This type of encounter is often the only one that Joe Public will get with the Hare Krishna's, and they will leave it at that, glad to have escaped. Many have formed their opinions from hearsay [not the band] and stories of 'cults' and so I'd like to put my views about them on my blog.
I was in the second year of my 'Study of Religions' degree at Chichester, and one of the modules involved visiting a place of worship and providing a first-hand perspective on it. I've minimalised the actual task, but to be fair I can't really remember the actual assignment title [and can't be bothered rooting around the loft for my coursework]. Several day-trip options were offered [visiting a Synagogue/Roman Catholic Church/Mosque] but these seemed a bit tame and so me and two others on the course [Mike and Austin] decided to see what else was on offer, and so it was that in late 2001 we would be spending the weekend with the Hare Krishna's.
This being a fair few years ago, a lot of the facts have been lost in the recesses of my mind, but I will do my best.
I knew a fair bit about the actual background of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly called Hare Krisna's, having studied a fair few Indian Religions during my course, and I'll outline a few key points here.
ISKCON was founded in New York in 1966 by Indian monk called A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada [died 1977], although it's practices and beliefs are closely linked to the Gaudiya Vaishnavism form of Hinduism.
It was formed to spread the practice of Bhakti Yoga [the yoga of devotion] which is directly aimed at Krishna [the Supreme Lord] and his cohort Radha. [It must be noted that they have many other incarnations too.]