Friday, December 01, 2017


When India’s Supreme Court ruled on 11 October that sex with girls under the age of 18 is always rape, it threw cold water on the so-called husbands of underage girls who suddenly found themselves unable to hide behind the former exemption for child brides as young as 15. It also brought to mind the revulsion—or should I say obsession?--with female sexuality so characteristic of the ISKCON/Hare Krishna cult and especially of its founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. One incident demonstrating this tendency comes to mind, dating back to the summer of 1977.


I was briefly staying at the ISKCON Mumbai complex at Juhu, living, as usual, in squalor, when an Indian devotee married to an American living in the room across mine told me what happened when they sought advice from our guru about an operation their infant daughter urgently needed to correct a birth defect. (For those readers puzzled by this situation, you need to know that our guru regarded himself as the ultimate authority in all matters relating to his disciples’ lives and invited them to avail themselves of his so-called expertise. Bizarre but true.) Predictably enough, as soon as they informed him that the defect needing surgical correction related to the girl’s sex organs, he told them to do nothing. I still remember the mother’s ashen face and sense of hopelessness. I still wonder if they heeded the advice of their pediatrician and ignored the smug, saffron-clad blathering’s of our know-it-all “guru.”

Judging from the recent media condemnation of celebrities accused of sexual abuse, men in positions of power who either practice such crimes or hold views that excuse them, need to be forewarned. There has never been a worse time to be a public figure and try to escape censure for discriminatory or predatory treatment of women, no matter how long ago it took place. There will soon be nowhere to hide. Whether the victims use Twitter, Face Book, or another form of social media to tell their stories, the results will be the same. Remember: it was never a question if justice would prevail; it was just a matter of when. Now is the time.

ISKCON has been particularly foolish in courting Indian celebrities in the film industry and politics with its lavish temples and charitable associations. Hema Malini—an ISKCON life member—is a prime example: a few months ago, this veteran Bollywood actress turned singer released an album of devotional songs (“bhajans”) on 13 August at the Mumbai ISKCON temple to great fanfare. How would she and her admirers react, one wonders, if they knew that the Hare Krishna cultists regard women as lustful, innately stupid baggage, little more than two-legged wombs good for cooking and acting as personal slaves for their husbands.[i] When they discover that these misogynistic views were promulgated by the founder/acharya of the Hare Krishna cult, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (also known as “Srila Prabhupada”) and form the basis of the cult’s past and present treatment of its women members, they will undoubtedly repudiate their connection with ISKCON immediately.

How, for example, could the Religion Communications Council (RCC) be so shortsighted that they would give a prestigious annual award this year to ISKCON for its “Hare Krishna” film when it is clearly nothing but cult propaganda? The expenditure on documentaries and publications celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s journey to America are signs that donors, mostly Hindus both in India and abroad, have little or no knowledge of his philosophy or the practical consequences of his beliefs beyond what ISKCON feeds them.

Above all, this cult, like many others, strives to achieve respectability and gain regard as a mainstream religious organization. To this end, ISKCON has spent millions litigating against charges of child and sexual abuse, while it presents a carefully expurgated and sanitized view of itself to the media and the general public.[i] These efforts are tantamount to putting blinkers on the media, as if they are horses meant only to see what their drivers want and not to be distracted by anything else.

Why else would The Times of India just recently publish an article entitled “ISKCON Plans Programme to Attract Children, Youth” (13 November, 2017) wherein an ISKCON communication head openly states that the Society plans to “import value education” to schoolchildren by stressing “on hearing good things because they stay in the thought which, in time, changes into action. …It slowly becomes a habit and then nature of an individual and finally becomes one’s culture.” That is called indoctrination and is the exact method both cults and terrorist organizations use to ensnare young people who are naturally idealistic and yearning for a sense of community. The disaster of the ISKCON gurukula experiment should be proof enough to ward off parents and children from such an enterprise. How could a major English-language Indian newspaper print such garbage? Such breathtaking ineptitude is hard to imagine.

Today, in fact, there is a wide gulf between the public face of ISKCON and the lives of members of the cult. Rigid conformity to the published teachings of Bhaktivedanta Swami is enforced through coercion and threats of defamation and expulsion. Devotees live in a regressive universe where they actively deride women members who aspire to equal treatment as “feminists,” urging them instead to submit to their husbands and be content with the notion that they are intellectual inferiors better suited to keeping house and being mothers. These types of anti-feminist rants are vestiges of culture wars that were fought at least 30 years ago. Acting as if they have any significance today is just pathetic and laughable.

