Kenya's Hare Krishna Movement in the 1970s

Meet the community through the lens of legendary Kenyan photojournalist Mohamed 'Mo' Amin.

By Mohamed Amin Foundation

Sankirtan parade (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

A new religious movement

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with its headquarters in Los Angeles in the USA. The early disciples of Christ were simple men. So, too, was Robert Bhuratha, the 23-year-old former building contractor who found fame as the first convert in Kenya and the whole of Africa to a new religious movement.

Maria dances and chants (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

The movement's goal was to attain the love of God by the principles of Bhakti-yoga as taught by the Vedic scriptures, notably the Bhagwad Gita. They aimed to spread the love of God to all people through the process of Sankirtan (public chanting of the holy name of God).

ISKCON Movement (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

In the 1970s the movement would walk through the streets chanting Lord Ram and Lord Krishna's name. The parade glided through the streets of the Nairobi, Kenya and hundreds of wananchi (members of the public) came out on the streets to watch this religious parade.

Maria dances and chants (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

Maria Prabhu was drawn to the religion and to serve Lord Krishna after listening to a Sankirtan party at Kamukunji in Nairobi. She takes her place in the daily Sankirtan parades through the streets, encouraging more Africans to join ISKCON.

Maria dances and chants (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

Hare Krishna devotees are often recognized by their appearance: their saffron and white apparel, shaven heads and tilaki, or the U-shaped clay markings on their foreheads.

Offerings to Lord Krishna (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

Devotees must abstain from eating meat, fish or eggs, from gambling, from extramarital relations, and from taking intoxicants that include tea, coffee and cigarettes.

ISKCON Movement (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

“Hare Krishna” was fast becoming a household name, and the saffron robes, the discordant music of the khartals (hand-cymbals) of the Sankirtan parading through Nairobi's streets, can leave few unaware of the arrival of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

Chanting (1971) by Mohamed AminMohamed Amin Foundation

Today, the movement remains very much active in Africa. Their goal is to spread Krishna consciousness to the entire continent of Africa. They are simply trying to allow everyone to take advantage of the ideal Vedic way of life.

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