Hinduism ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness)
by
Kenneth Valpey
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0130

Introduction

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded in 1966 in New York, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda (b. 1896–d. 1977). Rooted in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava (or Caitanya Vaiṣṇava) tradition of Bengal (generally identified as a Hindu tradition that worships Vishnu or Krishna as supreme), ISKCON is identified by its followers as an authorized branch of the larger family tree of disciple-based succession descending from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu (b. 1486–d. 1533), and its immediate affiliation to this tree is through Bhaktivedānta Swami’s guru, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura (b. 1874–d. 1937). Bhaktivedānta Swami rapidly gained a following in the early 1970s, initially in the United States and then in several other countries worldwide, in pursuit of the teachings in his several books—translations and commentaries of the Bhagavad Gita, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa), and Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Central to this teaching has been the practice of regular meditational recitation or singing—individually and in groups—of a mantra consisting of the names Krishna, Rāma, and Hari/Harā (hare krishna hare krishna, krishna krishna hare hare, hare rāma hare rāma, rāma rāma hare hare), as a form of addressing and worshiping the supreme lord, identified as Krishna. The recitation of this mantra is also a means of practicing bhakti-yoga, devotional engagement with the divine, as a process of self-realization and God-realization that emphasizes relationality with a supreme being as ultimate reality (in contrast with nondualist Vedantic traditions, especially that of Śaṇkara, the 8th-century philosopher of advaita-vedānta). In the few decades of ISKCON’s existence, a considerable presence (despite relatively small numbers of adherents) has been felt in many countries of the world, as second- and third-generation members steadily reconfigure ISKCON from a marginal “sect” to an established religious and cultural organization. Relatively few scholars have given attention to ISKCON up to the present day; yet there is considerable material to engage in studies of ISKCON if one includes articles and books written by current and former members of ISKCON. In this bibliography one will find several such references, facilitating the viewing of “insider” perspectives along with “outsider” perspectives. It may be noted, however, that some of the “insiders” here included are also academically trained and currently engaged in the academy.

General Overviews

ISKCON was by no means the only Hindu-oriented organization appearing in the West in the mid-1960s, yet it received attention from the public and from scholars as a strikingly visible mission that the media began to label as a “cult.” Bromley and Shinn 1989, aiming to offer a scholarly counterbalance to a negative “cult” designation, has several articles focusing on the Western context of ISKCON, in contrast to the very short dictionary overview provided in Gietz 2006, which touches on five of the society’s most essential features. Somewhat dated but still useful and very readable is Knott 1986 for a short book-length overview that gives attention to ISKCON’s Indian/Hindu roots, to be contrasted with the three-page representation offered in Lundskow 2008 in the context of globalized religion. Rochford 1985 represents a relatively early sociological study of ISKCON in America that gives attention to gender issues, whereas Squarcini and Fizzotti 2004 offers a broader and later survey that is quite insightful with respect to changing membership and organizational dynamics. One example of an evangelical Christian representation of “Hare Krishna” (ISKCON) is seen in Yamamoto 1998.

  • Bromley, D. G., and L. D. Shinn, eds. Krishna Consciousness in the West. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1989.

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    A collection of scholarly articles that emerged from a conference in 1985 at ISKCON’s New Vrindavan community, West Virginia, entitled “Krishna Consciousness in the West: A Multidisciplinary Critique,” organized to “offer a more comprehensive and balanced perspective on ISKCON . . .” (p. 14) than was available at the time.

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    • Gietz, Karl-Peter. “Hare Krishna Movement (ISKCON).” In The Brill Dictionary of Religion. Vol. 2. Edited by Kocku von Stuckrad, 831–833. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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      Though extremely short, this article offers a clear basic snapshot of ISKCON in five sections: History, Schisms, Organization, Teaching, and Ritual Practice and Manner of Life—a picture that is largely accurate, though some details are dated.

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      • Knott, Kim. My Sweet Lord: The Hare Krishna Movement. Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian, 1986.

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        Aims to contrast the “Hare Krishna movement” with stereotyped “New Religious Movements” in Britain in the mid-1980s. Still useful as a general overview and contextualization of ISKCON’s key features and self-understanding. Includes an account of an effort to develop a non-monastic congregation, “Friends of Lord Krishna” (FOLK).

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        • Lundskow, George N. The Sociology of Religion: A Substantive and Transdisciplinary Approach. Los Angeles: Pine Forge, 2008.

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          In the context of a chapter entitled “Religion and the Forces of Globalization,” a three-page representation of “Hare Krishna” as an “alternative religion” rather than a “cult,” being “a variation of mainstream Hinduism in India” (p. 347) that challenges American consumer mentality, yet is itself part of a complex process of multiculturalism amid globalization. See “Hare Krishna: Indian Religion Arrives in the United States” (pp. 346–349).

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          • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. Hare Krishna in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985.

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            A case study of early ISKCON in America, focusing on those who became committed members, ISKCON’s development and “career,” and the broader social landscape in which it expanded. Includes a case study of a particular woman recruit (chapter 4) followed by an analysis of gender differences with respect to recruitment.

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            • Squarcini, Federico, and Eugenio Fizzotti. Hare Krishna. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004.

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              Provides a brief overview of ISKCON’s early history, identifying three phases of development; also overviews practices and rituals, then doctrines and theology; concludes with a chapter on “directions, developments, and areas of controversy” (p. vi). Includes several black and white photos and excellent notes and references.

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              • Yamamoto, J. Isamu. Hinduism, TM and Hare Krishna. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

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                A short evangelical Christian manual in outline form addressed to Christians apparently to prepare them for “witnessing” to Hindus, including Krishna devotees, members of ISKCON. Attempts to highlight points of similarity as well as differences between Hindu/Hare Krishna and Christian beliefs and values.

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                Historical Contexts

                The works included here explore aspects of ISKCON’s relevant historical contexts and its development over approximately four decades. On one side, scholars consider ISKCON’s roots in India, a complex web of cultural and religious traditions out of which Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism emerged in the 16th century. On the other side, scholars are attentive to the West’s cultural situation into which ISKCON has settled and the ways ISKCON members have negotiated local situations of varying resistance or acceptance. There is also discernable a process of intellectual preparation for Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava missionaries who precipitated the migration of the tradition to the West. A very broad historical contextualization, from ancient times, is provided in Eck 1979. The migration of Eastern thought to the West is the focus in Basham 1983. Rosen 1992 provides several scholars’ views on Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, with some reference to ISKCON. Three further works—Brooks 1998, Hopkins 1989, and Das 1999—attend specifically to the Bengal and Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava roots of ISKCON, the last focusing on a particular prominent individual predecessor preceptor, Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda (b. 1838–d. 1914), known for his Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava missionizing activities in Bengal. Flood 1995 considers ISKCON in the context of modern notions of “Hinduism,” and Baird 1988 provides an account of early ISKCON’s pursuit of legitimization within the American legal system and wider society.

                • Baird, Robert D. “ISKCON and the Struggle for Legitimation.” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 70.3 (Autumn 1988): 157–170.

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                  An account of ISKCON attempting to gain legitimacy in North America through the court system, interaction with scholars and academics, and by the society being more accommodating and accepting of other faiths and the world generally. Illustrates ISKCON in North America gradually transforming from a sect to a denomination.

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                  • Basham, A. L. “Interview with A. L. Basham.” In Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: Five Distinguished Scholars on the Krishna Movement in the West. Edited by S. J. Gelberg, 162–195. New York: Grove, 1983.

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                    Interview with the editor; Basham sets the “Hare Krishna movement” in the context of the general migration of Eastern thought and religion to the West, highlighting the movement’s emphasis on explicitly religious ideas and practices in contrast to other—more subdued and requiring less commitment—currents of “mystical” orientation.

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                    • Brooks, Charles R. “The Blind Man Meets the Lame Man: ISKCON’s Place in the Bengal Vaishnava Tradition of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies 6.2 (March–April 1998): 5–30.

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                      Historically contextualizes ISKCON’s presence in Vrindavan, a pilgrimage town in north India of central importance to Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. At issue is how and why ISKCON, despite its considerable Western membership, has found acceptance by Vrindavan residents. Based on fieldwork done in 1982–1983 in Vrindavan.

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                      • Das, Shukavak N. Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Vaishnava Theologian. Los Angeles: Sanskrit Religions Institute, 1999.

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                        A study of an important 19th-century intellectual and missionary precursor to ISKCON, attentive to theological reflections on the Caitanyaite tradition in the face of modern critical historical thought and Christian critiques of Hindu traditions.

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                        • Eck, Diana L. “Krsna Consciousness in Historical Perspective.” Back to Godhead 14.10 (1979): 26–29.

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                          Situates ISKCON in the context of India’s ancient religious history going back to the time of Krishna speaking the Bhagavad Gita more than two thousand years ago and then to the bhakti renaissance begun by Śrī Caitanya over five hundred years ago.

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                          • Flood, Gavin. “Hinduism, Vaisnavism, and ISKCON: Authentic Traditions or Scholarly Constructions?ISKCON Communciations Journal 3.2 (December 1995): 5–15.

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                            The author argues that, despite the difficulty in neatly defining Hinduism, there are aspects within the tradition that identify it as a specific religion. ISKCON, he claims, can legitimately trace its origins to these common aspects, although it can be more neatly identified with Caitanyaite Vaiṣṇavism originating in Bengal and Orissa.

