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Monday, August 24, 2015

NEW! RAPE AND INSULTS: WIFE ABUSE, ISKCON STYLE

Some years ago, during a routine purchase at a department store near where I worked, it happened that the clerk handling my purchase was a Bangladeshi Muslim who noticed my last name and asked me where I got it. I told him that I had once been married to an Indian and then noticed him looking intently at my eyes. He became furious and asked me if I had been abused by my husband. I said nothing, but by that time my eyes were full and I couldn't say anything. He said--rather almost shouted--that his people do not believe in maltreating their wives. After thanking him, I left with my purchase and went back to work, but I have never forgotten that chance encounter. What I now share with you, dear readers, is a great deal of the reason why:

The following is a faithful chronicle of an event that is part of the autobiography I have been working on for a number of years. It is also a chronicle of faith inasmuch as it marked the end of my enchantment with the Hare Krishna cult. The time is 1978 and my age at the time was 25.  My son and I were staying at my mother’s apartment and I had spent nearly two years working for the minimum wage in a factory. Although the reader will become familiar with all of the sordid details in short order, it concerns one of the final abuses I suffered at the hands of the Hare Krishna “husband” I acquired by way of an arranged marriage at the age of 17. He is now known as Gopal Krishna Goswami and today is a Hare Krishna guru with many disciples. It is especially ironic that he was given the honorific title “Goswami”--it is conferred on married men who have abandoned their wives and means “one who controls his senses”--when he took the order of “sannyasa” (an exalted life as a celibate monk) a few years after the events you are about to read. I hope you find this episode instructive and I apologize in advance for the repellent nature of its contents. Here we go:
  
No one expects rational behavior from a zombie or a dreamer. Yet both of these states describe what devotees become after years of indoctrination based on the idea that “you are not the body.” In fact, this artificial dichotomy between body and spirit had been the principal means the Hare Krishna movement used to ensnare us. In place of reason, our sincere but gullible minds had been filled with more Hindu folklore and mythology than I care to remember. Healing meant putting the pieces—body and soul—together again and beginning to think for ourselves. During the years shortly after the death of our guru, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in 1977, legions of devotees left the movement. Some say that the excesses of the GBC, who had usurped the whole guru business and tolerated widespread corruption, were responsible. However, I firmly believe that the real cause was the end of the cult of personality that Prabhupada’s presence had sustained. Once he died, the bubble burst. The GBC and ISKCON leaders responded to the rebellion that ensued by raising their doomsday fanaticism to a fever pitch.

Had I any idea of what Gopal Krishna had in mind when he unexpectedly told me that he would stay overnight with us en route to the New York temple, I would have told him to go straight to hell. Never in my life have I regretted any decision more and never have I paid for it more dearly.
Ekayani and son, 1974
Gopal Krishna was in full demonic mode when my son and I met him at Kennedy Airport, getting off the plane without acknowledging us and looking like an enraged wart hog that had been hastily dressed in a crumpled dhoti. He walked along with his gigantic nostrils flared in disgust, as if suddenly aware of his own stench. What I am about to recount is infinitely more disgusting, however: consider yourself warned! It began when we took a cab from the airport to my apartment. Totally unexpectedly and in full view of my son, Gopal Krishna began to grab at me (I was sitting in the front seat next to the driver), with a face blank but for the glittering beady eyes and malicious leer of a sexual pervert. Astonished and repulsed beyond words, I tried to stop him, slapping his hand and telling him to stop, but he continued undaunted until we got out of the taxi. Ignorant of what had just happened, my mother and brother greeted him very decently, but he said next to nothing: he had something else on his mind.

To wit, as soon as my son was asleep in the other twin bed opposite us, he insisted on having sex, answering my protests (I reminded him that he, a GBC member, was openly breaking the regulative principle against illicit sex) by forcing himself on me, claiming that it was his right because “married people can have sex.” I was terrified that my mother and brother might hear us, what to speak of my son. Worse, he treated me as if I were a cheap prostitute by forcing his vile tongue into my mouth and ejaculating onto his soiled dhoti. In the morning, he locked himself into the bedroom alone with me and repeated the night’s performance at least twice. He did the same thing that night. During Sunday, when we went to the Bronx Botanical Gardens with our son, he tried to grab at me again and was similarly repulsed. He also called me a prostitute because, according to him, I should have been able to save $100 out of the $400 I earned a month.

