Hare Krishna mantra in Prague streets

The sacred, music and trance


  • Zuzana Jurková
  • Veronika Seidlová




Hare Krishna, mantra, trance, deep listening, ethnomusicology


The article introduces one of the regular outdoor musical events in Prague – the harinam, a procession of Hare Krishna devotees. This event is set in the broader context of music as an integral part of religious rituals and/or holidays. The universal connection of music and spirituality is found in two extreme positions: as culturally determined or as universalistic/objectivistic. One of the traditions that understand spirituality as intrinsically present in music and thus the connection of the sacred and music as objective, is an Indian tradition. Its two basic approaches, that is, the Vedic “Apollonian” concept and the “Dionysian” concept, present in various directions, e.g., Tantrism, are actually present in the Hare Krishna procession. Our attention is drawn to the interpretation of the strikingly culturally specific elements of this “Dionysian” stream. Using Judith Becker’s (2004) concept of trance, the Prague harinam shows itself to be like a culturally conditioned form of universal models of spiritual music.

Author Biographies

Zuzana Jurková

is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology and head of the Institute for Ethnomusicology at the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University, Prague. She studied ethnology and musicology at Charles University. Recipient of a Fulbright scholarship (1998). She has conducted fieldwork among the Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and is currently conducting research on music in the urban area (Prague).

Veronika Seidlová

is a PhD. student of anthropology at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague (since 2010), where she also earned her MA degree in social and historical anthropology and BA degree in Humanities. She specializes in ethnomusicology and is author of, e.g., an audio-text publication The Forgotten Voice of the Jeruzalémská Synagogue in Prague published by the Jewish Museum with the support of the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. From 2008 to 2010, she was curator and Head of the Center for Documentation of Popular Music and New Media in the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music.




How to Cite

Jurková, Z., & Seidlová, V. (2011). Hare Krishna mantra in Prague streets: The sacred, music and trance. Lidé města, 13(2), 195-219. https://doi.org/10.14712/12128112.3561