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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A NOTE TO MY READERS: "A VOICE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS"

My one-woman battle against cults stems from my experiences with the Hare Krishna cult as a teenager and young adult. It has been a lonely road writing these essays for my blog for the past eleven years, but the thousands of readers who visit it each month have convinced me that my task is worthy. There is an old saying that if you have saved just one soul, you have saved the entire world. If that is the case, then by this time I have saved a fair-sized solar system! Seriously, though, I know that the information and personal reflections contained in these broad-ranging essays have helped many who otherwise might have made a hasty and ill-informed decision either in joining ISKCON or adding to their coffers.

If knowledge is king, ignorance is a beggar, but some beggars actually have first-class brains. They are scheming, intelligent parasites and are over-represented in religions and cults, both of which provide them with an ideal environment. Learning to recognize and avoid such persons is never easy, especially for those who to turn to religion in a vulnerable state (such as a personal or financial loss) and expect to be treated with compassion and dignity. All too often, however, they are subjected to a carefully scripted indoctrination process that skims over facts any newcomer would find repugnant and laughable. My blogs exists to supply the missing information.  
My son and I, 1974.
As my readership has grown and my essays multiplied, it has become obvious that, like any other philanthropic effort, I need financial support. Communication, as the saying goes, is a two-way street. It is no stretch of the imagination to acknowledge the many people who have read my essays, been forewarned about ISKCON and other similar cults, and have liberated themselves from prejudices and dogma that would have otherwise poisoned their lives. While I shouldn’t have to ask for your support, I find that I must: my essays are regularly hacked by the Hare Krishna con-artists and I badly need to utilize the services of a webmaster so I can concentrate on writing instead of spending so much time excising malicious code. It is also time to start a direct mail campaign. Most of all, I simply need funds after spending so much time writing the essays in these blogs. As of today, despite having a donate button on my blogs, I have never received any donations at all! That’s right, not even a penny or a paisa. Absolutely nothing! It is truly puzzling.

Any donation in any amount is welcome and will be kept strictly confidential. Thanks in advance.


Thank you for reading my essays and may God bless you and keep you safe and happy.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

NEW! THE GURU-FAKING BUSINESS

What makes a guru a fake? Let me count the ways. . .
  1. Trashing the reputation of other gurus or religious figures with unsubstantiated lies and innuendo, while advancing himself as the most authentic and divinely inspired sadhu alive. 
  2. Expertise in aliening impressionable youth from family and friends and replacing them with cult sycophants whose initial welcome turns into a hell-hole of food and sleep deprivation as well as semi-slavery.
  3. Initiating hordes of fanatic, ignorant disciples and using them as human pack mules to fool gullible truth-seekers with get-enlightened-quick fantasies?
  4. Gang-related activities including harassment of and conspiracy to silence dissenters, whether by beatings, threats, or murder?[i] 
  5. Child abuse consisting of, but not limited to parental alienation, loss of childhood, rape and beatings, and abysmal educational quality.[ii] 
  6. Fraudulent fund-raising tactics?[iii] 
  7. Ridiculous, contrived belief system full of pseudo-scientific nonsense and vicious, bold-faced discrimination against women and minorities. 
If you think that any or all of these practices are acceptable so long as the guru’s followers give out free food to the poor[iv], WELCOME to ISKCON! However, before you take out your checkbook or credit card, you might appreciate some background information about the grinning cultists who seem bent on convincing the public that they are “more Hindu than Hindus.”[v] In the words of the group’s founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami: “although posing as great scholars, ascetics, householders and swamis, the so-called followers of the Hindu religion are all useless, dried-up branches of the Vedic religion.” This essay will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it is ISKCON, not Hinduism, which misrepresents “Vedic religion.”

The proliferation of Indian gurus in the West and the rise of the cults of the 1960’s and 1970’s surged due to the hippie culture’s fascination with Eastern mysticism. The Beatles, for example, were initially entranced by the late founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (d. 2007), and out of them, George Harrison retained his interest in Hinduism, but transferred it from TM to the Hare Krishna sect also known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Other practitioners of what Meera Nanda terms “neo-Hinduism”[vi]during the same period include Sathya Sai Baba and Sri Chinmoy, both of whom still have large groups of followers in India and the West. The influence of all these groups waned considerably after the 1970’s and their international reputation also suffered, fueled in most cases by allegations of sexual impropriety. TM has been the most influential in popular culture: its practices of meditation as a religiously-neutral means of self-improvement largely fueled the West’s ongoing interest in New Age religion and disciples such as Deepak Chopra have lent it a veneer of legitimacy that continues to this day.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s coming to New York City in 1966 and founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. By registering his sect a religious nonprofit, the swami now had the means to accept tax-free donations and open temples as a means to proselytize to Westerners as well as the nonresident Indian population. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami was an unusually charismatic preacher in an age of numerous competitors. This one-time Calcutta businessman used his marketing acumen and keen sense of the spiritual vacuum affecting Western youths in the hippie era to build in little more than a decade a world-wide organization consisting of thousands of disciples and many temples on a grand scale. 

However, few of the Hindus who throng ISKCON temples and support their programs know that the sect’s founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, never considered the Hare Krishna movement to be Hindu at all. The following are a number of statements Bhaktivedanta made in reference to Hinduism:

The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion.... One should clearly understand that the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion."[vii]

India, they have given up the real religious system, Sanatana Dharma. Fictitiously, they have accepted a hodgepodge thing which is called Hinduism. Therefore there is trouble.
Bhavan’s Journal. 28 June 1976.

We are not preaching Hindu religion. While registering the association, I purposely kept this name, 'Krishna Consciousness,' neither Hindu religion nor Christian nor Buddhist religion.
Lecture on Bhagavad Gita, Mumbai. 1974.

During the years following their guru’s demise in 1977, the disciples of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (many now gurus themselves), reversed his position on Hinduism as they grew more and more dependent on the wealth of the Hindu community both in India and abroad. Instead of denouncing Hinduism, they used the affection the Hindu public tends to feel for the folklore of the butter-stealing, witch-killing, and gopi-loving Krishna and conflated it with the teachings of the philosopher-chariot driver of the Bhagavad Gita. The message was clear: Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism, with its Hare Krishna mantra chanting and world-wide presence, is what Hinduism should be.

Magnifying his own role as a self-proclaimed “pure devotee” in a lineage of Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnava gurus from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1584) to himself was Swami Bhaktivedanta’s chief public relations strategy. The term “Bhakti Yoga” led people to assume that the swami was popularizing just another strand of Hinduism as his predecessors had done. In fact, he intended to supplant them all. For Bhaktivedanta, this meant teaching his followers that he was the latest and greatest guru in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, which he claimed was established by Chaitanya himself and consisted of "pure devotees."

