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ISKCON: It's Role, Idealogies, And World-view.
#61
I give below some of the thoughts of Sri Ramakrishna on different religions:


"God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important
thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden
stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo
pole.
You may say that there are many errors and superstitions in another religion.
I should reply: Suppose there are. Every religion has errors. Every one thinks
that his watch alone gives the correct time. It is enough to have yearning for
God. It is enough to love Him and feel attracted to Him. Don't you know that
God is the Inner Guide? He sees the longing of our heart and the yearning of
our soul. Suppose a man has several sons. The older boys address him
distinctly as 'Baba' or 'Papa', but the babies can at best call him 'Ba' or
'Pa'. Now will the father be angry with those who address him in this
indistinct way? The father knows that they too are calling him, only they
cannot pronounce his name well. All children are same to the father.
Likewise, the devotees call on God alone, though by different names. They call
on One Person only. God is one, but His names are many."

"It is not good to feel that one's own religion alone is true and all others
are false. God is one only and not two. Diferent people call on Him by
different names, some as Allah, some as God, and others as Krishna, Siva,
and Brahman. It is like water in a lake. Some drink it at one place and call
it 'jal', others at another place and call it 'pani', and still others at a
third place and call it 'water'. The Hindus call it 'jal', the Christians
call it 'water', and the Mussalmans 'pani'. But it is one and the same thing.
Opinions are but paths. Each religion is only a path leading to God, as
rivers come from different directions and ultimately become one in the one
ocean."

"I see people who talk about religions constantly quarrelling with one
another. Hindus, Mussalmans, Brahmos, Saktas, Vaishnavas, Saivas, all
quarrel with one another. They haven't the intelligence to understand that He
who is called Krishna is also Shiva and the Primal Shakti, and that is He
again, who is called Jesus and Allah. There is only one Rama and He has a
thousand names."

- Sri Ramakrishna
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#62
I give below some of the thoughts of Swami Vivekananda on different religions:

You must remember that humanity travels not from error to truth, but from
truth to truth; it may be, if you like it better, from lower truth to higher
truth, but never from error to truth. Suppose you start from here and travel
towards the sun in a straight line. From here the sun looks only small in size
. Suppose you go forwards a million miles, the sun will be much bigger. At
every stage the sun will become bigger and bigger. Suppose twenty thousand
photographs had been taken of the same sun, from different standpoints; these
twenty thousand photographs will certainly differ from one another. But can
you deny that each is a photograph of the same sun? So all forms of religion,
high or low, are just different stages towards that eternal state of light,
which is God Himself. Some embody a lower view, some a higher, and that is all
the difference.

- Vivekananda (Complete Works IV, p147)
  Reply
#63
Gangajal,

Thanks for the clarification on Ramakrishna Mission.


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->So all forms of religion, high or low, are just different stages towards that eternal state of light, which is God Himself. Some embody a lower view, some a higher, and that is all the difference.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

This is correct.

It would be nice of Ramakrishna Mission to clarify that it is Hinduism that represents the higher view and everyone else represents a lower view deep down in some gutter somewhere.
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#64
This is the most disgusting thread on India Forum.
  Reply
#65
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->As I pointed out in my last post, the ideas of Vivekananda are simply borrowed from the writings of Comte, von Holback, Holyoake, etc, which were taught to Indian schoolkids by the Brit colonialists. The whole edifice of "Neo-Vedanta" (or "Neo-Advaita") is simply a product of colonial education. And as I pointed out, this concoction is NOT faithful to the teachings of Shankaracharya, just like it grossly mis-represents Vaishnavism.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Carl,
I remember quite clearly you approving quoted Jeffrey Kripal, the christian scholar who translated (<i>kol</i>) lap as "sexual region near the thigh", <i>dhan</i> (wealth) as penis (dhan is also a slang for penis in Bengali but it is clear from the context what Ramakrisha meant). Your faith in Kripal is touching. Ironic! Since you accuse Vivekananda of following the white man.
VA
  Reply
#66
GentleFollks, Please stay on the thread's focus....Not Ramakrishna, vivkenanda, Neo-vedanta, Shaiva/Vaishnava etc etc.

Visit: ISKCON & Hinduism for some talking points, analysis..

Also visit: ISKCON Revival Movement - The Splinter Group

Thank you!!
  Reply
#67
I think we should open a separate thread to discuss possible splinter groups like Ramakrishna mission, Divine Life Society, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sai Baba etc...

Since they have the potential to break apart from mainstream Hinduism and possibly cause havoc like former splinter groups like Buddhism, Sikhism and Arya Samaj.

The process of breaking apart first starts as a "reform movement", supposedly to fix some problems in Hinduism.

Next, it undergoes the process of monotheization, where the scoudrels claim their religion is also monotheistic like Xtianity and Islam. And they try to distance themselves from Hinduism.

Then the next generation of converts having grown up in the new nonsense sect starts claiming itself as a separate religion.

Finally, many generations down the line the descendants no longer find satisfaction in their new religion and become prey to predatory religions like Islam and Xtianity.

This is what is happening to Sikhs living in the west who are converting to Xtianity or Islam.

The same thing happened in Korea, where Buddhism first stealthily crept in and destroyed the native Korean religion. Now the place has been overrun by missionaries and has become a Christian majority nation.
  Reply
#68
<b>mitradena</b> & <b>vijnan_anand</b>,
<b>I DO NOT approve of Jeffrey Kripal's stinking piece of "psychoanalysis".</b> That post of mine was simply quoting another person's response to an equally ridiculous critique of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In that quote, I only highlighted the parts that I was in agreement with, after verification.

Also, my criticism has been restricted to Vivekananda, and not Sri Ramakrishna himself. Sri Ramakrishna is rather vague and contradictory on points of philosophy, very difficult to comprehend, and very easily <i>misunderstood</i>. Personally, I humbly respect Sri Ramakrishna as a sadhu, but cannot summon the confidence to treat him as guru. I also respect Vivekananda, simply for his youthful dedication to spiritual life. But Vivekananda's attempts to "integrate" all sorts of philosophy in vogue at the time is certainly a concoction that needs to be discussed openly. That tactic may have served some social purpose at the time, but if allowed to congeal into dogma, it will be devastating for the long-term spiritual health of Hinduism. <b>If you like, you can investigate the decadence of Persian Zoroastrianism and the philosophical hodge-podge it got into, especially after the Greek invasion lead by Alexander. Lots of parallels with India and Hinduism.</b>

In short, I have nothing against the Ramakrishna Mission or ANY sect. My only concern is that they show some intellectual honesty when they discuss philosophy. <b>They should clearly admit that theirs is a NEO-Vedantic or NEO-Advaitic philosophy. But all too often, these people try to pass themselves off as "Vedanta" or "Advaita" whenever they can get away with it. </b>

As for my assertions that Vivekananda's philosophy is simply lifted from the tremendously popular writings of the Paris clique -- which was taught in British-Indian schools throughout the 1800's -- you can verify it for yourself by reading those philosophers.

<b>mitradena</b>,
Who said that ISKCON has not criticized Christianity and Islam? In fact, there are many very scathing criticisms of the dogmatic aspects of these institutionalized religions. Srila Prabhupada was particularly concerned about the near-total degeneration of these faith-systems. He also said that the countries that needed God-consciousness most were the communist countries, and the Islamic countries(!). And he made all these statements in <b>full public view</b>. While appreciating the good, he never hesitated to criticize the bad.

And how can you say they are cowards? These guys put their lives on the line to go preaching in very hostile environments. They do it all the time, despite several incidents. Refer their trials and tribulations in Poland, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kyrghyzstan, and even the USA.

