Hare Krishna Tree


An American Elm that Marks the Birthplace of a Religion

Hare Krishna Tree Tompkins Square East Village

About Hare Krishna Tree

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • This towering Elm tree in the middle of Tompkins Square Park is central to the birth of the Hare Krishna religion in America.
  • The tree itself is old. Really old.  According to records, it dates back to before the founding of the park in 1873. In the 1930s, it was one of the few trees in the park to survive the deadly Dutch Elm Disease and thus was still standing strong for its pivotal role in 1966.
  • In 1965, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) traveled to New York City in a freighter ship with three religious texts, no money, and a mission to offer the teachings and spirituality of the Hare Krishna to the western world.
  • Under this tree on October 9, 1966, he started chanting the Hare Krishna mantra for the first time outside of India, thus solidifying the tree as a sacred site for devotees to visit even to this day.
  • The ceremony lasted for two hours and mixed the chanting with dancing and playing percussion instruments such as the cymbals and tambourine.
  • A little Hare Krishna info: Started in the 16thcentury, the religion is a branch of Hinduism and emphasizes the worship of the deity Krishna and the power of meditation.
  • The Hare Krishna mantra is called the Maha Mantra, meaning “great chant.” It consists of 16 words: “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
  • After the infamous Tompkins Square Park tree chant, Prabhupada opened the city’s first Hare Krishna temple at 26 2ndAvenue, a short distance from the Park.
  • Hare Krishna followers still leave garlands and other ceremonial objects around the tree’s base to pay tribute to Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who passed away in 1977.
  • Some famous people who follow the Hare Krishna include George Harrison, Allen Ginsberg, Russell Brand, Boy George, and Poly Styrene.
  • Hare Krishna was featured in Season 5, Episode 10 of AMC’s Mad Men.
  • George Harrison’s song “My Sweet Lord” features the Hare Krishna chant.

By: Cyd Sacks

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