His modus operandi was to initiate as many Americans and other Westerners as his disciples and send them out to open temples where he and his followers would spread Chaitanya’s worship of Radha Krishna by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and dancing in front of opulently dressed murtis. Yes, superficially it appears to be based on the tiny Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, which worships the cowherd incarnation of Vishnu, Krishna, and claims that Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a 16th century Bengali proponent of Bhakti-Yoga, was an incarnation of Krishna and Radha combined. What sets the Hare Krishna movement apart at first glance is its aggressive marketing tactics and habit of actively seeking converts among non-Indians

Visitors were soon thronging to ISKCON temples to be dazzled by the sheer spectacle of so many gorgeously dressed and decorated murtis of Radha and Krishna, along with the Jagganath idols of Puri and a grouping of five dhoti-clad men whom the devotees explained were murtis of the Bengali saint Chaitanya and his associates. Accustomed as they are to the profusion of murtis such as Durga, Shiva, Vishnu, and Hanuman in Hindu temples, few visitors to the Hare Krishna temples would have realized that Chaitanya, whose devotion to the Radha-Krishna legends and popularization of congregational chanting (“kirtan”) is undeniable, was also the cross-dressing leader of a cabal of Bengali Brahmins with similar practices and tendencies. If not for the reverence that Hindu culture still holds for high-born Brahmins, there is little chance of the Gaudiya Vaishnava contention that Chaitanya was the incarnation of Radha and Krishna together not having been greeted with laughter and derision as it is a transparent denial of his behavior as a gopi-bhava afflicted transvestite.[viii]

Furthermore, what would Indian political luminaries—the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi comes to mind-- if they knew how the founder of the Hare Krishna movement derided the achievements of the Hindu saints who traveled to the West many years before he set foot in New York in 1966. His hostile and ill-informed comments about Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Swami Vivekananda Swami are prime examples of Bhaktivedanta’s predilection to trash the reputation of the predecessors who cleared the way for him. For example, during one of his “Morning Walks” (08/01/1976), he claimed that the Ramakrishna Mission was “simply bogus propaganda” and “they picked up two American ladies, that’s all.” A worse combination of envy and breath-taking ignorance is hard to imagine. Perhaps Bhaktivedanta Swami might have benefitted from reading the words of Dayananda Saraswati, who in the Ten Principles of the Arya Samaj wrote that “all actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefitting mankind.” As for his charge that Vivekananda “picked up two American ladies,” Bhaktivedanta could have learned from his example. In this regard, it is well-known that the initiates of the Ramakrishna Mission are all celibates, sanyasins as well women. Vivekananda Swami regarded celibacy highly and his example continues to inspire millions of Indians dedicated to a morally and militarily strong India, including Narendra Modi himself.

Bhaktivedanta Swami, on the other hand, valued quantity far over quality in the choice of his disciples and thus quickly accepted as his disciples young men and women who knew next to nothing about his philosophy or personal history. These impressionable youths were simply entranced by the exoticism of Eastern religions that was one of the many escapist fantasies popular during the hippie era of the 60’s and 70’s. That he abused their trust and held them in low esteem was apparent from the beginning. I remember attending initiation ceremonies where mentally-ill individuals scarcely able to control themselves were initiated as disciples and was appalled at how quickly the dealings between men and women deteriorated due to the poisonous effects of our guru’s absurd and vacuous beliefs about the inferiority of women. The hastily patched together arranged marriages the swami recommended soon began to fail miserably and the children born of these hellish relationships were taken away after a few years and dumped in gurukulas where their sufferings and abuse left many scarred for life.[ix] After he died in 1977, he left eleven of his disciples to manage ISKCON and initiate disciples on his behalf (a sure sign that he regarded those he so carefully trained as unfit to act as gurus). In short order, they and others sprang to action to take his place and all hell broke lose, with more mayhem and criminality than I can possibly treat in this essay.

Suffice to say, fraud reared its ugly head and infected the Hare Krishna movement from the schools (“gurukulas”), the abuse of government-provided welfare benefits to provide for housing, food, and medical care the cult would not provide, and a highly scripted method of “distributing books” which was nothing more than method to part fools from their cash. These books the ISKCON zombies peddled were advertised as the swami’s translations of puranic literature such as the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagwat Purana (“Srimad Bhagavatam”), but were in fact pastiches of plagiarized translations of other editions as well as the efforts of a few of his own disciples who self-taught themselves rudimentary Sanskrit. Before long it became obvious that formal fund-raising techniques had to be employed and the main target, as I mentioned near the beginning of this essay, was and is the educated and prosperous Hindu community in India and abroad. However, this pattern of what I call “guru-faking” was not limited to ISKCON and has continued to grow, adapting itself to different conditions while the followers of these gurus have begun to appear more like nascent terrorists than the naïve thrill-seekers of my own generation.




[i] http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/30/us/religious-leader-convicted-of-us-charges.html.
[iv] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2763798/Up-35-students-hospitalised-Bangalore-DEAD-LIZARD-mid-day-meals-causes-food-poisoning.html. http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/it-was-not-the-dead-lizard/article6439198.ece.  See also: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/64-students-fall-sick-after-consuming-mid-day-meal-in-up. Akshaya Patra is run by the ISKCON Bangalore faction of ISKCON, a dissident group that follows the Ritvik policy of initiating disciples on behalf of the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, who died in 1977. This food relief program dwarfs the ISKCON Food Relief program headquartered and run by their enemies from Mumbai. Regarding ISKCON Food Relief, see: http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-iskcon-to-face-inquiry-into-food-poisoning-vinod-tawde-2189331.
[v] The issue of whether the ISKCON sect can be considered Hindu was decisively answered in the negative by its founder/acharya  A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. For a useful summary of the supporting documentation, see the Hinduism Today Magazine  article entitled, “Can it be that the Hare Krishnas are not Hindu”?  http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4499.
[vi] Nanda, Meera. “Postmodernism, Hindu Nationalism, and ‘Vedic Science’.” http://frontlineonnet.com/fl2026/stories/20040102000607800.htm.
[vii] The Science of Self-Realization. 1977 Chapter three.
[viii] See Sri Caitanya Mangala, 2.9 and the numerous description in the Caitanya Caritamrta (2.15-16; 2.18 112-119 and 203-208. Sri Caitanya’s associates appearing on his sides in the temple murtis are Advaita, Srinivasa, Nityananda Rama, and Gadadhara Pandit, each of whom Caitanya regarded as incarnations of various members of the Radha Krishna and gopi legends.
[ix] Please see my essays on this subject: 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

ISKCON AND ITS DISCONTENTS: LIES & SPIES


The ability of a cult to camouflage itself is an integral part of its survival. Controlling dissidents and blunting the effects of criticism are also priorities. Confronted with an uncomfortable truth, cult leaders often adopt the defense strategy of a poisonous blow fish that puffs itself up to appear bigger than it actually is. 
KNOW-IT-ALL ISKCON "SADHU"
In addition to blending in and trying to appear disproportionately threatening, cults have infiltrated dissident websites in an effort to control, intimidate, and learn the identity of critics. From a practical viewpoint, dissidents who limit their criticism to chatting with other like-minded ex-cult members on a website will also be less likely to engage in actions that might prove embarrassing to the cult. In this way, even the therapeutic value of discussing one’s misfortunes becomes another tool of cult subversion.

Before I discuss some of the tactics the Hare Krishna/ISKCON cult uses in this regard, I would like to take a moment to discuss a similar pattern in two other major cults that arose to prominence during the 1960's and 1970's and have remained highly influential and controversial.