OTOH, it is the relativistic Neo-Vedantic institutions like the RK Mission that go out of their way to accommodate other doctrines. Ramakrishna Missions often display the crucifix and the Islamic crescent on their facade. But in their books, Vivekananda says that Muhammad is an "imperfect yogi". Isn't this double-faced? Does ISKON ever do that?? No. One thing that I liked about ISKCON was their candour about everything -- from doctrinal disagreements to their legal problems in court.

You have only taken some statements on websites that were "tolerant" in nature, and reached the wrong conclusion. The same acceptance of commonalty is extended to all sects, Buddhist and Hindu. In the Gaudiya sect, Shankara is venerated as "acharya", and his service to the cause of Vedic dharma is acknowledged, while the other Vaishnava sects are not so generous. Similarly, Sri Chaitanya praised the Buddha's mission in putting an end to the abuse of the Vedas by a corrupt Brahmanical order. <b>But the major part of popular criticism is still reserved for the mayavadis and the atheists because of their denial of Ishvara, and their relativism. In that sense, the mayavadi position is far more dangerous and deviant than the dogmatic quirks of Churchianity and Islamism, which are at least positively monotheistic.</b>

Lastly, ISKCON members really have no problems calling themselves Hindu, as long as they are sure their specific doctrines are highlighted, and not lost in the swarming milieu of <b>heterodox</b> philosophies. In fact, about 20 years ago, an ISKCON swami helped convene the first international Hindu sangha.

But perhaps because of repeated incidents of other Hindu sects protesting Vaishnava intransigence on philosophical matters, ISKCON decided to blur the lines a little. <b>However, an unprecedented coming-together of the various Vaishnava sampradayas is underway in India now. Vaishnavism, as an organized, dynamic movement, has been dormant for centuries now.</b> If this bloc forms, then the academic definitions of "mainstream Hinduism" will be forced to acknowledge the historical reality of Vaishnava doctrine and its purity, rather than certain marginal, "new-age" concoctions.
  Reply
#69
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Hare Krishna comes of age: the movement has matured into a mainstream religion after years of tumult and scandal--but escaping the past never is easy.

USA Today (Magazine); 7/1/2005; Kress, Michael



Search for more information on HighBeam Research for systems thinking and religion.

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, and Boston is fixated on its Patriots. Yet, here, in the city's chic Back Bay neighborhood, I am with just about the only people not thinking of football. Here, as most pregame parties are starting, a horn sounds, and a familiar chant is repeated over and over: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna...."

If you thought the Hare Krishnas faded away with bell bottoms and disco, the scene at 72 Commonwealth Ave. tells a different story. This former boarding house serves as the local temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)--the Hare Krishhas.

While the mantra may bring back memories of a past era, a look at the worshippers this Sunday makes clear these are vastly different Hare Krishnas than those once ubiquitous in American cities. Thirty years ago, this room would have been filled to capacity with devotees looking every bit the stereotype: white, young, wearing colorful robes, the men sporting heads shaved except for one tuft at the crown of their scalp.

That was then, but this is now, and these are the faces of Krishna in the 21st century. The robed monks are here, but fewer in number. They are worshipping alongside people dressed in jeans or other casual clothes. Maybe half the faces are white, with the rest belonging to Indian immigrants and their American-born children. They are students, pharmacists, computer programmers, stay-at-home moms. If they were not here, chanting in praise of a Hindu deity whose likeness graces the ornate altar, they could blend in easily at any of the Super Bowl parties going on throughout New England.

"It's entirely possible these days that a Hare Krishna could be living next door to you and you wouldn't know it," says Middlebury College professor Burke Rochford, who has studied ISKCON since the 1970s. "They're just now part of the culture in ways that the average person couldn't have imagined some 20 or 25 years ago.... Now we're looking at what I just think of as an American religious community."

If the Hare Krishnas seemed to capture the nonconformist zeitgeist of the 1960s, today's ISKCON likewise reflects the reigning cultural mood, with its emphasis on responsibility and balance--of career and family, of spontaneity and constraint, of worldly and otherworldly pursuits. Today's Hare Kristmas live as part of, and not apart from, mainstream American society. The overwhelming majority make their homes outside the temple, work in secular professions, get married, have children, and cope with all the accompanying anxieties, like paying rent, finding quality schools, and being solid citizens and good parents.

For support, they look to their religious community, putting ISKCON in a role it is not used to playing. "We're addressing the needs of their kids for Sunday School, and parking lots, and playgrounds," notes Anuttama Dasa, an ISKCON leader and spokesman. He speaks enthusiastically about committees and training programs and systems--just the kind of institutionalization early converts were fleeing.

"Twenty-year-olds who are single can live pretty simple," Anuttama points out. "You don't need playgrounds if your whole community is 20-year-olds. You may not need marriage counseling. You may not need to deal with a lot of the different kinds of social issues that churches and synagogues all over the country deal with."

It was not an easy transition, but without it, ISKCON easily could have faded away like so many flash-in-the-pan spiritual fads. That it is still here is testament to the dedication of its members and the attractiveness of its message. Yet, its history also provides a cautionary tale about the dangers of unbridled spiritual exuberance and what it takes to "make it" as a religion in the U.S. Four decades after its founding, ISKCON is both thriving and struggling, hopeful for a bright future while facing immense challenges just as it is getting its house in order.

It was on another Super Bowl Sunday, this one in 1992, that Paul Swinford fast stepped into a Hare Krishna temple. Thirteen years later, now known as Premananda Dasa, he is pastor of the Boston community. At 40, Premananda again is adapting to a major transition. After living in the temple for 10 years, he got married and moved to New Hampshire, where his wife, also a Hare Krishna, works for a financial-services company. He continues to work full time for the temple, so among other adjustments, Premananda has joined America's commuter class, now driving 90 minutes to the place he called home for a decade.

After graduating from college, Swinford worked in grassroots politics before joining the corporate world to pay off debts. He developed an interest in spirituality and was intrigued by the personal relationship with God promised by the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture central to ISKCON theology. After that first Sunday service, he started attending regularly and worshipping at home. He then took a step that increasingly is rare. His debts paid off, he quit his job to move into the temple. There, he eschewed bookselling--the occupation of most temple residents then--and instead assumed a variety of administrative roles: treasurer, secretary, congregational director.

Like ISKCON broadly, the temple is at a pivotal moment in its history. The temple was slapped with an anticult lawsuit by a former member in 1976, a common occurrence then. After spending more than 20 years wending its way through the system, the two sides settled for an undisclosed sum in the late 1990s. That financial burden removed, the community can look ahead for the first time.

"For us to have finally gotten to a point in the late 1990s where we had no debts, where we had all our invoices paid, this was revolutionary for us practically," Premananda says during a conversation in his temple office, the first time I have seen him in "Western" rather than devotional clothes. What will the community do with that freedom? Premananda goes on excitedly about "cultivating congregational leadership" and "systematizing" management. "When ISKCON started, it was a missionary organization, and most of the emphasis was placed on expanding the mission. Right now our primary emphasis is more liturgical and pastoral."

Boston's Hare Krishnas range in commitment from occasional attendance to near-constant presence. Many are in their 20s or 30s and joined within the past 10 years. Young couples and their toddlers represent hope for the future, while devotees in their 50s and 60s constitute a solid foundation. The temple is undergoing a major management reorganization and, with only 16 devotees living in-house, lay leadership will be key. A committee will work on articulating a long-term vision for the temple, and a "theological director" will be named.

"Will we be a community that continues to struggle with just a few devotees taking responsibility and some degree of a revolving door, people coming and going?" Premananda asks. "Or will we go where the primary source of our stability and strength is the congregation, and inspire members of the congregation to take more leadership roles, more responsibility roles?"

