Apologetics Index


International Society for Krishna Consciousness


Lawsuit (alleged child abuse)   Legal Decisions   News - Current   News - Archive   Timeline   

aka: Hare Krishna. A sect of Hinduism.


The information in this overview is quoted from Hinduism, TM & Hare Krishna, by J. Isamu Yamamoto. The book is part of the 16-volume Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements

  1. Origins

    1. The three most important deities in the Hindu pantheon are Brahma (creator), Siva (destroyer), and Vishnu (preserver), known as the trimurti

    2. Visnu is preeminent among all the gods to the Vaisnavites (worshippers of Visnu), who consider him "the primal person and the first-born of creation, who has neither beginning nor end. In fact, Visnu appears to be regarded by his devotesses as the sole source of the universe, active in all theree of its phases: cretion, preservation, and dissolution.  (20) "

    3. Visnu's most important feature is as a preserver and protector of the universe, which he accomplishes through his many incarnations, knowns as avatars.

      1. The ten most famous avatars of Visnu include Matsya, the Fish; Kurma, the Tortoise;, Varaha, the Boar; Vamana, de Dwarf; Narasimha, the Man-Lion; Parasurama, Rama, Krisna, and Buddha,  (21)  men with various attributes; and Kalkin, the avatar to come.

      2. Krisna, the eight avatar, is the best loved among the majority of the followers of Visnu

      3. In fact, worship of Krisna has superseded the adoration of Visnu among many Vaisnavites

    4. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a Bengalese Brahmin, founded the Krisnaite sect in the sixteenth century
      1. He taught that the best way to burn off ignorance and karma (the consequence of bad actions) and achieve perfect bliss is to espress loving devotion (bhakti) through dancing and chanting to Krisna.

      2. Although traditional Hindu frowned on his unorthodox, public display of Krisna, Caitanya attracted a wide and devoted following because of his argumentative brilliance and personal charisma.

  2. Prabhupada's Success in the West

    1. Although most Indians views the Hare Krishna movement with amusement and as an American phenomenon, this group cannot be divorced from its Hindu roots in India.

    2. Abhay Charan De Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) founded this organization, whose formal name is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in India.

      1. Prabhupada, who was born Abhay Charan, was a successful pharmaceutical businessman in Bengal before he renounced his secular life and commenced a lifelong devotion to the teachings of Caitanya and worship of Krisna.

      2. In 1944 he conveyed his religious views in English in a magazine entiteled Back to Godhead. At this time he was referred to as ''Bhaktivedanta,'' which means ''devotional knowledge.''

      3. In 1965 he came to New York City and established temples throughout the United States. Three years later his young American disciples honored him with the name ''Prabhupada,'' which means ''at shows feet masters sit.''

    3. Before his death, Prabhupada personally selected twenty-four senior devotees to serve on the Governing Body COmmission, which directs the operationa and missionary work of the organization.

      1. Instead of picking a successor, as is customary in Hindu tradition, Prabhupada left his movement in the hands of several disciples.

      2. Following Prabhupada's death in 1977 in India, members of ISKCON have continued to spread the teachings of their master throughout the world.

      3. ''The Hare Krishna Movement has become established in India at the Krishna pilgrimage center, Vrindavan, where American devotees attempt to convert Indians to the Movement.''  (22) 

    4. Most members of ISKCON are Westerners, who have adopted indian names and donned saffron garments, with the men shaving their heads in the traditon of Indian holy men.

    5. Their temples are replicas of those constructed in India, and in them they worship the image of deities.
The above information is quoted from Hinduism, TM & Hare Krishna, by J. Isamu Yamamoto. The book is part of the 16-volume Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements

- Footnotes -
  • 20. [Back to text] Cornelia Dimmitt and J.A. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978), 59.
  • 21. [Back to text] In reaction to the early Buddhist movement in India, the Hindus sought to diminish the Buddhis's impact by including him as an avatar of Visnu, but asserting that the Buddha came to deceive those who where unfit to be true adherents of the Vedic tradition.
  • 22. [Back to text] Juergensmeyer, ''Hinduism in America,'' in The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions, 321.

Research Resources


Non-Christian Can it Be That the Hare Krishnas Are Not Hindu? Hinduism Today, Oct. 1998
Secular The International Society for Krishna Consciousness as an Addictive Organization by Nori J. Muster, former ISKCON public relations secretary, and author of Betrayal of the Spirit


Secular Betrayal of the Spirit : My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement (Contra) by Nori J. Muster, former ISKCON public relations secretary. Author's synopsis. See also the ''Betrayal of the Spirit'' website
This is a highly significant work for scholars and students of new religious movements. Not only was Muster a devoted member but she also worked for a decade in the hierarchy of the Western world headquarters in Los Angeles of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as a public relations secretary and editor of the organization's newspaper, the ISKCON World Review. Her book recounts her initial joy and excitement at being at the nexus of communications with the outside world, finding a fulfilling spiritual path as an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and also her growing disenchantment with the Hare Krishna movement as media tales spread of drug dealing, weapons stockpiling, deceptive fund-raising, child abuse, competition among American gurus, and murder. But it was over the movement's rigid patriarchal hierarchy and paternalistic treatment of women that Muster ultimately resigned. Her story proves an insight into the decline of a movement that has lost 95 percent of its original members.
A reader's review posted at Amazon.com