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                            • Hopkins, Thomas J. “The Social and Religious Background for Transmission of Gaudiya Vaisnavism to the West.” In Krishna Consciousness in the West. Edited by D. G. Bromley and L. D. Shinn, 35–54. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1989.

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                              Identifies important threads of social and religious significance from the 19th century in Bengal making intellectually and socially possible the missionizing thrust that would lead to the creation of ISKCON. Includes two helpful charts illustrating Bengal social structures and 19th-century Bengal leaders and movements.

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                              • Rosen, Steven J., ed. Vaiṣṇavism: Contemporary Scholars Discuss the Gauḍīya Tradition. New York: Folk, 1992.

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                                Twenty-five interviews with prominent scholars of Vaiṣṇava traditions, including Gauḍīya. A “reader-friendly” entry into multiple facets of the tradition of which ISKCON is a part. Note that at least one reviewer warns that the book has some possibly significant alterations from the original interviews.

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                                Historical Overview

                                A comprehensive history of ISKCON is yet to be written. However, a useful starting point for understanding ISKCON’s development from its inception to the beginning of the 21st century is the first two parts (eight articles) of Bryant and Ekstrand 2004, which includes several articles by ISKCON members (some former members) reflecting on various aspects of ISKCON history, life, thought, and practice. Gupta 2005 is a somewhat negative review of this book, noting that it is dated and not altogether representative. Cole and Dwyer 2007 provides articles reflecting on ISKCON’s establishing itself after one generation and its members’ attention to contemporary issues. Moving back in time, Gelberg 1983 shows scholarly thinking about ISKCON five years after the demise of ISKCON’s founder, Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda. Hopkins 1998, largely addressing ISKCON members, argues for the importance to them of studying ISKCON’s history. Klostermaier 1980 offers a structural parallel of ISKCON with fundamentalist Christianity. Shinn 1983 is useful to see how a scholar defended ISKCON’s legitimacy and to argue against its being labeled a “cult” in the early 1980s. Das 1986 provides an alternative voice as one primary source that could be relevant in the construction of a comprehensive history of ISKCON by one ISKCON member articulating his disillusionment with ISKCON leadership at the time (prior to reforms instituted in 1986–1987).

                                • Bryant, Edwin, and Maria Ekstrand, eds. The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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                                  Twenty-four authors, almost all either current or former members of ISKCON, consider several aspects of (mainly American) ISKCON, twenty-seven years after Swami Prabhupāda’s demise. Some authors represent opposing views on controversial issues related generally to continuation of ISKCON and the wider Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition in contemporary, multicultural contexts.

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                                  • Cole, Richard J., and Graham Dwyer, eds. The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2007.

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                                    Includes ten articles by scholars and ISKCON members. A retrospective look at ISKCON forty years since its founding, focusing on its history, changing demographics, its Western context, members’ dreams of Prabhupāda, ritual and chanting practices of devotees, ISKCON’s search for identity, and the place of feminine theology in the tradition.

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                                    • Das, Sulocana. The Guru Business. 1986.

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                                      An emotional exposé by a disenfranchised ISKCON member (now deceased), who had taken issue with ISKCON leadership. He was specifically at odds with Kirtanananda Swami (b. 1937–d. 2011), whom he held responsible for the breakup of his marriage. The critique is similar to other embittered members’ views of the movement during a period referred to as the “zonal ācārya period,” 1977–1987.

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                                      • Gelberg, Stephen J. [Śubhananda Dasa], ed. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: Five Distinguished Scholars on the Krishna Movement in the West. New York: Grove, 1983.

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                                        Interviews with Harvey Cox, Larry D. Shinn, Thomas J. Hopkins, A. L. Basham, and Shrivatsa Goswami. A wide range of ISKCON-related topics discussed, related to early post-Prabhupāda years.

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                                        • Gupta, Ravi M. “Book Review of the Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant.” ISKCON Communications Journal 11 (2005): 81–83.

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                                          Notes an interesting implicit “insider/outsider” issue in light of the book’s several authors’ present or former commitment to ISKCON, but finds little fresh or original scholarship on ISKCON represented, lacking attention to significant developments. Is particularly critical of two articles by Ekkehard Lorenz, for their (mis)representations of Swami Prabhupāda.

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                                          • Hopkins, Thomas J. “Why Should ISKCON Study Its Own History?ISKCON Communications Journal 6.2 (1998): 1–6.

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                                            Hopkins addresses ISKCON members, calling upon them to thoughtfully engage with their post-Prabhupāda history in order to learn from mistakes, and to begin the process of becoming theologically articulate in light of their founder’s teachings for the sake of creating a viable future for the institution.

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                                            • Klostermaier, Klaus K. “Will India’s Past Be America’s Future? Reflections on the Caitanya Movement and its Potentials.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 15.1–2 (January and April 1980): 94–103.

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                                              Although it is derived from 16th-century Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, Klostermaier argues that the modern-day Hare Krishna movement, with its Western converts, has more in common, structurally, with fundamentalist Christianity than with traditional Hindu religions. The focus on “consciousness” is held as a reason the movement attracted young Western followers from the 1960s.

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                                              • Shinn, Larry D. “Interview.” In Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: Five Distinguished Scholars on the Krishna Movement in the West. Edited by Stephen J. Gelberg, 61–100. New York: Grove, 1983.

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                                                Makes sense of an Eastern, or Indian, tradition/religion often seen as alien and dangerous in America of the 1980s. Argues against the stereotypes attributed to cults through illustrating that ISKCON is representative of the broader bhakti movement within Hinduism and is thus not a “new religion” in that context.

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                                                Specific Locations

                                                Of ISKCON’s more than four hundred centers—large and small—worldwide, few have been given scholarly attention. Michael 1989 focuses on the New Vrindavan community in West Virginia, established in 1968. Like Michael, Knott 2000 gives attention to “strategies” of prosyletizing in the United Kingdom, whereas Nye 2001 concentrates on ISKCON’s main temple in the United Kingdom, Bhaktivedanta Manor, and its protracted struggle for zoning permission to continue as a public temple. In a much different key, Buniatyan 2007, written by an ISKCON member in Russia, dramatically recounts state and church persecutions of ISKCON members. Showing that some ISKCON centers continue to face challenges in gaining local acceptance, the Kazakhstani Online Petition reports on an ongoing dispute and legal proceedings to retain confiscated land in Kazakhstan. ISKCON Mayapur, though not explicitly providing history of the center, may be viewed as ongoing history-making, especially as it reports the current construction of its massive temple. In a dramatic and rather sensationalist reportage style, Hubner and Gruson 1988 provides details about seriously problematic behaviors in ISKCON-USA in the early 1980s that called for reforms by 1986.

                                                • Buniatyan, Gagik. Salted Bread: The True Story of Two Good Friends. Badger, CA: Torchlight, 2007.

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                                                  As told to Sarkis Buniatyan by Gagik Buniatyan. An “insider” account of severe persecutions—by the state, then later by church authorities—of ISKCON members in Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, by a member who was himself imprisoned for two years for illegal distribution of religious literature. Includes several photos.

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                                                  • Dasa, Radha Mohan. Kazakhstani Online Petition.

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                                                    This website includes several news articles on the Kazakhstani Hare Krishnas’ land dispute with the Kazakhstan government. The articles, by several different authors, are organized from the most recent (January 2010) to the earliest (November 2006).

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                                                    • Hubner, John, and Lindsey Gruson. Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness and the Hare Krishnas. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.

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                                                      Claiming to be based on interviews and court trial transcripts, through “reconstructed dialogues” describes several troubled situations and events involving ISKCON communities in the United States during the early 1980s. Of possible interest for study of this period of “zonal acaryas” and the beginnings of a “guru reform” movement in 1986.

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                                                      • ISKCON Mayapur.

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                                                        An internal website for the international headquarters of worldwide ISKCON, maintained by ISKCON Mayapur. Serves greater ISKCON by providing ISKCON-Mayapur news, accommodation information, and links to recorded video lectures on sacred texts by resident or visiting senior members. Mainly contains ephemera, but nevertheless provides a source for observing a major ISKCON community’s current development.

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                                                        • Knott, Kim. “In Every Town and Village: Adaptive Strategies in the Communication of Krishna Consciousness in the UK, the First Thirty Years.” Social Compass 47 (June 2000): 153–167.

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                                                          Recognizing communication as both an important theological end in itself and means to that end in ISKCON, highlights its shifts (over thirty years) from music, Indian origins, and appeal to the young, eventually to formal adult education initiatives and interfaith encounters.

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                                                          • Michael, R. Blake. “Heaven, West Virginia: Legitimation Techniques of the New Vrindavan Community.” In Krishna Consciousness in the West. Edited by David G. Bromley and Larry D. Shinn, 188–216. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1989.

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                                                            Highlights difficulties encountered by this rural community in relation to its West Virginia neighbors and its legitimating responses through theological and scholarly dialogue; conformity to secular values; and service to the immigrant South Asian community. Also discusses internal self-legitimation drawn from within ancient Vaiṣṇava tradition.

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                                                            • Nye, Malory. Multiculturalism and Minority Religions in Britain: Krishna Consciousness, Religious Freedom, and the Politics of Location. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2001.