What this worse-than-rape experience did to my soul is hard to describe. I knew that I was done with Gopal Krishna forever, but still, trapped as I was in circumstances I could not substantially change without tremendous support and counseling, I felt myself more zombie than human. Moreover, he ended his assault on my body by trying to assault my reason, telling me as we took a cab together to the city Monday morning that nuclear bombs were so freely available in New York City that the drugstores secretly carried them. I laughed out loud at this insanity and got a venomous stare in response. As the cab dropped me off near my humble job on 34th Street, Gopal Krishna, his uglier than warthog face distorted with hate, handed me $100 and again called me a prostitute.

If anything good came out of this nightmare, it was my realization once and for all that evil exists and is personified in people like Gopal Krishna, demons in human form who are devoid of all genuine humanity. Like Harpies from Greek myth, they pollute all they touch. This is undeniably what Gopal Krishna intended when he raped me in my childhood home and when he harassed me in the Botanical Gardens, which had been a beloved refuge for much of my life. Monster! When I think of the devotees who used to come to visit my sister and I back in 1968-1969 when we were young teenagers and how innocent and sincere we all were, I still feel blank horror at the thought of Gopal’s deliberate pollution of my childhood home. No wonder I felt I had to get out of there and, taking my son and the ever-present suitcases, flew to Los Angeles and into the final stage of my journey out of the Hare Krishna movement. 

Please note: This essay is part of a longer autobiographical excerpt that I published on another website more than eight years ago. If you have any questions about the esteem in which my guru held me, you are welcome to look them up in the vedabase of his letters.


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Monday, August 17, 2015

NEW! SAFFRON ROBES & ROLE PLAYING: THE ISKCON CULT IN HINDU DISGUISE

Swami Vivekananda on the "Radha-Prema of the Vaishnavas:"

Look at this nation. Through the preaching of that love broadcast, the nation has become effeminate--a race of women! The whole of Orissa has been turned into a land of cowards, and Bengal, running high after the Radha-prema, these past four hundred years, has almost lost all sense of manliness.
                                                                 As quoted by Surendranath Sen in his private diary

When A.C. Bhakivedanta Swami Prabhupada  took it upon himself to export Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism to the West, he also worked to undermine what Swami Vivekananda had achieved more than 70 years earlier, which can be summed up in presenting Hinduism as a faith in which intellectual rigor, physical strength,  and devotion to the motherland are not incompatible. When Vivekananda said that "each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal," he laid the groundwork for self-realization based on work (karma-yoga) and personal integrity. This philosophical stance is in direct contrast to the Radha-prema and the gopis emotionalism that Bhaktivedanta preached was the culmination of Vedanta. As the last of the Powerpoint Slides I have included here shows, his repudiation of Hinduism in favor of  what he believed is a universally attractive bhakti-yoga practice consisting of chanting, deity worship, and literal scripture readings was not an easy way to self-realization, as he claimed, but a cheap imitation. Consequently, it bred a host of contemptuous, ignorant cowards among the American followers of the Swami's Hare Krishna movement, many of whom survive to this day, using propaganda, violence, and subterfuge in their "devotional" conquests.

Moreover, despite the popularity of Yoga and Meditation world-wide, their practice does not make the beneficiaries of these ancient disciplines Hindus. Why, then, do the members of the  Hare Krishna (ISKCON) claim that their bhakti-yoga practice is an exception? Using the example of the Gaudiya Vaishnava saint Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as proof that non-caste Hindus can study Vedanta and become brahmins by virtue of their chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is proves nothing. Far worse, it is degrading Hinduism to magic: simply chant the Maha Mantra, eat food offered to the Radha Krishna deity, and you too can become better than a brahmin or an Indian who by birth is a Hindu? The following are some examples:



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Thursday, August 13, 2015

NEW! WOLF IN SAINT'S CLOTHING: AN ISKCON GURU AND THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH, PT. 1

I should have run outside and asked somebody to call the police, people still tell me, but I was so frozen with shock that I could hardly move my feet. Besides, it was bitterly cold outside, even for New York City in that December of 1972 and I was eight and a half months pregnant. I just stood there, looking into Gopal Krishna’s malignant, scowling face—frozen with the same fury that overtook him as he glared at my swollen belly and threw a heavy wooden office chair across the room directly at it. I am writing this today because I dodged the chair and it hit the plaster wall instead. As crimes go, this has got to be one of the worst: the attempted murder of a wife in advanced pregnancy. And, no, all of you apologists of the now ISKCON guru “His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami,” this is not something you forget, ever. Impossible. Your guru, whose birthday, or what you refer to as his “appearance day,” is in a few days (August 14th, to be exact) and whose annual “Vyas Puja” celebration you will hold shortly thereafter, escaped paying for his crime in the U.S., but if you do indeed believe in a higher power, his punishment still awaits him. I was, after all, just like you: I thought that my guru (in my case, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) could do no wrong and I defended him vigorously and loved him dearly. It’s just that like you, I was under-informed and misguided.
Ekayani Devi Dasi, 1970
This nightmare of cruelty and cowardice was the culmination of the gross neglect I suffered the hands of Gopal Krishna during my pregnancy. He never wanted a child, obviously. By the time he wrote to our guru defaming me and wanting out of our arranged “marriage,” I was just nineteen and never had a home since leaving my mother’s house two years earlier. I lived in the temple with the single women and, at Gopal Krishna’s insistence, we went to a hotel once a month to “try for a child.” Right, you heard it. During this time he had the temerity to complain to our guru about me and got this reply:

Your wife has proven turbulent, that is the grace of Krishna. I may inform you in this connection about my family life. Actually, I never liked my wife. I was going to marry another, but my father saved me from the danger and he told me that you do not like your wife, that is the grace of Krishna. So don't be worried about your wife. If she wants to re-marry, let her do so, and you'll be free and I shall give you Sannyas [the renounced order] and you will be preaching freely.                                                                            
                                                                         Letter to Gopal Krishna Dasa, 11 May 1972

Trouble is, I was a few weeks pregnant at the time. After he showed the letter to me, I informed him of my condition, much to his surprise. Shortly thereafter he casually told me that he had called our guru’s personal secretary and asked him if he should take sannyas anyway and that he was told to wait until after the child was born. Imagine! What a cruel, inhuman thing to say to your pregnant, teenaged wife. I still had to live in the temple with the women and eat the spicy, ill-prepared food. When I insisted that Gopal give me $2.00 a week to buy a few cups of yogurt to supplement my diet, he gave it to me grudgingly for a while, all the while calling me a “prostitute” for asking him for the money. After a few months, he decided that I should go to India to live with his parents until the child was born, but it was unendurable because their apartment was too small and they barely got along. (Incidently, the claim made by Bhakti Charu Swami that Gopal Krishna was “born into an aristocratic family. . . “is pure hogwash: his parents were a thoroughly respectable sort of people and his father had indeed retired from the Navy, but aristocratic they were not. In addition, the claim that their son was educated at the Sorbonne is nonsense: he took his B.S. in India and a few graduate courses at the Sorbonne in Paris and McGill University in Montreal, but never got a graduate degree from either place. These are the facts.)

After I returned to New York, I had to go to stay with my mother because there was no other place to live. However, when I went to the temple to see Gopal Krishna, he bluntly informed me that “he had no objection if I had an abortion.” What the hell, I thought. I was aghast and told him so. The dhoti-clad goblin wanted me to kill our unborn child and I was already more than four months pregnant! I told him to go to hell in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately for me, the effects of the ill-treatment I had been suffering for so long caught up with me and before long I was doubled-over in pain, with such severe gastro-intestinal agony that I initially thought was dysentery from my India trip, but, as the tests I underwent proved, were entirely due to extreme stress and misery. It got so bad that I was hospitalized for over a week. I vividly remember how touched I was by the genuine concern and kindness of the attending physician; I simply could not believe that anyone cared about me or how I felt. When Gopal Krishna did visit me in the hospital, he flew into a massive rage, blaming me for getting sick and costing him money for the hospital stay. The nurses came running to my room to see what the matter was, but he just closed the door and continued to yell at me.