Throughout ISKCON, similar transformations are taking place. Temple presidents attend management courses; counselors offer premarital classes; and lay leaders worry about college acceptances among day-school students. Temples are participating in interfaith activities, running social service programs, and building for their members "parking lots and playgrounds," a phrase Anuttama uses frequently.

"We've kind of done things in the past by simple inspiration, perspiration, and we're starting to see more clearly that we need more structures, systems, and things like that," Anuttama explains. "Our duty is to make sure we create communities and an institution that care for the variety of people's needs, so they want to come to us. We can't think they have to come to us. That'll be our downfall."

In Boston, Premananda dreams of someday opening a seminary and establishing a rural community to supplement the urban temple. That is for another day, though. First, there is the business of smoothing out everyday temple management and strengthening the commitment of existing congregants.

Before leaving his office, I comment on a bookcase prominently displaying a surprising title: Nori Muster's Betrayal of the Spirit, a bitter memoir of the author's ISKCON involvement. The name alone made me assume that people like Premandanda would treat the book derisively, but he accepts Muster's rebuke. "It's something that helps to remind me I have a position of responsibility in the temple," Premananda maintains. "If we don't learn from the past, I'm afraid we'll repeat it."

When an elderly monk arrived in New York by ship in September, 1965, no one could have predicted that he would establish the first major orthodox Hindu presence in the West--for Westerners. The story of the man known as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is lore among Hare Krishnas. Inspired by his gum to spread Krishna consciousness in the West, Prabhupada left India at 69 and suffered two heart attacks on the voyage. Chanting in New York's Tompkins Square Park, Prabhupada began to gather disciples and launched the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July, 1966. With public chanting and proselytizing in places like airports, ISKCON grew rapidly, opening new temples and farm communities regularly.

Four decades later, the movement maintains 50 temples in the U.S., and a total of nearly 400 worldwide. It claims 100,000 adherents in America and 1,000,000 globally, though accurate statistics do not exist and scholars say the numbers likely are smaller.

Prabhupada brought with him a monotheistic Hinduism known as Gaudiya Vaishnava, which is based on the teachings of the 15th-century Bengali monk Caitanya, himself considered an incarnation of Krishna. Caitanya preached devotion through simple living and the repetitive chanting of the Lord's name, giving birth to the mantra that defines ISKCON in the Western mind. In the U.S., Prabhupada adapted the tradition in some ways; most notably, he preached gender equality and initiated women into the priesthood, which was not done in India.

Living "Krishna conscious" starts with refraining from four activities: gambling, intoxication, meat eating, and illicit sex, which is taken to mean sex without marriage and only for procreation within marriage. Temple life is rigorous, with morning worship beginning before dawn. On Sundays, the entire community gathers to worship and feast.

ISKCON offers different levels of formal commitment. The most common is "initiation"--receiving a devotional name and vowing to chant 16 rounds daily. In ISKCON's early days, most devotees also took a second vow, becoming priests, which allowed them to worship on the altar. Many took vows of celibacy.

Prabhupada's early disciples took to it with such zeal that being a serious Hare Krishna came to mean the total commitment of monasticism. Book distribution and proselytizing became their primary focus. They severed ties with their former lives, including their families and, through missionary work, encouraged--sometimes pressured--new recruits to do likewise.

Cult hostility

From the beginning, Hare Krishnas faced hostility, as Americans took one look at their youth robed and shaved and cried "cult." Ironically, it was partly ISKCON's fidelity to tradition that made Americans uncomfortable; while other Eastern transplants--such as Transcendental Meditation--did not demand major lifestyle changes, Prabhupada's followers fully embraced an Indian religion and culture.

"Dancing in the streets with okra robes on your men, women in saris with the red dot on their forehead, and reciting in Bengali old Krishna stories that originate from the 16th century is absolutely deemed to be cultic," asserts Larry Shinn, president of Berea College and author of Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America. "But the 'strange' behavior is really Indian and Hindu. It's not some aberrant human being who's developed this system in the last 10or 15 years."

Despite the success of those heady early days, ISKCON's problems were germinating even then. Suddenly living chaste and temperate fives under the authority of a guru was difficult, especially since so many converts were refugees from the sex-and-drugs counterculture. Some became involved in illegal activities. Despite Prabhupada's progressivism, some refused to initiate women, railed against female sexuality, and were abusive to women and children. In addition, ISKCON was, to a large extent, a victim of its own success.

"I don't think Prabhupada was expecting the movement to explode the way it did, and it did. So you had one elderly swami and the next thing, you had tens of thousands of disciples. Who's going to manage all those people?" asks Edwin Bryant, a professor of religion at Rutgers University and co-editor of The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. "Kids that were one minute smoking pot and living hedonistic lifestyles, the next minute they were shaved up and they were temple presidents." Prabhupada "left the planet"--a Hare Krishna euphemism for death--in 1977, as the movement was still expanding. Instead of appointing a successor, he left ISKCON in the hands of a coterie of gurus known as the Governing Body Commission (GBC). Leadership struggles and misbehavior throughout the 1980s led to ISKCON's first major exodus. That also was when devotees began moving out of the temples en masse---for marriage and jobs, and because ISKCON's financial problems made supporting large numbers of monks unfeasible.

Though undertaken for pragmatic reasons, Anuttama says the move to "householders"--family-oriented congregations--actually represents a return to Caitanya's original ideals, which never called for large-scale renunciation. Ultimately, the householder trend would be considered the most important factor in ISKCON's survival and a sign that it truly refocused its values after the dark days of scandal and tragedy. Valuing the nuclear family may not seem revolutionary, but to many early devotees, children were little more than a distraction. "Dump the load and hit the road," went a saying about pregnant women in ISKCON.

Take Ananda Tiller, for example. Born in 1975 to Hare Krishna parents, Tiller started at the Dallas gurukula (boarding school) when she was four. Her father was the community's head priest, but he had little interaction with Ananda and her brother. Their mother was off proselytizing and made only occasional visits. At the gurukulas, students encountered a rigorous curriculum of religious instruction, and Tiller says she learned to write her name in Sanskrit before English. Teachers--entirely untrained--railed against the evils of the outside world, with which children had few encounters.

Tiller endured physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. "As a child, my body, mind, soul-everything--was given to this God and given to these people, and they took it all, even my six-year-old body," she relates.

In 1986, Tiller and her brother switched to public school. There, she was terrified, encountering the things her teachers had warned about. "It was extremely confusing," she recalls of the transition. "We really never left that city block when we were in Dallas, and all we knew was that in the outside world were these devilish meat-eaters that were going to poison our minds."

Tiller's teen years were filled with drugs, sex, and suicide attempts. Other gurukula alumni are homeless and some have committed suicide. Today, Tiller is the mother of two and has been working to recover from the trauma, though it is a daily struggle.

Part of moving on, in her eyes, was joining a $400,000,000 lawsuit brought against ISKCON by nearly 100 former gurukula students. At first unsure she wanted to take part, Tiller visited the Dallas temple in 2001 for the first time in 15 years. "These memories just started flooding me. I became very bitter and wanted to see some changes."

Krishna leaders claim those changes already have occurred. By the time the suit was filed, ISKCON had been reeling from the scandal for a decade, since the first whispers about abuse in the gurukulas began circulating in the early 1990s. In 1996, a group of alumni made a presentation to the GBC describing their experiences and, around that time, the last of the North American gurukulas was closed.

ISKCON established two organizations in response to the revelations. Children of Krishna offers support and financial compensation to victims; it has distributed about $250,000. The Child Protection Office has three purposes: investigation and adjudication of abuse allegations; grants to victims; and establishing awareness and protection programs in ISKCON temples and schools.

