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.