Furthermore, many of the beliefs about women that Bhaktivedanta Swami’s disciples and “grand” disciples insist are as authoritative as their guru was, are shockingly vulgar and repulsive. As a former disciple of his, I will always feel cheated for having wasted the best years of my life following and defending someone capable of slandering women and marriage in such horrible terms:

Room conversation with Adi-Kesava Swami, 19 February 1977, Mayapur,West Bengal 
Prabhupada said, “The dog likes to smell the vagina. You are like that. What is business of going another vagina? You require vagina. Take one and be satisfied. That is intelligence. First of all there is no need of vagina. But if you want, take one and be satisfied. Why you are searching after dog vagina, this vagina, that vagina, that vagina? We must expose them, that’s all. This is our business. This is a good opportunity in the court, so that it will be published. People will know what is our philosophy. Licking of vagina civilization, this. Publish. 
Room Conversation: 25 Feb. 1977 Mayapura, West Bengal
They are never satisfied, the vagina business.One who is dhīra,sober, he tolerates little itching sensation: "What this nonsense?" And if you practice toleration, there will be no more. Finished. You become liberated. Therefore, from the very beginning of life, childhood, this teach him, that "Don't be a vagina-smelling animal.
I have done what he desired: with this posting, I have published his vile rant so people who think that the fancy temples and programs to which they give their hard-earned money--all under the impression that they are genuine Hindu mandirs--might stand corrected. For the ISKCON devotees themselves, they can either wake up or continue living in delusions as they see fit. 

Of course, I am well aware that media and political personalities who have either supported or awarded prizes or praised ISKCON for its public relations follies would never have given their approval had they researched the cult thoroughly. The only way to inform such deluded parties is to contact them and send them the link to specific postings on this blog and its companion,

The following is a collection of quotations about women from the published works of the founder/acharya of the Hare Krishna cult, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, categorized by topic. My comments follow each. "SB" refers to Srimad Bhagavatam (see notes). 

Preference of Male to Female Children:

Letter of November, 1975 to his disciple, Dhananjaya Das:
I've noticed that you gave birth to a girl. This is precisely the defect. I want male children. But you do not have the Stamina. When I saw the belly of Vilasini, I really thought it would be a boy...... Why is the majority of my married students only giving birth to girls?
More ignorance: The gender of a child is solely determined by the father. "Stamina" has nothing to do with it!

Approval of Wife-Beating:

Room conversation, 12 April, 1969, New York
Likewise, pasu, animals, when you say, "My dear dog, you shall not run there." Zack! (laughs) "No, dear dog."Zack! That's right. Likewise, women. If you become indulgent, it will make trouble. In India still, in the villages, whenever there is dispute between the husband and the wife, then she is beaten by the man and she is tame again (laughs).

ISKCON devotee-zombies who fail to object to this description of wife-beating will one day hear the "Zack! of a whip themselves when they are run out of town by people who are sick and tired of their nonsense.

Calling Indira Gandhi and other “Free”Women  Prostitutes:

Lecture on 5 April, 1977, Mumbai

Prabhupada: Talks to students about former Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.
She is not a leader. She is a prostitute. When women are liberated, this means prostitutes. Free women are called prostitutes. 
Really? What does name-calling achieve but a display of envy and frustration? Get your facts straight. Every human being, man or woman, has the intrinsic right to personal autonomy, happiness, and the right to be the architect of his or her own destiny. Religious fanaticism is what puts shackles on the lives of people, training them to believe that they are helpless pawns of past karmic sins with no free will. 

SB 6.17.34-35 Purport
It must be said clearly that the understanding of a woman is always lower than the understanding of a man. 
More nonsense. I remember how early ISKCON devotees took this literally and claimed that all men were smarter than any woman. Amazing stupidity.