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                                                              A detailed account and analysis of a legal and political dispute (stretching from 1985 to 1996) between Bhaktivedanta Manor and the township of Letchmore Heath (where the Manor is located), over permission for public worship; several contexts frame the study, from broad notions of religious space-place-location, to specific political circumstances.

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                                                              Sociological Dimensions

                                                              A substantial percentage of scholarship done on ISKCON has been by sociologists or has articulated sociological interests and concerns, especially in light of ISKCON’s “new religious movement” identity, the special lifestyle of its members, and its marginality in relation to “mainstream” societies. Judah 1974 is one of the earliest such studies, attempting to contextualize ISKCON’s success in relation to America’s 1960s and 1970s “counterculture.” Rochford 1999 and Rochford 2001 show efforts to document changing attitudes about leadership and organizational relations to householder members among ISKCON members around the turn of the 21st century. Dāsa 1999 represents a perception, from the author’s position as communications officer, of a gradual positive change of perceptions about ISKCON by the end of the 20th century (in the United States). Squarcini 2000 and Squarcini 2002 analyze dynamics of identity establishment and change within ISKCON and the consequences of power shifts after the death of Bhaktivedānta Swami. Gressett 2009 provides the most recent full-length study of ISKCON (largely focused on ISKCON-USA) with respect to changing individual and group identity and considering the institution’s development in light of market theory. Finally, Dāsa 2009 overviews four ISKCON-related “schisms” and considers them in light of Weberian post-charismatic institutional religion.

                                                              • Dāsa, Anūttama. “Panel Discussion: Can Cultic Groups Change: The Case of ISKCON.” ISKCON Communications Journal 7.2 (December 1999): 41–52.

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                                                                An exchange between members of an anti-cult group, the American Family Foundation, and two ISKCON members, who field questions about issues such as new recruits’ communication with parents, ISKCON’s mechanisms for preventing and dealing with child abuse, and treatment of women members.

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                                                                • Dāsa, Braja Bihārī. “Social Theory and Schisms in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.” ISKCON Studies Journal 1 (May 2009): 59–76.

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                                                                  Identifies and sketches the history of four ISKCON-related “schisms” and analyzes them in terms of charismatic leadership, Rational Choice Theory, Social Game Theory, and the notion of “religious capital,” in light of Weber’s analysis of post-charismatic institutional religion. Concludes with mention of recent reconciliation attempts between ISKCON and some splinter groups.

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                                                                  • Gressett, Michael James. “From Krishna Cult to American Church: The Dialectical Quest for Spiritual Dwelling in the Modern Krishna Movement in the West.” PhD diss., University of Florida, 2009.

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                                                                    Shows American ISKCON’s historical trajectory (in its first two generations) from a marginal “cult” to a somewhat mainstream “church,” analyzing data—especially from an ISKCON community in northern Florida—in light of religious market theory such as cost benefit analysis, with chapters on women, first- and second-generation, and Hindu immigrants.

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                                                                    • Judah, J. Stillson. Hare Krishna and the Counterculture. New York: Wiley, 1974.

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                                                                      Heralded as “the first major study” of the Hare Krishna movement in the West, attempts (with questionable success) to position it sociologically as an expression of the American 1960s–1970s “counterculture.” Includes interviews with some early ISKCON members.

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                                                                      • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. “Prabhupāda Centennial Survey: A Summary of the Final Report.” ISKCON Communications Journal 7.1 (June 1999): 11–26.

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                                                                        Discussess a survey commissioned by ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) that confronts many of the challenges of the GBC’s leadership of ISKCON. Illustrates an ISKCON that has moved beyond its monastic model of the 1970s and 1980s by focusing upon its more social needs.

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                                                                        • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. “The Changing Face of ISKCON: Family, Congregationalism, and Privatisation.” ISKCON Communications Journal 9.1 (2001): 1–11.

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                                                                          Describes the now well-known fact that ISKCON has changed from a movement of largely unmarried members dependent on ISKCON organization and facilities for their maintenance, to one that is now congregationally based, with married members having private, ISKCON-independent sources of income. Considers important consequences of this shift.

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                                                                          • Squarcini, Federico. “In Search of Identity within the Hare Krishna Movement: Memory, Oblivion and Thought Style.” Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion 47.2 (June 2000): 253–271.

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                                                                            Applying Ludwik Fleck’s theory of “thought style” as a social phenomenon to ISKCON facing important changes, observes how it is “facing a diametric shift in its paradigm of identity” (p. 261) to one of “more humanized and realistic approaches” (p. 261) in recent years. Includes valuable bibliographic information relevant to ISKCON in endnotes.

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                                                                            • Squarcini, Federico. “‘Power of Mysticism’ and ‘Mysticism of Power’: Understanding the Sociopolitical History of a Neo-Hindu Movement.” Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion 49 (September 2002): 343–364.

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                                                                              A reflection on Weberian categories of charisma and routinization in light of Swami Prabhupāda’s definition of a “completely perfect mystic” (p. 343). Focuses on ISKCON’s post-charismatic efforts in management and preservation of the “religious fields” created by the founder’s charisma, leading to the (mis)application of power in the early post-charismatic period (1977–c. 1987).

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                                                                              Americas

                                                                              Early studies of ISKCON-USA are Shinn 1987, framed within the “anti-cult” activities threatening ISKCON, and from another perspective of concern about ISKCON’s future, Rochford 1985. Two decades later, Rochford 2007 documents significant changes and challenges, but these findings are challenged in Gressett 2008. Looking at a specific temple, ISKCON-Philadelphia, Zaidman 2000 presents findings about the process of integration of Indian immigrants within the community. Guerriero 2000 provides a look into the processes of mutual influence between ISKCON-Brazil and wider Brazilian culture.

                                                                              • Gressett, Michael. “Review, Hare Krishna Transformed by E. Burke Rochford Jr..” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 76.1 (2008): 189–192.

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                                                                                Surveys Rochford’s earlier and later scholarship on ISKCON, applauding his argument regarding the religious culture of ISKCON, yet finds the book “rife with inaccuracies” (p. 191) and notes that “the range of voices is too narrow to give an accurate picture of a new religious movement—instead of a new religious institution” (p. 192). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                • Guerriero, Silas. “L’ISKCON au Brésil: La transformation occidentale d’une Religion védique et l’incorporation de ses caractéristiques culturelles à la société locale.” Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion 47.2 (June 2000): 241–251.

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                                                                                  An account of ISKCON Brazil emphasizing mutual influences of the Hare Krishna movement and Brazilian culture and religion.

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                                                                                  • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. Hare Krishna in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                    A sociological analysis of ISKCON, its development, challenges, and future prospects, particularly in the context of North America. Informative in that it was one of very few detailed analyses of the movement at that time, some information of which is today dated.

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                                                                                    • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. Hare Krishna Transformed. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                      The book is an elaboration and further organization of research undertaken by the author over the three decades he has studied the movement. A valuable resource for its analysis of ISKCON-USA’s development and internal challenges.

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                                                                                      • Shinn, Larry D. The Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1987.

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                                                                                        In the context of 1980s American “cult” anxieties, aims to show that ISKCON’s mission is rooted solidly in Indian Vaiṣṇava tradition, and that it does not conform to cult stereotypes. Explores the question of which, if either, term applies—“conversion” or “brainwashing”—to the dynamics of commitment in ISKCON.

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                                                                                        • Zaidman, Nurir. “The Integration of Indian Immigrants to Temples Run by North Americans.” Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion 47.2 (June 2000): 205–219.

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                                                                                          Following a “cultural pluralism” model of integration, examines Indian processes of integration within the “semiautonomous social field” (p. 206) of the ISKCON-Philadelphia temple, based on 1990–1994 research that included the use of questionnaires. Highlights differences in outlook between ethnic Indians and Western ISKCON members and the ways these differences have been negotiated.

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                                                                                          Europe and Asia

                                                                                          Brooks 1989 examines social interactions of western ISKCON members and local Indians in the pilgrimage town of Vrindavan. In the context of Hinduism in Bali, Indonesia, Howe 2001 considers ISKCON-Bali with respect to its relationship to local Hindu traditions. In Europe, Jaźwiński 2000 (in Polish) examines the complexities of ISKCON’s development in central and eastern Europe; similarly Kamarás 2000 focuses on ISKCON-Hungary (which includes a large farm community). Nye 1997 considers how relations have developed between ISKCON and Hindus in Britain toward the end of the 1990s.

                                                                                          • Brooks, Charles R. The Hare Krishnas in India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                            An ethnographic study, using “symbolic interactionism” theory as its basis, of interactions between Vrindavan residents, pilgrims, and ISKCON members (largely Westerners) in the pilgrimage town of Vrindavan, India. Though now somewhat dated, it narrates several interesting and germane episodes of interaction and offers valuable conceptualization for considering an ongoing process.

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                                                                                            • Howe, Leo. “Hare Krishna in Bali: Mad for God.” In Hinduism & Hierarchy in Bali. By Leo Howe, 184–189. Oxford: James Currey, 2001.

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                                                                                              Claims that from 1984 “to this day” ISKCON is illegal in Bali. Makes comparisons (mainly contrasting) with the Balinese Sai Baba organization and practices, and with local Hindu and adat (indigenous) religion, and discusses Balinese public attitudes toward Balinese ISKCON members.