The UnificationChurch (“the Moonies”) has diligently worked to transform its image from a family of spiritual autocrats to all-American hyper-conservatives, founding the influential Washington Times newspaper and acquiring United Press International (UPI), among many other business interests. This is a far cry from a cult whose early enthusiasts were known for selling roses by the side of the road. The Church of Scientology, on the other hand, oversees a complex system of recruiting operations that are run as franchises by members whose sale of auditing software and courses for new recruits have made this business masquerading as a religion fabulously wealthy.  However, these public relation schemes are like a tight, gaudy costume worn by a fat exotic potentate: if he runs too fast, it rips off, exposing his hideous nakedness to the laughter of the general public. Examples abound: who can forget the Church of Scientology’s frenzied legal maneuvers during the brainwashing and deprogramming controversies that culminated in the bankruptcy of the (“old”) Cult Awareness Network and the filing of false Federal income tax returns and charges of conspiracy that led to the conviction and imprisonment of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1984? Given the literature and videos meticulously exposing the contrast between the practices and actual beliefs of these and other cults established during the mid-to late 20th century, why do they continue to attract new recruits and what can be done about it?


A few years ago I came upon a website that strongly criticized the Hare Krishna/ISKCON cult’s views about and treatment of women using direct quotations from the teachings of its founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. A few things about the website bothered me, however. For one thing, the graphics used were of an unusually high caliber and it also contained a number of direct links to a number of authorized ISKCON websites. What the hell? Apart from the quotations that were concentrated at the bottom of the webpage, most postings resembled Facebook entries written by a punk-rock addicted teenage girl. Before long, as the saying goes, I smelled a rat.

The clues soon began adding up: how else can you explain the bold-faced links to ISKCON temple along with the site’s obvious maintenance and graphics expenditures? Although I contributed a few comments myself, before long I had the distinct feeling that visitors to this site were being taken for fools. Not surprisingly, in short order I learned that the website host, whom we all thought was an ex-devotee woman, was in fact a man. The website soon disappeared and good riddance. However, it was just the beginning.

Why, you might ask, would leaders—most probably initiating gurus-- of the Hare Krishna cult engage in subverting the authority of its founder/acharya in such a brazen manner? The answer is two-fold: unlike the vast majority of ISKCON devotees and the mostly Hindu community that make up the bulk of its donors, the present-day gurus of the movement are well-versed in the lectures, speeches, and commentaries of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. They also know that his preposterous and ill-informed notions about race, women, and so-called "Vedic Science" cannot survive rational scrutiny. For instance, his notion of slavery as the ideal state for blacks and women:

19 March, 1976, Mayapura, India:
Prabhupāda:  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. 


Taped conversation of  Srila Prabhupada and disciples (14 February, 1977, Mayapur, India):
Prabhupada: 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.


Of course, the swami's endorsement of slavery for blacks and women is bold-faced nonsense, good only for belly laughs and informing would-be Hare Krishna followers. If that were not enough, here's what he has to say about the brains of women:

3 February, 1975, Hawaii, (Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam)

Prabhupada: 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.

So much for "Vedic science"! Srila Prabhupada followers! Next time you become seriously ill, what will you do? I bet you will run for your pitiable life to the best modern hospital you can find and eagerly submit yourself to the hands of a specialist, who very possibly will be a woman and whose medicines and therapies were developed using modern research techniques in laboratories where men and women work side by side. Mantras, Deity-worship, and other means of selectively denying reality won't help you, what to speak of your literal scripture readings. Time to wake up and clear the cobwebs off your underutilized "brain substance"! 

If the swami's views about brain size were true, the sperm whale, a mammal possessing, at 7.8kg, the largest brain on the planet, would enslave all of us as one gigantic, jagad-guru:


Sripada Whale-ji giving underwater SB lecture
Secondly, many of these gurus have amassed more disciples than their guru ever had and have also become experts at manipulating donors to enrich their coffers and fund the building of elaborate temples. In short, they have turned into self-deluded, dhoti-clad megalomaniacs bent on supplanting their guru. They want to be him:

HEAD OF ISKCON? http://www.narendramodi.in/shri-gopal-krishna-goswami-maharaja-head-iskcon-meets-pm-modi-428324.

These puffed-up charlatans are fully aware that they have wasted their lives chasing delusions. Like video-game addicts who have lost touch with reality, many senior ISKCON devotees in leadership positions live like petty tyrants drunk with power surrounded by hordes of their fawning acolytes. Most of all, they fear critics who would expose their candy-coated fake Hinduism to the public (especially the genuine Hindu organizations and politicians whose support is essential to their mission).

Aware that donors continue to be cultivated almost entirely by personal contacts, fancy events, as well as invitations and newsletters sent by ordinary mail, these cultists show little concern about criticism in blogs or other kinds of social media. However, if even a few of the influential people ISKCON has spent years cultivating finds an impassioned, impeccably researched diatribe written by an ex-cult member sitting in their mailboxes, it might spark an angry confrontation with significant financial repercussions.[1] Spending a relatively insignificant amount of money covertly funding a fake anti-ISKCON website is a small price to pay for avoiding such a disaster.

However, it is a bitter and uncomfortable truth that avoidance is the coward’s reaction to confrontation and informed argument. So is abusing the trust of others, especially when you know that they are turning to you for comfort and healing from extremely traumatic experiences. Remember that the term con artist refers to people who extract confidences from other people and then use the information for their own nefarious purposes.To exploit people who suffered in a cult and managed to extricate themselves is a grim, diabolical business.

The cold war strategy of containment is used by these so-called anti-ISKCON websites to herd dissidents together and thus keep them from disturbing the cult’s donor relations. Most of the few that operate with any form of sophistication are rife with signs that they are both funded and maintained by the cult itself. Apparently the idiots who believe that the sun is closer to the Earth than the moon have so little respect for the rest of us that they frequently overreach and engage in preposterous exaggerations that give themselves away almost immediately. 


New! Don't Miss: https://harekrishnacultexposed.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-note-to-my-readers-voice-crying-in.html.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  No part of this essay can be reproduced in any medium without the express written consent of the author. 



[1] Ironic, isn’t it? Yet, after many years of experience in not-for-profit fundraising, I can tell you it is the truth. 


Friday, January 08, 2016

THE ORIGINAL ISKCON POLICY ON CHEATING DONORS

Nothing is more dispiriting and disgusting than realizing you have donated money to an unworthy cause or to an organization you find to be dishonest.It is an assault on your principles as much as it is a form of outright theft.Rather than merely fuming and cursing yourself for being such a fool, it is far better to confront the thieves and, if at all possible,to get your money back. If this fails, it behooves you to warn others about the people who have robbed you under the pretense of philanthropy.

Cults as well as established religions often evade criticism for spending enormous sums of money on temples, churches, and other major building projects by also creating various “ feed the poor” programs. Such emotional appeals are classic examples of the diversionary tactics used by con artists everywhere. What better example can there be than the two massive ISKCON temple building projects currently underway in India, the $45 million Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir and the $60 million Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in the town of Mayapur in Bengal. These temples--the first, at 210 meters high, will reportedly be the tallest temple in the world and the second, with a dome 113 meters high and a massive footprint--are being erected by Bangalore-ISKCON led by its president Madhu Pandit Das and the GBC-governed ISKCON, respectively.

Both camps are bitter doctrinal and legal adversaries. Their battle to outperform each other is clearly reflected in the extravagant nature of these projects. Each camp also has its own food relief program, the best-known of which is the Bangalore-based Akshaya Patra and the other, ISKCON Food Relief, both serving mid-day meals to Indian school children. Despite the vermin and lizards that are discovered in these foodstuffs with alarming frequency, these ISKCON-sponsored programs do serve meals to needy children.


