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7 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2008 - 8:28PM #1
ramadasi
Posts: 102
This was the article I was looking for in my debate with Jm 8. This article appeared in Hinduism Today sometime in the 1990s and I have saved it for anyone who has this common confusion. Read on and hopefully atleast some among us may wonder why we are entertaining ISKCONites on a Hindu forum and talking to them like they were fellow hindus.
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There is a misconception," wrote His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1977 in Science of Self Realization, "that the Krishna consciousness movement represents the Hindu religion. Sometimes Indians both inside and outside of India think that we are preaching the Hindu religion, but actually we are not." In chapter three of the book [available from Bhaktivedanta Archives, P.O. Box 255, Sandy Ridge, North Carolina 27046 USA], this startling point is made several times: "The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion.... One should clearly understand that the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion."

Followers of Srila Prabhupada have assembled all of his letters, books, lectures, interviews and conversations on the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase [also available from Bhaktivedanta Archives]. This CD-Rom database yielded 183 references to Hinduism, which were compiled and analyzed to understand Srila Prabhupada's point of view.

Often Srila Prabhupada would simply deny the existence of a religion called "Hinduism." He attributed the improper designation to "foreign invaders." At other times he acknowledged the existence of the faith, but considered it a hopelessly degraded form of the original Sanatana Dharma of the Vedas. In his April, 1967, New York lectures he remarked, "Although posing as great scholars, ascetics, householders and swamis, the so-called followers of the Hindu religion are all useless, dried-up branches of the Vedic religion." ISKCON, he believed, was the only true exponent of the Vedic faith today. In an interview given for Bhavan's Journal on June 28, 1976, he said, "India, they have given up the real religious system, Sanatana Dharma. Fictitiously, they have accepted a hodgepodge thing which is called Hinduism. Therefore there is trouble."

The Guru frequently explained his position, and acted upon his beliefs in establishing his dynamic society. At a 1974 Mumbai lecture, he declared, "We are not preaching Hindu religion. While registering the association, I purposely kept this name, 'Krishna Consciousness,' neither Hindu religion nor Christian nor Buddhist religion."

Srila Prabhupada was aware that the Indian community had a mistaken impression of his Hinduness. In a 1970 letter to a temple administrator in Los Angeles, he wrote, "The Hindu community in the West has got some good feeling for me because superficially they are seeing that I am spreading Hindu religion, but factually this Krishna Consciousness movement is neither Hindu religion nor any other religion." That remains the case today, for Srila Prabhupada left no successor with the authority to change his spiritual edicts.

So why does the general Hindu community mistakenly believe that ISKCON is a Hindu organization, when it never describes itself as such? Well, it sometimes does. During the recent ISKCON temple openings in New Delhi and Bangalore, where newspaper reports frequently identified the grand temples as Hindu, the ISKCON press releases, such as that of April 15, 1998, never used the H word. Yet, when Indian devotees serving at each of those temples were asked in late July by journalists for this article, they said it is a Hindu temple. The discrepancy between public perception and internal policy is further confused by the group's official exceptions to the non-Hindu position. Faced with difficulties, ISKCON leaders have appealed to the Hindu community to back them up, as in a dispute over the Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK or when being hassled by Christians in Russia and Poland. In appeals to judges and governments, the word Hindu is openly used. In other legal cases, including one to the US Supreme Court, ISKCON has attempted to counteract the "cult" label by claiming to be a traditional Hindu lineage, and asked other Hindus to affirm this in the courts. Other organizations who parted company with Hinduism, such as Transcendental Meditation and Brahma Kumaris, do not compromise their position under any circumstances.

What also sets ISKCON apart is its open repudiation and criticism of Hinduism, especially among members. There are reports of Hindus who joined ISKCON only to be taught to reject their family's religion. "Previously we were Hindus. Now we are Hare Krishnas," some said. At the same time, the organization often appeals to the Hindu community and businessmen for financial support of its social programs and political help to protect ISKCON from detractors.