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                                                                                              • Jaźwiński, Przemysław. Międzynarodowe Towarzystwo Świadomości Kryszny (ISKCON) w Europie Środkowej I Wschodniej w latach 1970–1988: Zarys monografii. Krakow, Poland: Zakład Wydawniczy “Nomos,” 2000.

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                                                                                                Delineates multidimensional characteristics of ISKCON in central and eastern Europe, 1970–1998. Aims to counter what are considered biased representations of ISKCON in these regions from the media and academia. In Polish.

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                                                                                                • Kamarás, István. “Conscience de Krishna: Interpretation Hongroise.” Social Compass: International Review of Sociology of Religion 47.2 (June 2000): 221–239.

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                                                                                                  A history of the Hare Krishna movement in Hungary from 1995 to 1997. Issues addressed in this study include recruitment of Hungarians; motives for joining; adherence or conversion?; comparison of values of believers with others; relation to wider Hungarian society; and dialogue between Hungarian Krishna believers and Hungarian and European cultures. In French.

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                                                                                                  • Nye, Malory. “ISKCON and Hindus in Britain: Some Thoughts on a Developing Relationship.” ISKCON Communications Journal 5.2 (December 1997): 5–13.

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                                                                                                    Considers ISKCON as well positioned to influence the debate about Hinduism and Hindu identity in the broader Hindu community. This is the case even though ISKCON and other Hindu groups are in competition and sometimes have differing opinions about Hinduism. ISKCON’s advantages are its proselytizing and efficient management systems.

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                                                                                                    Psychological Dimensions

                                                                                                    A small number of scholars have focused attention on psychological dimensions of ISKCON with respect to members’ experiences. Gordon 1989 surveys some of this attention by professionals, finding it inconclusive regarding members’ anticipated divergence from psychological norms. Wolf 1999 reports on a single study conducted to test the efficacy of the society’s main spiritual practice, the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, showing positive effects. Brooks 1990 attends closely to cultural difference between Western ISKCON members and local Indians in the matter of their respective representations of sacred emotive ideals articulated by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava and other Vaiṣṇava traditions. Most recently, Čargonja 2012, taking an anthropological/ethnographic approach, considers ISKCON members’ self-representations of “religious experience” in light of the tradition’s emphasis on emotional-aesthetic theological understanding.

                                                                                                    • Brooks, Charles R. “Hare Krishna, Radhe Shyam: The Cross-Cultural Dynamics of Mystical Emotions in Brindaban.” In Divine Passions: The Social Construction of Emotion in India. Edited by Owen M. Lynch, 262–285. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                      An analysis of largely Western ISKCON devotees’ interaction with the inhabitants of Vrindavan, India, during the 1980s, in the context of issues surrounding the varied approaches both parties have in relating to the loving emotions, described in sacred texts, between Krishna and the cowherd girls of Vrindavan.

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                                                                                                      • Čargonja, Hrvoje. “Ethnographic Research of Religious Experience in the Hare Krishna Movement.” PhD diss., University of Zagreb, 2012.

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                                                                                                        A phenomenological study of embodied aesthetics of religious experience in ISKCON. Building on the movement’s Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava emotional-aesthetic theology, the thesis proposes understanding of religious experience as resonance or expansive coherence in the flux of religious emplacement guided by cultural patterns in attending, or aesthetic values of control, intimacy, and play. In English, with extended summary in Croatian.

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                                                                                                        • Gordon, James S. “Psychiatry and Krishna Consciousness.” In Krishna Consciousness in the West. Edited by David G. Bromley and Larry D. Shinn, 238–254. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                          A survey of literature, approaches, and clinical studies (up to about 1985) relevant to the psychological study of ISKCON. Findings showed little if any divergence from specified norms, but the author affirms that all of the tests administered had flaws.

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                                                                                                          • Wolf, David Brian. “Effects of the Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā Mantra on Stress, Depression, and the Three Guṇas.” PhD diss., Florida State University, 1999.

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                                                                                                            The first of its kind study by an ISKCON member, on the positive effects of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra on stress and depression. The analysis is based on the author’s “Vedic theory of personality types” (p. ix) involving the threefold division of “guṇas” identified in classical Sāṁkhya and also incorporates contemporary views on mental health and treatments.

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                                                                                                            Education

                                                                                                            Yadunandana Swami 2009 provides a useful overview of ISKCON’s rather bumpy history regarding its educational institutions, beginning with its first residential primary school (“gurukula”) opened in Dallas, Texas, in 1971. Best 2006 focuses on the issue of job satisfaction among ISKCON teachers (a study intended to serve as reforming measures within ISKCON schools). Gosvami 1984 provides a collection of statements from Bhaktivedānta Swami representing his ideas about how ISKCON’s gurukulas should be run and how students in them should be educated. The websites of ISKCON Ministry of Educational Development and of two specific schools—Bhaktivedanta College (Belgium), affiliated with the University of Chester in the United Kingdom, and Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education (Vrindavan, India)—give a sense of how these institutions are currently running.

                                                                                                            • Best, Edith Elizabeth. “Job Satisfaction of Teachers in Krishna Primary and Secondary Schools.” PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006.

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                                                                                                              Results of a census of all primary and secondary teachers in ISKCON schools worldwide. Measuring ten factors of job satisfaction, the study shows “a statistically significant relationship with overall job satisfaction” (p. iii) for both intrinsic motivating factors and extrinsic factors of job dissatisfaction. Additional factors are also discussed, including demographics.

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                                                                                                              • Bhaktivedanta College.

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                                                                                                                Bhaktivedanta College is an accredited Vaiṣṇava college in Belgium. It was established in 2002 and affiliated initially with the University of Wales, Lampeter, and, since 2011, with the University of Chester, United Kingdom. The college offers non-degree programs and a three-year degree program culminating in a Bachelor of Theology and Religious Studies. Courses are taught by several prominent ISKCON leaders and scholars.

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                                                                                                                • Gosvami, Jagadish, and Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Shrila Prabhupada on Gurukula Dallas, 1984.

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                                                                                                                  A collection of quotes and conversations from Swami Prabhupāda, the founder of ISKCON, interspersed with some simple commentary by the author about the standards, values, and education that should constitute the gurukula system.

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                                                                                                                  • ISKCON Ministry of Educational Development.

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                                                                                                                    A resource site for education within ISKCON, from pre-school to adult levels. ISKCON’s Ministry of Education focuses on the recommendation of principles, guidelines, and values fitting with ISKCON’s mission, especially in the promotion of what it considers to be “brahmanical culture,” centered on theistic devotional practices (bhakti) and reverence for all life.

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                                                                                                                    • Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education.

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                                                                                                                      The Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education is an ISKCON-run, primarily adult education institution that offers seminars, retreats, and semester-long courses in the Vaiṣṇava tradition. The website provides information on upcoming courses, residence in Vrindavan, and how to maintain one’s health in India.

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                                                                                                                      • Yadunandana Swami. “A History of Education in ISKCON.” ISKCON Studies Journal 1 (2009): 77–98.

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                                                                                                                        Identifies several historical phases of ISKCON formal educational efforts, from 1971 onward, discussing the challenges and setbacks, providing several excerpts of interviews with key players in the development of ISKCON schools and other projects. The article concludes by posing and discussing four fundamental questions seen as requiring ISKCON’s attention.

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                                                                                                                        Gurukulas and Day Schools

                                                                                                                        The early history of ISKCON’s primary and secondary schools (recounted in Yadunandana Swami 2009, cited under Education) was fraught with troubles. Three websites provide information on current primary and secondary schools in ISKCON: one from Mayapur Gurukula (West Bengal, India), the ISKCON world headquarters; Bhaktivedanta Academy (Alachua, Florida); and Hare Krishna School (near Murwillumbah, Australia). In contrast to some ISKCON schools that have had to close, each of these are thriving today, mainly serving the children of ISKCON members.

                                                                                                                        Issues in Education and Youth Culture

                                                                                                                        Some ISKCON communities found themselves implicated in issues of child abuse incidents in the schools, including cases of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Scholars and victims identify multiple causes for this, of which the most obvious were a lack of trained and qualified teachers in these schools, beginning with ISKCON’s first boarding school (gurukula), started in 1972 in Dallas, Texas, and later similar ISKCON schools in America and India. Dasa 1998 overviews ISKCON’s initially inadequate responses to child abuse, and Goodstein 1998 reports on ISKCON’s own acknowledgments of abuses. Dasa 2001 is a retrospective view and insightful critique, written by a former pupil in ISKCON’s Vrindavan school; and Smullen 2011 looks at later lives of second-generation members who had attended ISKCON schools. Rochford 1999 examines the cultural challenges for ISKCON children being educated in public schools in the United States.

                                                                                                                        • Dasa, Bharata Shrestha. “ISKCON’s Response to Child Abuse: 1990–1998.” ISKCON Communications Journal 6.1 (June 1998): 71–79.

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                                                                                                                          Initially top-down and inadequate Governing Body Commission (GBC) response to reports of abuse was followed by more grassroots efforts by second-generation adults in the United States, leading to the creation of a GBC Task Force and then a Resolution of Child Protection Policy. Analyzes continuing problems with implementation and reflections on the issue’s wider historical and social contexts.

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                                                                                                                          • Dasa, Yudhisthira. “Fifteen Years Later: A Critique of Gurukula.” ISKCON Communications Journal 9.1 (September 2001): 13–22.