After I went back to my mother’s house, I slowly began gaining weight and feeling a bit better. Then one day Gopal shows up and says that he found an apartment near the Brooklyn temple. When I opened the door for the first time, it was clear that it was infested with cockroaches and mice. In addition, although it was a small one bedroom apartment, a sheet covered the living room, which Gopal explained was reserved for our room-mate, a young Indian gentleman. The reason for getting a room-mate was, as he explained, to recoup the cost of my hospitalization. Our room furnishings consisted entirely of one wooden desk chair and a soiled old mattress that someone had given him. No bed, no sheets, not even curtains for the windows. I lived entirely out of my suitcase and kept a few things in plastic milk crates. My mother gave me a few household items and baby clothes, but, really, I had hardly anything. A month before the baby was due, Gopal showed up with a used crib with a broken leg. Meanwhile, although he was working at his “karmi” job—he was a Marketing Research Analyst at Pepsi-Co and then at Bristol-Myers at their Clairol division, a junior technical position and nothing more—I never knew anything about what he earned and never saw a paycheck or was privy to any of his financial matters. Even when he filed his taxes each year, he would make me sign the form, while holding his hand over the rest to prevent me from seeing what he earned or was receiving as a refund. As far as I know, most of his earnings went to directly to our guru and some went to his parents.

So, why did he try to kill me and my unborn child a few weeks before I was due to give birth? For starters, go to the end of this blog page and read the letter to me from my guru, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, at the very end. I will explain the context and offer a full answer for any questions my readers might have in an upcoming blog essay. Thanks for your patience and, I hope, your understanding.

Note to my readers: Since my ex-husband, now Gopal Krishna Goswami, has removed any mention of our relationship from his official biographies (including wikipedia), a number of people unfamiliar with ISKCON's early history have questioned whether we were ever married. I can assure you that we were married both in a Hare Krishna religious ceremony and also legally. If you don't believe me, upon request and for a small copy fee/donation, I will send you a copy of our marriage certificate. Just ask. 


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Monday, August 10, 2015

NEW! EASTERN CULTS AS INCUBATORS OF EXTREMISM: THE HARE KRISHNA MOVEMENT

To my readers: if you are new to this blog or one of my regulars, it is almost certain that you or a member of your family has been manipulated at some time by the tactics of the Hare Krishna cultists. It is also safe to assume that you wonder how the Islamic terrorists ravaging the Middle East attract so many youthful followers despite their death-loving ideology. In fact, you already know why and how such quasi-religious cults operate based on your experience within ISKCON. Now is the time to retrieve this knowledge out of the dustbin of the past and put it to practical use. 

INTRODUCTION 

Why is the sight of a youth being recruited on the street by a member of ISIS so eerily familiar? That describes my feelings exactly as I recently saw a video clip from Australia of one of these fanatics in action. The pattern is unmistakable: the target is approached by a person whose appearance and fervor declare an allegiance to a call to arms that transcends the rule of law and any obligations to family or the homeland. This call to brotherhood—complete with handshakes and hugs--is nothing more than an invitation to join a gang whose core ideology and practices reveal that it is really nothing more than a cult. Worse, the signs pointing to cults as incubators of extremism have been glaringly obvious in the West for more than 40 years. Now that youths from these countries are joining ISIS in droves, the news is rife with accounts about how they should be punished upon their return and thus prevented from importing terrorism back to their homelands. Such policies are necessary, of course, but they are also politically expedient smokescreens for an inconvenient truth: some of our young adults are ignorant, lazy parasites eager to secure an easy future for themselves at any cost to others. Those of us with years of experience in ISKCON should use the valuable insights we possess to teach such would-be miscreants how to avoid the cult indoctrination process altogether. They might have mutated over two generations, but the diseases afflicting both cultists and terrorists have one symptom in common: at their core they are cults of personality with only a thin veneer of religiosity. 

Before I continue with my essay, I would like to thank two great souls--each in their own way the pride of India--who have inspired and instructed me in various ways. I am greatly indebted to Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar for his inspiring critique of the caste system, Annihilation of Caste and for his incomplete gem, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India. The life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda have also illuminated my solitary path in many ways and for that I am deeply grateful. 