Lecture on SB 1.3.21, 26 September 1972, Los Angeles.  
This is psychologically true, that within the brain, the brain substance, if there is more, then one is more intelligent.. . Just see, modern scientific psychology, how it was known, long, long millions of years ago. At least five thousand years ago. Alpa-medhasah. And this is scientific fact. Those who are students of psychology, they know it. I was student of psychology, and our professor… He was a Scotman. He explained this brain substance, cerebular substance, Dr. Urquhart, that the more brain substance is there, more one becomes intelligent. And it has been found that a woman does not have more than thirty-six ounce of brain substance, whereas in man it has been found that he has got up to sixty-four ounce. Now, this is modern science. Therefore generally, generally, woman, less intelligent than man. You cannot find any big scientist, any big mathematician, any big philosopher amongst woman. That is not possible. Although in your country, you want equal status with man, freedom, but by nature you are less intelligent. What can be done?
Perhaps the most ridiculous statement our guru every uttered, based on a total ignorance of science, history, and common sense. His slavish devotion to the words of an European professor--what a big deal in to a student in Calcutta!--are particularly laughable. Trotting out the old claims of an ancient "Vedic Science" having existed is another myth and salve for people who hunger for self-importance instead of doing the hard work of getting a real education. 

Letter to Madhukara, 4 January 1973

To understand Brahman is not the business of tiny brain. Alpha-medhasan. There are two Sanskrit words, alpa-medhasa and sumedhasa. Alpa-medhasa means having little brain substance. Physiologically, within the brain there are brain substance. It is found that the brain substance in man is found up to 64 ounce. They are very highly intellectual persons. And in woman the brain substance is not found more than 34 ounce. You’ll find, therefore, that there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher, among women. You’ll never find because their brain substance cannot go. Artificially do not try to become equal with men. That is not allowed in the Vedic sastra. Na striyam svatantratam arhati. That is called sastra.You have to understand that woman is never given to be independence.  But if there is sex desire, how to control it? Women are normally very lusty, more lusty than men, and they are weaker sex, it is difficult for them to make spiritual advancement without the help of husband. For so many reasons, our women must have husband. That's all right, but if once they have got a husband he goes away so quickly, that will not be very much happy for them. 
So, women are so dumb and lustful, according to "Vedic Sastra" that they must rely on their husbands for their instruction and are also to be denied independence? This statement of Bhaktivedanta Swami is an unwarranted insult to women, and especially the many great women intellectuals of history, many of them Indians of all faiths and, yes, highly intellectual and educated. It truly pains me to state the obvious! 

Belief That Women Enjoy Being  Raped:

 Morning walk, 11 May 1975, Perth

Prabhupada: “Rape means without consent, sex. Otherwise there is no rape. There was a rape case in Calcutta, and the lawyer was very intelligent. He some way or other made the woman admit, ‘Yes, I felt happiness.’ So he was released. ‘Here is consent.’ And that’s a fact. Because after all, sex, rape or no rape, they will feel some pleasure. So the lawyer by hook and crook made the woman agree, ‘Yes, I felt some pleasure.’ ‘Now, there is consent.’ So he was released. After all, it is an itching sensation. So either by force or by willingly, if there is itching, everyone feels relieved itching it. That’s a psychology. It is not that the woman do not like rape. They like sometimes. They willingly. That is the psychology. Outwardly they show some displeasure, but inwardly they do not. This is the psychology.”  
No, sir, you knew nothing about "psychology" or the law. Rape is a horribly violent act that ruins the lives of millions of women and, unfortunately, is rarely reported or litigated because of fear and prejudices like the kinds you trot out here. Your judge without the slightest bit of decency or competence would dare ask a woman if she enjoyed the act! That is simple insanity. How dare you claim that women like being raped! Such evil!

SB 4.25.41, Purport

Although rape is not legally allowed, it is a fact that a woman likes a man who is very expert at rape. 
More of the same ignorant, vicious generalizations from a man who married an 11 year old girl. Shame!

Support of Child Marriage, Slavery of Wives, and Sati:

Room conversation, 27 February 1977, Mayapur

Man has no maximum. Even an eighty-years-old man can marry a sixteen-years-old girl.

Disgusting nonsense! An old bag "marrying" a teenager?

Letter to Mr. Loy, 7 November 1972, Vrindavan

And it is recommended they should be married at very early age, then the wife will remain always chaste and devoted to her husband. At such young age, from the first night onwards, she can never for a moment forget him, being still child and unspoiled, therefore she becomes the perfect chaste wife, and in those times the wife was so much devoted to her husband that she would voluntarily die in the fire of his cremation, unable to live without him. Myself, I was very young when I got married, and my wife was 11 years only. 

