Monday, April 22, 2013


Enlightening readers about the beliefs and practices of the Hare Krishna (ISKCON) cult is the sole purpose of this blog and its companion, The ISKCON Cult Unveiled, at Many of the essays I have written over the past ten years deal with controversial issues and others deal with basic philosophical concerns.

Like most cults, ISKCON is two-faced: it has a private side that it reveals to its adherents and another is reserved for the public. Exposing the truth about both aspects of the Hare Krishna movement is vital for a number of reasons that I will summarize shortly. Before I continue, however, let me introduce myself.

Back in 1967, my sister and I (we were 16 and 14 years old, respectively) saw a group of Hare Krishna devotees dancing and singing at one of the famous Central Park “Be-In” hippie events in the “Summer of Love.” One of the devotees approached me and invited me to the group’s “love feast” that they held every Sunday. (For more details about our actual visit, please see my blog essay, I began high school that September and in December, my sister and I were initiated by the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (also called “Srila Prabhupada”).

Ekayani devi dasi, 16 years old.
Our guru had come to New York only the year before, so I became at that time both one of the earliest and youngest initiated devotees. We certainly were sincere and stalwart devotees, going to school during the week and worshipping our deities at home and living for the weekends when we would take the subway train to the temple and help prepare the Sunday love feast. We also carefully read all of the scriptures our guru translated (or so we thought) and for which he also prepared commentaries (“purports”), such as The Bhagavad-Gita As It Is and the multi-volume Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagwat Purana). We also created oil paintings of various scenes in the Krishna legend in our spare time.

After two years, my elder sister married a devotee and moved to St. Louis to start a temple there. Her loss left me to pursue my devotional service in near total isolation, but I persevered. Tragically, just after I graduated from high school, I was told by my sister, her husband, and Srila Prabhupada’s personal secretary that our guru had ordered me to marry one Gopal Krishna dasa, an Indian (now the guru Gopal Krishna Goswami) then living at the Montreal temple. I was only 17 years old and a virgin. (As it turns out, Srila Prabhupada told me himself that he had never given such an order.) For me, that horrific event ended the honeymoon phase of my involvement with the Hare Krishna movement.

But I digress. I do, however, want to make it perfectly clear that I knew the founder-acharya of the Hare Krishna movement personally (in fact, he never failed to greet me whenever we met, even when there was a crowd of other devotees present). I also wrote many letters to him, all of which he answered, sometimes at length (see one very influential photocopy of one at the end of this blog page). Critics of my views, all absolute strangers who never met me or my guru, think their fanatic adherence to his now-thoroughly discredited views entitles them to diagnose me as an insane person and recommend that I seek professional help. Such persons are themselves delusional and, should they ever find the fortitude to reject the nonsensical beliefs they slavishly follow, will find themselves on a therapist’s coach for years to come.

It is a daunting task to summarize the truly bizarre beliefs that our guru held and that he insisted we accept without any investigation on our part. As I and many others have written elsewhere, the problem seems to have its source in his belief that Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism is the ultimate expression of devotion to Lord Krishna, despite the fact that the philosophy of the character of Bhagwan Sri Krishna in the Gita and the Indian folk stories about the antics of Krishna and his cowherd gopis cannot be compared. He also held that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a Bengali Krishna enthusiast, was an incarnation of both Radha and Krishna together, ignoring the obvious: read the Chaitanya Charitamrita and a picture emerges of a cross-dressing Brahmin whose ”devotional” proclivities are better left unstated.

How could I, a woman who, after leaving ISKCON after wasting 13 years of life there, manage to earn a B.A. and M.A. while raising my son alone and working a demanding, full-time job (I have worked for a total of 33 years), if, as Srila Prabhupada insisted, women have half the brains of men and (I quote) “there is no very great scientist, mathematician, philosopher among woman.” In these and other laughably ignorant comments about so-called Vedic science— coming from a one-time chemist who, by his own admission, never read the Vedas—A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami proved that he lacked the authority by education and common sense to represent the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita to the West. How could we naively sit by and listen to this man state that the moon is farther away than the sun and the astronauts could never have gone to the moon since it is a “heavenly” planet and they never worshipped the moon-god Chandra in the first place?

Rather than continuing to hide their fundamental beliefs under a cloak of secrecy, ISKCON leaders and members should adopt a full disclosure policy immediately. Your lives--your souls--deserve no less. We  are all reminded from the lethal building collapses in the news that to live in a building with a faulty foundation is to court disaster.

Before ending, I want to restate that my writings are intended solely to educate and inform. Furthermore, I strongly believe in freedom of religion, but still insist that children, who, as the gurukula tragedy taught the public are helpless in such an irrational and abusive world view, are educated in public or private schools with a state-approved curriculum. I also despise and disavow any kind of discriminatory views, whether they concern women, ethnic groups of any kind, races, or religion. Lastly, I want to make it clear that the views expressed in this blog are mine alone and that I labor on them without assistance and have never received any financial help of any kind to support my efforts.