ISIS: OLD WHINE IN NEW BOTTLES 

How does an otherwise unremarkable young man, usually from a working class family, turn into a hero- worshiping jihadist? At first glance, it appears that the new recruit has been illuminated by a sudden blast of piety: he becomes immersed in studying the Koran and quits drinking, whoring, and drug taking. So far, so good. However, when he travels to meet with his ISIS brothers, the pious cloud disperses, revealing just another gangster with a penchant for murder, rape, and pillaging. Instead of teaching its new recruits to assume responsibility for their own actions, terrorists preach a doctrine of victimization by Western culture and add to it a criminal sense of entitlement. In practice, it is a license for seeking out non-Islamic minorities and using them as scapegoats for their ill-conceived rage and insecurities.  

 Most recently, Graeme Wood, in his now famous Atlantic Monthly article, "What ISIS Really Wants," has traced the impetus for its followers' practices to a literalist, millenarian interpretation of the Koran. These practices include eliminating any Muslim who does not subscribe to the Islamic State's reactionary, simplistic world view. Muslims who depart from what Wood calls a "seventh-century legal environment" are infidels who must die, whereas all others must be subjugated, acknowledge the supremacy of ISIS, and pay fines to ensure their continued existence.i Bernard Haykel (whose authority on ISIS Wood cites many times in his article) adds elsewhere that the Islamic State's back-to-basics mentality sidesteps a tradition of diverse, learned Islamic interpretation that spans more than a thousand years. The reason for this pitiful state of affairs, according to Raza Rumi of the Hudson Institute, is "the weakened state" of that tradition today stemming from the Islamist misuse of ideology in the pursuit of their political aspirations.ii 

One of the most persistent fallacies plaguing religious fundamentalists of all denominations is the idea that scriptures  are products of divine inspiration, usually originating from oral recitations of great antiquity that were codified by one or more holy scribes who tradition holds merely functioned as mouthpieces of a prophet. Modern scholarship avails itself of  textual, archeological, and linguistic research to provide a more historically accurate picture of how scriptures developed, but the fanatics bent on insisting that everyone read with the literalism of small children need to offer incentives to their would-be followers that appear to put them on a fast track to enjoying adult goods and services they have done absolutely nothing to legitimately acquire. The reformation Islam needs at a minimum is therefore two-fold:  its members must repair its image world-wide, beginning with condemning the terrorist model of rape and plunder as economic and political suicide; in addition, private and public educational institutions must endeavor to create an atmosphere where Islamic interpretation is encouraged and its scholars protected. Needless to say, implementing these changes will entail considerable risk since it requires freedom of speech and other individual liberties that gangs such as ISIS and the Taliban have systemically denied to all in their reach in their frenzied race to oblivion. 

Moreover, the naked opportunism that characterizes ISIS--for all of its appeal to a medieval Prophet-centered worldview--is expressed using methods that are quite technologically adept. It is as if their black-clad followers  have emerged out of an Islamic-themed version of the Call of Duty video game, smartphones and computers at hand, using the latest social media to urge the gullible to regress to a tribalist existence filled with mayhem and slaughter. Unfortunately, but for a change of religion and attire, the practices now associated with ISIS have been used repeatedly by any number of cults that began to infiltrate American and European society beginning in the counter-culture ("Hippie/New Age") era of the mid 1960's and continuing to the present. What follows will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that religious fanaticism, much like an antibiotic-resistant plague, is capable of adapting to find better ways of breaking down the resistance of its hosts.

CULTS OF PERSONALITY 

Who can forget the first time you set eyes on your guru and felt your heart leap in the presence of what you believed was a direct conduit to the spiritual realm? Surely his Vedic wisdom--the glory of Eastern spirituality--far surpassed the inferior Abrahamic religions. It all seemed somehow miraculous: the ecstatic mantra chanting and dancing, together with the immediate acceptance by the devotees in the temple, seemed to transport you to another sphere of existence, one in which the rules of your former life need no longer apply. What if your new life required you to sleep on the floor, rise at 4:00 in the morning to worship brass and marble deities, and then spend the rest of the day on the street or at airports hawking books you hardly read yourself? What if your guru--despite all scientific evidence to the contrary--insists that the "infallible" Vedic cosmology locates the Sun closer to the Earth than the Moon and states that this planet itself is a disk supported in the heavens by four elephants? Similarly, if you are a newly-hatched terrorist prowling about Syria or Iraq looking for anyone your self-appointed Caliph deems an apostate, what will you do when these so-called apostates beat your forces into submission? Whether you are committed to following an ISKCON guru or waving a black ISIS flag, sacrificing your rational faculties for an obvious ruse also means that you have unnecessarily sacrificed your humanity.  