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                                                                                                                            While offering no new information, this memoir by a former student of the gurukula illuminates the culture clash experienced by former students upon their entrance into the secular world after leaving the gurukula. Although specifically in the context of ISKCON youth, the analysis has implications for the larger ISKCON world.

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                                                                                                                            • Goodstein, Laurie. Hare Krishna Movement Details Past Abuse at Its Boarding Schools. New York Times, 9 October 1998, 1, 14.

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                                                                                                                              A report on sexual and physical abuse in ISKCON’s boarding schools in the United States and India during the 1970s and 1980s. Information was taken largely from ISKCON’s own publications.

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                                                                                                                              • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. “Education and Collective Identity: Public Schooling of Hare Krishna Youths.” In Children in New Religions. Edited by Susan Palmer and Charlotte Hardman, 29–50. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                An empirical study of several second-generation ISKCON youth, showing one way that dis-integration of religious community takes place, raising questions about ISKCON’s “future stability and vitality as a religious organization” after thirty-three years of its existence.

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                                                                                                                                • Smullen, Madhava. As More Take Initiation, Second Generation Looks Deeper. ISKCON News, 8 October 2011.

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                                                                                                                                  Article explores the reasons why second-generation members, who previously attended ISKCON gurukulas/schools, take or don’t take formal initiation from gurus within ISKCON. In many respects it is a partial update on how second-generation devotees are now leading their lives after their gurukula days.

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                                                                                                                                  Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

                                                                                                                                  Studies of ISKCON do well to include attention to the writings (and recorded talks) of Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda (variously referred to here as “Bhaktivedānta Swami,” Swami Prabhupāda,” or “Prabhupāda”) as ISKCON members consider his teachings to be what most comprehensively and accurately describe what ISKCON is about and what its members aspire to follow. Two websites provide Bhaktivedānta Swami’s complete writings—in Vedabase, all of his books are accessible; and in Vaniquotes his teachings are organized by theme. Bhaktivedanta Archives is the official repository of documents and other materials produced by or about Bhaktivedānta Swami.

                                                                                                                                  Hagiographical Accounts

                                                                                                                                  While these accounts of Bhaktivedānta Swami’s life make no pretentions of detached scholarship (all having been written by his direct disciples), they provide extensive details of his activities, especially from after his arrival in the United States in 1965. Dāsī 2004 is a collection of interviews with persons who knew Bhaktivedānta Swami prior to his going west. Goswami 1980–1983 has served as ISKCON’s “official biography” of Bhaktivedānta Swami. Siegel 2004 recollects anecdotal events and exchanges in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Prime 2010 traces the beginnings of ISKCON-Britain, focusing on Bhaktivedānta Swami’s visits and letters to UK members. Dasa 1996 tells the story of the Swami and his followers in Germany in the late 1960s and 1970s. Two accounts from a personal secretary and a personal servant are provided, respectively, in Goswami 1984, which tells of personal interactions experienced from 1969 to 1975, and in Dāsa 1994–1995, which gives detailed accounts of day-to-day activities.

                                                                                                                                  • Dāsa, Hari Śauri. A Transcendental Diary: Travels with His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 3 vols. Alachua, FL: HS Press, 1994–1995.

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                                                                                                                                    Detailed accounts, based on Dāsa’s own diaries, of times with Swami Prabhupāda as his personal secretary, between November 1975 and March 1977.

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                                                                                                                                    • Dasa, Vedavyasa. Śrīla Prabhupāda and His Disciples in Germany. Jalón, Spain: Mandir Media Group, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                      Traces the origins and early development of ISKCON Germany during the 1970s.

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                                                                                                                                      • Dāsī, Mūlaprakrtī Devī, ed. Our Srila Prabhupada—A Friend to All: Early Contemporaries Remember Him. New Delhi: Brij, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                        Interview-based remembrances, by several contemporaries of Prabhupāda, of their various personal interactions with him, mainly prior to his leaving India and beginning his mission in the West.

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                                                                                                                                        • Goswami, Satsvarupa Dasa. Śrīla Prabhupāda-līlāmṛta. 6 vols. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1980–1983.

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                                                                                                                                          The “authorized biography” of Prabhupāda, written by an early disciple and personal secretary. The first volume, A Life in Preparation, narrates Prabhupāda’s life from his birth up to his departure from India to the West in 1965. The remaining five volumes narrate his central role in ISKCON as its founder and constant guide.

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                                                                                                                                          • Goswami, Tamal Krishna. Servant of the Servant. Los Angles and London: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                            A personal account of one disciple’s interaction and relationship with Bhaktivedanta Swami from 1969 through 1975, during ISKCON’s formative years in America, Europe, and India. The account illustrates Swami Prabhupāda’s direct involvement in his fledgling movement and with his relatively young disciples during this time.

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                                                                                                                                            • Prime, Ranchor. When the Sun Shines: The Dawn of Hare Krishna in Britain. London: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                              Coming on the heels of other books about the movement’s founder, this book details the beginnings and development of ISKCON in Britain. Its structure, with numerous first-person memories interspersed with narrative, is similar to other books that trace ISKCON’s emergence during the 1970s in other countries of the world.

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                                                                                                                                              • Siegel, Roger. By His Example: The Wit and Wisdom of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Badger, CA: Torchlight, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                An intimate memoir that begins with the author’s joining in San Francisco during the hippie era of the 1960s, continues with his being sent to England in the late 1960s and India in the early 1970s to help establish ISKCON’s activities in those countries.

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                                                                                                                                                Analytical Accounts

                                                                                                                                                Some scholarly attention has been directed to Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda as a charismatic person and on aspects of his teachings and practices. Ketola 2008 provides a careful analysis of his charisma in the context of the cognitive study of religion. Selengut 1996 is similarly concerned with charisma, employing Max Weber’s category of the “charismatic prophet.” Goswami 2012 turns attention to Swami Prabhupāda’s teachings in light of his life and mission. Baird 1986 takes a critical look at Bhaktivedānta Swami’s presentation of the Bhagavad Gita, finding his interpretation inaccessible for one who stands outside the interpretative tradition he represents. Beck 1998 turns attention to the devotional music of ISKCON’s founder (of which several recordings were made and which are available). Brzezinski 1998 looks closely at Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda’s position on identifying or not identifying ISKCON with “Hinduism.” Klostermaier 1996 offers insight into the style of Bhaktivedānta Swami’s presentation of “Krishna consciousness” in contrast to that of a “godbrother,” Swami Bon Maharaj. Lastly, Knott 1998 invites readers to see Bhaktivedānta Swami from two perspectives, namely, as “pure devotee” (pp. 79 and 87) and as “very human” (p. 79).

                                                                                                                                                • Baird, Robert D. “Swami Bhaktivedanta and the Bhagavadgita ‘As It Is.’” In Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavadgita. Edited by Robert N. Minor, 200–221. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                  Sees an “unbridgable gulf” between Swami Bhaktivedānta’s presentation and that of the scholarly exegete (p. 200), in which the former pursues an “esoteric” interpretation as opposed to the latter’s “exoteric” approach. Surveys four presuppositions by which Swami Bhaktivedānta interprets the Gita.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Beck, Guy L. “The Devotional Music of Śrīla Prabhupāda.” Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies 6.2 (Spring 1998): 125–140.

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                                                                                                                                                    An ethno-musicological study that “seeks to bring about a deeper appreciation and understanding of the musical side of Śrīla Prabhupāda by discussing his unique knowledge and use of musical techniques in terms of established traditions of Vaiṣṇava devotional music” (p. 126), identifying his music as “authentic because he was authentic” (p. 137).

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                                                                                                                                                    • Brzezinski, Jan K. “What Was Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Position: The Hare Kṛṣṇa Movement and Hinduism.” ISKCON Communciations Journal 6.2 (1998): 27–49.

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                                                                                                                                                      An exhaustive analysis of Prabhupāda’s usage of the word “Hinduism” and how, or whether, he identified his movement with it. Though written in 1998, this analysis is still relevant in the present due to continued debates within ISKCON about the merits and demerits of identifying itself with Hinduism.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Goswami, Tamal Krishna. A Living Theology of Krishna Bhakti: Essential Teachings of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199796632.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Examines the teachings of Swami Prabhupāda in the context of his background in pre-independence India and the challenges of articulating Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava concepts and principles in the modern West. Written by a close disciple of the founder, as a doctoral dissertation just prior to his sudden demise, the work was edited for publication by Graham M. Schweig.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Ketola, Kimmo. The Founder of the Hare Krishnas as Seen by Devotees: A Cognitive Study of Religious Charisma. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004166134.i-234Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Located within the cognitive study of religion (that seeks explanation in universal human mental organization), analyzes the sort and dynamics of charisma associated with Prabhupāda as represented by his followers, with features such as counterintuitiveness and essentialism, constituted mainly of “frame violations.”

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                                                                                                                                                          • Klostermaier, Klaus K. “The Education of Human Emotions: Śrīla Prabhupada as Spiritual Educator.” ISKCON Communications Journal 4.1 (June 1996): 25–32.

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                                                                                                                                                            Compares Prabhupāda’s way of presenting Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism to that of his gurubhai (“godbrother”), Swami Bon Maharaj—both of whom the author knew personally. Defends the “‘noisy’ Krishna-bhakti” that Prabhupāda brought west as a development of ancient tradition “suitable for our time” (p. 27) received positively because appropriate to time and place. Also published in Journal of Vaishnava Studies 6.2 (1998).

