Almost Heaven

Photo by Aaron Blum.

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Almost Heaven

by Aaron Blum
Southern Cultures, Vol. 23, No. 1: Appalachia

"The culture at New Vrindaban, though at odds with the traditional context of Appalachia, does not exist in a vacuum; familiar cultural markers are juxtaposed with the anomalous—traditional Krishna robes paired with steel-toed boots and blue-collar workwear.”

The New Vrindaban is a Krishna community in the hills of Appalachia, the vision of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The New Vrindaban in West Virginia is the realization of Prabhupada’s dream to establish a holy pilgrimage site in North America. It was conceived to echo Vrindavan, India, which is where, according to many Hindu religions, Krishna took human form. The devotees of the Krishna faith understand it to be the equivalent of Heaven on Earth.