I was in my vending space when a little tiny person toddled in. The bit of hair fluff he had was white blond, and his eyes were huge and blue. He smiled and laughed and his mom followed him in.
We chatted a bit, and I said I thought her little friend was cute. (I try not to assume an adult and kid in public together are parent and child, although in this case they were.) I asked his name, and she said, Mukunda.
She explained breathlessly that it’s one of the names of Krishna and added that she and the kid’s dad named him Makunda Ram Das. I didn’t say anything more than Oh! while nodding and smiling.
According to https://krishnasmercy.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/mukunda/, [o]ne of Lord Krishna’s names is Mukunda, meaning “one who grants liberation”. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Dass), “Ram Dass is an American spiritual teacher and the author of the seminal 1971 book Be Here Now.”
I will admit right here: I didn’t know much about the followers of Krishna. I thought they wore robes and handed out flowers while asking for donations. (Do I have totally 1977 ideas about the followers of Krishna?) This woman and her husband (whom I met later) looked and acted like other mainstream early 21st century white people. This couple certainly looked more “normal” than most of the other people at the festival: no visible tattoos, no dreadlocks, no tie dye, the man was clean shaven and wore shorts and a t-shirt, the woman did not have on a flowy skirt or flowers in her hair. Maybe followers of Krishna blend in now and I didn’t get the memo. If I had guessed a religion for this little family, I’d have speculated Mormon or maybe Lutheran.
I’m not even trying to be snarky here. I just think it’s a little weird to give your kid one of Krishna’s names if Krishna isn’t your deity.
Maybe I’m the asshole for assuming the family does not hold Krishna in a religious place of honor. (My dad always said, When you assume, you make an ass of you and me.) Now that I have internet access, I Googled “do followers of Krishna dress a certain way?” and found “An introduction on how to be a devotee of Krishna” at http://www.krishnapath.org/how-to-become-a-devotee/. According to that website,
The devotees you may have seen distributing books like Bhagavad-Gita, or chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra with traditional Indian instruments, or dancing and chanting dressed in traditional Indian robes, are for the most part full-time monks of the Hare Krishna movement. The vast majority of Krishna devotees, however, live and work in the general community, practicing Krishna consciousness in their homes and may sometimes visit Krishna temples for inspiration and prayer.
Oh. I guess I am the asshole. My apologies. I was holding 1977 ideas about the followers of Krisha. Now I see that it’s quite likely that Mukunda’s parents are devotees of Krishna. I should have just asked, but sometimes my brain is quick to jump to conclusions and slow to ask polite, well-meaning questions.