Such a deluded state of mind and the actions necessary to sustain it typically require the new adherents' adoption by a leader or guru, who, together with his other followers, convinces them that salvation is to be found in retreating to another time and place where they are de facto reborn with new ethnicities and allegiances. ISIS, for example, is fiercely determined to build an Islamic society based on a seventh-century model derived from a literal reading of the Holy Koran. It is as if they are time travelers from the past who are given falsified passports that they somehow believe render them fully-functional members of a divinely inspired people destined to drive out infidels and subjugate all others. Wresting these lost souls from their delusions and bringing them back to reality will prove to be a challenge, as families and friends of cult members learned back in the hippie era. Their ideological grandchildren--both the Hindu would-be cultists and the Islamic terrorist imports from the West--cannot be saved until they learn to recognize the dangers of literal scriptural readings (especially in regard to apocalyptic themes) and begin to think for themselves.  

SOPHISTRY AND SCAPEGOATING 

Perhaps the most effective means of brainwashing the followers of either a cult or a terrorist gang is the use of violent propaganda lifted from religious texts that are both taken in a literal sense and presented as the bedrock of an ancient social order. To new adherents searching for a rapid-fire means to enlightenment, the ardent, blind faith in a few lines of a holy book taken out of context often seems like an easy way to feign knowledge of a scripture they lack the erudition and the inclination to study and read at greater length. In most cases, however, they slavishly follow and disseminate their leaders' commentaries on scripture without reading the original for themselves and seeking to educate themselves beyond what is strictly allowed by the cult. The following examples of scripture and commentary from sacred texts of Hinduism and Islam show what mischief can arise when they are taken literally: 

Founder/Acharya of the Hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:

Arjuna was a great Vaishnava, and he was killing. Bhima was a great Vaishnava, and he was killing. Dhruva Maharaja was a Vaishnava, and he was killing. Parikshit Maharaja was killing. Prahlada Maharaja was killing. Rama was killing. Krishna was killing. Practically speaking, Vaishnavas are killers. . . It is not that because Mohammed used a sword, we also must use a sword, No! --we can use a Gun. We will ask-...You like Krishna??No--Booom..You like Krishna? No--Booom. We can use everything for Krishna, we can use the ATOM BOMB FOR KRISHNA!! 
We have to kill this civilization of mudhas [fools] . . .those who are mudhas, we have to kill them. This is our business. Kill all the mudhas. . . Not now but later when we are more powerful. 
Morning Walk, Vrindavan: 15 March 1974. 

Whatever Muhammad said that is authority. That we accept. We accept Muhammad as the representative of God. Whatever he says, we accept; that's all. What you mean, that is your business. But he is the authority; he said, This is the name of God. You chant, you pray. "Allah of God." That's all. This is authority. 
Room conversation. Tehran: 14 March 1975. 

From the Manu Samhita (Oxford Edition): 

 Drinking (spirituous liquor), associating with wicked people, separating from the husband, rambling abroad, sleeping (at unseasonable hours), and dwelling in other men's houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women. 

Women do not care for beauty, nor is their attention fixed on age; (thinking), '(it is enough that) he is a man,' they give themselves to the handsome and to the ugly. 

Through their passion for men, through their mutable temper, through their natural heartlessness, they become disloyal towards their husbands, however carefully they may be guarded in this (world). 

Knowing their disposition, which the Lord of creatures laid in them at the creation, to be such, (every) man should most strenuously exert himself to guard them. 

(When creating them) Manu allotted to women (a love of their)bed, (of their) seat and (of) ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice, and bad conduct. 9: 13-17.

A man, aged thirty years, shall marry a maiden of twelve who pleases him, or a man of twenty-four a girl eight years of age; if (the performance of) his duties would (otherwise) be impeded, (he must marry) sooner. 9: 94. 

 From the Holy Quran: 

And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing . . . 
But if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)  2: 191-193. 
I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. 8:12. 

