Bharati, Baba Premanand

(d. 1914) pioneer Hindu leader in the United StatesBaba Premanand Bharati was among the small group of Hindu leaders who entered the United States in the decades after the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893. He founded the Krishna Samaj in New York City soon after the start of the new century.
   Born Surendranath Mukerji in India, Bharati led a life prior to his arrival in the United States in 1902 that is little known. He was a devotee of Krishna and followed a form of Vaishnavite BHAKTI YOGA similar to that popularized in the 1970s by the INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS. He advocated the repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra as a means of gaining release from the wheel of reincarnation and gain-ing enlightenment.Bharati first worked in New York City, where he organized the Krishna Samaj. He lectured along the East Coast for several years and then moved to Los Angeles, where he built a temple and devel-oped a youthful and loyal following. After only a few years, in 1909, he returned to India, where he died in 1914, still a relatively young man.
   In the years after his death, Bharati was con-demned by American nativists such as Elizabeth Reed, who were mobilizing public support for the Asian Exclusion Act, which passed in 1917. At about that time the Krishna Samaj was shut down. However, Bharati’s followers later formed several other organizations with similar missions, includ-ing the Order of Loving Service, active only in the 1930s, and the AUM Temple of Universal Truth, which continued to operate into the 1980s, reprint-ing Bharati’s writings in their periodicals and circu-lating his picture a half-century after his death.
   Further reading: Baba Premanand Bharati, American Lectures (Calcutta: Indo-American Press, n.d.); ———, Shree Krishna (New York: Krishna Samaj, n.d.); Eliza-beth A. Reed, Hinduism in Europe and America (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1914).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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