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                                                                                                                                                            • Knott, Kim. “Insider and Outsider Perceptions of Prabhupada.” Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies 6.2 (Spring 1998): 73–91.

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                                                                                                                                                              Surveys two contrasting perspectives on Swami Prabhupāda with respect to the role of the guru (as “pure devotee” [p. 87] versus “very human” [p. 79]), books and publishing (as spiritual necessity versus acknowledging devotional standpoint), and ISKCON and mission (Prabhupāda as “founder-ācārya” versus accomplisher of “self-conscious revitalization” [p. 85]). Originally published in ISKCON Communications Journal 5.1 (1997): 59–72; available online.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Selengut, Charles. “Charisma and Religious Innovation: Prabhupāda and the Founding of ISKCON.” ISKCON Communications Journal 4.2 (1996): 51–63.

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                                                                                                                                                                Analyzes Prabhupāda’s qualifications as the founder of ISKCON through the medium of Weber’s explanation of the “charismatic prophet.” Illustrates this with examples and statements about Prabhupāda by early disciples. This is interspersed with further explanation based upon Weber’s analysis of charisma.

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                                                                                                                                                                Individual Members

                                                                                                                                                                The representation and remembrance of recently deceased ISKCON members bears witness to a sense of the tradition being continued successfully and of individual members reaching advanced levels of devotional practice. Some examples of relevant writings are provided here: Dāsa 2007 tells of a woman devotee from South Africa who joined ISKCON in Dallas, Texas, and of her dramatic preparations for death. Vraja Lila similarly focuses on preparations for what is considered a glorious death, recounted by the guru of the young woman described. Rosen 2003 is an entire issue of the Journal of Vaishnava Studies dedicated to the memory of H. H. Tamal Krishna Goswami, an intimate disciple of Bhaktivedānta Swami who died untimely in 2002. Smullen 2011 calls attention to the work of the late Sadāpūta Das (Richard L. Thompson), the holder of a PhD in mathematics from Cornell University, who sought to bring modern science into dialogue with ancient Indian thought. Adhikari 2009 describes early ISKCON-USA through the lives of Vishnujana Swami and Jayānanda Das, two widely admired leaders of the time. A website dedicated to the late Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami is provided, as he was known to be particularly dear to Bhaktivedānta Swami as the pioneer of ISKCON’s Bhaktivedānta Institute, dedicated to developing the science and religion dialogue.

                                                                                                                                                                • Adhikari, Vaiyasaki Dasa. Rādhā Damodara Vilāsa. Vol. 1. Vrindaban, India: Rasbihari Lal, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                  An insider account of ISKCON’s formative days in America to the mid-1970s told through recounting the lives of the well-known and much loved Vishnujana Swami and Jayānanda Das. Volume 2 published by Sravanam-Kirtanam.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Website of the late Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, ISKCON guru, Governing Body Commission member, and charter member of ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta Institute. Particularly well known for numerous conferences and books on the interaction between science and religion in the modern age. Also known for his promotion of Manipuri Vaishnava culture, art, and music around the world.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Dāsa, Sarvabhauma (Peter Alan Medley). Servant of Love: The Saintly Life of Kīrtidā Devī. Badger, CA: Torchlight, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Based on personal acquaintance and interviews, a sympathetic biography of the life and preparation for death of a woman devotee of Indian background in Dallas, highlighting her dedication to her guru and her readiness to face death with courage and faith in Krishna.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Indradyumna Swami. Vraja Lila.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A touching account of a young lady devotee’s passing away from leukemia in the holy land of Vrindavana in the presence of her guru and numerous other Krishna devotees. Exemplifies the manner in which ISKCON’s devotees would prefer to die.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Rosen, Steven J., ed. Tamal Krishna Goswami Memorial Volume. Journal of Vaishnava Studies 11.2 (2003).

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                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of articles by ISKCON and non-ISKCON scholars describing and analyzing the personality and contributions of the late Tamala Krishna Goswami, a prominent figure in ISKCON who attracted much adoration and controversy.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Smullen, Madhava. “Sadaputa’s Archives Reveal Scientists’ High Regard for His Work.” ISKCON News, 30 July 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Details some of the late Sadaputa’s contributions to studies against reductionist science. Known within ISKCON for his landmark studies on Vedic cosmology and studies of science with a Vedic perspective. One of the charter members of the scientific branch of ISKCON, the Bhaktivedanta Institute, founded in the mid-1970s.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Organization and Governance

                                                                                                                                                                            Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda set up a decision-making entity, ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission, in 1970 (initially with twelve members). This was legally established in 1975. The GBC meets semi-annually, in Mayapur (West Bengal) and in Mumbai. The GBC’s official website is included here, providing a resource for basic information on ISKCON’s managerial structure and a list of the GBC’s formally passed resolutions (organized by year, from 1975 to 2012). Deadwyler 2004 documents the guru reform movement in the 1980s, which involved the GBC in crucial ways. Dasi 2011 reports on more recent efforts to streamline the GBC’s management processes.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Dasi, Kaisori. GBC Zonal Configuration Marches Forward. ISKON News, 16 November 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Describes ongoing efforts by ISKCON’s leadership to better organize and manage the movement’s regions and zones. Also makes mention of the general efforts of the GBC’s Strategic Planning Team (SPT) in assisting the GBC to better organize and manage the society.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Deadwyler, William H. “Cleaning House and Cleaning Hearts: Renewal and Reform in ISKCON.” In The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Edited by Edwin F. Bryant and Maria L. Ekstrand, 149–169. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                An account of the challenges ISKCON faced during its formative years leading up to an analysis of the guru reform movement during the 1980s. Sheds much light on the power struggles the movement underwent during the post-Prabhupāda era.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Official Site of ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Provides basic information about ISKCON organization and governance, including an overview of ISKCON’s managerial structure, profiles of Governing Body Commission (GBC) members, ministries answerable to the GBC, strategic planning initiatives, reports of GBC meetings recently held, and a collection of resources that includes GBC resolutions (listed by year of voting in the resolutions) and position papers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT)

                                                                                                                                                                                  As the publishing arm of ISKCON, established by Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda specifically to publish his books and to facilitate their distribution, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is an important organizational component of ISKCON. Two relevant websites are here provided—that of the BBT itself, and of its “sister” initiative, Friends of the BBT.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Issues in Editing Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda’s Books

                                                                                                                                                                                  Controversy arose soon after Bhaktivedānta Swami’s demise regarding the editing of his books. Dasa 1999 documents concern over “changes” to the Bhagavad Gita as It Is made in later editions, while Jayādvaita Swami and Dāsa 1998 documents in some detail the BBT’s reasoning for the editing work it has done.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Distribution of BBT Literature

                                                                                                                                                                                  Since the early 1970s the distribution of books by Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda became the core method of proselytizing. A compilation of statements by Prabhupāda and by followers who were particularly dedicated to and adept at distributing books by approaching people in public places is Prabhupāda 1993. One of these distributors (the ISKCON-GBC official minister for book distribution) writes about the rise and decline (in many areas of the world) of this activity in Dasa 2007. From a scholar’s perspective, Baird 1988 views the book distribution activity in the context of legitimization issues in the need to obtain permission to distribute in certain public areas in the United States.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Baird, Robert D. “ISKCON and the Struggle for Legitimation.” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 70.3 (Autumn 1988): 157–170.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Details ISKCON’s efforts in North America in the 1970s and 1980s to gain permission through the legal system to distribute its literature in public spaces, airports, state fairs, etc., by arguing on the basis of First Amendment rights.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dasa, Vijaya. Vijaya Dasa. Friends of the BBT Newsletter (December 2007).

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                                                                                                                                                                                      The distribution and selling of the movement’s spiritual literature was firmly established in the 1970s and gradually declined from the late 1970s onward, with the exception of Russia and India. This link illustrates the ways and means members seek to bring distribution of the founder’s literature back to its former importance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Prabhupāda, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. The Nectar of Book Distribution: Statements by Śrīla Prabhupāda and His Followers on the Philosophy and Practice of Book Distribution. Germany: BBT Sankirtan Books, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        As the subtitle suggests, this is a compilation of written and recorded “statements,” organized under numerous categories and subcategories. Intended originally for ISKCON members to inspire and instruct in all aspects of this activity, since the early 1970s central to ISKCON missionizing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Theology, Philosophy, and Sociocultural Ideology