The "kill the mudhas" bluster A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada engaged in during the last years of his life shows how role-playing is an intrinsic part of the cult leadership mentality. Another is the practice of demonizing your real or imagined opponents and both exaggerating the threat they pose to you as well as your reaction to it. The fools our guru advocated killing would include anyone not a Krishna devotee, yet when he went to Tehran to preach, his absolutism shifted to relativism--"we accept Muhammad as the representative of God"--an obvious attempt to disarm his hosts. He would also use this trick on Christians and Jews: he claimed that Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu and praised Jewish intelligence on various occasions (many of his early American disciples were Jewish) and then praised Hilter and Lenin at unguarded moments or in private correspondence. Similarly, he insisted that the Manu-samhita (Laws of Manu) is "the lawbook for the entire human society"iii but departed from its treatment of castes as hereditary, claiming that by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and "by accepting regulative principles, even Westerners (mlecchas and yavanas) become brahmanas"iv Regardless of what the Bengali reformer and Vaishnava saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advocated, to regard the chatur-varna (four castes) system as anything but hereditary and rigidly hierarchical is to deny the scriptural foundations on which they rest and the fanatical way they have been maintained in the past and most certainly in the present.

 In her introduction to B.R. Ambedkar's Annihilation of Caste, Arundhati Roy observes that unlike "contemporary abominations like apartheid, racism, sexism, economic imperialism and religious fundamentalism," the caste system gets a relatively free ride from international criticism. The West's continuing flirtation with Eastern mysticism and exoticism in general might be a mitigating factor, but when a prominent organization of British Hindus can flatly state that "any form of discrimination is frowned upon by Hindu Dharma,"v it is clear to anyone even dimly aware of the caste-related violence that continues to roil India, that something more than mere denial is afoot. Of course, those of you who were ISKCON devotees are well aware of the  kind of "Brahmins" our guru managed to create: their abusive behavior was as notorious in its own way as the abuses hereditary Brahmins and other upper caste Hindus heap upon the Dalits. These Hare Krishna brahmins were, in dress, laughable imitations of Gaudiya Vaishnavas in tilok and saffron garb, obsessed with controlling their sankirtan-funded temples and, after our guru's demise in 1977, a bunch of power-hungry businessmen fighting for guruship while embroiling themselves in various territorial squabbles.  

PROPAGANDA BREEDS PARASITES 

When a political party wishes to hide inconvenient news from the voting public, it will sanitize, expurgate,and sugarcoat as it sees fit and voila! Propaganda is born, an evil with more heads than the demon Ravana. Although it is an insult to reason, propaganda carries an emotional charge that causes the gullible to attach themselves to it like flies to honey. In turn, these human flies become carriers of the propaganda virus and act like parasites in spreading delusions saturated with emotional content. I remember chanting and dancing with other Hare Krishna devotees, awash in our exoticism-intoxication, only to discover in short order that our guru was far more interested in our selling his books Sure enough, soon "sankirtan" no longer meant congregational chanting, it meant "hitting the street" and making nuisances of ourselves in airports. Our budding piety and enthusiasm became the tool of another person's desire to perpetuate himself. 

This pattern also applies to religious-terrorist groups such as ISIS and the Taliban. Everyone knows, for example, that the puppet-masters without whose ideological and financial support terrorists could not survive would themselves be munching dates and fighting petty tribal skirmishes if not for the immense revenue stream flowing from their nationalized oil fields. The rise of tightly organized terrorist groups openly sponsored by either Saudi Arabia or Iran shows how "geography is destiny" insofar as their funding is concerned. As for their gun-toting pawns, they are fools to think that their economic and educational impotence can be cured by dressing like an assassin out of a video game and roving about butchering innocents. Until and unless they stop living off the largesse of others, they will find themselves unable to afford the typical appliances--not even a lowly microwave oven--they will need if they are to attempt to bribe a poor family to allow them to marry one of their daughters. 

Similarly, cults, whether they are outgrowths of established religions or simply the product of a fevered imagination, survive by attaching themselves to productive individuals and draining their funds with the tenacity of leeches. Thus fattened, they invest these "contributions" in lavish temples, restaurants, and various elaborate functions, all of which serve to stuff their coffers to the bursting point. Your actual religious beliefs might be absurd and laughable, but if you open a nice vegetarian restaurant and flatter your patrons, who cares? ISKCON, in addition, has gotten into the practice of giving its temples names (e.g., ISKCON Cultural Center) in an effort to seek legitimacy and broader social acceptance by the Hindu community. So, on the one hand, you have pious Hindus making large pledges to support ISKCON and Akshaya Patra food for school children programs, while the history of the catastrophe its founder/acharya's single-minded focus on selling his books visited upon the children of his disciples has been conveniently swept into the dustbin of the cult's early history.  