In an unusual step, the editor of an official ISKCON publication asked Rochford to write an article documenting the abuse. The piece was published in 1999 and, before long, ISKCON's voluntary revelation of the horrors that took place in its schools became international news. The lawsuit was filed soon after.

Insisting they have nowhere near the $400,000,000 demanded by the suit--a claim scholars confirmed--several of the temples filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which allowed them to negotiate a settlement of the lawsuit while ensuring the temples retain enough funds to stay open. As part of the process, ISKCON invited any abused gurukula alumni to submit a claim, and about 400 came forward, on top of the 100 named in the lawsuit.

ISKCON officials insist they are working not just to salvage temples but to do right by the victims. "As individual devotees, and as parents, and as elders, and as an institution, we bear a tremendous moral responsibility to help these kids," Anuttama reasons.

Critics, though, say the changes do not run deep enough. "There are some really wonderful, smart, liberal people who were always jumping up and down saying that something had to be done," suggests Mafia Ekstrand, a longtime Hare Krishna and Bryant's co-editor. "But the only reason the rest of them listened was out of fear of what would happen if they didn't."

Modeled after Indian boarding schools, the gurukulas were supposed to create a new generation of committed Hare Krishnas, but the schools failed their children in a tragic way. "They were going to be the future leaders," Bryant says. "Instead, the vast, vast, vast majority all left."

Closing the gurukulas

Today, the gurukulas are closed, abandoned in favor of a more Western model: Sunday schools and day schools. Family and home have replaced mission and temple as the center of Hare Krishna life.

ISKCON gets credit from observers for dealing proactively with the tragedy once it was revealed. At the same time, though, the attorney spearheading the lawsuit, a veteran of abuse suits against institutions, including the Catholic Church, says the abuse described by gurukula alumni is the worst he has encountered. It will take years for ISKCON to move past the tragedy fully, just as it will take a lifetime for the victims to feel whole again.

"Child Protection Office Closing!" The article, written by the head of the office, appears on a Hare Krishna website and blames "tens of thousands of dollars in unfulfilled pledges" for the demise of the six-year-old office. I ask Anuttama about it. He says he has funds saved for the office and is fund-raising aggressively to keep it open. "I will die before that office closes," he insists.

Though a false alarm, the office has seen its budget shrink yearly. Nevertheless, it has investigated about 300 alleged abusers, and adjudicated about 100 cases. Punishments include banishment from leadership positions, restitution, and writing apology letters. Lately, the office has focused mostly on running healing seminars for abused children and developing prevention programs. While praising the office for its sincere efforts, critics see the process as inherently flawed.

"The GBC is trying to police itself, which never really works in an organization," Ekstrand charges. "If you are accused of doing these horrible things, I think the only thing to do is open up and allow professional outsiders to investigate what happened, let them make decisions based on their investigation, and let those decisions stand."

She says that the Child Protection Office's decisions are not always followed, and that the office is not empowered to mete out severe punishments, such as perpetual banishment from positions of spiritual leadership. If an abuser truly repents, Ekstrand says, "You should probably go and wash dishes and clean toilets and show that you' re really humble and you regret things."

To most Hare Krishnas, the abuse tragedy is not an everyday presence. Krishnas I encountered expressed several responses to the scandals: many religions have to deal with abuse, so ISKCON is not unique; it is in the past and ISKCON has eradicated it; the perpetrators were acting against Krishna's true teachings.

I also found another reaction best summed up in the words of Mangala-Arotick Dasi, a 28-year-old convert who lives with her husband near the Boston temple: "I feel responsible. Just by aligning myself with this society, and with this group, I've voluntarily taken on that experience, that identity, and that responsibility."

Worship over, it is time to feast. The vegetarian meal is itself an offering to Krishna, prasadam. As the congregation fans out to eat and socialize, I sit with Nimai Nitai, at 52 something of an elder statesman at the Boston temple. Outside of this community, Nimai Nitai is Nicolas Carballeira, a doctor of naturopathy who teaches at Tufts Medical School and works at a health center. A Hare Krishna since 1977, he is retiring this summer to move into the Boston temple, where he will offer counsel and train young devotees.

As his prasadam gets cold, he tells me how he left ISKCON in the mid 1990s, and returned five years later. "I had some gurus who fell down and left the movement," he relates, "and I didn't feel that ISKCON was doing its job of making sure that spirituality was the first and foremost thing."

Leaving ISKCON did not mean abandoning Krishna, as Nitai joined an India-based Hindu sect whose founder came from the same spiritual lineage as Prabhupada. Still, he returned to ISKCON in 2001. "If you know the principles and the practices, it's not easy. There's not much support out there for what we do," he reveals. "Without ISKCON, it would be virtually impossible in the West to attempt to follow this path."

Coming back, he found ISKCON a vastly changed place. "When the movement had great wealth, it attracted a number of people who did not have fully spiritual motivations," he contends. "Now that the movement is poor--surviving, but poor. Those who have remained have remained because they truly believe; they truly practice; and they truly care."

Nitai dreams of creating a fully American ISKCON, one that does not look to India for names, clothing, food, and liturgy. "If we are to have a future--and I believe we are--then we have to adopt forms that are more consonant with Western styles." Listening to him muse about the future, it was easy to forget the challenges threatening ISKCON. For one thing, as his story shows, ISKCON and Krishna-consciousness no longer are synonymous. Schismatic groups are siphoning off ISKCON members, while many individuals worship privately, without temple affiliation. "The tradition has taken root here, but the more time that goes by, it seems that ISKCON does not have a monopoly anymore," Ekstrand observes.

Additionally, a major demographics problem looms. Though I met several dedicated young people in Boston, new converts are few in number, and missionary activity no longer is a priority. The children of early converts mostly have fled the movement, scarred by their gurukula experiences.

The Indian wave

One source of vitality for ISKCON has been Indian immigrants, without whom many temples would be in serious trouble. In some places, ISKCON offers the only Hindu worship, but even given options, many Indians choose ISKCON. The movement, though, remains run almost entirely by white converts and, in many temples, the two groups do not mix much. "We may have, in time, the very curious possibility of having a largely East Indian congregation with white-faced Westerners preaching and serving on the altar in Hindu temples ..." Rochford surmises.

Even in ISKCON's much-praised move to householders, Bryant sees a problem: Without monks, who will maintain the temples? Already, many American temples have brought priests from other countries to oversee worship. ISKCON, Bryant says, has failed to produce charismatic individuals who can lead by the example of their high spiritual attainment and bring in new converts. "Ultimately, people want to see," he offers. "They don't just want to hear philosophy."

Then there are finances. Bookselling, once the movement's economic backbone, no longer provides substantial income. Communities rely solely on donations and, Rochford indicates, "They're struggling in most every instance to get by."

That is true in North America only. Abroad, ISKCON is thriving--especially in India, where the Hindu movement founded for Westerners is surprisingly popular. Bryant suggests that, for Indians eager to Westernize, ISKCON offers a bridge between past and present, traditional religion imported from the coveted West. Even there, though, all is not well. When it comes to child abuse awareness, Anuttama relates, "They're where we were 20 years ago"--which is to say, in denial. At least one American who oversaw a gurukula rife with abuse is rumored to be teaching in India. Anuttama says he tells Indian Hare Krishnas: "Don't make the same mistakes America went through...."

Still, the movement's stunning new Indian temples attract political VIPs and religious pilgrims alike, while in the U.S., ISKCON hopes just to keep its existing temples open. "The future is going to be one of continual change, but I think it's going to be one where a movement that's already straggling, financially and otherwise, is likely to continue to struggle," Rochford reasons.