                                                                                                                                                                                        With the greatest scholarly attention on ISKCON having been in the areas of sociological study and analysis, very little attention has been rendered to the theological and philosophical dimensions of the institution and the tradition it seeks to represent. Here, however, are four useful sources: Schweig 1998 identifies a polarity in Bhaktivedānta Swami’s presentation of bhakti theology with respect to inclusivity and exclusivity. Das 1998 focuses on the term “vedic” as it is used in the literature and discourse of ISKCON, whereby the corpus of sacred literature called Veda is shown to have relatively elastic properties. Weber 1997 considers ISKCON in the context of Christian theology and practices, suggesting ways that ISKCON may contribute positively to society in a manner sympathetic to Christian principles. Lipner 1994 reflects on the need for ISKCON to develop a “theology of change” that responds to the needs of its members.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Das, Rahul Peter. “‘Vedic’ in the Terminology of Prabhupada and His Followers.” Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies 6.2 (Spring 1998): 141–159.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Surveys Swami Prabhupāda’s narrower and wider usage of the term “Vedic,” comparing and contrasting it with current Indological usage, noting the complexities of shifting meanings among people of South Asia and the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava identification of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa as embodying the Veda. Originally published in ISKCON Communications Journal 4.2 (1996): 23–38; available online.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lipner, Julius. “ISKCON at the Crossroads?ISKCON Communications Journal 2.1 (1994): 22–24.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            The author reflects on a visit to ISKCON-Radhadesh (Belgium), and calls upon ISKCON to develop a “theology of change” (p. 24) that resists the tendency to draw a “magic circle” (p. 23) of exclusion and opens the tradition to engage honestly with the many challenges it faces, particularly in matters of social adjustment for the needs of its members.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Schweig, Graham M. “Universal and Confidential Love of God: Two Essential Themes in Prabhupada’s Theology of Bhakti.” Journal of Vaiṣṇava Studies 6.2 (Spring 1998): 93–123.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the “inclusive” and “exclusive” nature and definition of bhakti—loving service to God—in the context of Prabhupāda’s presentation of Vaiṣṇavism. Usage of the terms “religion”—loving service to God irrespective of membership, and “religions”—particular traditions, is also explored in the context of Prabhupāda’s writings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Weber, Edmund. “ISKCON from the Perspective of Diacritical Theology.” ISKCON Communications Journal 5.2 (December 1997): 49–60.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Explores the potential contribution of ISKCON in areas of love, law, liturgy, pastoral ethics, and charity, for the larger community, by comparison with Gospel views and present-day Christian implementation of these aspects of human society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                “Fall-vāda” and “No-fall-vāda” Controversy

                                                                                                                                                                                                A theological controversy arose within ISKCON with the publication of Dāsa and Dāsa 1994, claiming that the eternal self, the jīva ātman, has been eternally fettered in the temporal world and has therefore not “fallen” from a position beyond the temporal world. An effort to refute this position was made in Our Original Position. This latter work argues that existence in this world is scripturally explained as being the result of living beings having indeed fallen down—at a time before possible reckoning—from a state of perfection. At stake, according to the second position, is the authority of Bhaktivedānta Swami’s writings on the subject. This second position has in turn been contested in “Our Original Position” Errata The debate continues in some Internet discussions to the present day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Anonymous. “Our Original Position” Errata.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A chapter-by-chapter list of what the author considers “errata” in the book Our Original Position, aimed at building a case against this book’s purported refutation of In Vaikuṇṭha Not Even the Leaves Fall.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dāsa, Satya Nārāyaṇa, and Kuṇḍalī Dāsa. In Vaikuṇṭha Not Even the Leaves Fall. Vrindavan, India: Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues, largely with statements by the 16th-century Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava theologean Jīva Gosvāmī, that (in what many ISKCON members feel is contradictory to Bhaktivedānta Swami’s statements) the individual soul (jīva) has never “fallen” from a position of devotional reciprocation with Krishna; but rather, that it exists without beginning in a “conditioned” state in the temporal world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Suhotra Swami, and Hridayananda Dasa Goswami. Our Original Position: Śrīla Prabhupāda and the Vaiṣṇava Siddhānta. Mayapur, India: ISKCON GBC Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A book-length attempt to refute the theological claims and arguments offered in Dāsa and Dāsa 1994, based on canonical proof-texts and established preceptors’ writings, concluding that these are consistent with statements on the subject by ISKCON’s founder.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Varṇāśrama (Social Organization)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Virtually all of the hundreds of recorded lectures by Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda include some explanation and promotion of varṇāśrama, the social and life-stage scheme of traditional Indian (brahmanical) culture. Typically he contrasted varṇāśrama, based on an individual’s character and qualifications, with the “caste system” of present-day India, which largely determines one’s social position (jāti) by birth. Swami 1998 provides a compendium of passages regarding this theme from lectures and discussions by one former ISKCON member. Dasa 1999a explores the concept of varṇāśrama in theoretical terms and reflects on the lack of its implementation in ISKCON. ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry represents one of the ISKCON-Governing Body Commission’s ministries for promoting rural community development, considered by the founder as integral to the realization of varṇāśrama society. Dasa 1999b is a collection of quotes from Swami Prabhupāda’s works on the subject, especially in relation to the development of farm communities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dasa, Ravindra Svarupa. ISKCON and Varnasrama-Dharma: A Mission Unfulfilled. ISKCON Communications Journal 7.1 (June 1999a): 35–44.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Through an analysis of the three guna/qualities with which all persons are considered associated (elaborated in Bhagavad Gita), an account of the daivi (divine) varṇāśrama system is given and then contrasted with what is seen by the author as a corruption of varṇāśrama that is currently practiced in much of India. Explores reasons why ISKCON has had such difficulty implementing the daivi-varṇāśrama system within its own society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Dasa, Suresvara, ed. Srīla Prabhupāda on Varṇāśrama and Farm Community Development. Vol. 1, Speaking about Varṇāśrama. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1999b.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of quotations from Swami Prabhupāda’s books, lectures, and conversations about the importance of a spiritually centered social structure, called daiva varṇāśrama. Critiques the present caste system of India as a degradation of the system’s original intent and thus argues for a system based upon qualities and training, rather than on birth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Harikeśa Swami. On Social Issues. Groedinge, Sweden: Sentient Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            A compilation of excerpts from lectures and discussions by a leading former ISKCON member, organized into various themes, with an emphasis on varṇāśrama-dharma, the normative social “system” of traditional brahmanical India, and how this might be applied in contemporary contexts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Newly formed ministry within ISKCON, based in India, to promote the principles and practical implementation of the daiva (divine) varṇāśrama system within ISKCON. Consciously aims to be differentiated from the modern-day caste system of India, which ISKCON, and Vaiṣṇava groups generally, argue is a modern corruption and misapplication of varṇāśrama.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ritual, Art, and Music

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A marked characteristic of ISKCON has been the pronounced ritual, artistic, and musical expressions of its members, in efforts to follow Indian traditions as well as to show contemporary creative expression. Valpey 2004 offers an overview of ISKCON’s history of formal worship practices conducted in its temples and by members in their homes. Prabhupāda 1990 is large-format picture book consisting of reproduced paintings by ISKCON artists, mainly for inclusion in the books of Bhaktivedānta Swami. Beck 2004 offers an account of the traditional Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava practices associated with the chanting of the Hare Krishna mahāmantra by way of contextualizing ISKCON practices. Goswami 1985 is one example of an effort at creative dramaturgy by a prominent ISKCON member.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Beck, Guy L. “Hare Krishna Mahamantra: Gaudiya Vaishnava Practice and the Hindu Tradition of Sacred Sound.” In The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Edited by Edwin Bryant and Maria Ekstrand, 35–44. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Analyzes the theory of sound within the Vedic tradition by exploring its two major schools of thought and then situates the theistic, Vaiṣṇava theory of sound within one of these lineages. Also explores the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava theory and practice of realizing and connecting with the Supreme through sound vibration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Goswami, Tamal Krishna. Jagannātha Priya Nāṭakam: The Drama of Lord Jagannatha. Cambridge, MA: Bhaktivedanta Institute of Religion and Culture, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A devotional account of the līlā (pastime) of the manifestation of the famous temple images of Lord Jagannātha, his brother Baladeva, and sister Subhadrā, in the pilgrimage town of Puri (Orissa). Written in conformity to classical Sanskrit dramaturgical theory and conventions; drama text followed by the author’s commentary.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Prabhupāda, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Krishna Art. New York: Ganga, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A large collection of prints of paintings from numerous ISKCON artists from the 1970s and 1980s that have been reproduced in ISKCON’s literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Valpey, Kenneth R. “Krishna in Mleccha Desh: ISKCON Temple Worship in Historical Perspective.” In The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Edited by Edwin Bryant and Maria Ekstrand, 45–60. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A narrative account of how the relatively elaborate standards of mūrti-sevā—worship of temple images—were established by Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, in the face of modern Western lifestyles and aims.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Virtual Communities and Public Discourses