Unfortunately, they also serve to detract donors and prospective donors from learning the truth about the cult’s beliefs and mission. Without further ado, I wish to present the following quotation from a letter dated 31 Dec. 1972, from the founder/acharya of the Hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, to his disciple Bali Mardana Goswami, which precisely describes the guru's policy on collecting donations:

Your mentioning Bangladesh feeding of refugees, of course we are feeding sometimes the local inhabitants, up to 1,000 persons on some occasions, but there is no organized program of feeding the refugees at Mayapur. In fact, so far I have seen, all the refugees from Nadia District have gone back to Bangladesh,there are no more refugee camps. So it will not be the truth to say to people like that, but I have no objection if they give more hearing by such thing. Let them say, who will check us? We may tell any damn thing to induce people to give us money on Krsna's behalf, that is not the point.The point is that by saying lies, the less advanced neophyte devotees may become entangled or disturbed in their minds by it. Of course by their collecting more money and giving to Krsna, He will relieve them of all anxiety of telling lies. But not everyone is able to catch the big fish without themselves becoming wet. 
Moreover, on the same date he wrote to Sankarasana Das that "so the idea is not what you say, so much as how you say it."  How disgusting and evil! To claim that one becomes an advanced devotee by becoming a suave liar and that Krishna will actually aid them in this practice is simply insane. Sad to say, the import of these blatantly unethical statements was not lost on the swami's disciples and that understanding has laid the groundwork for ISKCON's subsequent fundraising practices. If the foundation of your so-called religious principles is based on lies, the temples you build on top of it--however grand and imposing--are indeed monuments to dead ideas. Shame on both ISKCON camps for perpetuating this nonsense! It was one thing during the swami's lifetime to fool hippies and counter-culture discontents outside of India, but today the vast majority of donors are born Hindus, both Indian and nonresident Indian.

To add insult to injury, ISKCON treats donors and prospective donors alike as cash cows by carefully cultivating them via lavish programs and events that both flatter them and appeal to their cultural interests. The cult's ludicrous beliefs--in particular its so-called "Vedic Science," which both temples mentioned above intend to lavishly depict and celebrate--are carefully concealed, a practice that the swami used to ensnare his Western disciples (he called it "gradually revealing the truth"). His followers have perpetuated this pattern of deception and use it to this day to ensnare donors and devotees alike. It is my mission to remedy this situation.


New Posting! Don't miss: https://harekrishnacultexposed.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-note-to-my-readers-voice-crying-in.html.

See also: https://iskconcultunveiled.blogspot.com

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

No part of this essay can be reproduced in any medium without the express written consent of the author.

Monday, August 24, 2015

RAPE AND INSULTS: WIFE ABUSE, ISKCON STYLE

Some years ago, during a routine purchase at a department store near where I worked, it happened that the clerk handling my purchase was a Bangladeshi Muslim who noticed my last name and asked me where I got it. I told him that I had once been married to an Indian and then noticed him looking intently at my eyes. He became furious and asked me if I had been abused by my husband. I said nothing, but by that time my eyes were full and I couldn't say anything. He said--rather almost shouted--that his people do not believe in maltreating their wives. After thanking him, I left with my purchase and went back to work, but I have never forgotten that chance encounter. What I now share with you, dear readers, is a great deal of the reason why:

Ekayani Devi Dasi, 1970, Montreal 
Photo taken by Gopal Krishna
The following is a faithful chronicle of an event that is part of the autobiography I have been working on for a number of years. It is also a chronicle of faith inasmuch as it marked the end of my enchantment with the Hare Krishna cult. The time is 1978 and my age at the time was 25.  My son and I were staying at my mother’s apartment and I had spent nearly two years working for the minimum wage in a factory. Although the reader will become familiar with all of the sordid details in short order, it concerns one of the final abuses I suffered at the hands of the Hare Krishna “husband” I acquired by way of an arranged marriage at the age of 17. He is now known as Gopal Krishna Goswami and today is a Hare Krishna guru with many disciples. It is especially ironic that he was given the honorific title “Goswami”--it is conferred on married men who have abandoned their wives and means “one who controls his senses”--when he took the order of “sannyasa” (an exalted life as a celibate monk) a few years after the events you are about to read. I hope you find this episode instructive and I apologize in advance for the repellent nature of its contents. Here we go:
  
No one expects rational behavior from a zombie or a dreamer. Yet both of these states describe what devotees become after years of indoctrination based on the idea that “you are not the body.” In fact, this artificial dichotomy between body and spirit had been the principal means the Hare Krishna movement used to ensnare us. In place of reason, our sincere but gullible minds had been filled with more Hindu folklore and mythology than I care to remember. Healing meant putting the pieces—body and soul—together again and beginning to think for ourselves. During the years shortly after the death of our guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in 1977, legions of devotees left the movement. Some say that the excesses of the GBC, who had usurped the whole guru business and tolerated widespread corruption, were responsible. However, I firmly believe that the real cause was the end of the cult of personality that Prabhupada’s presence had sustained. Once he died, the bubble burst. The GBC and ISKCON leaders responded to the rebellion that ensued by raising their doomsday fanaticism to a fever pitch.

Had I any idea of what Gopal Krishna had in mind when he unexpectedly told me that he would stay overnight with us en route to the New York temple, I would have told him to go straight to hell. Never in my life have I regretted any decision more and never have I paid for it more dearly.


Gopal Krishna was in full demonic mode when my son and I met him at KennedyAirport, getting off the plane without acknowledging us and looking like an enraged wart hog that had been hastily dressed in a crumpled dhoti. He walked along with his gigantic nostrils flared in disgust, as if suddenly aware of his own stench. What I am about to recount is infinitely more disgusting, however: consider yourself warned! 

It began when we took a cab from the airport to my apartment. Totally unexpectedly and in full view of my son, Gopal Krishna began to grab at me (I was sitting in the front seat next to the driver), with a face blank but for the glittering beady eyes and malicious leer of a sexual pervert. Astonished and repulsed beyond words, I tried to stop him, slapping his hand and telling him to stop, but he continued undaunted until we got out of the taxi. Ignorant of what had just happened, my mother and brother greeted him very decently, but he said next to nothing: he had something else on his mind.

To wit, as soon as my son was asleep in the other twin bed opposite us, he insisted on having sex, answering my protests (I reminded him that he, a GBC member, was openly breaking the regulative principle against illicit sex) by forcing himself on me, claiming that it was his right because “married people can have sex.” I was terrified that my mother and brother might hear us, what to speak of my son. Worse, he treated me as if I were a cheap prostitute by forcing his vile tongue into my mouth and ejaculating onto his soiled dhoti. In the morning, he locked himself into the bedroom alone with me and repeated the night’s performance at least twice. He did the same thing that night.The black-hearted, evil fiend! This room was where I used to play with my brothers and sisters as well as my dolls when I was a little girl. 

During Sunday, when we went to the Bronx Botanical Gardens with our son, he tried to grab at me again and was similarly repulsed. He also called me a prostitute because, according to him, I should have been able to save $100 out of the $400 I earned a month.

