Hare Krishna: My adventures with the silly monks

Yeah, yeah, I’ll admit it. Once upon a time, I ran with a bunch of Hare Krishna monks. You know, the weirdos in orange robes who smell like Nag Champa harassing you to “donate” money for their religious books? The guys with shaved heads and odd pony tails? Those guys.

It all started when my buddy Hip (yes, short for Hippie) in Ft. Collins, Colorado got into the whole Krishna movement. Let’s just say Hip was (obviously) a big dope smoker who was fascinated with the occult and strange stuff in general. Great guy. Always a trip to hang with.

So he’d be preaching on and on about Krishna and his radical conquests in the Bhagavad Gita while I’d be knocking back a few 90 Shillings, when it occurred to me that I was partially interested in what he had to say.

“I’m headed to the Krishna temple tomorrow if you’re interested,” Hip said.

Next thing I know, I’m standing outside a temple on Cherry Street in Denver wondering how the hell I got there, when a little bald guy in his orange robe approaches me.

“You must be Hip’s friend. Welcome,” little bald guy said.

They gave me the tour, fed me tasty food, let me in on their hypnotic chanting sessions, taught me a thing or two about Krishna. After an hour-long, super boring prayer session, about 15 of us hit the sack in the adjacent house that belongs to the temple.

The first thing I learned is that Krishna monks don’t sleep in beds. Whatever, I’ll take the only bed in the house. Works for me.

The next thing I learned is that Krishna monks get up at 4:30 (!!) a.m. to chart chanting and annoying people who don’t get up at 4:30 (!!) a.m.

I reluctantly rolled out of bed to find a dozen or so monks pacing the hallways like lunatics. Man, they were in the zone. Me? Not so much.

We headed over to the temple after I’m able to locate my pants, and right away it’s full on deep meditation time. Intense does not describe a roomful of Krishna monks meditating at 5 a.m. The small of incense was intoxicating. Chants echoed off the walls, creating a disorienting dome of sound.

Hip was eating this stuff up. He was totally blissed out.

Eventually meditation power hour was over. I only managed to doze off four of five times (what, I was in a trance!). We ate some grub downstairs in the kitchen, and then it was time to work.

That’s right, work. I’m working at a Hare Krishna temple on my day off. Thanks Hip.

Apparently my jeans and T-shirt ensemble wasn’t going to cut it, so a spaced out monk retrieved an outfit from the gift shop for me that wasn’t too far off from a full-on dhoti.

“Here, put this on. Go help the landscape crew now,” spaced out monk said. Playing dress up and taking orders from a dazed and confused monk? Unreal.

You are undoubtedly wondering, did you dig in the dirt with a dhoti on Eric? Yep, sure did. I figured I owed them for at least the two meals and a night’s rest. But man, this outfit!

After we toiled for hours on end, it was time for a parade. Not just any parade, but a full on “dancing freaks beating drums and screaming Hare Krishna chants at passerby” parade. Good times!

The weekend came to an end with a lot of hugs and good vibes and preachings and whatnot. What you would expect from a religious gathering, only magnified tenfold. Normal religious folks on strong doses of acid, maybe.

As we were driving home on the 25, and Hip was reliving the experience over and over like a madman, I realized I enjoyed these quirky monks. Sure, they’re far out and they smell funny, but they’re the nicest people I’ve ever met.

In fact, I stayed in contact with the monks from the Denver temple. I’d see them around town. We’d have dinner, catch up, talk about life. I learned that many of them were former addicts, or came from rough backgrounds. Chanting Hare Krishna was their quiet salvation.

One night they needed a place to crash while they were in town. It just so happened to be my last night in Ft. Collins. My old man was helping me move with his truck. When he finally arrived there were a slew of monks in the house, cooking, chillin’, playing drums, reading the Bhagavad Gita.

Dad slept in his truck.

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19 comments

  1. Ah, the strange things we subject our loving fathers to. I remember my dad coming to help me move from SF to Santa Rosa, but instead of flopping Krishnas, my dad got to meet some lovely FBI agents looking for my dope peddling roomy. (you may remember “Moon”) He asked, “who is this character?” I replied, “he rents my closet.” Which was true, in a way. You should also recall the first time the feds came a-knocking at my apartment door. Totally different circumstances, surprisingly enough.

  2. I’m so glad I found this post. That is too fun, and I love Ft. Collins. I didn’t know there was a big monk thing there. That is some crazy stuff. I am DMing you on twitter now, but I was stalking your older posts because I didn’t know if you would get the tweet. Anyway, I love this post.

