International Society for Krishna Consciousness

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Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
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Cults of personality
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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, also known as the Hare Krishnas (or in pop culture, "those annoying guys that used to bug you at the airport"), is a "new religious movement" founded in New York City in 1966 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.[1] It is based on Hinduism, Krishna being a Hindu god. It has been branded as a "cult".

One narrative about the cult is that the Swami was a genuine (if possibly a bit naive) and honest guru who had authentic teachings to impart, but that the group which formed around him included exploitative cynics, interested only in gaining and consolidating worldly power. Apparently, one chief cabalist was mainly in it for the great Indian cough medicine buzz.[2] One thing led to another…

Although ISKCON has thus been represented as having 'gone astray',[note 1][3] its often bizarre beliefs and exploitative or abusive practices actually find support in A. C. Bhaktivedanta's many books and recorded talks. Among the 'purports' he wrote to accompany the Srimad Bhagavatam he condones rape[note 2] and encourages child marriage,[note 3] and he encouraged deception and considered anyone who disagreed with him as "envious," demonic and deserving of destruction. Present day believers condemn rape[4] and formed a worldwide child protection office to prevent child sex abuse in their community.[5] ISKCON remains however a "woman-fearing, woman-hating, woman-exploiting institution", primarily because the leadership structure is and has been the exclusive domain of men.[3]

In other instances he suggested that eventually his followers would fight and kill non-believers, using an analogy with Islamic jihad.[note 4][note 5]

Teachings on sexuality[edit]

Despite their wholesome hippie image of sandal-wearing vegetarians who like nothing more than wandering through the streets chanting and hitting drums, ISKCON have some rather socially-regressive views on sexuality. Though there are LGBT-affirming trends within ISKCON, the general attitude towards homosexuality is that it goes against the teachings of Krishna. The pop star Boy George was rejected by the group because of his sexuality and told that he must either become celibate or marry a woman.[6]

That said, it isn't just gay sex they don't like: non-procreative heterosexual sex is bad too.[3] Not big fans of sex in general then. Rather a strange religion for the authors of "Love You Do", no?

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. I.e. a lapse from an ideal beginning due to bad supplicants; sounds familiar?
  2. Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4, Chapter 25 Text 41
    "A man is always famous for his aggression toward a beautiful woman, and such aggression is sometimes considered rape. Although rape is not legally allowed, it is a fact that a woman likes a man who is very expert at rape."
  3. Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4, Chapter 25 Text 42
    "As soon as a woman attains the age of puberty, she immediately becomes very much agitated by sexual desire. It is therefore the duty of the father to get his daughter married before she attains puberty. Otherwise she will be very much mortified by not having a husband."
  4. Morning Walk Vrndavana, March 15, 1974
    Prabhupada: When there will be military march of Krsna conscious soldiers. Anyone who does not believe in Krsna, "Blam!" Yes. The same process as the Mohammedans did, with sword and Koran, we'll have to do that. "Do you believe in Krsna or not?" "No, sir." "Blam!" Finished.
  5. Morning Walk Conversation December 3, 1975
    Sunyavadi, they say, “There is no God, and there is nothing, fact. Everything is combination of some illusory things.” This is sunyavadi. And the Mayavadi, they say, "Yes, there is God, but He has no form." Therefore we have to kill both of them. Nirvisesa-sunyavad-pascatya-desa-tarine. The whole Western world are filled up with these sunyavadi and impersonalists.


  1. See the Wikipedia article on A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
  2. Monkey on a Stick (Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas) by John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson. The title refers to a South Asian agricultural practice, in which an impaled monkey is planted in a crop field, as an example to the others who might otherwise be tempted to picnic there.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 On Leaving Iskcon by Steven J. Gelberg (Subhananda das) (28 Jan 2005 18:50:49 +0530) Gaudiya Discussions Archived (archived from 26 Jan 2020 02:51:30 UTC).
  4. Should a devotee oppose crimes like rape? Should he feel compassion for the criminal?
  5. Hare Krishna: Hare Krishna fast facts and introduction., February 21, 2017. "To prevent future abuses, ISKCON has established a worldwide child protection office to screen out actual or potential abusers and educate children and adults on child abuse, and has made other organizational changes to increase the transparency and accountability of ISKCON leadership." Retrieved on 21 June 2017.
  6. Boy George rejected by Hare Krishnas for being gay, Pink News