What this worse-than-rape experience did to my soul is hard to describe. I knew that I was done with Gopal Krishna forever, but still, trapped as I was in circumstances I could not substantially change without tremendous support and counseling, I felt myself more zombie than human. Moreover, he ended his assault on my body by trying to assault my reason, telling me as we took a cab together to the city Monday morning that nuclear bombs were so freely available in New York City that the drugstores secretly carried them. I laughed out loud at this insanity and got a venomous stare in response. As the cab dropped me off near my humble job on 34th Street, Gopal Krishna, his uglier than warthog face distorted with hate, handed me $100 and again called me a prostitute.

If anything good came out of this nightmare, it was my realization once and for all that evil exists and is personified in people like Gopal Krishna, demons in human form who are devoid of all genuine humanity. Like Harpies from Greek myth, they pollute all they touch. This is undeniably what Gopal Krishna intended when he raped me in my childhood home and when he harassed me in the Botanical Gardens, which had been a beloved refuge for much of my life. Monster! 

When I think of the devotees who used to come to visit my sister and I back in 1968-1969 when we were young teenagers and how innocent and sincere we all were, I still feel blank horror at the thought of Gopal’s deliberate pollution of my childhood home. No wonder I felt I had to get out of there and, taking my son and the ever-present suitcases, flew to Los Angeles and into the final stage of my journey out of the Hare Krishna movement.


Please note: This essay is part of a longer autobiographical excerpt that I published on another website more than eight years ago. If you have any questions about the esteem in which my guru held me, you are welcome to look them up in the vedabase of his letters.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

SAFFRON ROBES & ROLE PLAYING: THE ISKCON CULT IN HINDU DISGUISE

Swami Vivekananda on the "Radha-Prema of the Vaishnavas":

Look at this nation. Through the preaching of that love broadcast, the nation has become effeminate--a race of women! The whole of Orissa has been turned into a land of cowards, and Bengal, running high after the Radha-prema, these past four hundred years, has almost lost all sense of manliness.

         As quoted by Surendranath Sen in his private diary

When A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami Prabhupada  took it upon himself to export Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism to the West, he also worked to undermine what Swami Vivekananda had achieved more than 70 years earlier, which can be summed up in presenting Hinduism as a faith in which intellectual rigor, physical strength,  and devotion to the motherland are not incompatible. When Vivekananda said that "each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal," he laid the groundwork for self-realization based on work (karma-yoga) and personal integrity.

This philosophical stance is in direct contrast to the Radha-prema and the gopi bhava that Bhaktivedanta preached was the culmination of Vedanta. As the last of the Powerpoint Slides I have included here shows, his repudiation of Hinduism in favor of  what he believed is a universally attractive bhakti-yoga practice consisting of chanting, deity worship, and literal scripture readings was not an easy way to self-realization, as he claimed, but a cheap imitation. Consequently, it bred a host of contemptuous, ignorant cowards among the American followers of the Swami's Hare Krishna movement, many of whom survive to this day, using propaganda, violence, and subterfuge in their "devotional" conquests.
HARE KRISHNA "HINDUS"?
Moreover, despite the popularity of Yoga and Meditation world-wide, their practice does not make the beneficiaries of these ancient disciplines Hindus. Why, then, do the members of the  Hare Krishna (ISKCON) claim that their bhakti-yoga practice is an exception? Using the example of the Gaudiya Vaishnava saint Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as proof that non-caste Hindus can study Vedanta and become brahmins by virtue of their chanting the Hare Krishna mantra proves nothing. Far worse, it treats Bhakti-Yoga as a kind of Hindu magic: simply chant the Maha Mantra, eat food offered to the Radha Krishna deity, and you too can become better than a brahmin or an Indian who by birth is a Hindu? The following are some examples:

Please note: if you are reading this posting on a mobile device such as an iPhone, android phone or a tablet computer like an iPad, the following Powerpoint presentation will look best if you click on each one and read it on landscape (sideways) mode.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

WOLF IN SAINT'S CLOTHING: AN ISKCON GURU AND THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH


I should have run outside and asked somebody to call the police, people still tell me, but I was so frozen with shock that I could hardly move my feet. Besides, it was bitterly cold outside, even for New York City in that December of 1972 and I was eight and a half months pregnant. I just stood there, looking into Gopal Krishna’s malignant, scowling face—frozen with the same fury that overtook him as he glared at my swollen belly and threw a heavy wooden office chair across the room directly at it. I am writing this today because I dodged the chair and it hit the plaster wall instead. As crimes go, this has got to be one of the worst: the attempted murder of a wife in advanced pregnancy. What an evil, disgusting monster!
And, no, all of you apologists of the now ISKCON guru “His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami,” this is not something you forget, ever. Impossible. Moreover, this so-called ISKCON guru and GBC for much of India, Canada, and Russia, whose birthday is celebrated by his reportedly 10,000 disciples during an annual “Vyas Puja” ceremony filled with tributes and lavish festivities, escaped paying for his crime in the U.S. But if you do indeed believe in a higher power, his punishment still awaits him. I was, after all, just like you: I thought that my guru (in my case, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) could do no wrong and I defended him vigorously and loved him dearly. It’s just that like you, I was under-informed and misguided.

This nightmare of cruelty and cowardice was the culmination of the gross neglect I suffered the hands of Gopal Krishna during my pregnancy. He never wanted a child, obviously. By the time he wrote to our guru defaming me and wanting out of our arranged “marriage,” I was just nineteen and never had a home since leaving my mother’s house two years earlier. I lived in the temple with the single women and, at Gopal Krishna’s insistence, we went to a hotel once a month to “try for a child.” Right, you heard it. During this time he had the temerity to complain to our guru about me and got this reply: 


Your wife has proven turbulent, that is the grace of Krishna. I may inform you in this connection about my family life. Actually, I never liked my wife. I was going to marry another, but my father saved me from the danger and he told me that you do not like your wife, that is the grace of Krishna. So don't be worried about your wife. If she wants to re-marry, let her do so, and you'll be free and I shall give you Sannyas [the renounced order] and you will be preaching freely. 
Letter to Gopal Krishna Dasa, 11 May 1972

Trouble is, I was a few weeks pregnant at the time. After he showed the letter to me, I informed him of my condition, much to his surprise. Shortly thereafter he casually told me that he had called our guru’s personal secretary and asked him if he should take sannyas anyway and that he was told to wait until after the child was born. Imagine! What a cruel, inhuman thing to say to your pregnant, teenaged wife. I still had to live in the temple with the women and eat the spicy, ill-prepared food. When I insisted that Gopal give me $2.00 a week to buy a few cups of yogurt to supplement my diet, he gave it to me grudgingly for a while, all the while calling me a “prostitute” for asking him for the money. 

After a few months, he decided that I should go to Indiato live with his parents until the child was born, but it was unendurable because their apartment was too small and they barely got along. (Incidently, the claim made by Bhakti Charu Swami that Gopal Krishna was “born into an aristocratic family. . . “is pure hogwash: his parents were a thoroughly respectable sort of people and his father had indeed retired from the Navy, but aristocratic they were not. In addition, the claim that their son was educated at the Sorbonne is nonsense: he took his B.S. in India and a few graduate courses at the Sorbonne in Paris and McGillUniversity in Montreal but never got a graduate degree from either place. These are the facts.)

