Are Religions New or Old?

Are Religions New or Old?

In the Daily Mail’s article “Vanna White fears losing her teenage son to Hare Krishnas” ( the author (anonymous) describes how Vanna White’s son Nikko joined the Hare Krishna movement, has moved in with a monk, and is now requesting one million dollars in order to build an ashram, or spiritual place. White said that she is, “terrified about losing her son to the organization” and that, “he is being brainwashed by a monk from the Hare Krishna movement.” These statements make it very clear how Vanna White feels about the movement but they also shed some light on how society as a whole feels about these new religious movements.

Many people view the Hare Krishna movement as a cult and therefore dangerous. However, it has existed in the east for many centuries, and has only recently gained popularity in the west which gives it the appearance of a new religion or a cult. Since the Hare Krishna movement is a new thing here, people assume that it is a new movement that has no historical context or significance. The truth however is that the main idea of the movement, pleasing the supreme lord Krishna, has been traced back as early as the 4th century B.C.E., which predates the birth and life of Jesus and the prophet Muhammad. So this Hare Krishna movement has more history behind it than Christianity and Islam.

However this is only partially true. Whenever a religion is moved to a new location, it often goes through some amount of change. Some African Christian churches still uses witchcraft and sorcery, for example. Churches here in Canada would never dare introduce witchcraft and/or sorcery to their worship service, but when Christian missionaries introduced Christianity to African tribes, there was some amount of blending between the already existing culture and the new religious ideas. The same thing has happened with the Hare Krishna movement. The core ideas of worshipping Krishna have stayed the same, however some sects of the movement have at times appeared to be very different in the level of devotion and in the rituals that they practice.

I have experienced this blending myself in my travels to different countries. I am a Christian and I attend a church every Sunday, so when I go overseas I enjoy going to different churches to see what they are like. I have not yet experienced any major differences but there are often some noticeable minor differences. Some cultures sit down during church, others stand, others dance. In some cultures a church service is an all-day event, in others it is very brief. Some church services are very spontaneous and seemingly random, others are the exact same week in and week out. This is the same type of cultural influence that the Hare Krishna movement has experienced. Although it may not be a completely new religion, it is a slightly newer form of a religion.

Tommy Douglas



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