Buyer Beware: Ironically, the book is endorsed by Dr. Arnold S. Weiss, director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Study of A Course in Miracles - a channeled, three-volume book that claims the world, sin and sickness are just illusions. According to a press release at Nori Muster's site, "Dr. Weiss critiqued early versions of Betrayal of the Spirit for the author and due to his influence, the book embodies the principles of A Course in Miracles such as forgiveness, faith and unconditional love." Readers ought to be aware of the anti-Biblical beliefs and practices promoted by A Course in Miracles.
Christian Hinduism, TM & Hare Krishna, by J. Isamu Yamamoto.

- Lawsuit (regarding alleged child abuse) -
Secular ''Hare Krishna'' Sued For Child Abuse June 12, 2000 news release from the Law Offices of Windle Turley.
Secular Plaintiff's original complaint in Adobe's .PDF format. You need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader to view the file.
Non-Christian Child Abuse Lawsuit extensive background information, provided by the Hare krsnas website (see description)

» See also: Betrayal of the Spirit

- Legal Decisions -
Secular ISKCON v. Lee 1992 Supreme Court decision stating that airports can fordid are not public areas, and can thus forbid fundraising activities.

- News - Current -
» Hare Krishna News Tracker at Religion News Blog: News about religious cults, sects, alternative religions and related issues.

News Archive

» Database of archived news items
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)

Items added after August, 2002:
» Religion News Blog News Collection, various sources

Older items, not in the searchable database
(May 22, 1999) Hare Krishnas in Yugoslavia feel war's stress
(May 17, 1999) Hare Krishnas denied charter school
(Feb. 22, 1999) Hare Krishna airport solicitations curtailed
(Feb. 21, 1999) Welcome to Lesmahaglow
(Oct. 10, 1998) Religious sect reports abuse of children at its boarding schools
(Oct. 8, 1998) Hare Krishnas lift the lid on history of child abuse

- Profile -


Secular Betrayal of the Spirit : My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement Nori J. Muster's site, named after the title of her book. Includes book excerpts, details of the recent lawsuit alleging child abuse, and related articles.
Non-Christian The Hare Krsnas Includes extensive information regarding the current child abuse lawsuit against ISKCON.
[This] web site was created as an offering to His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in honour of His Centennial. We make this humble offering on behalf of all disciples of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, especially those who no longer find shelter in their Spiritual Master's beloved movement, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It is our hope that this effort will enliven and reunite all of Srila Prabhupada's devotees, in the spirit of Vaisnava association

Secular Krishna Today Magazine Counter-iskcon information by Trancenet. Apparently not being updated.
Non-Christian WWW.CHAKRA.ORG "An Independent, ISKCON-Friendly News Service"
Secular VOICE "[C]ritical and thoughtful articles on the Hare Krishna movement"

VOICE mandates to speak freely our version of reality in gurukula. This is presented as a growing number of critical and thoughtful articles on the Hare Krishna movement. VOICE is and will remain autonomous and non-affiliated. We are, according to our research, the only group to be talking publicly about our traumatic childhoods in Iskcon. There is a need for our experiences of abuse and neglect, over the past 25 years, to be heard.
VOICE homepage, accessed June 18, 2000

- Timeline -

History of Hare Krishna
1896 A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the Hare Krishna movement, is born in Calcutta.

1933 Prabhupada becomes a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent Vedic scholar.

1965 Prabhupada, aged 69, travels to New York on a freight ship to bring Hare Krishna philosophy to the West.

1967 Mantra-rock festival influenced by Krishna chants held in San Francisco: the first Rathayatra festival.

1968 International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) established in Britain.

1969 George Harrison becomes a devotee, releases a record of its mantras. 1971 First Hare Krishna school, or gurukula, established in Dallas, Texas.

1973 Harrison buys a manor in the Hertfordshire village of Letchmore Heath and gives it to the movement.

1976 Dallas school forced to close by state authorities after allegations of child abuse.

1977 Prabhupada dies after creating worldwide movement.

1990 Boy George cites Hare Krishna as a factor in conquering his heroin addiction.

1995 Villagers of Letchmore Heath complain about noise from festivals at the Harrison manor. Iskcon prosecuted by Hertsmere council and fined. 1996 Ten former Krishna pupils claim they were beaten, caned and denied medical care at school. Some said they were forced into homosexual sex at knifepoint.

1998 The movement acknowledges in its official journal that sexual, physical and emotional abuse was prevalent in its boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s.

2000 44 former students of Iskcon schools across the United States and India file a 274m case against the movement, accusing senior leaders of sexual, physical and emotional torture dating back to 1972.