After I returned to New York I had to go to stay with my mother because there was no other place to live. However, when I went to the temple to see Gopal Krishna, he bluntly informed me that “he had no objection if I had an abortion.” What the hell, I thought. I was aghast and told him so. The dhoti-clad goblin wanted me to kill our unborn child and I was already more than four months pregnant! I told him to go to hell in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately for me, the effects of the ill-treatment I had been suffering for so long caught up with me and before long I was doubled-over in pain, with such severe gastro-intestinal agony that I initially thought was dysentery from my India trip, but, as the tests I underwent proved, were entirely due to extreme stress and misery. It got so bad that I was hospitalized for over a week. I vividly remember how touched I was by the genuine concern and kindness of the attending physician; I simply could not believe that anyone cared about me or how I felt. When Gopal Krishna did visit me in the hospital, he flew into a massive rage, blaming me for getting sick and costing him money for the hospital stay. The nurses came running to my room to see what the matter was, but he just closed the door and continued to yell at me.

After I went back to my mother’s house, I slowly began gaining weight and feeling a bit better. Then one day Gopal shows up and says that he found an apartment near the Brooklyn temple. When I opened the door for the first time, it was clear that it was infested with cockroaches and mice. In addition, although it was a small one bedroom apartment, a sheet covered the living room, which Gopal explained was reserved for our room-mate, a young Indian gentleman. The reason for getting a room-mate was, as he explained, to recoup the cost of my hospitalization. Our room furnishings consisted entirely of one wooden desk chair and a soiled old mattress that someone had given him. No bed, no sheets, not even curtains for the windows. I lived entirely out of my suitcase and kept a few things in plastic milk crates. My mother gave me a few household items and baby clothes, but, really, I had hardly anything. A month before the baby was due, Gopal showed up with a used crib with a broken leg. 

Meanwhile, although he was working at his “karmi” job—he was a Marketing Research Analyst at Pepsi-Co and then at Bristol-Myers at their Clairol division, a junior technical position and nothing more—I never knew anything about what he earned and never saw a paycheck or was privy to any of his financial matters. Even when he filed his taxes each year, he would make me sign the form, while holding his hand over the rest to prevent me from seeing what he earned or was receiving as a refund. As far as I know, most of his earnings went to directly to our guru and some went to his parents. So, why did he try to kill me and my unborn child a few weeks before I was due to give birth? For starters, go to the end of this blog page and read the letter to me from my guru, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, at the very end. I will explain the context and offer a full answer for any questions my readers might have in an upcoming blog essay. 

Thanks for your patience and, I hope, your understanding.

Important Update! Please see: https://harekrishnacultexposed.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-note-to-my-readers-voice-crying-in.html.

All rights reserved. No part of this essay can be reproduced in any medium without the express written consent of the author.

Monday, August 10, 2015

EASTERN CULTS AS INCUBATORS OF EXTREMISM: THE HARE KRISHNA MOVEMENT

To my readers: if you are new to this blog or one of my regulars, it is almost certain that you or a member of your family has been manipulated at some time by the tactics of the Hare Krishna cultists. It is also safe to assume that you wonder how the Islamic terrorists ravaging the Middle East attract so many youthful followers despite their death-loving ideology. In fact, you already know why and how such quasi-religious cults operate based on your experience within ISKCON. Now is the time to retrieve this knowledge out of the dustbin of the past and put it to practical use. Why is the sight of a youth being recruited on the street by a member of ISIS so eerily familiar? That describes my feelings exactly as I recently saw a video clip from Australia of one of these fanatics in action. The pattern is unmistakable: the target is approached by a person whose appearance and fervor declare an allegiance to a call to arms that transcends the rule of law and any obligations to family or the homeland. This call to brotherhood—complete with handshakes and hugs--is nothing more than an invitation to join a gang whose core ideology and practices reveal that it is really nothing more than a cult. Worse, the signs pointing to cults as incubators of extremism have been glaringly obvious in the West for more than 40 years.


Now that youths from these countries are joining ISIS in droves, the news is rife with accounts about how they should be punished upon their return and thus prevented from importing terrorism back to their homelands. Such policies are necessary, of course, but they are also politically expedient smokescreens for an inconvenient truth: some of our young adults are ignorant, lazy parasites eager to secure an easy future for themselves at any cost to others. Those of us with years of experience in ISKCON should use the valuable insights we possess to teach such would-be miscreants how to avoid the cult indoctrination process altogether. They might have mutated over two generations, but the diseases afflicting both cultists and terrorists have one symptom in common: at their core they are cults of personality with only a thin veneer of religiosity. 

Before I continue with my essay, I would like to thank two great souls--each in their own way the pride of India--who have inspired and instructed me in various ways. I am greatly indebted to Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar for his inspiring critique of the caste system,Annihilation of Caste and for his incomplete gem, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India. The life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda have also illuminated my solitary path in many ways and for that I am deeply grateful. 


Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

ISIS: OLD WHINE IN NEW BOTTLES 

How does an otherwise unremarkable young man, usually from a working class family, turn into a hero- worshiping jihadist? At first glance, it appears that the new recruit has been illuminated by a sudden blast of piety: he becomes immersed in studying the Koran and quits drinking, whoring, and drug taking. So far, so good. However, when he travels to meet with his ISIS brothers, the pious cloud disperses, revealing just another gangster with a penchant for murder, rape, and pillaging. Instead of teaching its new recruits to assume responsibility for their own actions, terrorists preach a doctrine of victimization by Western culture and add to it a criminal sense of entitlement. In practice, it is a license for seeking out non-Islamic minorities and using them as scapegoats for their ill-conceived rage and insecurities.

Most recently, Graeme Wood, in his now famous article, "What ISIS Really Wants," has traced the impetus for its followers' practices to a literalist, millenarian interpretation of the Koran. These practices include eliminating any Muslim who does not subscribe to the Islamic State's reactionary, simplistic world view. Muslims who depart from what Wood calls a "seventh-century legal environment" are infidels who must die, whereas all others must be subjugated, acknowledge the supremacy of ISIS, and pay fines to ensure their continued existence. Bernard Haykel (whose authority on ISIS Wood cites many times in his article) adds elsewhere that the Islamic State's back-to-basics mentality sidesteps a tradition of diverse, learned Islamic interpretation that spans more than a thousand years. The reason for this pitiful state of affairs, according to R. Rumi of the Hudson Institute, is "the weakened state" of that tradition today stemming from the Islamist misuse of ideology in the pursuit of their political aspirations.

One of the most persistent fallacies plaguing religious fundamentalists of all denominations is the idea that scriptures are products of divine inspiration, usually originating from oral recitations of great antiquity that were codified by one or more holy scribes who tradition holds merely functioned as mouthpieces of a prophet. Modern scholarship avails itself of textual,archaeological and linguistic research to provide a more historically accurate picture of how scriptures developed, but the fanatics bent on insisting that everyone read with the literalism of small children need to offer incentives to their would-be followers that appear to put them on a fast track to enjoying adult goods and services they have done absolutely nothing to legitimately acquire.

The reformation Islam needs at a minimum is therefore two-fold: its members must repair its image world-wide, beginning with condemning the terrorist model of rape and plunder as economic and political suicide; in addition,private and public educational institutions must endeavor to create an atmosphere where Islamic interpretation is encouraged and its scholars protected. Needless to say, implementing these changes will entail considerable risk since it requires freedom of speech and other individual liberties that gangs such as ISIS and the Taliban have systemically denied to all in their reach in their frenzied race to oblivion.