Where did our guru dig up this nonsense? His own wife clearly disliked him and for good reason. As for a wife committing suicide by burning herself alive, that's just another legend men use to dispose of widows. Sati was murder and nothing else. Nothing voluntary about it.

Room conversation, 15 August 1971, London

Sex life, sex urge is there as soon as twelve years, thirteen years old, especially women. So therefore early marriage was sanctioned in India. Early marriage. Boy fifteen years, sixteen years, and girl twelve years. Not twelve years, ten years. 

See my essay
SB 4.25.42, purport

A young woman who has no husband is called anatha, meaning ‘one who is not protected.’ As soon as a woman attains the age of puberty, she immediately becomes very much agitated by sexual desire. It is therefore the duty of the father to get his daughter married before she attains puberty. Otherwise she will be very much mortified by not having a husband. Anyone who satisfies her desire for sex at that age becomes a great object of satisfaction. It is a psychological fact that when a woman at the age of puberty meets a man and the man satisfies her sexually, she will love that man for the rest of her life, regardless who he is.  
Treating women like animals who mate for life with the first man who rapes them as a young child--it's called statutory rape, people--reduces them to the status of animals. It is pure fiction and a ghastly justification for sexual assault of children as well as child marriage.

Twelve years. And she was given to a boy, my brother-in-law, for the second marriage. Means that my brother-in-law lost his first wife, and still, he was twenty-one years old. My sister was twelve years old and brother-in-law was twenty-one. In the sastra I do not know exactly what is that sastra, but they say that if the girl before marriage has menstruation, then the father has to eat that menstrual liquid. Means it is, mean, very strict. And if the father is not living, then the elder brother has to eat. [break] …of getting the girl married rests on the father. In the absence of the father, the eldest brother. The girl must be married. That is it. It is called daya, kanya-daya.

Drinking menstrual blood because you can't get your little daughter married? Now I've heard everything.

Lecture: 19 March, 1976, Mayapura, India
And the women are declaring, “independent.” They are begging door to door to a man, “Please give me shelter. Give me a child,” and they’re independent. One American woman, was…. She was speaking that “In India, the woman are treated as slave. We don’t want.” So I told her that it is better to become slave of one person than to slave of become hundreds. (laughter)The woman must become a slave. So instead of becoming slaves of so many persons, it is better to remain satisfied, a slave of one person.. . . And our Vedic civilization says, narī-rūpa pati-vratam: “The woman is beautiful when she remains as a slave to the husband.” That is the beauty, not the personal beauty. How much she has learned to remain as a slave to the husband, that is Vedic civilization.
Sorry, but the only women I have ever encountered begging and being treated as slaves were ISKCON devotees, particularly those who spent their days hawking our guru's books and living like mice in a wall. To treat marriage as a kind of slavery is another reason why ISKCON will one day evaporate and be a blot on the history of Hinduism.

Morning Walk, Bombay, 12 April, 1974

Formerly, when I was married, my wife was eleven years old. So (laughing) an eleven years old girl and I was at the same time twenty-one, twenty-two. One day I captured her hand. She began to cry. A little girl, you see?  
Yes, we all see, unfortunately for your reputation as a "pure devotee"! That little girl should have been home playing with her sisters and her toys. Instead, she got hell.

Education of Women

SB 1.3.13 Lecture, Los Angeles, 18 September, 1972

So dealing with woman… Especially instruction are given to men. All literatures, all Vedic literatures, they are especially meant for instruction to the men. Woman is to follow the husband. That’s all. The husband will give instruction to the wife. There is no such thing as the girl should go to school to take brahmacari asrama or go to spiritual master to take instruction. That is not Vedic system. Vedic system is a man is fully instructed, and woman, girl, must be married to a man. Even the man may have many wives, polygamy, still, every woman should be married. And she would get instruction from the husband. This is Vedic system. Woman is not allowed to go to school, college, or to the spiritual master. But husband and wife, they can be initiated. That is Vedic system.

Barefoot and pregnant, literally. Since Bhaktivedanta Swami, by his own admission, never read the Vedas and believed that women should be denied educations, reading his books is a waste of time and visiting temples erected by his followers is an insult to Hindu culture.