Just out! Please see:

Select Essays on Various Topics in This Blog

Abuse of the Legacy of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Swami Vivekananda:

ISKCON Pretends to be an Ambassador of India's Cultural Heritage:

Using the Bhagavad-Gita to Advance ISKCON's Ambitions in Russia:

Female Infanticide and Selective Abortion:

Evils of Arranged Marriage and Treatment of Widows in India:

Child Abuse in ISKCON and Organized Religion:

Link between Cultural Intrusions in Russia and Terrorism:

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


Jagadananda Das said...

Ekayani Devi, You were the first devotee I met in the Montreal temple in 1970. You sat me down and had me listen to the Apple records of Hare Krishna and Govinda Jai Jai, and you let me have a book for free, namely one of the fascicules of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

The atmosphere in the temple was so calm and filled with spiritual hope, it changed my life and I became a devotee a few days later in Toronto.

Since then I have gone through many changes, but I never lost the view that at the core of what was taught in ISKCON was a great experiential truth.

I know that you went through a lot of horrendous abuse, and I certainly can do very little about that. We were all very immature in those days, and it is very true that a lot of Srila Prabhupada's ideas were just backward and irrelevant.

And yet there was something there, in the chanting and in the community. The problem is that most people missed the essence. But what could be expected? There is so much more to be found if one looks and remembers the joyous heart of love of God.

Just reading those memories you had as a high school girl with deities makes me feel that you really did experience a special gift of devotional happiness then.

I wish you well, and I am glad for this opportunity you give me to thank you for the small but memorable role you played in my life.

Remember, the negative exists solely to distract you from the positive.

Jai Sri Radhe!

Anonymous said...

Great work you are doing. We lost touch again. It's your old friend in the pink sari behind the harmonium, sitting in front of you in the vintage picture published on your blog.I have another vintage picture for you, of you! Love to talk again.

Anonymous said...

Excellent and informative. Thank you. You are bravely giving a voice to the poor souls that have fell victim to this, or any cult. Brava, and please do continue on with your work.

kasia said...

Deep respect and praise for you. Your article has inspired me to get up and build my life again. I have mental/emotional wounds after being a victim of this cult (although I have chosen to be there on my own)
It has been now 17 years after i left, i encounter daily problems due to bad experience. I have been repeatedly abused by Jaya Bhadra, prabhupada disciple who resides in Radhadesh Belgium. This ugly witch was screaming at me, intimidating and verbally abusing. Why? I was poor and came from former eastern europe. I had no money to go back & no family. The psychological crimes this sect commits are very damaging.

Unknown said...

Brilliant....piece of work. written so courageously and your association and experience within ISKCON is unbelievable' I have read all your articles and would agree with a lot through my own personal experience and knowledge of ISKON. There will be many who try and discredit you but like a great man once said, “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.”

Anonymous said...

I applaud you and your efforts.I started the Hare Krishnas Exposed Blog some years ago but it left me emotionally drained. I currently pursue more positive pursuits.I find it amazing after all the "Fall Downs" and sex scandals people in ISKCON still thinks it's people from the outside trying to destroy them but in fact they don't even understand they have become absolutely irrelevant in this day and age. Thank you for your blog and mission, my advice is to make time for healing and living. Also, finding spirituality without blind dogmatism is also a real need to the healing process. For me it was Pureland Buddhism which I returned to after leaving ISKCON. My pursuit is not cultivating my own higher nature NOT the so-called higher nature of self important egomaniacs and perverts. I wish all who decide to leave ISKCON can find some measure of peace and harmony of which neither were in any supply in ISKCON. Also, I've come to the conclusion that ALL fundamentalist religions not just ISKCON depend on a steady supply of paranoia, fear of being human and self loathing in order to be successful.

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Unknown said...

Thank you for speaking your truth. I was also young (15 yrs old), but in my case I was encouraged to abandon my education in favour of the higher knowledge. There was no training, no recognition of potential other than pushing the books and making money. There was mental and sexual abuse. When I left Iskcon I was ill equipt to cope, being socially and emotionally stunted. It took a long time to come to a balanced state. I view Iskcon as a con and a cult, Bhaktividanta's views are from the time and place of his origins and were ego driven. For any one who resinates with the process and can establish a balanced and happy life within the parameters set by Bhaktividanta, that is well and good, we all have our own journey. I am glad to be on mine. Love and blessings to you, my sister.

planetaryeyes said...

Congratulations for extricating yourself from the ISKCON cult and getting on with your life! Those of us who have also done so can write volumes about the difficulties of adjusting to life after having wasted so many vital years with a bunch of socially awkward fanatics. It's a challenge everyday. However, while I admire your generous spirit, you should know that there is no way for anyone to live a "happy and balanced life" in the pseudo-Hindu cult of Bhaktivedanta's concoction in any realistic sense. It is entirely delusive as a lifestyle and philosophically rotten at its core. The human filth who sexually abused us and legions of others who had the misfortune to trust such a pack of diabolical, represses fiends, need to be tracked down and punished systematically. Surely you have read of the investiture of Bhavananda, one of the worst perverts ever in ISKCON history, as Creative Director of the TOVP complex in India. Such unimaginable evil! To fight such filth in whatever way we can is both a duty and a way to mitigate the after effects of the harm we endured and the years we lost. Love and blessings to you also.