Why is the Hare Krishna (ISKCON) sect so hell-bent on convincing the Indian public that they are genuine Hindus while spending millions convincing non-Hindus that they are simply “peace and love” yoga enthusiasts?

ISKCON spares no expense in catering to wealthy Hindus as it strives to build its reputation as a genuine branch of mainstream Hinduism. All of these efforts have one thing in common: they are nothing more than self-serving propaganda. Money, as usual, talks. If the cult builds another massive temple and continues its well-publicized food relief programs in India, it expects the Hindu public to follow its lead like a pack of blinkered horses.[i]

However, its sordid past—including child abuse, scams to defraud the public, and its founder’s sexist and racist statements—has proved difficult to hide. 

In a desperate attempt to replenish its dwindling numbers among non-Hindus in western countries, ISKCON has revamped its old policy of withholding information about its real beliefs and practices. Now the cult uses social media sites to ensnare new members by positioning itself as another of the meditation and yoga groups offering therapeutic emotional and health benefits. This watered-down appropriation of Hindu religious practices reduces an ancient faith to another “feel-good” experience much like meditation and hatha yoga have been served up to non-Hindus everywhere.

Recently I discovered the latest recruitment efforts by the Hare Krishna cult in the offerings of, a website that hosts software by a multitude of personal and professional groups and caters to adults seeking new friends with common interests. Nothing about the tactics ISKCON uses to attract new members surprises me, but the sheer nonsense in the groups I found was both sad and laughable. History does indeed repeat itself, as anyone familiar with the hippie movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s can see in the descriptions listed below:

  • Enchant Mantra Meditation/Vancover
  • Sacred Sounds Outside OM/Las Vegas “Tribe Kin”
  • Living Well, Being Well/El Paso, TX
  • Vedic Astrology, Karma, Dharma/North York, ON

In each case (and there are many more of these ISKCON sponsored groups all over North America and Europe), it’s clear that participants generally have no idea that the meetings they attend are organized by the Hare Krishna cult, nor do they know anything about its beliefs and history. Rather, as anyone who looks at the photographs included in each meeting can see, ISKCON has cleverly disguised itself as one of the multitude of yoga and meditation practitioners familiar to the general public.[iii]

Back in the 1960’s when ISKCON first attracted hippies to its outdoor kirtans and Sunday Feasts, the main lure used to reel in unsuspecting recruits was a mixture of mantra chanting and free vegetarian food, all of which supposedly granted the practitioner easy and instant access to the Godhead.[iv]

Today, these pleasure-seekers appear to have travelled in a time machine to the present, mixing with a new generation of gullible souls eager to delve in whatever variety of Eastern mysticism offers outsize benefits in proportion to the effort involved.

Now it’s fashionable among youth and their college professors to stridently endorse ecological concerns, along with the usual calls for ending discrimination based on sex, race, and gender. They are the tree-huggers of my generation on steroids. Science, in their twisted worldview, takes a back seat to misplaced sentimentality.

Cults have long since seized the opportunity to worm their way into this void, replacing scientific, objective inquiry with so-called authoritative statements, all ultimately non-refutable because of their ancient “Vedic” sources. So you have “Vedic Astrology” instead of the science of astronomy and the fuzzy, warm-sounding “Living well, Being Well.” Abusing the lonely souls who join groups with a lot of half-baked pseudo-Hindu mysticism is a familiar practice of the Hare Krishna cultists.

For example, this past summer, ISKCON entered a local festival in the New York City Metro Area City of Newburgh, entitled “Colorfest,’ which in actuality mimics the Hindu festival of Holi, this past spring celebrated by Hindus (and Sikhs also) world-wide on March 2nd. Its association with the Krishna legend is well-known, of course, and some describe it as “the Festival of Colors.” However, ISKCON takes it entirely out of context, as you can see for yourself with the psycho-babble title and activities of its program months after the official Holi celebration: “A Playful Festival to Strengthen Friends and Families with Happiness.” (Please note: this site has subsequently been shutdown.)

