The Hare Krishna Movement Expands with the help of Charismatic Members
The presence of an charismatic leader is important for a new religious movement to sustain itself and gain momentum. Charisma is defined as a unique quality related to the divine
or supernatural being that separates from the individual from the ordinary. Often leaders of NRMs have charismatic natures and are therefore seen as sacred themselves. Therefore any speeches or teachings formed by them can be transcribed and later formed as sacred text. Charisma can also be distributed throughout the group by individual connection. This is known as shared charisma. Shared Charisma can be seen in missionary movements like the Hare Krishna Movement. This NRM gained momentum when the Beatles were linked to ISKCON. According to the article in BBC news called “Hare Krishna community ‘thriving’ in Norwich,” Hare Krishna is growing in popularity in Norwich, England, with the help of two charismatic missionaries. The community has been receptive to the rituals, chants, meditations and readings from the Bhagavad-Gita. These rituals are important to solidify the legitimacy of the religion. The two missionaries, Madhuera Gauerangi and Chandra Mohini, host community meetings and provide alternative lifestyles to the locals. They believe people are drawn in to this lifestyle and the Hare Krishna movement will continue to grow internationally.
Without charismatic individuals to attract new comers, I do not believe the Hare Krishna movement would have encountered the same success they see now. Even if the founder of ISKCON was present today, missionary efforts are dependent on the transferring of charisma to another office so the leader can move on to the next area. The transferring of charisma to another office is known as Routinized Charisma. Individuals who are knowledgeable of the teachings of the Hare Krishna movement are able to guide new devotees while others continue the missionary efforts elsewhere. Shared Charisma also plays a significant role in establishing an individual connection with the divine dimension. ISKCON is known to have tensions between displaying individual signs of Bhakti and public expressions/rituals. Shared Charisma is therefore a vital trait for individual devotional practices and recruiting new devotees. Charisma allows new recruits to have confidence in the movement and inspire them to remain committed.