Considering ISKCON's appearances--member's dress, names, bhajana, festivals, worship, scripture, pilgrimage, temple building, and so forth--it's little wonder that so many have assumed they are Hindus. To find out they are not will certainly surprise many--Hindus and non-Hindus alike. It may even surprise a few Hare Krishnas themselves.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2008 - 8:28PM #2
ramadasi
Posts: 102
This was the article I was looking for in my debate with Jm 8. This article appeared in Hinduism Today sometime in the 1990s and I have saved it for anyone who has this common confusion. Read on and hopefully atleast some among us may wonder why we are entertaining ISKCONites on a Hindu forum and talking to them like they were fellow hindus.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There is a misconception," wrote His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1977 in Science of Self Realization, "that the Krishna consciousness movement represents the Hindu religion. Sometimes Indians both inside and outside of India think that we are preaching the Hindu religion, but actually we are not." In chapter three of the book [available from Bhaktivedanta Archives, P.O. Box 255, Sandy Ridge, North Carolina 27046 USA], this startling point is made several times: "The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion.... One should clearly understand that the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion."

Followers of Srila Prabhupada have assembled all of his letters, books, lectures, interviews and conversations on the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase [also available from Bhaktivedanta Archives]. This CD-Rom database yielded 183 references to Hinduism, which were compiled and analyzed to understand Srila Prabhupada's point of view.

Often Srila Prabhupada would simply deny the existence of a religion called "Hinduism." He attributed the improper designation to "foreign invaders." At other times he acknowledged the existence of the faith, but considered it a hopelessly degraded form of the original Sanatana Dharma of the Vedas. In his April, 1967, New York lectures he remarked, "Although posing as great scholars, ascetics, householders and swamis, the so-called followers of the Hindu religion are all useless, dried-up branches of the Vedic religion." ISKCON, he believed, was the only true exponent of the Vedic faith today. In an interview given for Bhavan's Journal on June 28, 1976, he said, "India, they have given up the real religious system, Sanatana Dharma. Fictitiously, they have accepted a hodgepodge thing which is called Hinduism. Therefore there is trouble."

The Guru frequently explained his position, and acted upon his beliefs in establishing his dynamic society. At a 1974 Mumbai lecture, he declared, "We are not preaching Hindu religion. While registering the association, I purposely kept this name, 'Krishna Consciousness,' neither Hindu religion nor Christian nor Buddhist religion."

Srila Prabhupada was aware that the Indian community had a mistaken impression of his Hinduness. In a 1970 letter to a temple administrator in Los Angeles, he wrote, "The Hindu community in the West has got some good feeling for me because superficially they are seeing that I am spreading Hindu religion, but factually this Krishna Consciousness movement is neither Hindu religion nor any other religion." That remains the case today, for Srila Prabhupada left no successor with the authority to change his spiritual edicts.

So why does the general Hindu community mistakenly believe that ISKCON is a Hindu organization, when it never describes itself as such? Well, it sometimes does. During the recent ISKCON temple openings in New Delhi and Bangalore, where newspaper reports frequently identified the grand temples as Hindu, the ISKCON press releases, such as that of April 15, 1998, never used the H word. Yet, when Indian devotees serving at each of those temples were asked in late July by journalists for this article, they said it is a Hindu temple. The discrepancy between public perception and internal policy is further confused by the group's official exceptions to the non-Hindu position. Faced with difficulties, ISKCON leaders have appealed to the Hindu community to back them up, as in a dispute over the Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK or when being hassled by Christians in Russia and Poland. In appeals to judges and governments, the word Hindu is openly used. In other legal cases, including one to the US Supreme Court, ISKCON has attempted to counteract the "cult" label by claiming to be a traditional Hindu lineage, and asked other Hindus to affirm this in the courts. Other organizations who parted company with Hinduism, such as Transcendental Meditation and Brahma Kumaris, do not compromise their position under any circumstances.

What also sets ISKCON apart is its open repudiation and criticism of Hinduism, especially among members. There are reports of Hindus who joined ISKCON only to be taught to reject their family's religion. "Previously we were Hindus. Now we are Hare Krishnas," some said. At the same time, the organization often appeals to the Hindu community and businessmen for financial support of its social programs and political help to protect ISKCON from detractors.