Pure, unadulterated bullshit! “Strengthen Friends and Families with Happiness”? What a nonsensical, illogical statement! If you or anyone you know has actual experience with the Hare Krishna devotees, you know that its mission is quite the opposite: while its members appear so welcoming at first, before long they urge you to give your time and money to them, with no consideration of how your actions affect your family and friends.

Worse, even the “colorfest” title is an effort to hide its true identity within the many groups in the U.S. sponsored by, an arts & crafts organization with no ties to ISKCON. In actuality, the website cult uses to advertise their color-chalk throwing events is, which bills itself as the “World’s Happiest Transformational Event.” These cheap diversionary tactics distort Hinduism in an attempt to lure in throngs of pleasure-seeking suckers.

This pattern of initially “love bombing” new recruits and then training them (by hours of chanting the same mantra on prayer beads and singing it with others during morning and evening services) to disassociate themselves from the “material world” or “karmi life” is ISKCON’s variant of a practice followed by many cults worldwide.[v]

In addition, let’s be absolutely frank: how can tossing colored chalk at another person do anything other than reduce an adult to the level of a toddler who plays in sand at a neighborhood playground and tosses some of it at his or her playmates? Without the cultural and religious significance Holi has to Hindus, the tossing of colored chalk at a neighborhood festival or any other venue is an insulting, irrational act of cultural appropriation. However, if you think that ISKCON cannot degrade Hinduism any further, you are sadly mistaken. . .


[i] ISKCON has worked overtime in the Europe and India positioning itself as Hindu adherents of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect. It founded the Hindu umbrella organizations of Hindu Forum Britain ( and Hindu Forum Europe ( to convince the academic and business communities of its authenticity as well as to advance its Radha Krishna worship and philosophy.
[ii] Since its founding in the mid-sixties, critics of the Hare Krishna/ISKCON cult have produced a mountain of anecdotal evidence of its massive and persistence abuses of its members, particularly women and children. Most of this abuse was and is a by-product of the views of the founder of the cult, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. My blog essays here and in its sister blog,, summarize much of this tragic history and contain verifiable documentation to support my views. For starters, please visit: and
[iii] Nimai’s Bliss Kitchen 94 S. Robinson    Avenue, Newburgh, NY 12550. This restaurant is another instance of the Hare Krishna movement’s efforts to hide itself in the popular cultural norms of the current ecological trends: it’s a vegan restaurant offering Indian foods without the milk products that are an integral part of the Hare Krishna cuisine.
[v] The term “lovebombing” was invented by the followers of the Rev. Moon, also known as “the Moonies.”


Re-enslave black people? Call them ugly and uncivilized? Reinforce caste stereotypes treating sudras and Dalits  (“untouchables”) like stupid beasts of burden? ISKCON’s founder openly professed these beliefs and his devoted followers have never denounced them. In fact, the aura surrounding guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami “Srila Prabhupada” (1896-1977) has never been brighter, as attested by the 50th anniversary celebrations of his founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in New York City back in 1966.[i] 

Bhaktivedanta Swami

Such blind adoration of the man and his teachings is also evident in the academic sphere, where followers of the self-promoting swami treat his legacy as an unparalleled visionary gift to the West. Just last month, for example, Yale University’s Dept. of Religious Studies held its “Hinduism and Ecology” conference at the ISKCON Goverdhan Ecovillage in Polgar, Maharastra (India) from December 11-14th, with many attendees from major universities worldwide, most of whom would cringe and run for cover if they knew their hosts’ repulsive racial ideology.[ii]

In a supremely ironic twist, on 7 December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi—himself born in a sudra family—celebrated the grand opening of the Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar International Center, dedicated to the memory and work inspired by the principal architect of the constitution of India and a founding father of the Republic itself.[iii] Despite obtaining doctorates from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) had first-hand experience of the indignities those born into Dalit (“untouchable”) families suffer throughout their lives.  In his commitment to wiping out the caste system and its multifarious injustices, Ambedkar’s life and legacy show what a true mahatma is and why we need to cast a cold eye on so-called saints who promote regressive practices in the name of religious orthodoxy.  

