into the store.
Obviously, this guy’s approach was not going to entice very many new followers. He either needed to actually give the book away and then ask for a truly volunteer donation, OR he needed to ask for a donation and let you know that you will receive a copy of the book if you donate at least three dollars.
That was the first and only time I remember having an actual encounter with the Hare Krishnas. Needless to say, I was not impressed.