Moreover, the naked opportunism that characterizes ISIS--for all of its appeal to a medieval Prophet-centered worldview--is expressed using methods that are quite technologically adept. It is as if their black-clad followers have emerged out of an Islamic-themed version of the Call of Duty video game, smartphones and computers at hand, using the latest social media to urge the gullible to regress to a tribalist existence filled with mayhem and slaughter. Unfortunately, but for a change of religion and attire, the practices now associated with ISIS have been used repeatedly by any number of cults that began to infiltrate American and European society beginning in the counter-culture ("Hippie/New Age") era of the mid 1960's and continuing to the present. What follows will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that religious fanaticism, much like an antibiotic-resistant plague, is capable of adapting to find better ways of breaking down the resistance of its hosts.



CULTS OF PERSONALITY 

Who can forget the first time you set eyes on your guru and felt your heart leap in the presence of what you believed was a direct conduit to the spiritual realm? Surely his Vedic wisdom--the glory of Eastern spirituality--far surpassed the inferior Abrahamic religions. It all seemed somehow miraculous: the ecstatic mantra chanting and dancing, together with the immediate acceptance by the devotees in the temple, seemed to transport you to another sphere of existence, one in which the rules of your former life need no longer apply. What if your new life required you to sleep on the floor, rise at 4:00 in the morning to worship brass and marble deities, and then spend the rest of the day on the street or at airports hawking books you hardly read yourself? What if your guru--despite all scientific evidence to the contrary--insists that the "infallible" Vedic cosmology locates the Sun closer to the Earth than the Moon and states that this planet itself is a disk supported in the heavens by four elephants?

Similarly, if you are a newly-hatched terrorist prowling about Syria or Iraq looking for anyone your self-appointed Caliph deems an apostate, what will you do when these so-called apostates beat your forces into submission? Whether you are committed to following an ISKCON guru or waving a black ISIS flag, sacrificing your rational faculties for an obvious ruse also means that you have unnecessarily sacrificed your humanity. Such a deluded state of mind and the actions necessary to sustain it typically require the new adherents' adoption by a leader or guru, who, together with his other followers, convinces them that salvation is to be found in retreating to another time and place where they are de facto reborn with new ethnicities and allegiances. ISIS, for example, is fiercely determined to build an Islamic society based on a seventh-century model derived from a literal reading of the Holy Koran. It is as if they are time travelers from the past who are given falsified passports that they somehow believe render them fully-functional members of a divinely inspired people destined to drive out infidels and subjugate all others.

Wresting these lost souls from their delusions and bringing them back to reality will prove to be a challenge, as families and friends of cult members learned back in the hippie era. Their ideological grandchildren--both the Hindu would-be cultists and the Islamic terrorist imports from the West--cannot be saved until they learn to recognize the dangers of literal scriptural readings (especially in regard to apocalyptic themes) and begin to think for themselves.



SOPHISTRY AND SCAPEGOATING 

 Perhaps the most effective means of brainwashing the followers of either a cult or a terrorist gang is the use of violent propaganda lifted from religious texts that are both taken in a literal sense and presented as the bedrock of an ancient social order. To new adherents searching for a rapid-fire means to enlightenment, the ardent, blind faith in a few lines of a holy book taken out of context often seems like an easy way to feign knowledge of a scripture they lack the erudition and the inclination to study and read at greater length. In most cases, however, they slavishly follow and disseminate their leaders' commentaries on scripture without reading the original for themselves and seeking to educate themselves beyond what is strictly allowed by the cult. The following examples of scripture and commentary from sacred texts of Hinduism and Islam show what mischief can arise when they are taken literally:

Founder/Acharya of the Hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:



Arjuna was a great Vaishnava, and he was killing. Bhima was a great Vaishnava, and he was killing. Dhruva Maharaja was a Vaishnava, and he was killing. Parikshit Maharaja was killing. Prahlada Maharaja was killing. Rama was killing. Krishna was killing. Practically speaking, Vaishnavas are killers. . . It is not that because Mohammed used a sword, we also must use a sword, No! --we can use a Gun. We will ask-...You like Krishna??No--Booom..You like Krishna? No--Booom. We can use everything for Krishna, we can use the ATOM BOMB FOR KRISHNA!!We have to kill this civilization of mudhas [fools] . . .those who are mudhas, we have to kill them. This is our business. Kill all the mudhas. . . Not now but later when we are more powerful. 
 Morning Walk, Vrindavan: 15 March 1974. 


Whatever Muhammad said that is authority. That we accept. We accept Muhammad as the representative of God. Whatever he says, we accept; that's all. What you mean, that is your business. But he is the authority; he said, This is the name of God. You chant, you pray. "Allah of God." That's all. This is authority. 


Room conversation. Tehran: 14 March 1975. 

Manu Samhita( Oxford Edition):


Drinking (spirituous liquor), associating with wicked people, separating from the husband, rambling abroad, sleeping (at unseasonable hours), and dwelling in other men's houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women. Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), '(it is enough that) he is a man,' they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly.Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world).Knowing their disposition, which the Lord of creatures laid in them at the creation, to be such, (every) man should most strenuously exert himself to guard them.(When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love of their)bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct. 9: 13-17. 


A man, aged thirty years, shall marry a maiden of twelve who pleases him, or a man of twenty-four a girl eight years of age; if (the performance of) his duties would (otherwise) be impeded, (he must marry) sooner. 9: 94. 

 Holy Quran:


And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing . . .But if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and worship is for Allah alone.I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. 8:12. 

 The "kill the mudhas" bluster A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada engaged in during the last years of his life shows how role-playing is an intrinsic part of the cult leadership mentality. Another is the practice of demonizing your real or imagined opponents and both exaggerating the threat they pose to you as well as your reaction to it. The fools our guru advocated killing would include anyone not a Krishna devotee, yet when he went to Tehran to preach, his absolutism shifted to relativism--"we accept Muhammad as the representative of God"--an obvious attempt to disarm his hosts. He would also use this trick on Christians and Jews: he claimed that Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu and praised Jewish intelligence on various occasions (many of his early American disciples were Jewish) and then praised Hilter and Lenin at unguarded moments or in private correspondence.

Similarly, the Swami insisted that the(Laws of Manu) is "the law book for the entire human society"iii but departed from its treatment of castes as hereditary, claiming that by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and "by accepting regulative principles, even Westerners (mlecchas and yavanas) become brahmanas"iv Regardless of what the Bengali reformer and Vaishnava saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advocated, to regard the chaturvarna (four castes) system as anything but hereditary and rigidly hierarchical is to deny the scriptural foundations on which they rest and the fanatical way they have been maintained in the past and most certainly in the present. In her introduction to B.R. Ambedkar's&Annihilation of Caste, Arundhati Roy observes that unlike "contemporary abominations like apartheid, racism, sexism, economic imperialism and religious fundamentalism," the caste system gets a relatively free ride from international criticism The West's continuing flirtation with Eastern mysticism and exoticism in general might be a mitigating factor, but when a prominent organization of British Hindus can flatly state that "any form of discrimination is frowned upon by Hindu Dharma," it is clear to anyone even dimly aware of the caste-related violence that continues to roil India, that something more than mere denial is afoot. Of course, those of you who were ISKCON devotees are well aware of the kind of "Brahmins" our guru managed to create was as notorious in its own way as the abuses hereditary Brahmins and other upper caste Hindus heap upon the Dalits. These Hare Krishna brahmins were, in dress, laughable imitations of Gaudiya Vaishnavas in tilok and saffron garb, obsessed with controlling their sankirtan-funded temples and, after our guru's demise in 1977, a bunch of power-hungry businessmen fighting for guruship,embroiling themselves in various territorial squabbles.