Considering ISKCON's appearances--member's dress, names, bhajana, festivals, worship, scripture, pilgrimage, temple building, and so forth--it's little wonder that so many have assumed they are Hindus. To find out they are not will certainly surprise many--Hindus and non-Hindus alike. It may even surprise a few Hare Krishnas themselves.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 3:51AM #3
samst
Posts: 130
Ramadasi:      

The article you're referring to is in Oct,1998 issue of Hinduism Today and even now available at this site:    

www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1998/10/1998-10-14.shtml      

May be because this is a debate forum, it is open to all, irrespective of their religious or otherwise inclinations.

That Prabhupada followed Caitanya's bakthi movement can hardly be denied, even if it is by Prabhupada himself! Secondly, the claim that ISKCON is vaishnavite, though questionable on principle, is more or less an open admission that the movement owes its origin to hinduism. They still follow the rituals, (excessively in my view) of hinduism.

Coming to Krishna Consciousness, question is what is it? If such an exalted Consciousness does exist, is it possible for any other consciousness, including the "I" consciousness, to co-exist along side and more importantly, can there be room for hatred, scriptureitis, "talking down" others beliefs etc, in Krishna Consciousness? My point is, if all these can co-exist in Krishna Consciousness, then undoubtedly it is pseudo-krishna-consciousness, delusionary.

Hinduism doesn't have iron-curtains or even doors. It is OPEN. Always. Four centuries of rule by alien invaders and their religions couldn't dislodge hinduism, what to speak of misguided individuals masquerading as swamis & gurus.

I appreciate your concern. But still I'd say it is not worth debating. But then we all have our individual inclinations. Hence, please do continue, if you wish.

Love & God Bless.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 8:23AM #4
Jm8
Posts: 784
ramadasi and samst,

this is a well-known article. It tries to introduce controversy, quickly skipping Prabhupada's reasoning ("foreign invaders").

> There are reports of Hindus who joined ISKCON only to be taught to reject their family's religion. "Previously we were Hindus. Now we are Hare Krishnas," some said.

What exactly were they taught to reject the author doesn't bother to list. Here's my take:

Karma kanda (deva worship independent of Vishnu/Krishna), jnana kanda (including advaita), external yoga (unfit for self-realization in Kali yuga), and gradually also sa-kama (materialistic) worship of Vishnu/Krishna. All of these are rejected in BG and Bh.P.

> At the same time, the organization often appeals to the Hindu community and businessmen for financial support of its social programs and political help to protect ISKCON from detractors.

Vaishnavas are happy to help and some others too (since they see Vishnu/Krishna as one of 'their gods'). In legal documents there is no place for long explanations of what hinduism and Vaishnavism is and how are they related so the word 'hinduism' is generally used.

> Secondly, the claim that ISKCON is vaishnavite, though questionable on principle, is more or less an open admission that the movement owes its origin to hinduism.

Where is any proof that Vaishnavism _originates_ from hinduism? The word hindu can't be found in sastra and its earliest use is Medieval.

> They still follow the rituals, (excessively in my view) of hinduism.

Please visit any traditional Sri Vaishnava, Madhva or Gaudiya temple and then ISKCON temple to compare. Your view will change.

> Coming to Krishna Consciousness, question is what is it?

smartavyah satatam visnur
vismartavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur
etayor eva kinkarah

"Vishnu should always be remembered and never forgotten. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the sastras should be the servants of these two principles." (Padma Purana)

See also BG 9.14,22,34, 10.8, 12.6-7, 18.65.

> If such an exalted Consciousness does exist, is it possible for any other consciousness, including the "I" consciousness, to co-exist along side and more importantly, can there be room for hatred, scriptureitis, "talking down" others beliefs etc, in Krishna Consciousness?

There is no hatred or 'talking down' other beliefs in KC. To make a difference among them, refuting artificially postulated unity ('all-paths-lead-to-the-same-goal'), is a completely different thing though.

'scriptureitis' is your concoction. All Vedic followers use scripture as the basis of their life, like it or not.