All quotations from the writings, lectures, and personal talks of ISKCON founder/acharya, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada can be retrieved here: The following is a sample of documented comments he made in his role as ultimate authority of ISKCON, all addressed to his initiated disciples unless otherwise noted:

Srimad Bhagavatam4.26.26, purport: 
Generally when a woman is attacked by a man – whether her husband or some other man – she enjoys the attack, being too lusty.
Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.25.42, purport: 
When a husbandless woman is attacked by an aggressive man, she takes his action to be mercy.
References and Notes

[1] This neatly summarizes the events that led to the lawsuit filed in 2002. 
[2] This article contains detailed information about the culture in ISKCON in its role in the Gurukula and Robin George lawsuits.

The "Srimad Bhagavatam" quoted here and elsewhere in my blog refers to what is more commonly known as the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen puranas (histories) dating from somewhere between the eighth and the tenth century, CE. In common with most epic poems, it is a lengthy compendium of topics relating to the mythical origins of a people, in this case those of the Indian subcontinent. Other characteristics of similar works in the epic genre are claims concerning ancient composition, single authors, and an almost continuous stream of fanciful exaggerations that orthodox readers (such as Bhaktivedanta Swami) take literally. Its significance to the Hare Krishna cult rests on its placing the avatar of Vishnu, Krishna, on a platform that Vaishnavas (devotees of Vishnu) regard as higher than any other deity in the Hindu pantheon and the devotional practices of Bhakti Yoga as the culmination of all others. In reality, the Bhagavata Purana owes much of its influence to its composite nature as a work of epic literature and especially its syncretic philosophical underpinnings. Bhaktivedanta Swami's commentaries (he called them "purports") with their rigid literalism and emphasis on chanting and adoration of the Radha Krishna deity skirt the general philosophical agreement of the Bhagavata Purana with the monism of the great Shankara. The aim of all yoga is reunion of the errant soul with the Divine.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


This posting is the first in a series intended to acquaint readers unfamiliar with the history of the Hare Krishna (ISKCON) movement to obtain a brief but thoroughly representative snapshot of some of its most prominent leaders. I know that most of my readers come to my blog curious about the cult after having received a mailed invitation to attend one of their temple celebrations. Others go directly to my essays to read topics of interest to them either through a recommendation or a web search. So far, however, most of my writings in this blog and its companion, have dealt with philosophical or doctrinal issues and my personal experiences during my 13 years as a Hare Krishna devotee

Now I would like to turn my attention to the most influential leaders within ISKCON, specifically those who were direct disciples (as was I) of its founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami ("Srila Prabhupada"). While vast troves of information (mostly critical) about these individuals exists on the web, going through it all and making the necessary connections between what they did and why can be a daunting task. (For a summary of the mindset behind the attraction of the hippie and New Age generations to ISKCON and similar cults, please go to

In addition, my intention is to refute the prevailing ISKCON propaganda that treats the crimes committed by most of these early disciple-miscreants as byproducts of immaturity and personal deviations from the pure and wonderful teachings of their guru. 

In fact, the worst of these deviant disciples were also among the best fund-raisers in the history of the Hare Krishna movement. Their charisma and sharp business sense coupled with their fanatical adherence to Srila Prabhupada's strictures regarding bare-bones expenditures for his disciples were responsible for the rapid openings of many new temples as well as grand temple projects. One of the best examples is the still-admired New Vrindavan temples and grounds that rose from its incongruous location near Wheeling, West Virginia under Kirtanananda Swami's leadership. 