      1. It sounds amazing. My sister and I used to drive there occasionally just to have fun. (We lived a few hours away). They have that mountain with the life, and you can feed the squirrels. Plus all the little tourist shops…it is just beautiful.

  3. Haha! This was a great post! My son has a friend who’s into it, too. I think it’s mostly because he doesn’t know what to do with his life and the monks are nice and welcoming. Minus the religious stuff it’s probably a pretty chill life, right?

    1. Very chill, but very disciplined. People who are just floating around aimlessly in life do seem to be drawn to the Hare Krishnas. They provide free food, free housing, new friends, and, like I said, discipline. So it’s good for some people in that sense.

      1. I’m sure the free food and housing is what attracted him, the fact that they’re nice people is an added bonus. I’ll view them differently now after reading your post.

  4. What? No pictures? I have to admit, I’ve often wondered about those guys. I used to see them in the airports offering their pamphlets, but not so after the TSA took over. I’m always wearing of anyone peddling their beliefs. But whatever makes the world spin.

    1. I so totally regret not having any pictures of my Krishna buddies! Pictures would’ve done a much better job than words, that’s for sure.

      I’m the same way about people peddling their beliefs. I don’t get it. Why can’t you just go about your day believing what you believe and leave other people alone? This is probably why people are annoyed with Krishnas. Especially with their outfits and hairdos. And while I’m still skeptical of their lifestyle, I just decided to open up and get to know the dudes. I’m glad I did. They’re still weirdos, though.

  5. I remember seeing them at the Denver Airport all the time when I was a kid. You go to school in Ft Collins? I was a t CSU for awhile.. grew up in Littleton. It was always quite a curiosity going downtown to that area.. I remember once when I was about 10 maybe one of the monks handed me a flower at the airport ..and I thanked him and he just stood there looking at me.. my mom made me give it back cause they wanted money… but oh well..If I had my own I woulda given it to them. … having a hard time with picturing you in a dhoti.. interesting.. 🙂

    1. You DO NOT want to see me in a dhoti. Repeat: DO NOT.

      Didn’t go to CSU. I ended up in Ft. Collins by way of a friend I hardly knew. Interesting town, that’s for sure. Plenty of good times had. Hare Krishnas do seem like the type to expect a 10 year old to pay up.

      You ever go back to visit Littleton?

      1. I haven;t been back since 1999 when my parents moved out here. But if I could live anywhere ..and when I can..I am going back to Colorado.. that’s home

  6. I remember when you first returned from your Ft Collins Krishna experience. You were waxing poetic on such subjects as the holistic lifestyle of monks and veganism and the Gita and…okay I was drunk. As I remember, you were probably drunk as well. You were not in “the zone” at nearly the same level as Hip was at that time. Much like picking up the bible, accepting Jesus as your lord, and giving up that 8 ball a day coke habit, giving up alcohol, sex and garlic is something that could work for a certain type of person. I am not that type of person, but I do recall feeling a certain sympathy or at least a vague sense of acceptance of these strange austere monks and their bizarre traditions. (I even read the Bhagavad Gita from cover to cover and tried cooking vegan) Likewise, I also can momentarily relate to the hedonistic, narcissistic, promiscuous drunken revelers one is surrounded by in New Orleans. To me there is a large and generally healthy middle ground between self flagellation and extreme masturbation. (and I’m not talking about combining the two). That’s where I live, and you and most people I know and love. You don’t have to deprive yourself of garlic and salt, and you don’t need to get falling down drunk every night of the week, but perhaps it is healthy to experience both ends of the spectrum from time to time…or at least once.

    1. I think I was more tripped out with how freaking weird these dudes were. Every philosophy on strange blue men with a thousand appendages was a completely foreign concept. Not to mention the untold off-center lifestyle oddities. I mean, come on, veganism!? Nobody in their right mind is vegan where we come from, my man. So yeah, they sent me home with way too many books, most of which I cared nothing about. This might have given the casual bystander reason to suspect I was just another orange robed crazed lunatic. They would’ve been completely off with the orange robe. The crazed lunatic part….well…

      You do make a really interesting point. Middle ground dabblers might be a good way to describe it. This arrangement creates ultimate flexibility in life, as you are not boxed in by restrictive dogma or the lure of the bottle. So here’s to you, my middle ground dabbling friend. If you were anything like Krishna, I would give you a million high fives at once right this instant.

  7. Reblogged this on I probably shouldn't have said that… and commented:
    If any of you read Eric, you should read this post. It is a different side of him, and one day he will be one of my porn stars when I am back to a regular internet connection, so read it. Read his blog on a regular basis too. It is inspirational and motivational. Be sure to read his dirt bag post too. 😉

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