Is Iskcon a Cult?

By: gaurarader

You might see those people dressed in silly clothes singing and dancing on the street and think they are harmless but they are evil, they torture babies! Just kidding.

The problem with Krishna cults is not that they are a danger to society or dangerous to people outside of the cult. Although there have been incidents of cult members killing others based on the a cult leader’s instruction, however that is not really what makes the Krishna religions cults.

Krishna religions are cults because they are dangerous to the people that join them. If you join a Krishna cult your life will be forever changed in ways that are profound,  irreversible, and not good.

You will make massive changes to your life that will irreparably harm your career, likely permanently damage your relationship with your family and closest friends, and generally make you miss out on the best years of your life.

The standard reply given by Hare Krishnas when faced with accusations of being a cult is to claim that their religion is an ancient religion practiced by millions of people in India. But of course ISIS is a sect of an ancient religion practiced for nearly two thousand years. The vast majority of groups recognized as cults have some connection to older religious traditions. What ISKCON members usually mean is that their religious movement isn’t something that was just made up in the 60s in the United States, which is of course true but meaningless. The real question is whether the organization is dangerous, is it likely to harm people? And the answer to that question is that it absolutely is harmful to anyone who joins the cult and it is harmful to their children as well.

Keep in mind, if you visit a Hare Krishna temple, that the people you see there are only a tiny fraction of the people that have joined the organization. The vast majority have left. And many of the people you meet, especially the younger ones, will not be around in a few years.

In addition to the fact that you will be harmed if you join the cult. The other thing that makes it very much a cult is the emphasis on worship of and surrender to the guru. Bhaktivedanta Swami, usually called Prabhupada or Srila Prabhupada, is very much a cult leader in the organization despite having died in 1977. All religions have sacred teachings which are supposed to be followed to the

Bhaktivedanta Swami, usually called Prabhupada or Srila Prabhupada, is very much a cult leader in the organization despite having died in 1977. All religions have sacred teachings which are supposed to be followed to the letter but Krishna cults are different in that all of Prabhupada’s teachings are considered divine revelation and he lived a short time ago and all his words are recorded. He spoke on almost every topic imaginable so the guidelines for a follower of a Krishna cult are much more clear than those who Christians. Additionally, Prabhupada was a racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic human being who was very much a product of growing up in India in the 19th century. To accept his teachings on these topics as divine revelation is deeply problematic.

But it gets worse than that in that in addition to Prabhupada being the cult leader each member is supposed to be initiated by a living guru. And the disciple is supposed to worship, bow down to, and follow every instruction of their guru. Some gurus are worse than others. Some blatantly abuse their power and position, but even with one of the “best” gurus, i.e. least exploitative, the entire institution of guru and disciple is utterly degrading, inhumane, immoral, unjust, and absolutely should have no place in the 21st century. It produces nothing but harm and psychological trauma for anyone subjected to this institution

The other thing that is worth noting is that although Krishna cult members generally haven’t used violence it is absolutely not beyond the realm of possibility. There was one incident where Prabhupada talks about how when the Hare Krishna movement is big enough it will put guns to peoples heads and tell the to convert and if they don’t they will be killed. Then he and his disciples have a good laugh about it. Was he joking? Hard to say, but its not hard to imagine that someone might think he was being serious. Especially given the larger textual context of using violence in the name of God which is pervasive throughout the scriptures of the tradition.

So, yes the Krishna religions is a cult. If you join a Krishna cult your life will end up significantly worse off than not joining. You will lose touch with your closest friends and alienate your family, which despite what the cult tells are actually the only people who will help you when the chips are down. The cult really just wants you as long as you are valuable to the cult. They will not be there for you when you are not. Your children will be worse off if you join a Krishna cult. You will accomplish much less in your career, if you are lucky enough to even have one at some point. You will earn far less money and likely end up in extreme poverty. And on top of all that you will make the world a worse place!

And on top of all that you will make the world a worse place! The world has real problems and religion hasn’t solved any of them. Secular humanism has. It works slowly but it does work. Look at the history of the world over the past five hundred years or so. The world needs passionate political advocates for the universal human rights humanity, not people who live in a fantasy world and imagine they are making the world a better place with their absurd religious rituals and beliefs.

15 Comments

  • Nam:

    Hey sir, finally got around to checking this out. Very courageous for you to do this.

    One minor point re: a typo/duplication of text. Specifically;

    “In addition to the fact that you will be harmed if you join the cult. The other thing that makes it very much a cult is the emphasis on worship of and surrender to the guru. Bhaktivedanta Swami, usually called Prabhupada or Srila Prabhupada, is very much a cult leader in the organization despite having died in 1977. All religions have sacred teachings which are supposed to be followed to the”

  • XQ:

    Wow, this post is nice, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going to inform her.

  • Charlotte Lee:

    People try to say it’s a Hindu religion, but the founder said they’re not Hindu, and said general Hinduism is inferior. He said that they can’t read translations of books apart from his, and that his explanations which ranted on about his misogynistic opinions are more important than the original writings. He said Gandhi’s Bhagavad Gita isn’t accurate because it promoted peace.
    He said women have half the brain size of men and it was a lie about Marie Curie discovering radioactivity, yet they get state money in England to run a school. They try to make out it’s a Hindu school, but first places go to children from parents at Bhaktivedanta Manor. He also made predictions about there being a nuclear war in the 80s where Krishna Consciousness would take over. The moon landings were fake because people live on the moon with a higher standard of living than Earth.