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


Let me start with a famous quotation from Bhaktivedanta Swami’s commentary (“purports”) from the 1964 edition of his translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam[iv], which, for obvious reasons, has been omitted from subsequent editions. I will refer to the swami as “Prabhupada” for the rest of this essay. (My comments are in blue.)

The cupid, therefore, throws his arrow upon the living being to become mad after his opposite sex never mind whether the party is actually beautiful or not. Such action of the cupid is going on even on the negroes and beastly societies who are all ugly looking in the estimation of the civilized nations. Thus cupid’s influence is exerted even in the ugliest forms (of living being) and-what to speak about the most perfectional stage of personal beauties.
 SB 1.11.36, purport (1964 ed.)

What is truly ugly here is Bhaktivedanta’s degraded view of human sexuality and his monomaniacal belief that “the civilized nations” all share his fierce and ill-informed bigotry. His venomous hatred of and personal disgust with the appearance and behavior of what he calls “the negroes and beastly societies” reveals a coarseness of character his disciples should have recognized as far from his self-described status as a “pure devotee” fit for serving as the absolute moral and spiritual guide for each and every one of his disciples (and I might add, their disciples). Even his own editors—slavish and gullible as they were and still are--recognizing the damage it would do if the swami’s bigotry were made public, omitted it from subsequent editions. This decision, an obvious public relations ploy designed to hoodwink readers, shows how the Hare Krishna movement was from its very beginnings indisputably a cult.
Treating his absurd racist views as private, esoteric morsels of divine wisdom fit only for circulation among his disciples was a cheap maneuver intended to both insult their intelligence and that of the public:
Certainly we are not going to say these things about the negro people publicly… So, you can understand that these talks are not for the public, as they have not got the ability to understand.
 Letter to Satsvarupa, 9 April 1968, San Francisco
Evidently our revered guru truly resented the progress made by “a third-class negro” in Western countries, and regarded them with the contempt usually associated with white supremacists and other disgruntled malcontents:
This is Vedic civilization: plain living, high thinking. And poor thinking, poor in thought, poor in behavior, and living with motorcar and this, that, nonsense. It is all nonsense civilization. A first-class Rolls Royce car, and who is sitting there? A third-class negro. This is going on. You’ll find these things in Europe and America. This is going on. A first-class car and a third-class negro.
Room conversation, 5 October 1975, Mauritius
First-Class Success!
Judging from his disciples’ expertise in cheating and harassing the public that characterized Bhaktivedanta Swami’s book-selling scams—who can forget those saffron-clad nuisances who annoyed passengers at airports for so many years!--he was clearly an expert at hurling unfounded accusations against black people:
And especially in your country it will be dangerous because these blacks, if they don’t get employment, they will create havoc, these blacks. And they are not civilized. They want money, and if they don’t get money, then they will create havoc.
Room conversation, 21 January 1977, Bhuvanesvara, India
The following conversation, which I have quoted in full, between Prabhupada (Bhaktivedanta Swami) and a number of his disciples, shows just how he advocated racial segregation. Here he equates blacks with crows and states that they “naturally” prefer to live with their own kind:

Rāmeśvara: In regards to brainwashing, they claim that our life-style tends to take the devotee and isolate him from the world.
Prabhupāda: Yes. We hate to mix with you. No gentleman tries to mix with loafers. In England still, the rich quarter is different from the poor quarter. Is it not?
Hari-śauri: Not so much. It was though, formerly, very strongly.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Aristocratic will never live… Even in America, they don’t like to live with the blacks.
Rāmeśvara: No.
Prabhupāda: … So that separation… Crows will not like to live with the ducks and white swans. And white swans will not like to live with the crows. That is natural division. “Birds of the same feather flock together.”
Jagadīśa: And honest men don’t like to associate with thieves and criminals.
Prabhupāda: Yes, that is natural. We are not interested even with these daily newspapers. We are interested Bhagavad-gītā. We don’t keep any news. We know the dogs are barking. That’s all. But that does not mean we have to mix with the dogs.
11 January, 1977, India