The struggle is not just for resources; the soul of ISKCON is at stake. Battles rage on many fronts: the role of women; denominational authority vs. local autonomy; the limits of dissent; the abuse and its aftermath. It would seem that the liberals are winning. More women than ever serve as leaders; websites feature vociferous debate on everything from theology to the lawsuit; and child abuse prevention is a clear priority. "But at the same time," Ekstrand warns, "there is a very strong fundamentalist contingent, and they are going to be fighting all of this tooth and nail."

For their part, ISKCON leaders are finding that doing the things an American religion does is not easy. Reaching the proper balance between institutionalization and expressive spirituality is a major challenge, contends Anuttama, who, like many, joined ISKCON to escape organized religion. "How do you address those broader needs of parking lots and playgrounds and marriage counseling but not lose the essential spirituality that inspires religious people?" he asks, offering an answer that centers around core ISKCON values.

"People become overwhelmed with wanting to possess more and own more and lust for power and economic exploitation. If we stay true to our principles, then we will be okay. But if we forget that and if it becomes just a superficial affiliation, then we can be in trouble."

Schism; lagging attendance; debates over women's issues and the limits of religious authority; struggles to maintain spiritual focus despite pressing material needs--sounds eerily like an American religion. If the Hare Krishnas figure it out, maybe they can inform the rest of us.

Michael Kress is a freelance writer based in Cambridge, Mass.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Society for the Advancement of Education<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
  Reply
#70
mitradena on what basis do u say that Sikhs are Hindus, the whole problem with Hindus is that we try to act like groups that do not want to be called Hindu are actually Hindus which inturn gives more superiority complex to such groups.

I studied some of the writings of the Gurus and I have not yet come to a positive conclusion about Sikhism but one thing is clear, the Gurus absolutely rejected idol worship (or what they thought was idol worship), they rejected the various avatars. In the Dasam Granth there is a poem in which Guru Govind narrates the story about all the avatars titled "Chaubis Avatar" and also there is a poem named "Chandi di Var" but he makes it clear that he does not consider any of the avatars to be God and that he only worships the One supreme God.

The point I am trying to make is that Hindus should ignore such groups and should concentrate on uniting Hindus first instead of begging Sikhs to be Hindus or trying to prove that Sikhs are Hindus like the VHP does. Even then Hindus fail to prove how Sikhs are Hindus or how Sikhism was a reform movement of Hinduism, for example I have seen Hindus use this quote to argue that Sikhs are Hindus:

"Sakala jagata main Khalsa Pantha gaje Jage dharama Hindu
sakala bhanda bhaje"

But not one of them bothers to provide any citation for this quote, where did Guru Govind utter those words, it's the same with other quotes also, Hindus do not bother to provide citations for those quotes.

Sorry for the digression from the topic but I have strong views about this whole Sikh-Hindu thing, especially now after VHP recently said some nonsense about Sikhs being Hindus and the SGPC asked for an open debate on this issue and no Hindu bothered to respond thereby shaming the entire Hindu community. I will keep to the topic in my next posts.
  Reply
#71
<!--QuoteBegin-vijnan_anand+Jul 26 2005, 12:46 AM-->QUOTE(vijnan_anand @ Jul 26 2005, 12:46 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->This is the most disgusting thread on India Forum.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
My only response on this thread is to add voice to the above comment.
  Reply
#72
<!--QuoteBegin-Bharatvarsh+Jul 27 2005, 12:34 AM-->QUOTE(Bharatvarsh @ Jul 27 2005, 12:34 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> mitradena on what basis do u say that Sikhs are Hindus, the whole problem with Hindus is that we try to act like groups that do not want to be called Hindu are actually Hindus which inturn gives more superiority complex to such groups.

I studied some of the writings of the Gurus and I have not yet come to a positive conclusion about Sikhism but one thing is clear, the Gurus absolutely rejected idol worship (or what they thought was idol worship), they rejected the various avatars. In the Dasam Granth there is a poem in which Guru Govind narrates the story about all the  avatars titled "Chaubis Avatar" and also there is a poem named "Chandi di Var"  but he makes it clear that he does not consider any of the avatars to be God and that he only worships the One supreme God.

The point I am trying to make is that Hindus should ignore such groups and should concentrate on uniting Hindus first instead of begging Sikhs to be Hindus or trying to prove that Sikhs are Hindus like the VHP does. Even then Hindus fail to prove how Sikhs are Hindus or how Sikhism was a reform movement of Hinduism, for example I have seen Hindus use this quote to argue that Sikhs are Hindus:

"Sakala jagata main Khalsa Pantha gaje Jage dharama Hindu
sakala bhanda bhaje"

But not one of them bothers to provide any citation for this quote, where did Guru Govind utter those words, it's the same with other quotes also, Hindus do not bother to provide citations for those quotes.

Sorry for the digression from the topic but I have strong views about this whole Sikh-Hindu thing, especially now after VHP recently said some nonsense about Sikhs being Hindus and the SGPC asked for an open debate on this issue and no Hindu bothered to respond thereby shaming the entire Hindu community. I will keep to the topic in my next posts. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/bo...ah/ch8.htm
  Reply
#73
Our friend Carl is getting better and better in his polemics. I will discuss
a few points here.

On Kripal:
^^^^^^^^^^

First he writes
in another thread:

"Jeffrey J. Kripal's intriguing work Kali's Child: The Mystical and The Erotic
in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna deconstructs the Ramakrishna myth
revealing little more than an unorthodox tantric sexuality at the basis of his
life, sayings, practices, and even literary styles of his biographers."

When challenged he writes:

"I DO NOT approve of Jeffrey Kripal's stinking piece of "psychoanalysis". That
post of mine was simply quoting another person's response to an equally
ridiculous critique of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In that quote, I only highlighted
the parts that I was in agreement with, after verification."

Does this mean that our friend Carl thinks that Ramakrishna indulged in
Tantric sexuality? Does that mean that Carl actually read the original Bengali
sources in order to verify Kripal's concoctions? After alleging that
Ramakrishna indulged in tantric sexuality our friend Carl does a U-turn
and writes:

"Personally, I humbly respect Sri Ramakrishna as a sadhu, but cannot summon
the confidence to treat him as guru."

Does this mean that Carl respects a Tantric sexual adept as a sadhu? It could
be that Carl has no choice since a large number of ISCKON Gurus have been
accused of Vaishnava "love" towards women and children.

on Brahman
^^^^^^^^^^^
"In both the Tantra traditions and Neo-Vedanta, the Brahman conception suffers
from spiritual mutability since both traditions maintain real individual can
literally dissolve its identity into a monistic perfection, as in the
bhedabheda doctrine. For whatever reason, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and modern
proponents like Sinha have never bothered to address standing objections as
they re-introduced the concept of spiritual mutability. "