His tenure in ISKCON dates from 1966, the year Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York from India. Judging from the information below, I think you might wonder why he was not apprehended and removed from his position before matters took such a tragic turn. Sad to say, the answer was obvious almost from the beginning: for our guru, the ends indeed justified the means. The price of what we believed was transcendental bliss was the abdication of our highest moral values. For Kirtanananda and his followers, moral cynicism and relativism were the rule of the day. Lost souls, all of them.
  • Kirtanananda, a childhood polio survivor, avid homosexual, and unrepentant pederast, was one the earliest disciples of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami ("Prabhupada") and certainly one of the most infamous. A toad-like man in the grip of full-blown megalomania, he oversaw the construction of the New Vrindavan temple in Moundsville, West Virginia while assembling a rogue's gallery of violent, salacious peons.[i]
  • Along with his fellow homosexual and good friend Hayagriva (Howard Wheeler), Kirtanananda built a criminal empire in addition to the ornate temple and grounds. His devoted goons included the Sankirtan leader and sex abuser Dharmatma Das (Denis Gorrick), the murderer Tirtha Das (Thomas Drescher), another murderer, Daruka Dasa (Don Reid), and many others.
  • Nothing, however, compares to his offences to humanity than his role in allowing and perpetuating the horrible child abuse innocent children of devotees suffered at the Gurukula boarding school.  The infamous New Vrindavan gurukula was a nest of unimaginable cruelty and sexual abuse suffered by children dumped there by their parents. Imagine the misery endured by children who never had a family life (or toys of any kind) forced to take ice cold showers at four in the morning and fed a diet so meager that many appeared emaciated.[ii]
  • His criminal propensities—pedophilia, drug trafficking, stockpiling weapons and ammunition, to name a few--as well as his determination to usurp his guru's role in his community were widely condemned, but, like most narcissists, he still managed to attract a large and devoted following. Expelled from ISKCON in 1987. 
  • In 1996, he was sentenced to twelve years in federal prison for racketeering and conspiracy in the murders of Steven Bryant and Chuck St. Denis. Released after serving eight years. Tirtha Das (Thomas Drescher): on orders from Kirtanananda, murdered Chuck St. Denis in 1983 and dissident Steven Bryant in 1986. Currently serving life in prison.
  • Kuladri Das (Arthur Villa): Kirtanananda's henchman, now associated with Radhanath Swami. Alleged co-conspirator in Bryant's murder. Currently employed by ISKCON in life member drive targeting non-resident Indians
  • Radhanath Swami: both he and Gopal Krishna Goswami took sannyasa initiation from Kirtanananda in the early 1980's. After the fall of Kirtanananda, Radhanath took over his disciples. Sworn testimony of Dharmatma Das in the Sulocana murder trial implicated Radhanath as a co-conspirator. Although he stated that he "broke all ties once I came to know about the murder," both he and Gopal Krishna Goswami attended Kirtanananda's funeral in 2011, where they were seen prostrating themselves before his garlanded corpse.
Postscript: If you wonder why Radhanath Swami and Gopal Krishna Goswami were initiated into the sannyasa (renounced order) at a time when Kirtanananda's criminal activities were well-known throughout the ISKCON universe, you will find out shortly. 

[i]Hubner, John, and Lindsey Gruson. Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas. San Diego:  Harcourt, 1988.


Saturday, August 19, 2017


The other day I met five gentlemen (four elephants and a tortoise, actually) and asked them what they thought of Vedic cosmology in general and the idea that the world is a disc supported by them in particular. This was their reaction:

If I were still a Hare Krishna devotee, I would have been scandalized by their blasphemy and reported them to the cult's authorities for immediate corrective action. Imagine questioning the literal reading of Vedic literature promulgated by our guru and the founder/acharya of the ISKCON cult, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada! How offensive! What guru-aparadha!

As one of his earliest disciples, I remember hearing how a dear godbrother left the cult ("blooped") rather than accept Prabhupada's notion that the Sun is closer to the Earth than the moon. At the time, these cosmological beliefs of our guru were little known outside of his inner circle of followers. Had he informed the rest of us about this nonsense, few new disciples would have been recruited and many initiated devotees would have simply walked out the door. 

However, it soon became apparent that intellectual inquiry was actively discouraged as a condition of becoming a Hare Krishna devotee, with humility and sincerity equated with blindly following everything our guru taught us. This attitude so permeated our thinking that we were not in the least surprised when we heard that Prabhupada praised the submissive attitude of another one of his first disciples, an earnest young man, by stating that he would drink boiling ghee if he asked him to do so.

Today, under the impression that ISKCON is a bona fide Hindu religion, Indians throng to its grand temples throughout the world and provide crucial logistical and monetary support. Few know anything about the history of the cult nor of its philosophical underpinnings. This ignorance is exploited to the full and is the primary reason for the inroads the Hare Krishna leadership has made among many affluent and educated Hindus. Politicians have also fallen under its spell, with ISKCON aligning itself since the 1990’s with Hindu Nationalist nativist sentiments. A more foolhardy tactic by a cult that makes no secret of its contempt for Swami Vivekananda (whom the Hindutva movement has adopted as it spiritual godfather) is hard to imagine.