What is the likely outcome when a parasite encourages others to become parasites? Ask any of the innocent Indian school children who have been fed vermin-infested dal and roti mid-day meals by ISKCON food relief and the better-known Akshay Patra! It is maddening even to think of such indignities visiting the recipients of an act of charity, which, for many, is indignity enough. Little do they know that the carnival-like atmosphere of many of the temple programs is simply a means to direct attention away from the cult's ludicrous and contrived beliefs, what to speak of the abuses their internal hierarchical systems heap upon strict followers and dissidents alike. Chief among these beliefs is their insistence on perpetuating their guru's claim that he was the first Indian guru to bring the true wisdom of the Vedas to the West and that his translation of and commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita are uniquely authoritative. To believe these claims, one would have to be both gullible and suffering from a severe case of historical amnesia. In fact, by his own admission, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada never read the Vedas and openly plagiarized the translation of the text of the Bhagavad-Gita from the Gita Press edition. 

CONCLUSION 

Today, the miasma of deception to which we once succumbed has long since dissipated, having taken with it our youthful idealism and in too many cases, the best years of our lives. Despite losing these years, many of us have triumphed over great adversity to raise our children, obtain stable employment, and, in many cases put ourselves through college and even graduate school. Life does indeed find a way. For others, adapting to society after spending years and sometimes decades in the alternate universe of a repressive and sadistic cult has been a never-ending struggle. The years spent with the Hare Krishna cult (or any other similar pseudo-religious group) inevitably will have a formative effect on one's life. So the interest in what the cult is currently doing to ensnare newcomers and keep its current members docile and deluded does resurface, often with alarming results.  

Imagine my horror in this regard, to learn that my guru--whose "four regulative principles" observed rigorously by his initiated disciples contained a ban on the use of any form of tobacco--used snuff (powdered tobacco) to stay awake when he was working on his commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam. This revelation hit me hard, bringing back memories of my habit of fiercely defending my guru when anyone would dare criticize him. I had no idea that we had been duped by a public relations scheme, any more than the lost souls who are streaming from all over the world to join the jihadists in the Middle East and now, parts of North Africa, eager to regress morally and intellectually in a tribalist quest for ill-gotten gains. Add to this the role of social media in disseminating a stream of half-truths and wild distortions to those without the education and common sense to separate fact from fiction and you have a toxic brew for which few antidotes exist. 

However, we must try.
  
I submit that the antidote is reason and an unwavering respect for the integrity and fundamental human rights of the individual. Freedom to pursue one's own interests and happiness without degrading or enslaving another regardless of religious or cultural precedent. Freedom of speech, including the right to (as in this essay and others in this blog) to present opposing arguments and share one's personal experiences in order to help secure the rights of others and embolden them to seek redress as necessary and in a lawful manner. Most of all, we should keep in mind Swami Vivekananda's exhortation that we: 

Do not believe in a thing because you have read about it in a book. Do not believe in a thing because another man has said it was true. Do not believe in words because they are hallowed by tradition. Find out the truth for yourself. Reason it out. That is realization.

i. http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980. ii ii.http://www.hudson.org/research/11172-the-prospects-for-reform-in-islam
iii Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, 3.21 purport.
iv Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.39 "Purport" by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.
v http://hfb.org.uk. "Caste within the Single Equality Bill 2010."
vi Swami Nikhilananda. Vivekananda: a Biography. NY: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953.





A note to my readers: my sincere thanks to the thousands of you from all over the world who regularly visit this blog, despite my having been unable (the pressures of work and commuting have been overwhelming) to update it recently. This is to change dramatically: this long essay will be followed shortly by another providing updated information on a current ISKCON guru's treatment of this writer that will be a true eye-opener. It will be followed by a three-part series of essays; in addition, my website is in the process of major updating and will feature a new essay (originally presented in a slightly shorter form years ago) which will, figuratively speaking, knock your socks off.  



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