Is our ISCKON friend Carl right that Neo-Vedanta makes Brahman mutable? Let
us take a look at what Ramakrishna actually said about Brahman:
****************************************************************************************
"Brahman is beyond vidya and avidya, knowledge and ignorance. It is beyond
maya, the illusion of duality.
The world consists of the illusory duality of knowledge and ignorance. It
contains of knowledge and devotion, and also attachment to 'lust and greed';
righteousness and unrighteousness; good and evil. But Brahman is unattached
to these. Good and evil apply to the jiva, the individual soul, as do
righteousness and unrighteousness; but Brahman is not at all affected by
them.
One man may read the Bhagavata by the light of the lamp, and another may
commit a forgery by that very light; but that lamp is unaffected. The sun
sheds its light on the wicked as well as on the virtous. You may then ask,
'How, then can one explain misery, and sin and unhappiness?' The answer is
that these apply to the jiva. Brahman is unaffected by them. There is poison
in a snake; but though others may die if bitten by it, the snake itself is
not affected by the poison.
What Brahman is cannot be described. All things in the world - the Vedas, the
Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy - have been defiled, like
food that has been touched by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled
in this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what
Brahman is.
Brahman is beyond word and thought. It is said in the Vedas that Brahman is
of the nature of Bliss. It is Satchidananda. In Samadhi one attains the
knowledge of Brahman - one realizes Brahman. In that state reasoning stops
altogether, and man becomes mute. He has no power to describe the nature of
Brahman."
******************************************************************************************
Does it appear to you that Ramakrishna is making Brahman mutable? Ramakrishna
is saying that Brahman is unattached and unaffected. Would a changing Brahman
be unattached and unaffected? Our friend Carl will say that Ramakrishna makes
Brahman mutable somewhere else. Let me give another saying of Ramakrishna:
*************************************************************************************
"No one can say with finality that God is only 'this' and nothing else. He
is formless and again He has forms. For the bhakta He assumes forms. But He
is formless for the jnani, that is, for him who looks on the world as a mere
dream. The bhakta feels that he is one entity and the world as another.
Therefore God reveals Himself to him as a Person. But the jnani - the
Vedantist, for instance - always reasons, applying the process of 'Not this,
not this'. Through this discrimination he realizes, by his inner perception,
that the ego and the universe are both illusory, like a dream. Then the jnani
realizes Brahman in his own consciousness. He can not describe what Brahman
is.
Do you know what I mean? Think of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss
Absolute, as a shoreless ocean. Through the cooling influence as it were, of
the bhakta's love, the water has frozen at places into blocks of ice. In
other words, God now and then assumes various forms for His lovers and reveals
Himself to them as a Person. But with the rising of the sun of knowledge,
the blocks of ice melt. Then one doesn't feel any more that God is a Person,
nor does one see God's forms. What He is can not be described. Who will
describe Him? He would do so disappears. He cannot find his 'I' anymore.
If one analyzes oneself, one doesn't find any such thing as 'I'. Take an
onion, for instance. First of all peel off the red outer skin; then you find
thick white skins. Peel these off one after the other, and you won't find
anything inside.
In that state a man no longer finds the existence of his ego. And who is there
left to seek it? Who can describe how he feels in that state - in his own Pure
Consciousness - about the real nature of Brahman? There is a sign of Perfect
Knowledge. Man becomes silent when It is attained. Then the 'I', which may be
likened to the salt doll, melts in the ocean of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss
Absolute and becomes one with It. Not the slightest distinction is left."
*****************************************************************************************
Is Ramakrishna making Brahman mutable in the above quote? Our mutual friend
Carl will point out to the statement,"God now and then assumes various forms
for His lovers and reveals Himself to them as a Person." According to our
friend Carl, God assuming forms for His lovers implies change. But does it?
What does Ramakrishna say after saying that God assumes forms. He says,"But
with the rising of the sun of knowledge, the blocks of ice melt. Then one
doesn't feel any more that God is a Person, nor does one see God's forms."
What Ramakrishna is saying is that the experience of Brahman depends on the
spiritual level of the spiritual aspirant. As long as a man has his ego,
he will experience Brahman to be personal and different. When a man transcends
his ego then the same man will have the Advaita experience. It is NOT as Carl
claims that Ramakrishna makes Brahman mutable. Ramakrishna is saying that
the experience of Brahman mutates depending on the spiritual level of the
aspirant. As I said before a little learning is dangerous.

on Vivekananda's philosophy
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"But Vivekananda's attempts to "integrate" all sorts of philosophy in
vogue at the time is certainly a concoction that needs to be discussed openly.
That tactic may have served some social purpose at the time, but if allowed to
congeal into dogma, it will be devastating for the long-term spiritual health
of Hinduism.
As for my assertions that Vivekananda's philosophy is simply lifted from the
tremendously popular writings of the Paris clique -- which was taught in
British-Indian schools throughout the 1800's -- you can verify it for yourself
by reading those philosophers."

Is Carl right that Vivekananda's attempt to integrate all sorts of philosophy
(1) a mere concotion, (2) a dogma that will be devastating and (3) simply
lifted from tremendously popular writings of the Paris clique.

Let us investigate these charges. Vivekananda gave a theoretical basis to
Ramakrishna's utterances on Brahman. If you reread Ramakrishna's sayings
posted previously you will see that Ramakrishna says that the experience of
Brahman depends on the spiritual level of the aspirant. When a purified
aspirant retains his ego then he experiences Brahman as different from him.
When a purified aspirant transcends his ego then he experiences the Advaita
experience. Vivekananda gave a philosophical basis to these sayings in his
ladder theory. In the ladder theory an aspirant gradually transcends his ego
after purification of his mind and thus first experiences Brahman as different
then experiences Brahman in the Vishsitadvaita sense and finally when he
completely transcends his ego has the Advaita experience. If you say that
this is a pure concotion then you have to say that Ramakrishna made all this
up. If you say this is a dogma then you have to prove that these experiences
are not reproducible. Vivekananda says that these experiences are indeed
experienced by the aspirant. If you say that Vivekananda simply lifted his
ladder theory from the Paris clique then you have to show that the Paris
clique came up with the ladder theory. What is true is that Vivekananda's
philosophical position, a reconciliation of dvaita, Vishistadvaita and
Advaita, is merely an academic version of Ramakrishna's position.

>In short, I have nothing against the Ramakrishna Mission or ANY sect. My only
>concern is that they show some intellectual honesty when they discuss
>philosophy. They should clearly admit that theirs is a NEO-Vedantic or
>NEO-Advaitic philosophy. But all too often, these people try to pass
>themselves off as "Vedanta" or "Advaita" whenever they can get away with it.

I laughed a lot at out friend Carl's pious claim that he is not against any
sect. Is our friend right that Ramakrishna mission should admit that theirs
is a neo-Vedantic or neo-Advaitic philosophy and should not pass themselves
as Vedanta or Advaita? Again the answer is a firm No! Ramakrishna mission
has published both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda's teachings. You can easily
see that by reading the Ramakrishna Kathamrita and Vivekananda's Complete
Works available in the www.vedanta.com web site. If you actually read the
texts, instead of our friend Carl who has most probably not read them, you
will see that RKM uses both neo-Vedanta and Vedanta terms synonymously.
RKM literature makes it quite clear that Ramakrishna reconciled the various
Vedantic systems and that Ramakrishna gave the correct interpretation of
Vedanta. Since a follower of Ramakrishna thinks that Ramakrishna's
interpretation of Vedanta is the correct interpretation, why should such a
person not claim that he is talking of Vedanta? Did Ramanujacharya say that
his system is Vishistadvaita? Did Chaitanya say that his system is not
Vedanta? Why should Ramakrishna mission say that its system is not Vedanta?
  Reply
#74
Gangajal,

I have no problem with the neo-vedanta philosophy.

Ramakrishna Mission needs to come out openly and clearly state that it is a Hindu organization and stop acting like clowns.

Carl,

I have no problems with Vaishnava theology.

Vaishnava philosophy is not a registered trademark of ISKCON.

It belongs to all Hindus. There have been millions of Vaishnavas in India long before your stupid organization came into being.

The holy sites of Mathura, Vrndavana, Ayodhya, Srirangam belong to us.
They are not the personal property of ISKCON.

Further, genuine Vaishnava religious leaders like His Holiness Sri Pejawar Swami of the Madhva Sampradaya and His Holiness Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya are firm in their support of Hinduism.

So we have no need of buffons in ISKCON telling us what true Vaishnavism is.
  Reply
#75
<!--QuoteBegin-mitradena+Jul 27 2005, 04:16 AM-->QUOTE(mitradena @ Jul 27 2005, 04:16 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> Further, genuine Vaishnava religious leaders like His Holiness Sri Pejawar Swami of the Madhva Sampradaya and His Holiness Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya are firm in their support of Hinduism. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
mitradena,
H.H. Pejawar Swami and other Vaishnava leaders have also expressed their firm support of ISKCON.

