Who are the "Hare-Krishnas?" - By Reza Ganjavi
I have several good friends who are Hare Krishna followers and I have respect for anyone on any path as long as it's not evil worship! Over the years the movement has seemed to mellow down and strengthen in some ways. Which indicates it's probably here to stay. Being a philosopher, I can not embrace such belief systems, but I can understand the Bhakti spirit, and can appreciate and enjoy the music and devotion to God -- God, the nameless, timeless, immeasureable. The Hare-Krishna (HK) movement was founded in the United States in 1966 by Swami Prabhupada. The Swami was a scholar of Hinduism who wrote many books and commentaries on scriptures. The group's official name is: "International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)".
Many people have come across HK followers. They sell books at airports and chant in the streets in orange and saffron robes and shaved heads. They have temples around the world which offer vegetarian meals at a reasonable price and on Sundays, a free feast (no longer) for those who attend the talks.
HK's is a sect of Hinduism -- Bhakti-Yogis who try to find God through devotion and chanting. Most major world religions have a form of devotional practice. I have had the occasion to attend their restaurants (once I got sick) and temples and discuss their beliefs a few times. From what I recall, they have a very traditional Hindu outlook on life - encompassing the confusion which surrounds many religions - vast bodies of works that make little scientific, logical, rational, common sense, and blind-belief. Their followers abstain from sex though married, except to have children. Many are attracted to the movement in order to embrace the cultural aspect - many I met were those with very rough pasts. One of their spiritual practices is Mantra yoga - repeating over and over and over and over a phrase until the mind is dull and forcefully quiet. They have a strict hierarchy which reminds one of the Catholic church with its Bishops, Cardinals, etc. Their celebrations and chanting can be quite emotional - with many seemingly sexually suppressed men jumping up and down to the sound of many drums and bells in a dance which did not seem too artistic, delicate, subtle, or religious.
There has been numerous accounts of corruption and abuse within the movement. Yesterday (June 12, 2000) more that 40 former Hare Krishna students sued the organization for $400,000,000 alleging they were sexually and physically abused as children over the course of two decades. ``This lawsuit describes the most unthinkable abuse and maltreatment of little children which we have seen. It includes rape, sexual abuse, physical torture and emotional terror of children as young as 3 years of age,'' said the plaintiff's attorney, Windle Turley. The lawsuit alleged children in Hare Krishna boarding schools were routinely abused by teachers and staff from 1972, when ISKCON's first school opened in Dallas, until around 1990. The abuses ranged from rape and beatings to forcing small children to stand for hours in a darkened closet or sleep in soiled blankets as punishment for wetting their beds. It claimed the abuse continued in a half-dozen other schools in the United States and
eventually at two boys' schools in India.
I believe their success has been due to the West's thirst for imported culture and exotic beliefs, and general gullibility of people.
The scripture on which they are based is of course respectful. And I must say I have been impressed by their kindness.
Hare Krishnas to File Chapter 11
Hare Krishna congregations named in a $400 million lawsuit alleging sexual and emotional abuse of boarding school
students plan to file for bankruptcy.
the lawsuit would cost congregations millions to fight and potentially bankrupt many even if they wo
Turley has said the abuse started in 1972 at ISKCON's first school in Dallas, and continued in six other U.S. schools and two in India. He said ISKCON knew that sex offenders were working in their schools.
About a dozen congregations will start filing for Chapter 11 reorganization.
Listened to audio of Prabhupada talking with George H and John L and Yoko. It was funny how they cornered him against his remark that his path is the best.
15 JAN 2004 -- had a nice meal at the K restaurant - same place where a few years ago I got sick from the meal. Didn't touch the sweets which seems to be an important part of this diet culture. the people are always nice ad friendly specially those who are not in it for too long. after a decade or so the ones I met seem kind of dulled by all the silly repetition of the mantra which quietens the mind by dulling it. That quality of silence has nothing to do with natural, unimposed silence.
I looked at your web page. It is creative, personal, and full of variety.
My only complaint is that I think you are too hard on the Hare Krishnas.
Just a couple of examples.
The repetition of God's names or prayers to God, a practice shared by other traditions, does not dull the mind but spiritually invigorates it.
The teachings of Bhagavad-gita on which the Hare Krishna movement is based have been appreciated by great thinkers such as Thoreau, Emerson, and Gandhi, and certainly are not childish. Thoreau once said, "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, . . . in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial."
I wish you well on your spiritual path.