Moundsville, West Virginia – On Sunday, October 23, 2011, Kirtanananda Swami, a controversial former leader of the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna community passed away in India. He was expelled from the parent organization, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in 1987, and removed from New Vrindavban leadership in 1994.
Kirtanananda Swami, Former Leader Expelled from Krishna Community Dies
“We express our sincere condolences to Kirtanananda’s family and well-wishers,” said Jaya Krsna, President of New Vrindaban. “He was a historical figure in the early days of the New Vrindaban community.”
Born Keith Ham in 1937 in Peekskill, New York, as the son of a Baptist minister, Kirtanananda was one of the first Americans to become a disciple of Hare Krishna movement founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who brought the Krishnas’ brand of monotheistic devotional Hinduism, or Vaishnavism, to the west in 1965.
Kirtanananda was best known for helping to found and being an early leader of New Vrindaban, an expansive Hare Krishna community in rural West Virginia whose ornate Palace of Gold, award winning gardens, large temple and organic farm today draw thousands of visitors and pilgrims each year.
Kirtanananda maintained a relatively low profile in the last few years and made no efforts to reconcile with the New Vrindaban community and ISKCON. He was 74 at the time of his death.
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