Before I continue with more on ISKCON's lunar lunacy and related matters, I would like to bring to your attention the demands Indian Prime Minister Modi made during his meetings with the Secretaries of Scientific Departments on Tuesday, July 18th in New Delhi. While admitting that he lacked the expertise to offer recommendations himself, he was disappointed with their progress in finding "solutions to societal problems."  Having just returned from visits to the U.S. and Israel  (in June and July, respectively), Modi's impatience  was understandable. So too was his example of the air pollution in New Delhi, a health menace that requires urgent remediation.

On the other hand, India has justly achieved renown in the scientific community with its Mars Orbital Mission ("Mangalyaan") launched on 6 November 2013, which has been orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. What you might not know is that just a month later, in his October 2014 inaugural address at Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation in Mumbai, the newly elected PM declared that the elephant head on the human body of the god Ganesh is the work of an ancient plastic surgeon, whose successful grafting technique "started off plastic surgery." After you stop laughing, some context is necessary.

In common with politicians in general, Modi's priorities shift with the winds of party loyalties, strategic relationships, and inescapable social realities. A prime example is his appointing Yogi Adityanath as the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh this past March. A saffron-clad priest and brazen fanatic known for his indiscriminate hatred of Muslims, he is a serious liability for the Modi administration. Keep in mind that India's 172 Muslims are the world's third-largest (after Pakistan and Indonesia) and are overwhelmingly moderate politically. Adityanath's governing ability seems limited to closing butcher shops and banning the use of tobacco, what to speak of his "anti-Romeo" squads. These practices have earned him more ridicule than respect.


That Uttar Pradesh can ill afford such governmental hooliganism was on display just a few days ago when BBC News reported that 60 children died in a hospital in Gorakhpur “amid allegations that the oxygen supply was cut over unpaid bills.” Tragically, the majority of victims were babies in neonatal units or patients being treated for encephalitis. Despite the fact that 30 of the deaths occurred on Thursday and Friday (August 10 and 11th), hospital officials disputed the initial findings, claiming that the deaths were attributable to the poor health of many of their patients. This pattern of officials denying responsibility in the aftermath of preventable tragedies is a symptom of a society with a weak or, as in the case of India, an overburdened legal system riddled with corruption and mismanagement.

Like a tortoise that retreats into its shell when it senses danger, Modi has mastered the political art of avoiding conflict by denouncing terror and then ceding the criminal investigation to ill-trained police and a court system that moves at a snail’s pace. Case in point: this past February 27th marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Godhra train disaster, in which devotees of Lord Ram on their way to Ayodhya were attacked by a massive crowd of Muslim protestors while they sat helpless in the Sabarmati Express as it arrived at the Godhra station in the Gujarat. Fifty-nine were burnt alive in their railcar and many others were wounded.

Justice was long in coming for the survivors and their families, however. In this case, it took seven years for the case to go to trial and included the typical slew of violent rhetoric, unwarranted arrests, and botched physical evidence.[i] At the time of the attack, Modi had been Chief Minister of Gujarat (on a BJP ticket, no less) only since October 2001 and, like any newly-elected politician, took the issue of affiliated loyalties seriously. Among these are his ties to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (“VHP”), a Hindu nationalist group who organized the trip to Ayodhya that ended so tragically for the Kar Sevaks (devotees of Lord Rama), and who were also behind the destruction  in 1992 of the Babri Masjid mosque built over what was reputed to have been Rama’s actual birthplace.

These tragedies and many others between various religious factions could not have occurred without the complicity of elected officials and the BJP and VHP national organizations. As populist movements, they naturally appeal to the masses by applying a literal reading of the Vedas and Puranas, in the process reducing them to a series of comic books or the ancient equivalent of a long and typically overblown Bollywood crowd-pleaser. Forgotten in the rush to the lowest common denominator are philosophical considerations and other riches, as if locating and eradicating Muslim usurpers of various Hindu places of pilgrimage are deemed both acts of religious piety and Hindutva allegiance. These are political and fundraising tactics in a saffron guise. 


