Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hare Krishna event at Amsterdam

On last Sunday, we went to the Hare Krishna "temple" at Amsterdam ...

The idea was to go there together with Bea and Maikel; but because of my earlier-than-expected leave situation and of their holidays, we went there as the muslim group: Vahid, Sara and I.

How to get there
We met in front of SeleXYZ at Sarphatistraat. We then cycled through Sarphatistraat straight ahead; and made a turn to Ferdinand Bald straat from the corner Heineken Brewery factory is located. The "temple" is located in one of the side streets: Van Hilligaertstraat. This is the same street where Vredekerk is located.

The ceremony starts at 16:00. After parking our bikes, we were hesitant to enter inside the "temple". I guess this was basically because of unusual clothings of the people we saw inside. "Maybe we should go to the church, Vredekerk; It will also be an interfaith activity" one of us said. Finally, we had the courage to enter inside and ask about the ceremony.

One of the orange-cloth people told us to enter inside after taking off the shoes and sit. We set on the ground on cushions. The hairstyle of those orange-clot people (should I say monks? ) was very interesting: almost no hairs, but a small bunch of them somewhere at the back in long format. I searched on the internet, but could only find this photo: and this monk does not have that long hair bunch at back:

Then the ceremony started: after repeating a four-line prayer few times, it was all repeating the same thing for about one hour:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

All of us liked the melody they sang this. It was relaxing to hear it. I later checked from wikipedia: the explanation I liked most says that "hare" means "eneryg of God", and "Krishna" and "Rama" are different names of God. Actually, this was very similar to what-we-call "zikr" in Islamic tradition in a sense, where the names of God are recited in a musical way. I found an example at youtube.

One interesting thing was the way they made "secde" (I guess the english word is prostrating). The "devotees" (this is how they refer to themselves; followers) made this prostration when they entered the temple room; but in random directions. Some of them even completely laid down.

After singing period, a preacher came and talked about what kind of activities are made within organization in terms of helping people. It was in dutch, but a devotee made english translation for those who do not understand dutch. Even the very tall lady there, who looked very devoted, was with us to hear english translation to our surprise (we all thought she was dutch considering her height).

prayer beads
This During the preach (or was it towards the end of singing session?) a devotee came in, with a cloth wrapped on his right hand in a strange way. "What kind of hand injury is it" I thought.

Then, the drummer during the singing left and came in after a while with a similar cloth wrapping around his right hand. "This must be part of the rituel" I thought.

Then, Sara managed to ask them about that while we were leaving. They told us that they actually recite the 16 words in Hare Krishna song (i am not sure of this part) using prayer beads; and since the prayer beads are too big, they wrap it around and tie to the hand. That is, that cloth has the prayer beads inside. And they do this recitation 108 times (does this mean that it is made up of exactly 108 beads? probably)

Linner at Leidsestraat
Then we cycled to leidsestraat to eat something as lunch-dinner. We went to Maoz; the popular vegetarian shop. We ate falafel with unlimited salad; and I guess it was 4 euros.


Nat said...

Hare krishna! Was reading your entry about the temple here in Amsterdam. I like your experience that you had.

The chanting with beads is called japa-mantra. The beads that we chant total 108, with 1 larger bead called 'header bead' which we do not pass as this represents krshna. You chant a total round of 108 in one direction between thumb and middle finger (the forefinger hangs out the front of the bag and represents the ego), then you go back the other direction. You count the rounds. An initiated devotee will count 16 rounds a day. When you start chanting you begin with a lower number - like 2 rounds - which you stick to each and every day and then gradually increase this number to 16 - and beyond! It takes about 2 hours to do 16 rounds.

The beads are kept in this bag to keep them clean as they represent Krshna and by chanting they become charged.

tunahan said...

Hey Nat!! Thanks a lot for the details!

The explanations you give (eg. forefinger represents ego.. etc) reminds me sufism, a branch of Islam. It also has rituels which has similar nice explanations.

And, it was also surprising for me to see that chanting with beads is practiced by other religions too.. (It is also common in Islam to chant God's names with beads). It always makes me happy to see common points between different religions..

Thanks once for details. I have realized I have missed the melody of Hare Krishna singing in the temple; and I have just turned on the recording from temple: how relaxing!

mugwit said...

Chanting with beads. This is a form of meditation that does help to alter the conscienceness and tries to supply a close focus of the mind.
However, I think that ones belief should be accessible without self hypgnosis.

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