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Train Wrecks & Transcendence: A Collision of Hardcore & Hare Krishna Paperback – May 4, 2016
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So I read this book, and it came as a total surprise. I knew that there were good musicians in ISKCON, and I even had albums by some of them. When I found out that Boy George had been involved with ISKCON and had recorded the song Bow Down Mister it was surprising, but it made a kind of sense. It wasn't that different from the songs George Harrison had done about Krishna.
None of this prepared me for the idea of Krishnacore. I had never heard of hardcore Punk before reading this book, and I only know what it sounds like from listening to You Tube videos. It sure doesn't sound like "My Sweet Lord". It isn't my taste, but what is surprising is how different from anything I would associate with ISKCON music it is. If you told me in 1979 that ISKCON would be encouraging people to perform this kind of music I would not have believed you. Heck, if you told me last year I would not have believed you.
The author describes a Hare Krishna movement that is both recognizable as the movement I had joined and very, very different. The problems he identifies in the book were there when I joined up. Definitely the misogyny was always there, which always bugged me. (Oddly enough, I had a really low opinion of women before I set foot in a temple, and it was the women of that temple who changed that. It wasn't like they were trying to do it, but they were so thoughtful and intelligent that they improved my opinion of their whole gender).
Half of the story is about touring as a punk band, sometimes with sannyasins tagging along, and the other half is about being a Krishna devotee in a temple. He knew some of the people I did, although by the time he met them they were all older and mellower. Tamal Krishna Goswami would be an example of someone who is different in the book than I remembered him. At one point he tells a band to make the guitars louder. Definitely not the TKG I had wanted to be my guru.
Clearly a lot of reforms had happened between when I left and when this story begins, but as the author notes the movement still has some serious issues to deal with. The movement wants to remain true to Srila Prabhupada's original teachings, but even that causes problems, as they discover when a translation of an important text suggests that what Prabhupada taught us about how we all wound up in the material world is wrong or at least disputed. It doesn't help that Prabhupada had conflicting opinions on many subjects, something I had noticed from the beginning of my own involvement in ISKCON.
I found the book to be well told and full of interesting incidents, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in ISKCON or punk rock music.
While he made it clear why he entered the punk rock scene, exactly WHY he took up his spiritual practices so seriously was largely absent. He says he falls in love with the logic of the philosophy, but we don't hear what that logic is. He does give details of experiences in ISKCON.
I would have liked to see more internal reflection. This book is an interesting read for the facts and that it is well written.