And where did I say that Vaishnavism is the monopoly of ISKCON? ISKCON is just an organization with a particular mission. That's all. In fact, it is not even the sole representative of the Gaudiya sampradaya, what to speak of all Vaishnavism. But ISKCON is certainly playing a pivotal role in the new re-vitalization of Vaishnavism within and outside India, and that's why I find it interesting.

As for your insane posts about "Hindu unity", I think you and your ilk lack the brains and the vision to understand <b>the implications of taking a purely political approach to religion. You will only harm Vedic dharma in the long run.</b> A confused, hodgepodge theology, rampant heterodoxy, etc only weakens the fabric of Vedanta. Just take a close look at the history of world religions and you will see what I mean. As long as the banner of "Hinduism" is held by arrogant, scatterbrained politician-"saints", the serious spiritualists will shy away from that term. That is my observation.

gangajal bhai,
I see you continue to mis-read my posts, and then hijack threads with your selective copy-paste nonsense. Give me a break man. Go away in peace.

<b>To admins:</b>
Hit-and-run, copy-paste, arbitrary slanders like this thread have always been difficult to counter, since accusations and criticisms are always easier to make than to give the necessary exhaustive replies to. Any inchoate refutation soon threatens to assume the alarming dimensions of an epic. Since it is not practical or possible to try to refute all the challenges of such detractors in one fell swoop, I request a better system of thread-management.

As one last reiteration of the point I've been trying to make ever since I came to this forum:

<b>Each and every Hindu religious organization has the right to propagate its own philosophy, but each should be honest in labelling and defining its doctrine, especially vis a vis other doctrines. If you are a Neo-Vedanta or Neo-Advaitist, then don't forget to omit the "Neo". Don't try to pass it off as the "original". Admit the fact that various new, non-Vedic ideas and philosophers have played a great part in shaping Neo-Vedanta philosophy, and that you have significant differences with traditional Vedanta, and even Shankara, etc. Allow the new reader to understand that there are very different points of view. Don't try to confuse him/her by mis-representing other traditional Vedic schools of thought and claiming to assimilate them.</b> That's the only complaint that all serious Vaishnavas (of ALL sects) that I've spoken to have.
  Reply
#76
I asked a few ISKCON devotees I know to engage in discussion on this forum, but they refused, saying it was a waste of time. Its a little difficult for folks like Hayagriva and myself, who are not even members of ISKCON, to respond to hate-threads like this one. But here goes:

<b>Mitradena sir</b>,

Bhagavad Gita 18:68, 69:
"For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me.

There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear. "

<b>Here are some examples of "cowardly" ISKCON "buffoons", and the work they do for Vedic dharma:</b>

----------------
In the 1970s, Tribhuvanatha and some of his godbrothers such as Mahakratu and Padmapani risked their lives <b>preaching in numerous Arab countries</b> such as Lebanon and Syria. They survived heavy bombardment during the Yom Kippur war. Then, due to the mercy of Tribhuvanatha, <b>the first Arabic Bhagavad-Gita was produced in Palestine</b>.

At that time, because the devotees were so successful in their daily activities, they came under the watchful eyes of the PLO, who mistook them for Israeli spies. <b>Tribhuvanatha was wrongly arrested in Damascus and imprisoned in a terrorist cell, with only enough room to lie down. He was tortured and interrogated for one month, finally being released without charge</b>.
----------------

Similar case of one of Bhaktivedanta Swami's Jordanian disciples (Muslim by birth). <b>He and his wife were shot at by Islamists. His wife died.</b> He left Jordan, but continues to preach and write books.
----------------

<b>Outside Moscow, a Soviet-era jailhouse is a place of pilgrimage for ISKCON devotees, because that is the location of the death of the first Russian devotee.</b> Dozens of other devotees suffered state oppression during Soviet days. Now they have to face the politics of the orthodox church.

<b>One of the USSR's premier molecular biologists actually defected to Finland and then moved to Sweden because the KGB was getting wind of his reading of smuggled ISKCON literature.</b> After a couple of threatening interrogations, he defected at an international conference. This person is now a sannyasi preacher, and is heading the construction of the huge ISKCON temple in downtown Moscow:

http://www.moscowtemple.org/

<b>Russia now boasts over 1.2 lakh ISKCON devotees. Interestingly, many ex-KGB employees who were assigned to track ISKCON in the Soviet era later became devotees.</b> I found this particularly funny.
----------------

In 1985 and in 1986 the KGB orchestrated two court cases against members of the society. As a result of these two cases eleven Hare Krishnas' were imprisoned in State prisons, labour camps and psychiatric hospitals. Among them were Karen Saakyan, Armen Saakyan, Suren Karapetyan, Sarkis Ogandzhanyan, Gagik Buniatyan, Agvan Arytyunyan, Armine Hrtyan, Ara Akopyan and Armen Sarkisyan.

<b>One of those imprisoned that time, Sarkis Ogandzhanyan (23 yrs. of age), died on December 27th. 1987, from tuberculosis and malnutrition in labour camp YU-25/"B" situated in the Orenburg Territory of the Russian Republic.</b> He had entered the camp as a perfectly healthy young man and he was due to have been released in January 1988.

<b>Another member, Martik Zhamkochyan (25 yrs. of age), died in a psychiatric hospital in the Sovetashen District of Yerevan in July 1986.</b> In the psychiatric hospital he was force-fed with raw eggs (eggs are prohibited food), which were administered through a tube and he was simultaneously injected with large doses of psycho-pharmacological drugs. After several days of such "treatment" he died.

But end result?: <b>There are now about 250 ISKCON members resident in Armenia and ISKCON maintains congregations in the towns of Gyumri, Kirovakan, Eghnadzor, Kapan and Ashtarak. </b>
----------------

<b>ISKCON preachers in Pakistan were lynched in the street and threatened.</b> But the preaching continued, even through the 1971 war. An Urdu edition of the Bhagavad Gita had been released years ago.

<b>3 or 4 ISKCON preachers in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) were murdered.</b>
----------------

Despite threats from fundamentalists, young Muslim university students in Indonesia became ISKCON devotees, and some even gave up great career-prospects to start up Farm communities.
----------------

<b>In places like Iran and China, a lot of the devotees conduct their home programs secretly, though in Hong Kong they have public Ratha Yatras.</b>
----------------

On July 10th., 1992 the Hare Krishna temple in Yerevan (Armenia) was attacked by arsonists. Temple members managed to extinguish the fire which damaged the temple building and two cars owned by ISKCON. ISKCON appealed to the Commission for Human Rights of the Supreme Council of Armenia and local police, but the complaint was ignored.
-----------------

On September 23 1993 Mikhael Unjugulyan, a Krishna devotee, was severely beaten before the inhabitants in his village of origin, Oshakan. His assailant was a priest from the local Armenian Orthodox Church, a Father Gevork. A vain appeal for justice was made by the victim to the police in the Ashtrak region. His complaint was ignored. The incident was witnessed and can be verified by many inhabitants of the village.
-----------------

In April 1994, thirty tons of religious books were dispatched from ISKCON in Moscow for the temple in Yerevan. The books were seized by the customs at Masis station before they reached Yerevan. Despite many appeals to the Council for Religion Affairs which is supposed to give permission to receive religious literature, the books are still being detained by customs at Masis station.
------------------

On April 18, 1994 Hare Krishna member Artur Khachatryan was attacked by a group of fifteen members of the Armenian Army in an Officer's Club in Yerevan. He was severely beaten and had to be hospitalised. The religious books he carried with him were burned.
------------------