Hope this helps. Hare Krishna

"This Krishna Consciousness is a science to understand what is the difference between a dead body and a living body". (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

Your servant, bh. Jan

http://www.vrindavan-dham.com
http://www.veda.harekrsna.cz
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 2:05PM #5
gangajal
Posts: 835
ISKCON usually claims not to be a Hindu organization. However, I used to get appeals from ISKCON for donating funds to save Hindu temples, when it was threatened with a court order some years ago ordering the auction of several temples.

So does it then mean that while ISKCON is not a Hindu organization, it runs Hindu temples?
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 4:22PM #6
TinaRao
Posts: 261
I only hope ISCKON one day will not become like buddhism, jainism or sikhism.
In the sense although they were offshoots from hinduism, sikhism has started
showing their hate for hinduism.  I agree, they were always fueled by the other
miltant religions and  there are many sikhs who dont want to associate with
hindus.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 6:44PM #7
ramadasi
Posts: 102
Jan, even if you strip the article of every comment and keep what your guru said, it is still very derogatory to non vaishavas. Let me forgot the word 'hindu'. Non Vaishavas living in india - ok? I know even Vaishavas who believe advaita. So you cannot even claim the word 'Vaishnava' to be your own.

It is really news to me that the Gita rejects Advaita, among other things. How do claim that? Also please try to answer what Samst asked regarding Krishna Consciousness. What is it?

Your Guru just like many Gurus who went west invented a convenient form of religion that is a marriage between *some* selective vaishava traditions and strong Judeo Christian beliefs of Good, Evil and a Personal God. In that process he gained lot of western followers and became what is called a 'Pop Guru'. That is all. There is no originality or deep thinking that went into what he said.

Initially i thought, like many fellow hindus do, that ISKCON was hindu. Then my beliefs were rectified by an old iskconite (now ex) story will relate in next post. So I thought like Tina does these guys are like Sikhs or Buddhists, Fine, no problem with that. Now, the more I come to know I am totally ashamed to say these guys have anything to do with Hinduism.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 6:50PM #8
ramadasi
Posts: 102
Dear Samst, thanks for answering, i get what you say, and I want to leave it with this. Actually how i ran into this article itself is an interesting story. I went to the ISKCON temple in Brooklyn, NYC, with two friends. This was long ago when I belived ISKCONites were Hindus. I was explaining some story in Bhagavatam to them and in the process used the word Hindu couple  of times. There was an elderly ISKCON guy, white guy there. He called me aside and asked me politely not to use the 'H word'.  I was shocked beyond measure, usually we say 'N' word, 'F' word etc for expletives, and he was this guy telling me my religion was an 'H' word!! I didn't say a word, he himself brought out a copy of this article and asked me to read it at home. Looking at my face he tried to make amends, give us prasad, this that and say Lord Krishna is always by your side, all of that.

Since that experience I never visit ISKCON temples any more. The article is actually the proud possesion of many of them, regardless of what Jan here thinks about it. Most ISKCONites take pride in saying they are not hindus and putting down whatever little they know of other hindus. They are not sweet natured, innocent, 'horay horay' people. My intention is just to enlighten others here of that.

Job done, not sure i have anything more to say on this subject.

Ramadasi
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 12, 2008 - 7:01PM #9
ramadasi
Posts: 102
Gangajal, they use it for convenient reasons, one , if you make publicly anti hindu statements you cannot really get support in india, regardless of whether you mean 'hindu' or Vaishava or whatever. Two how does one explain Sri Krishna to a westerner, without in some way involving hinduism or whatever name you have for hinduism? In other words if you need to understand Jesus can you possibly explain him without saying Christ in some way?

That is all.

Ramadasi
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2008 - 12:52AM #10
silence_speaks
Posts: 568
Hi :),
     I think ISKCON belongs to Hinduism. When Srila Prabhupada said its not hindu ,it was more to distinguish it from other hindu traditions which practised anything other than krishna consciousness.
Lets clearly see this and not take the words "literally" :) . We definitely need to see what he means rather than see the words "LITERALLY"

Please see the sense in which he used them... dont get into the trap of reading the words "AS IT IS" ;)

Love!
Silence
I
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