Recently I saw that the Hare Krishnas are now preaching on the BBC.
Ever the activist, I wrote a message to the producer to protest, because they are a cult who follow their founder to the letter and the founder was not a very nice man. I invited him to explore the tags on this website I love because all the quotes point to the exact quote on an archive run by the Hare Krishnas themselves.
The producer has come back to me saying “I’m sure she doesn’t hold those objectionable ideas” and “we need to include voices from other Hindu traditions and please suggest some names”. (I’m not sure about the legalities of publishing a full reply to a comment on a published programme, so I didn’t, please enlighten me…)
So this is what I sent back and it’s the most productive thing I’ve done all day apart from watching someone sew a tailored jacked (had a tough day yesterday but we don’t talk about that).
Thank you for your reply to my mail.
You are probably right when you say that Jahnavi does not hold these objectionable ideas. I know she is very nice. But my point is that the lending of credibility means that the founder’s soundbites, the one with the objectionable ideas, will also be broadcast, even on this show. There he is, in the fact sheet.
Title: Srimad Bhadavatam, Canto 10, Text 59.26
Author: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (trans.)
Publisher: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Every member of the organisation is required to study his words as absolute truth in lectures and by reading his books as part of their religious practice. There are statues of him on thrones worshipped as part of the programme in every temple, his name is on every website. At Bhaktivedanta Manor, there is a statue of him still worshipped in the rooms he stayed at before he died in 1977.
Since you invite them as “Hindus” you might be interested that the “we are Hindus, so we must be respectable” strategy is only done in the UK. They don’t call themselves Hindus in other European countries because it doesn’t lend them credibility there. Also, the founder was always keen to point out that they are not Hindus.
I could go deeper into the psychology of the organisation. Bhaktivedanta’s preaching laid the foundations for an extreme “us and them” mentality. He even invented a concept, “Mayavadi”, for someone who does not worship Krishna in the same way he does and it appears as “the enemy of Krishna, and therefore the worst” on most pages of his books. (You can google it to get some of that vibe.) He kept his disciples dependent on him and from going to other gurus, even his godbrothers, and created a powerful cult that still survives by opportunism (see above.)
I have a nice sensationalist story to end on, on the subject of “but they have changed from when they murdered and abused children routinely and they are so nice and above board now”
The former temple president of the Bhaktivedanta Manor, who was found guilty of beating children, once gave a lecture about exactly how nice and above board the Hare Krishnas now are. I was in the audience with another about 200 people and after his talk I called him out on the fact that he was on the board for the charity that runs the Hindu schools of the UK, despite his child abuse past, just because he had made sure nobody could connect his two identities. (He resigned after that, but it did require someone to know where to look.)
Dammit I just thought I should have also included this very nice website by one of their gurus who in 2013 still thought the one where the founder said girls shouldn’t be educated was the best thing ever.