Now I will introduce a set of Prabhupada’s comments showing his belief in the hereditary, race-based hierarchical caste system and how it should be introduced to and practiced by his followers world-wide.[v]
The following—in which he openly states his belief that blacks should be returned to slavery--is possibly the most notorious of the swami’s racist statements:
Sudra is to be controlled only. They are never given to be freedom. Just like in America. The blacks were slaves. They were under control. And since you have given them equal rights they are disturbing, most disturbing, always creating a fearful situation, uncultured and drunkards. What training they have got? They have got equal right? That is best, to keep them under control as slaves but give them sufficient food, sufficient cloth, not more than that. Then they will be satisfied.
Room conversation 14 February, 1977, Mayapura, India.

Never Again! You Can Keep Your "Sufficient Food and Cloth."

It is hard to believe that Prabhupada wished to import the evils of the caste system to wherever had followers established temples, but these statements make it indisputably true:

The varnashrama college has to be established immediately. Everywhere, wherever we have got our center, a varnashrama college should be established to train four divisions.
                                                           Morning Walk, Vrindavan, India, 12 March, 1974.
Once the populace is situated in the varnasrama-dharma, there is every possibility of real life and prosperity both in this world and in the next. [Sure, as long as you’re not a sudra!!!]
Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.19, Purport

The following two quotations reveal how Prabhupada equated skin color with caste. Predictably enough, because he claimed sudras have a “black” complexion[vi] because they are allegedly “non-Aryan” Dravidians (so-called indigenous people from Southern India), they are imposters even when they have obtained a higher social status. In this way, caste bigots treat the “black” blood of a sudra as a pollutant:

So here, this man was cheating. . . . He was dressed like a king. Just like king is very gorgeously dressed. But his bodily feature, he was a black man. The black man means śūdra.
Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.16.4 1 January, 1974, Los Angeles, CA.

Dravidian culture. Dravida. They are non-Aryans. Just like these Africans, they are not Aryans. Now they are mixing up with Europeans and Americans. In India, it was, one from the higher section, brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, they will be fair complexion. Sudras, black. So if a brahmana becomes black, then he’s not accepted as brahmana. . . .And if a sudra becomes fair, then he’s to be know that he’s not pure sudra. 
                                                     2 August, 1976, ISKCON farm in France

In the following, Prabhupada extends his disgust with sudras to Native Americans, by simply hurling more insults accompanied by his typical unsupported oversimplifications:

Sudras have no brain. In America also, the whole America once belonged to the Red Indians. Why they could not improve? The land was there. Why these foreigners, the Europeans, came and improved? So sudras cannot do this. They cannot make any correction.
Room conversation with reporter, 3 June 1976, Los Angeles
By now, some of you might be thinking, “why didn’t somebody tell me about this nonsense before?” Well, in what began as a flirtation in the 1960’s and in a few decades, blossomed into a full-blown romance, many Western countries have embraced Eastern mysticism with incense-clouded glasses. Savvy marketers of yoga, meditation, and various sorts of guru-worshipping cults insist that each of them has a proven method to achieve “transcendental” results fast and easy. Voila! You have achieved enlightenment. Now everything you are and have is subject to a spate of rules and regulations designed to keep you orbiting around their star. Our guru Prabhupada used to call it “spiritual communism” and he wasn’t kidding.
Scandals abound in these neo-Hindu organizations, but threats and hush money virtually guarantee that only a very few instances are made public. Those who are deeply involved in these enlightenment-is-easy scams are deluded fools who see what they want and choose to ignore the rest. For all the talk about spirituality, it has never ceased to amaze me how most of these people seem to have lost their souls as they retreat into an alternate reality where empathy and common decency have little to no value.