  • CedrickVSier:

    Many thanks for finally writing about >Is Iskcon a Cult?
    – Krishna Cult Awareness Foundation <Loved it!

  • Mark:

    This is an outright mistake or lie: “Although there have been incidents of cult members killing others based on the a cult leader’s instruction……”

    In one of the temples a TEMPLE leader did this. It happened in West Virginia by a very deranged man.

    • gaurarader:

      I think the sentence structure implies that it was not a common occurrence. I believe there were at least two incidents in the WV community, and at least one elsewhere.

      But just to be clear, that is not the reason why I think the Krishna religions are cults.

  • A real hindu:

    This article is just a piece of anti hindu writings…..you people dont call a terrorist a terrorist…like u dont call hitler or churchill a terrorist christian….just because they were christians….bht you wud talk against a good guru(although i believe when christian took over iskcon after prabhupada death they made iskcon a psuedo christian organisation…..than came era of maligning iskcon followers……whether they are russian or american christian or christians anywhere they persecute iskconites….just because it is influencing west to follow a peaceful religion……do you ppl know wat iskcon is doing is done in india from centuries….do you think india is far behind in technology???(please do consider india is comparable to china only not britain or others)even when it was destroyed by britishers….. It grow up signifacntly on all terms now……thats the power of real iskcon….from scientists to doctors all believe in krishna god from centuries in india……

    • Just Another Happy Humanist:

      Ahem, ‘A Real Hindu’…citations needed.

  • Ute:

    Thank you for writing this. I was involved with the HK got 7 tears and I am do happy to be free. It is a Cult

  • haribol:

    I took the time to read every article written with a open mind. I can only talk on my faith and love for krsna i take classes to learn but facts are facts and not one since i started practicing the hare krsna chantings have i felt that this is anything close to a cult.My personal thought is this follow what GOD you choose he calls us all in diffrent ways but being obient to the god you follow should come from your heart and it is hard to try to live by your faith , whichever faith you follow , BUT the indivuals who are strong enough to be as obient as they can should not get bashed or disrepected. The best thing i did was meet a devotee and start going to classes and leaning .. Devotes are all about peace and following krsna fully not just when they desire.

  • Milena:

    I am reading this post with an open mind, and I don’t belong to any religion whatsoever, but I respectfully disagree with this article, only based on the fact that it seems to be written by an extremely biased person who is clearly against Hare Krishna. Do you have any statistics or empirical evidence showing that Krishna followers have lower wages, more unstable households, and weaker relationships? When the author decides to give some REAL, CONCRETE and OBJECTIVE arguments I will consider agreeing with it, but I just can’t trust an article to be truthful when it starts with a line such as “They torture babies! Just kidding…”

    • gaurarader:

      Hi Milena, I appreciate your comment. I think it is important to not dismiss a person’s view just because they have a point of view. We all do. I certainly have a certain perspective. You can call that bias. I think I’ve been very fair in every critique I’ve ever made about the religion. There isn’ of data on the topic. I do social psychology and I’d be happy to study it but unfortunately that’s not the area I work in. Data on lots of questions is hard to come by. And data can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Make what you will of this but I can say that I hear from people regularly whose lives have been significantly harmed and are now in the process of leaving the religion/cult. That is a fact. You have to trust me on that.

      I’m not sure what you want as far as real, concreate and objective arguments. This is a relgion that says black people are sinful and less than white people/aryans. That says that women are less intelligent. That says that the only way to be happy is by joining the religion and surrendering to God and guru who you should obey and worship. A religion that says you should never try to be happy and only strive to make God happy. A religion that denies the science is the best way to understand the world and says that we should only trust things written thousands of years ago. That people will be tortured in hell for have sex or drinking alchohol. Etc. Etc.

      Talk to people who have joined the religion. Read the things that are in the books of the religion. Don’t dismiss what I’ve written so blithely. This post isn’t intended to be stand alone proof that the religion is a cult. If you do some research I suspect you may come to understand what is written here. That is, if you are willing to be open minded and considered that it might actually be a cult.

  • Vichal:

    I would like to respond. I think the author is against Vedic philosophy and bases this on the Hare Krishna Movement leaders, post-Srila Prabhupada period but also by quoting Srila Prabhupada purports. To follow Brahmacari rules is a science. The moment you try to talk that down, it is proven, that author has something against Vedic philosophy. Please know that Srila Prabhupada was poisened and then GBC leaders took over and changed alot. So I am of the opinion that ISKCON today and since perhaps 1976 (when the disobedience of Srila Prabhupada started and when the poisoning started) is derailed. I to am a sympatiser of Srila Prabhupada’s Words, NOT ISKCON GBC. There are rules to follow: No meat, fish, egg, union and garlic eating, no intoxication (coffee, tea, Tobacco, drugs), no illicit sex (no sex outside of marriage and not for pleasure), no gambling. When you do not follow these rules in Western Society, how will the people treat you? All problems in Western Society today comes because of breaking these 4 rules. Maybe author should look into that.

    • Authentic Vaishnavism:

      I don’t feel he is against Vedic or any indian philosophy. he is not aware of the authentic Vaishnava lines in india and his only exposure is this iskcon group which is not taken seriously in india by traditional orthodox gaudiya vaishnavas. I feel bad for people who’s only exposure to gaudiya Vaishnavism, or any type of Vaishnavism, is through iskcon. there is a big world of authentic Vaishnavism in india, and none of it takes iskcon seriously.

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