On July 4, 1994 two female members of the Hare Krishna Society in Yerevan, Anaite Arzumanian and Mariana Dorunz, travelled to the neighbouring town of Sisyan, to distribute religious literature and minister to local sympathisers. They were intercepted on route by two priests of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Father Narek from Sisyan and an American priest of the Avat Mission (a branch of the Armenian Apostolic church), Father Zenob. Supported by soldiers of the Armenian army, the priests confiscated more than 150 books and proceeded to light a bonfire with them, an act which attracted much local attention. <b>The priests and their supporters then forcibly ripped the clothing off the women, twisted their arms, tore their religious neckbeads off their necks and threw these articles into the bonfire. This scene was witnessed by many of the local people.</b> This incident was reported to Mr. Robert Patterson of the American embassy in Armenia, and to the special correspondent of Espress-chronika in Armenia, Michail Dabasyan.
------------------

On July 26, 1994 another ISKCON member Karo Mkrtchyan was seriously beaten and threatened with murder by six members of the Dashnaktzusyun Party (a nationalist political party). Again any religious books or paraphernalia he carried were confiscated. He was also told that if he was seen again in the city after twenty four hours, he would be killed on the spot.
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On August 28th. ten armed thugs stormed the Hare Krishna Temple in Yerevan. They completely vandalised the place of worship, desecrated the altar, and severely assaulted the temple President, Ivan Dallakyan. The attack lasted more than twenty minutes.
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As a result of the attack on the temple one Hare Krishna member, Boris Agagabyan, was hospitalised with head injuries and a severely damaged nose. Another member, Mkrtchyan Karo has suffered severe head injuries, inflicted by a metal bar. Others also had to receive hospital treatment.

On the 3rd. September a member called Grigoryan Kamo was arrested by the local police and taken into custody. During the night he was badly beaten in his cell by the same policemen who had beaten the others on the 31st.
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And much more...
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#77
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->As for your insane posts about "Hindu unity", I think you and your ilk lack the brains and the vision to understand the implications of taking a purely political approach to religion. You will only harm Vedic dharma in the long run. A confused, hodgepodge theology, rampant heterodoxy, etc only weakens the fabric of Vedanta. Just take a close look at the history of world religions and you will see what I mean. As long as the banner of "Hinduism" is held by arrogant, scatterbrained politician-"saints", the serious spiritualists will shy away from that term. That is my observation.
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Sheer nonsense.

So standing up to defend Hinduism and expressing patriotism to India is considered "insanity"?

When a bunch of muslim barbarians attack your ISKCON temple and rape your women what do you plan to do?
Do you plan to hatch eggs and look the other way?

What would great Vaishnavas like Arjuna, Bhima etc... do in this case?

Why did Sri Chaitanya leave muslim Bengal and settle in Hindu ruled Orissa?

He was able to preach his philosophy only because the Hindu army of Orissa was giving him protection. In Muslim ruled Bengal he would have been impaled alive.

Where was your rogue organization when the Vaishnavas were storming Ayodhya and demolishing the Babri Masjid?

I talked to one ISKCON member of Indian origin at the local temple here about the Ayodhya issue. I said that every true Vaishnava must support the construction of the Sri Rama Mandira in Ayodhya. It is our duty to Bhagavan Vishnu.

The scoundrel replied back, "we would be better off worshipping Rama in our own hearts".

So there you have it. A classic buffon with no concept of our sacred duty to defend Vaidika Dharma.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Similarly, Sri Chaitanya praised the Buddha's mission in putting an end to the abuse of the Vedas by a corrupt Brahmanical order. But the major part of popular criticism is still reserved for the mayavadis and the atheists because of their denial of Ishvara, and their relativism. In that sense, the mayavadi position is far more dangerous and deviant than the dogmatic quirks of Churchianity and Islamism, which are at least positively monotheistic.
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Observe the classic tactic used by him to try and break Vaishnavism apart from Hinduism. This is step one of the four-step process, listed by me in a previous post, of creating a new religion.

First he attacks traditional Vaidika Dharma by calling it a "corrupt Brahmanical order". This is a classic semetic tactic.

Next he proceeds to prove to how his sect is actually the orignal "pure" Vaidika religion before it was "corrupted" by Brahmanas.

Now comes the final icing on the cake - <i>"... is far more dangerous and deviant than the dogmatic quirks of Churchianity and Islamism, which are at least positively monotheistic."</i>

So there you have it. This is the final conclusion. We need to become closer to Xtianity and Islam in order to follow our own religion correctly.
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#78
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Here are some examples of "cowardly" ISKCON "buffoons", and the work they do for Vedic dharma:
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Thanks for your detailed post.

I am well aware of the sacrifices made by ISKCON outside of India.

I have read most of Srila Prabhupada's books and listened to his lectures in audio.
I used to regularly attend the local ISKCON temple.

However I will never compromise in my defense of India and Hinduism.
  Reply
#79
Mitra,
I'm not questioning the sanity of a PRAGMATIC approach to existential threats of all sorts. But paranoia that results in a clumsy attitude towards delicate spiritual issues is certainly silly. THAT is what I meant to point out. Internal spiritual transformation is paramount, paramarthik.

I'm glad you appreciate certain aspects of ISKCON, and you should know that I appreciate some of your social and political concerns. But neither of us should get too carried away by our personal preferences and loyalties, and portray the other falsely. Don't go around talking like you're the only "patriotic" guy around, and judging all other organizations, especially spiritual organizations. I was associated with the RSS when I was in India, and I appreciate the point of view you're coming from. But I think there is room for some of your ideas to mature, as did mine. Just my humble suggestion.

As a matter of fact, ISKCON centers in West Bengal HAVE been attacked by Muslims, and even some female devotees were assaulted. This is in a location pretty close to the Bangladesh border. ISKCON members didn't sit around doing nothing. They organized vigilantes, and even equipped temple guards with guns. Vaishnavism insists on varnashrama dharma, and that includes kshatriya dharma. Silly definitions of "ahimsa" are not Vaishnavism. <b>But FIRST, there should be internal transformation. The SAME activity, performed in Krishna-consciousness and performed in material-consciousness, is as different as gold and iron.</b> This is the Vedic concept of "spiritualization" of society, or what Christ called the Kingdom of God on earth.

I would also like to correct your post about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu leaving Bengal in fear of Muslim persecution. As a matter of fact, He converted large numbers of Muslims, including members of the ruling elite and armed forces. There are entire communities of such people in Allahabad and Benaras who call themselves Pathan Vaishnavs. Sri Chaitanya also lead what would be considered "civil disobedience" movements in Bengal, against the attempts by local qazis to stop His sankirtana movement. In that tradition, there is no other Hindu religious movement that has drawn so many non-Hindu people towards Vedic dharma as has Vaishnavism, and particularly Gaudiya Vaishnavism through ISKCON.

Also, don't draw conclusions about ISKCON from some arbitrary conversation you had with one devotee about the Ayodhya issue. That is also pretty stupid on your part. I guess what he was trying to tell you was that getting involved in external conflict without internal spiritual maturity was wasteful. But after being situated internally in Krishna-consciousness, it is possible to engage in all pragmatic activity, including physically violent activity if needed.
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#80
<!--QuoteBegin-mitradena+Jul 26 2005, 10:27 PM-->QUOTE(mitradena @ Jul 26 2005, 10:27 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> I think we should open a separate thread to discuss possible splinter groups like Ramakrishna mission, Divine Life Society, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Sai Baba etc...

Since they have the potential  to break apart from mainstream Hinduism and possibly cause havoc like former splinter groups like Buddhism, Sikhism and Arya Samaj.

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mitradena,

As long as the discussion is geared towards just that, go ahead. Discussing the "global commonalities" of the issue (How it undermines Hindus' interests) is fine.
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