Dalit Woman Cleaning Feces Off Train Tracks

Back to our subject.  If you want to get an idea of how the caste system poisons India to this day, just go to Twitter or Google and search for the term “Dalit.” You will find a multitude of hair-raising accounts of everyday abuse—domestic terror, really--suffered by these “untouchables” at the hands of higher caste Indians. Such outrages are modern day vestiges of those Ambedkar fought against so courageously and detailed so unforgettably in his 1936 unpublished speech, Annihilation of Caste.[vii] To better appreciate his contributions to eradicating the injustices perpetuated by the caste system, readers need to get their facts straight regarding its origins and methods of operations. First, Ambedkar’s correction regarding the issue of race and caste:
As a matter of fact the caste system came into being long after the different races of India had commingled in blood and culture. To hold that distinctions of castes are really distinctions of race, and to treat different castes as though they were so many different races, is a gross perversion of facts.
Annihilation of Caste  5.2 pp.237-238.

So much for the caste origin myths and their relation to the skin color gradations in some sort of primordial caste structure![viii] The fact is that all natives of the Indian subcontinent share DNA markers, regardless of the percentage of ancestral sources and their geographical locations.[ix] What the institution of the caste system did (around 1,500 C.E.) was to artificially restrict interbreeding by restricting intermarriage between castes, resulting in gradations of skin color that have been mistakenly associated with each caste. However, as Ambedkar states, India was already a mixed population racially before the caste system took hold.

We already know about the racism and caste bigotry ISKCON founder Prabhupada taught his disciples, virtually all foreigners whom Hindus strictly following the dictates of the Manusmriti would have torn limb from limb had they the audacity to presume that they could preach to them about the Vedic scriptures, enter a temple, what to speak of wearing the sacred thread and actually declaring themselves to be Brahmins! Yet this is precisely how our guru taught us to regard ourselves, using the reputed caste egalitarianism of the Bengali Brahmin Chaitanya (1486-1533) as warrant for his actions. Keep in mind that Prabhupada’s many references to the Manu Samhita (Manusmriti) as the lawbook of mankind, are meant to be taken literally:

Manu-Samhita is the law, Hindu law, still accepted, they have made many amendments. But it is not to be amended.

Lecture on Bhagavad-Gita 7.3, 18 February 1974.
As the saying goes: you can’t have it both ways! Yet this is precisely what Prabhupada tried to do; in fact, his racist statements about sudras are only the tip of the iceberg when compared to the prohibitions from the Manu-Samhita aimed at sudras who dare to aspire to improve their lot in life:

A once-born man (a Sudra), who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin.

 If he mentions the names and castes (gati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth. 8.271. 

If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and ears. 8.272.

From these quotations from the Manu-Samhita (there are many more just as terrifying), there is no doubt that keeping the sudra caste from protesting their condition and obtaining education requires subjecting potential and actual violators to threats and horrible punishment. Worse, it uses its scriptural authority to approve the severe punishment of those who violate its rules. Prabhupada tried to skirt dictates of the Manu Samhita against sudras and the social stigmas Dalits suffer to this day by linking caste to the guna-karma theory, in effect claiming that one’s guna, or nature, determined caste, not birth.[x]

This was merely a ploy to justify his preaching activities in the West to people who he himself stated would be classified as the lowest scum of society in Vedic culture, mlecchas (impure persons) and yavanas (foreigners). Perhaps these views might partially explain why he insisted that his disciples live in extreme penury, eating on the floor with one’s hands, sleeping on the floor in crowded, vermin-infested ashrams, slaving all day selling his books on the street, and other indignities that haunt ex-devotees to this day. Prabhupada told us to believe that initiating us as his disciples and then investing us—many of whom were once a bunch of former drug addicts and hippies--with the sacred thread made us genuine Brahmins, a joke that was made at our great personal expense.