PROPAGANDA BREEDS PARASITES 

 When a political party wishes to hide inconvenient news from the voting public, it will sanitize, expurgate,and sugarcoat as it sees fit and voila! Propaganda is born, an evil with more heads than the demon Ravana. Although it is an insult to reason, propaganda carries an emotional charge that causes the gullible to attach themselves to it like flies to honey. In turn, these human flies become carriers of the propaganda virus and act like parasites in spreading delusions saturated with emotional content. I remember chanting and dancing with other Hare Krishna devotees, awash in our exoticism-intoxication, only to discover in short order that our guru was far more interested in our selling his books. Sure enough, soon "sankirtan" no longer meant congregational chanting, it meant "hitting the street" and making nuisances of ourselves in airports. Our budding piety and enthusiasm became the tool of another person's desire to perpetuate himself.

 This pattern also applies to religious-terrorist groups such as ISIS and the Taliban. Everyone knows, for example, that the puppet-masters without whose ideological and financial support terrorists could not survive would themselves be munching dates and fighting petty tribal skirmishes if not for the immense revenue stream flowing from their nationalized oil fields. The rise of tightly organized terrorist groups openly sponsored by either Saudi Arabia or Iran shows how "geography is destiny" insofar as their funding is concerned. As for their gun-toting pawns, they are fools to think that their economic and educational impotence can be cured by dressing like an assassin out of a video game and roving about butchering innocents. Until and unless they stop living off the largesse of others, they will find themselves unable to afford the typical appliances--not even a lowly microwave oven--they will need if they are to attempt to bribe a poor family to allow them to marry one of their daughters.

Similarly, cults, whether they are outgrowths of established religions or simply the product of a fevered imagination, survive by attaching themselves to productive individuals and draining their funds with the tenacity of leeches. Thus fattened, they invest these "contributions" in lavish temples, restaurants, and various elaborate functions, all of which serve to stuff their coffers to the bursting point. Your actual religious beliefs might be absurd and laughable, but if you open a nice vegetarian restaurant and flatter your patrons, who cares? ISKCON, in addition, has gotten into the practice of giving its temples names (e.g., ISKCON Cultural Center) in an effort to seek legitimacy and broader social acceptance by the Hindu community. So, on the one hand, you have pious Hindus making large pledges to support ISKCON and Akshaya Patra food for school children programs, while the history of the catastrophe its founder's single-minded focus on selling his books visited upon the children of his disciples has been conveniently swept into the dustbin of the cult's early history. What is the likely outcome when a parasite encourages others to become parasites? Ask any of the innocent Indian school children who have been fed vermin-infested dal and roti mid-day meals by ISKCON food relief and the better-known Akshaya Patra! It is maddening even to think of such indignities visiting the recipients of an act of charity, which, for many, is indignity enough.

Little do they know that the carnival-like atmosphere of many of the temple programs is simply a means to direct attention away from the cult's ludicrous and contrived beliefs, what to speak of the abuses their internal hierarchical systems heap upon strict followers and dissidents alike. Chief among these beliefs is their insistence on perpetuating their guru's claim that he was the first Indian guru to bring the true wisdom of the Vedas to the West and that his translation of and commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita are uniquely authoritative. To believe these claims, one would have to be both gullible and suffering from a severe case of historical amnesia. In fact, by his own admission, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada never read the Vedas and openly plagiarized the translation of the text of the Bhagavad-Gita from the Gita Press edition.

Today, the miasma of deception to which we once succumbed has long since dissipated, having taken with it our youthful idealism and in too many cases, the best years of our lives. Despite losing these years, many of us have triumphed over great adversity to raise our children, obtain stable employment, and, in many cases put ourselves through college and even graduate school. Life does indeed find a way. For others, adapting to society after spending years and sometimes decades in the alternate universe of a repressive and sadistic cult has been a never-ending struggle. The years spent with the Hare Krishna cult (or any other similar pseudo-religious group) inevitably will have a formative effect on one's life. So the interest in what the cult is currently doing to ensnare newcomers and keep its current members docile and deluded does resurface, often with alarming results.

Imagine my horror in this regard, to learn that my guru--whose "four regulative principles" observed rigorously by his initiated disciples contained a ban on any form of tobacco--used snuff (powdered tobacco) to stay awake when he was working on his commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam. This revelation hit me hard, bringing back memories of my habit of fiercely defending my guru when anyone would dare criticize him. I had no idea that we had been duped by a public relations scheme, any more than the lost souls who are streaming from all over the world to join the jihadists in the Middle East and now, parts of North Africa, eager to regress morally and intellectually in a tribalist quest for ill-gotten gains. Add to this the role of social media in disseminating a stream of half-truths and wild distortions to those without the education and common sense to separate fact from fiction and you have a toxic brew for which few antidotes exist. However, we must try.

I submit that the antidote is education, beginning in elementary school where both boys and girls learn to compare and contrast the religious beliefs and associated cultural practices of major world religions. Teachers should be recruited, as they are in Finland and South Korea, from the top 10% of the college classes and be compensated generously. Students should progressively learn rhetoric and the fundamentals of argumentative reasoning. The basis of such education is to teach students--boys and girls--to develop their reasoning powers and intellectual prowess. A youth who has learned to recognize the ideological maneuvers of cults can easily demolish them and actually point out their deficiencies to the slack-jawed cultist who is trying to recruit him or her. But what about the unemployed youths who turn to cults the same way many of their friends turn to gangs? This is an issue too many choose to side-step, focusing instead on methods of deterrence and profiling.

The answer is again to be found in the Nordic and South Korean models of education, where it is recognized that not all students are college-bound, and educated accordingly. Many of the social problems in the ghetto-like housing developments in the outskirts of major European and North American cities could be vastly diminished if youths starting high school entered apprenticeship programs where they learn a trade from mature professionals in various fields. Part of the job description for these educators involves encouraging and nurturing the talents of their young charges, many of whom lack a stable father figure at home. Believe me, if a young man or woman has the social and technical skills to earn a living upon graduating from high school, they will almost certainly look at gangs and cult recruiters as nothing more than a bunch of losers and parasites.

Most of all, our children must be taught an unwavering respect for the integrity and fundamental human rights of the individual. This must include freedom to pursue one's own interests and happiness without degrading or enslaving another regardless of religious or cultural precedent. Freedom of speech, including the right (as in this essay and others in this blog) to present opposing arguments and share one's personal experiences in order to help secure the rights of others and embolden them to seek redress as necessary and in a lawful manner.

Most of all, we should keep in mind Swami Vivekananda's exhortation that we: Do not believe in a thing because you have read about it in a book. Do not believe in a thing because another man has said it was true. Do not believe in words because they are hallowed by tradition. Find out the truth for yourself. Reason it out. That is realization.

 i. http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980. ii ii.http://www.hudson.org/research/11172-the-prospects-for-reform-in-islam iii Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, 3.21 purport. iv Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.39 "Purport" by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. v http://hfb.org.uk. "Caste within the Single Equality Bill 2010." vi Swami Nikhilananda. Vivekananda: a Biography. NY: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953.

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