His spiritual path to the Hare Krishnas was an unlikely one. Hansard was born into a Catholic family that he said always had a love-hate relationship with the religion. His parents were only 16 when his mother got pregnant with him; they ran away from home to escape their conservative Catholic families.
His parents raised him as a Catholic but they never interfered in his spiritual endeavors and his eventual conversion.
"I was an altar boy, but I didn't understand religion,” he said, “and as I grew up I started asking questions, and I didn't find the answers in Catholicism.”
He continued to ask questions, and read spiritual classics like Richard Bach's “Jonathan Livington Seagull” and Khalil Gibran's “The Prophet.” But the turning point came when he read the Vedas, the Hindu Holy scriptures, and traveled to the island of Inis Rath in Ireland where the Hare Krishnas had established a commune in 1985. While there, he converted to the religion.
Hare Krishna is a branch of Hinduism, but differs from other schools within the religion because followers worship a sole creator god – the Lord Krishna – above all other deities.
Hare Krishnas believe the religion dates back to the 16th century, and was founded by the Hindu monk Sri Chaitanya in Bengal, India. He focused on the worship of Krishna and encouraged chanting and celebratory dancing in his honor on the temple and on the streets.
The name of the order itself comes from its chant, a continuous repetition of the God’s names, which creates vibration patterns that followers believe bring them to a higher connection to the Almighty.
The religion was brought to the West in the 1960s when Swami Prabhupada, a Hindu monk, started finding converts to the precepts of self-renunciation, and founding temples worldwide.
Hansard himself was intrigued by the devotion of young Hare Krishnas who worshipped with every action in their lives.
“When I first was with young Krishnas my age they had brought back soils from Mathura,” he said, referring to the Indian birthplace of Swami Prabhupada and Krishna. “They were so passionate that they were eating the soil.”
  
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