Today the caste system remains hereditary in nature and, as Arundhati Roy points out in her introduction to Annihilation of Caste, its upper caste members include many fabulously wealthy business owners and others occupy a vast majority of government positions.[xi] A relatively few Dalits—Mayawati comes to mind--have risen to positions of influence in politics, but the vast majority remain deeply and stubbornly impoverished. To make matters worse, most of the caste-related outrages today are committed against Dalits, whose protected status as beneficiaries of the “reservation” system sparks continual outrage from the higher castes due to its quotas and other forms of government sanctioned affirmative action.[xii]

Furthermore, the hereditary nature of the caste system is another reason why Hinduism—unlike other major world religions—does not seek converts. Ambedkar’s straightforward analysis of this issue is worth remembering and repeating:

The law of caste confines its membership to persons born in the caste. Castes are autonomous, and there is no authority anywhere to compel a caste to admit a newcomer to its social life. Hindu society being a collection of castes, and each caste being a closed corporation, there is no place for a convert.[xiii]

This is a major reason why Indian gurus who are actually preaching in the West prefer terms referring to meditation, yoga, and the like. Gullible people with deep pockets are favorite targets. However, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada introduced his Krishna Conscious (ISKCON) sect to the West by actively proselytizing to and accepting as disciples multitudes of grossly uninformed and under qualified Americans and Europeans for the express purpose of opening temples and selling his books. His dictates about our personal lives cost us our relationships with our families and in most cases, damaged our health and emotional well-being. The crimes and controversies that arose shortly thereafter and continue to this day are direct byproducts of these irregular practices. If Prabhupada wished to teach his followers about the Gita and his Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism, fine, but using them as means to his ends was morally repugnant.   

Finally, the words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on the irrational and immoral nature of the caste system:

Reason and morality are the two most powerful weapons in the armoury of a reformer. To deprive him of the use of these weapons is to disable him for action. How are you going to break-up caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with reason? How are you going to break-up caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with morality?[xiv]

[iv] Generally known as the Bhagavata Purana. For more information about this epic poem, see the note at the end of my blog essay:
[v] “Varnashrama” refers to the four-fold caste system in a pyramidal social structure consisting of the priestly Brahmins at the top, followed by the warrior Kshastriyas, then the merchant class Vaishyas, and finally, toiling at the bottom and supporting all three “twice-born castes, are the lowly sudras. The caste system is the varna part of the system. It is also refered to as “chaturvarnya” or the four-fold caste system (a term popularized by Dayananda Saraswati; see note below) to condense what had grown by the modern age into an intricate set of castes and sub-castes. Women born into these families assume its hereditary caste. The ashrama part refers to the religious orders for the three upper classes; sudras have no part in it and neither do women (who are expected to follow the dictates of their families regarding choice of husband and at what age). Under the tutelage of a guru, a boy in the brahmachari ashram is a celibate student; after marriage in his early twenties, he becomes a grihasta (householder or married man), after his sons are grown, he leaves home with his wife and retires into the forest for penance as a celibate vanaprastha, and afterwards, if he wishes, returns his wife to the care of their sons, vows lifelong celibacy, and becomes an itinerant preacher, or a sannyasin.
[vi] Referring to lower caste natives of India as “black” in this context is just a pejorative term with no basis in reality.
[vii] Ambedkar, B.R. Annihilation of Caste. Intro. By Arundhati Roy, The Doctor and the Saint. Ed. and Annotations by S. Anand. Verso: NY, 2014. Hereafter referred to as “AoC.”
[viii] See for a summary of controversies regarding this matter.
[x] The source of the guna-karma theory is the Bhagavad-Gita 4.13, where Krishna states that the four castes are his creation and their classifications and duties arise from the guna [innate quality] dominant in each. It is interesting to note that this information has been used as pretext by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, founder of the Arya-Samaj and others (including Prabhupada) to claim that birth does not determine caste, whereas a straightforward reading of it is an unmistakable affirmation that the guna-karma theory only amplifies the claim that caste is hereditary because the qualities that typify each caste are innate in the denotative sense that they are innate.
[xi] “The Doctor and the Saint,” pp. 23-33.
[xiii] AoC, 10.3, p. 254.
[xiv] AoC. 22.16, p.303.



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.


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:

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 with Adi-Kesava Swami, 19 February 1977, Mayapur,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. Room Conversation: 25 Feb. 1977 Mayapura, West Bengal.

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. . . 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 Bhagavatam , 4.26.26, 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.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Please note: copyright protection includes the original illustration at the beginning of this essay. Both essay and the illustration are my creations and exclusive property.