The most notable member of the so-called Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON), often called a “cult,” was former Beatle George Harrison, who gave the group millions.

Harrison penned the song that was to become an enduring Krishna anthem titled My Sweet Lord. But that hit went sour when it was later the subject of a copyright infringement suit, which the singer lost.

Today ISKCON “spokesman” Anuttama Dasa is busy trying to persuade the public that the organization has changed since “the sad days of the ’80s and ’90s.” He is at the hub of a public relations effort and the organization’s seasoned spinmeister.

Dasa held forth recently within what amounts to a puff piece published within the Dallas Morning News.

He wants Texans to believe that ISKCON devotees have gone mainstream. They reportedly “dress in clothes from Brooks Brothers or L.L. Bean” and have joined Middle America.

E. Burke Rochford Jr., a professor at Vermont’s Middlebury College, has worked very closely with Hare Krishna and had articles published within the organization’s official journal. He told the Dallas newspaper, “They’re just now part of the culture in ways that the average person couldn’t have imagined some 20 or 25 years ago.”

Long-time “cult apologist” Larry Shinn not only agreed with Rochford, but claimed that historic “accusations” against the group were somehow based upon “the same activities that made the movement an authentic expression of Hinduism.”

However, Hare Krishna founder Swami Prabhupada once stated, “The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion…. One should clearly understand that the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion.”

Rather than accepting all this spin from the likes of Dasa, Rochford and Shinn it seems more prudent to carefully examine the real basis for “accusations” against the Hare Krishna movement.

The so-called “sad old days” featured horrific psychological, emotional, physical and at times sexual abuse, that many ISKCON adherents endured at the organization’s hands, including children.

Some of that abuse has been openly acknowledged by ISKCON, since the facts have become common knowledge.

“Speaking as a member of the first generation, we made a lot of mistakes,” Anuttama Dasa admitted within the Dallas article. Later in the report such “mistakes” were consigned to the acts of “overzealous” devotees.


How did Krishna devotees become so “overzealous,” if not through the indoctrination, continuing influence and policies of ISKCON’s leaders?

This “abuse excuse” has become something of a mantra amongst “cults.”

That is, whenever abuses are publicly exposed, they often blame this on “overzealous” members, rather than admit the obvious, which is that such abuses stem from the leadership, its policies and/or its own gross negligence.

Published author and former decade long Hare Krishna devotee Nori Muster sees things differently than apparent apologist Shinn and ISKCON published researcher Rochford.

Muster wrote a thought-provoking piece titled Can Cult Groups Change (1999). Speaking specifically about ISKCON she said, “If the organization now really wants to change for the better, it should remove all illegitimate gurus, Governing Body Commission (GBC) board members, temple presidents, sannyasis (priests), and zone managers. There are at least 20-30 illegitimate leaders that still remain firmly in place within its hierarchy.”

But ISKCON didn’t do that.

The same leadership that controlled the Hare Krishna movement through its so-called “sad days” remained essentially intact. And ISKCON’s leaders continue to lack any meaningful constitutional accountability through organizational checks and balances implemented through bylaws and institutional financial transparency.

Instead, the reported “new faces of Krishna” can easily be seen as a largely superficial pose and part of an ongoing public relations strategy, made necessary by a $400 million dollar class action lawsuit.

ISKCON has currently sought refuge from that lawsuit through the protection provided by Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

The litigation addresses the damage done by Hare Krishna’s “mistakes,” which includes the gross abuse of its children consigned like chattel to ISKCON “boarding schools.”

Krishna kids were not only frequently subjected to substandard living conditions, but also at times brutally beaten and even raped by adult devotees.

Certainly these were “sad days” for the children who were not later meaningfully compensated.

According to ISKCON’s peripatetic spokesman Dasa we are to believe that they will eventually receive something through a settlement plan being devised through the current bankruptcy proceeding.

However, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs called the bankruptcy a “dodge,” contrived to avoid any serious settlement. And to date Hare Krishna has reportedly only paid a paltry $2,000 per victim in “grants” to some of the victimized children.

By comparison Muster suggests that it would be “more reasonable to give $30,000 for each count of abuse to each victim.”

Incredibly the Hare Krishna movement wants everyone to believe it is impoverished. “The movement is poor – surviving, but poor,” claims one devotee interviewed by the Dallas Morning News.

However, this incredible claim ignores the vast wealth accumulated by the organization through real estate holdings, book sales and donations. One Ford Motor heir alone is now giving millions for building projects in India.

It is sad to see how many responsible people seem to have been taken in by ISKCON’s spin and apparent apologists.

But Muster sees through such maneuvering and instead has focused her attention steadfastly on the behavior, policies and leadership structure of the organization.

“In order for ISKCON to really change all these attitudes must change and then it could really become a better organization,” Ms. Muster summarized succinctly.


no comment untill now

Sorry, comments closed.