For the Hare Krishna (ISKCON) cultists, it has been a goldmine: their leaders have exploited Hindu sentiment to such an extent that its status as a marginal New Age cult has been forgotten in the presence of their opulent temples. This success, however, was built on a shoddy foundation of their guru’s literal reading of the literary epics such as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam (the English translations of which he cheerfully plagiarized). In order to keep the whole ISKCON enterprise from toppling over from the simplistic, pseudo-scholarship of its founder—what to speak of the social disasters his experiments in communal living brought upon his followers—current disciples of his disciples turned gurus themselves have worked overtime to give his ideas a veneer of legitimacy. Although Prabhupada was reliably strident in his denunciation of Hinduism, today ISKCON temples market themselves as Hindu mandirs and observe festivals he never would have considered necessary.

Yet, for reasons perhaps due to the intellectual equivalent of group hysteria, ISKCON has taken a collective leap into the deep end of the pool of pseudo-science by dedicating two of their most ambitious projects to date, the $45 million Vrindavan Chandrodaya temple and the $60 million Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, West Bengal, to a celebration of Vedic and Puranic cosmological ideas that they insist are factual. That the public is so thoroughly ignorant of their intentions is showcased by PM Modi’s letter to them dated 30 March 2017, New Delhi, in which he extols ISKCON for building the Vrindavan Chandodraya Mandir, crediting it for “promoting ideals of compassion and brotherhood.” Explain to me how the ISKCON cult’s attempt to promote ignorance of basic science and treating mythology as true history is anything other than making fools of its donors and devotees.

Proponents of “Vedic Science” have gained respectability only by lecturing on their theories among Hindus who insist, as Meera Nanda puts it, on “accommodating science and Hindu beliefs.”[ii] For such believers, all scientific knowledge is in the Vedas and the Puranas, making all subsequent discoveries strictly derivative. If you persist in any delusions you might have about so-called “Vedic Science,” go to the source and see for yourself!

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If you still think the vimanas (flying machines of supposedly Vedic original) really flew about, pre-dating the Wright Brothers, please read: Deb, Siddhartha. “Those Mythological Men and Their Sacred, Supersonic Flying Machines.” 14 May 2015. The New Republic.

[i] Mitta, Manoj. “’Preplanned Inhuman Collective Violent Act  of Terrorism’” What Modi Got Away With In The Godhra Case.” 27 February 2017. Scroll India.
[ii] Nanda, Meera. “Saffronized Science: Rampant Pseudoscience in ‘Vedic’ Garb in the Indian Subcontinent.” 25 January 2016. SERRC: Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective

For William.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


If you suddenly had access to a time machine, where would you go? What would you do? I know I speak for many readers of my blogs when I say that I would go back to the first time I encountered the ISKCON (Hare Krishna) devotees and observe one of them preaching to a much younger version of myself. To see my face--I was just 14!--glowing with hope and wonder as I was subjected to a carefully scripted indoctrination process would be heart-breaking. Still, I know I (from the future) would never hesitate to confront the devotee and demolish each and every of the Hare Krishna cult’s repugnant and laughable beliefs.That would have been true enlightenment!I only wish someone had had the courage and knowledge to warn me and so many others. Today, that is my mission.


My blogs exist to supply the information the cult leaves out of their so-called preaching and to empower each and every one of you in the here and now.  If you hesitate, the friends or relatives you might otherwise have rescued from these pseudo-Hindu fanatics will waste their lives chasing laughable delusions and eventually find themselves wishing but unable to undo the past. Behind the promises of easy attainment of heavenly reward lies a trash heap of bigotry and pseudo-scientific nonsense most newcomers are kept from encountering until it is too late.

It has been a lonely road writing these essays for my blog during the past eleven years, but the thousands of readers from all over the world who visit it each month have convinced me that my task is worthy. I know these essays have changed lives and saved many families from losing a son or daughter to a cult that will alienate them. If I have helped save even one person from such a fate, my life is a success, no matter how much I have personally suffered.

Finally, a word for those who have escaped from ISKCON or another cult and find yourselves struggling to make up for lost time with family and friends. The time for apologies or trying to ingratiate yourselves with people who might have given up on you years ago is over. Stop blaming yourselves or beating yourselves up for having wasting so many precious years. Youthful idealism is not a crime. Waking up from your delusions is a personal victory, one you will savor more and more as time goes on. Instead of lamenting, re-discover your unique talents and regain your self-esteem by making a MISSION of your own design and one you feel restores your place in the universe. If no one else believes in you, I do.


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