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ISKCON members are active on the Internet, maintaining a variety of websites catering to other members as well as providing information for the wider public. In addition to numerous websites of individual ISKCON temples, there are regional websites in several non-English languages. There are also several websites supporting the international English-reading ISKCON or “ISKCON-friendly” community, of which five are listed here. ISKCON News is an official ISKCON site that documents ISKCON internal events or events considered relevant to its members. Jagannatha’s Chakra is an ISKCON-friendly but nonaffiliated website, as is Dandavats. Krishna.com is operated by ISKCON’s publisher, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ISKCON Desire Tree serves the worldwide ISKCON community as a multimedia resource. Regarding public discourses, ISKCON is self-consciously aware of its radical difference from most contexts in which it exists; hence it has worked hard to represent itself in understandable terms in the public sphere, as documented in Goswami 2001. One particular public festival (conducted by ISKCON in several cities worldwide) conducted by ISKCON in this case in South Africa, is the focus of Kumar 2008, which considers this event in terms of strategies for promotion of its mission. Delmonico 2004 considers the issue of self-understanding and public representation with respect to Abrahamic versus modern Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava understandings of monotheism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dandavats.org.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        An ISKCON-friendly but nonaffiliated news-oriented website. The editor has previously served as the executive chairman of the ISKCON-Governing Body Commission. Articles are focused mostly on the internal affairs of the Hare Krishna movement, especially ISKCON. Opinion pieces tend to represent more orthodox views than those found on Jagannatha’s Chakra.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Delmonico, Neal. “The History of Indic Monotheism and Modern Chaitanya Vaishnavism: Some Reflections.” In The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Edited by Edwin F. Bryant and Maria L. Ekstrand, 31–34. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Outlines the challenge of the historical-critical approach to texts for ISKCON members to reconcile with their supra-historical view of their own texts and sketches one possible approach. Also a useful comparison of Krishnaite and Hindu to Abrahamic notions of “monotheism,” a term sometimes used by ISKCON members to identify Caitanyaite theology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Goswami, Mukunda. Inside the Hare Krishna Movement: An Ancient Eastern Religious Tradition Comes of Age in the Western World. Badger, CA: Torchlight, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Documents ISKCON’s developing self-consciousness as an institution with a public face, 1989–1998, through brief articles (on some sixty-eight themes) written by an “insider” global ISKCON leader, originally for an “insider” audience of ISKCON members engaged in communications activities for the society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • ISKCON Desire Tree: Devotee Network.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A multimedia site containing PowerPoint presentations, photos, drama scripts, cartoons, and thousands of hours of audio lectures and music from ISKCON members. The “audio” section may be of particular interest, as it provides current homiletic lectures by numerous senior ISKCON members, especially of renunciants (sannyāsīs).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • ISKCON News.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ISKCON’s official news site managed and edited by high-level ISKCON members, including the ISKCON communications director. The site documents both internal ISKCON events and secular current events from a Vaiṣṇava perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Jagannatha’s Chakra.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chakra is an ISKCON-friendly, but not affiliated, website that publishes “open-minded, inclusive and compassionate” opinion pieces. Issues covered in these articles include women’s rights, homosexuality, guru succession, centralized management in religious institutions, implementation of Vaiṣṇava social ideals, and children’s welfare in the Hare Krishna movement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Krishna.com.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A comprehensive site operated by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Provides information on various social, institutional, practical, and philosophical aspects of Vaiṣṇavism as understood in ISKCON. The site contains a catalogue of online media (audio, graphic, and video), and maintains several blogs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kumar, P. Pratap. “Rathayatra of the Hare Krishnas in Durban: Inventing Strategies to Transmit Religious Ideas in Modern Society.” In South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora. Edited by Knut A. Jacobsen, 205–216. London: Routledge, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Describes the annual (since 1988) procession organized by ISKCON and analyzes it in terms of sacralizing and secularizing strategies to advance both religious ideology and institutional prominence, including Indian cultural spectacle, food, fashion, and a distinctive philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Science and Creationism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda saw his mission as a serious challenge to contemporary scientific ideas that seem to deny the theistic worldview and cosmology propounded in the Gauḍīya tradition. Cremo 1998 documents a variety of responses to the book Forbidden Archeology (coauthored by Michael Cremo and Richard L. Thompson), which questioned mainstream science’s story of a relatively recent development of the human form. Singh and Gomatam 1988 documents a conference sponsored by ISKCON’s Bhaktivedanta Institute to bring scientists, religious leaders, and religion scholars together in dialogue. Thompson 1989 is an interesting attempt to relate the cosmology of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (a key text for Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas) with modern cosmology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cremo, Michael A. Forbidden Archeology’s Impact. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection of the author’s diverse correspondence with scientists, archaeologists, new agers, and conspiracy theorists in the context of the theory, argued in the book Forbidden Archeology (coauthored by Cremo and Richard L. Thompson), that human beings existed long before Darwin’s theory allows for. Interesting for its diversity and encyclopedic compilation on the controversy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Singh, T. D., and Ravi Gomatam, eds. Synthesis of Science and Religion: Critical Essays and Dialogues. San Francisco: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          An edited volume composed of articles and interviews from the proceedings of the First World Congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion. Contributions from leading scientists, religious leaders, and scholars on a variety of topics on the interplay between religion and science in the modern world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thompson, Richard L. Vedic Cosmography and Astronomy. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An attempt to explain the Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s apparently mythical cosmology to a world steeped in science and rationality. Aims to bring “Vedic” (or Puranic) theories of cosmology and their scientific counterparts closer together and through this volume tries to show that they are not so far apart.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interreligious Dialogue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An official ISKCON position on its relation to “people of faith in God” is documented in Dasa 1999. Cracknell 1996 is one example of reflection by a Christian sympathizer with ISKCON about the practice of dialogue between the two traditions. In another style, Hart and Rosen 1989 is the transcription of a recorded dialogue between an ISKCON member and an Episcopal minister. And in a strikingly different context, Dasa 2002 tells a story of encounters in Israel between ISKCON members and members of the Druze community, and the happy discovery of similarities between them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cracknell, Kenneth. “Conference Report on the Nature of the Self: A Vaiṣṇava-Christian Conference.” ISKCON Communications Journal 4.1 (June 1996): 77–82.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              More notable for the deep philosophical and personal exchanges between participants from two different faith traditions, concludes that this conference about the nature of the self/soul from the Christian and Vaiṣṇava perspectives did not really break any new ground in the discourse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Dasa, Dhira Govinda. Kṛṣṇa, Israel, and the Druze: An Interreligious Odyssey. Badger, CA: Torchlight, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A first-person account of a member’s interaction with the Druze community in Israel. The story illustrates numerous similarities between the Krishna and Druze communities in both culture and philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dasa, Śaunaka Ṛṣi. “ISKCON in Relation to People of Faith in God.” ISKCON Communications Journal 7.1 (June 1999): 1–8.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ISKCON’s official position on its relations with other theistic faith traditions of the world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hart, Alvin V. P., and Steven Rosen. East-West Dialogues: An Interreligious Encounter. Brooklyn, NY: Folk, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Satyaraja Dasa Adhikari (Steven Rosen), an ISKCON member, converses with Rev. Hart, an Episcopal minister, on several themes of mutual concern, in pursuit of mutual understanding and acknowledgment of differences between Christian and “Eastern” (especially Vaiṣṇava, as understood by an ISKCON member) ways of thought and practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vegetarianism and Cow Protection

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The practice of vegetarianism has been one of the noted characteristics of ISKCON members’ lifestyle, and the promotion and practice of cow protection is considered an integral ideological element of ISKCON’s identity. Rosen 2004 provides a highly readable overview of the philosophy behind this practice, and of the ways it is practiced and promoted in ISKCON. The website of Food for Life Vrindavan offers one representation of the welfare-oriented undertakings of an ISKCON offshoot. Devi 1987 and Dasa 1990 are both cookbooks, produced by members of ISKCON who are both especially regarded for their cooking talents. Some glimpses into ISKCON’s cow-protection practices are provided in two websites—that of the International Society for Cow Protection (affiliated with ISKCON), and a site for the ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Goshala in Vrindavan, India: Care for Cows in Vrindavan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Care for Cows in Vrindavan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An ISKCON-affiliated cow-protection program (gośāla) that arose as a response to a concern for neglected and injured cows in Vrindavan. Highlights the challenges and successes of protecting cows in a country that traditionally holds them as sacred. Has links to articles (nonacademic) related to cow-protection ideology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dasa, Kurma. Great Vegetarian Dishes: Over 240 Recipes from around the World. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The first in a series of highly successful cookbooks by the well-known Kurma Dasa, who has been on numerous TV programs around the world demonstrating his skills. A set of DVDs with Kurma’s cooking demonstrations is also in circulation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Devi, Yamuna. Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. New York: Dutton, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Traditional recipes from India learnt from both ISKCON’s founder, Swami Prabhupāda, and from several other traditional Indian cooks—as imbibed by the author over several years of travel in India.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Food for Life Vrindavan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What began as a solely food/prasādam (consecrated food) distribution program in the holy town of Vrindavan has now transformed into a very successful relief organization that covers areas of education, sanitation, women’s welfare, and care for the environment, all in Vrindavan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • International Society for Cow Protection.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The website and ministry for cow protection within ISKCON. Provides a basic explanation of cow-protection ideology, links to related documents, news of the organization, and an outline of its “Adopt a Cow” program.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rosen, S. J. Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights. New York: Lantern Books, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Describes the Hare Krishna movement’s contribution to and views about vegetarianism and its rise in the West. Explores this through detailing the movement’s teachings and origins in India’s ancient tradition, as well as through ISKCON’s opening of numerous vegetarian restaurants and food distribution programs around the world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Succession Issues

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After the demise of Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda in 1977 it soon became evident that the preceptorial succession process was a matter of debate. A starting point for understanding this debate can be the GBC Laws on Initiation followed in Rochford 2009, a survey of the controversy from a sociological perspective. Brzezinski 1996–1997 views the succession issue from the perspective of a traditional distinction made between formal initiation of a disciple (dīkṣā) and the receiving of formal instruction (śikṣā). Goswami 1997 has a somewhat “confessional” flavor, from an ISKCON leader who accepted disciples, and King 2003 explores the controversy from the perspective of a scholar who personally knew Goswami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brzezinski, Jan K. “The Parampara Institution in Gaudiya Vaishnavism.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 5.1 (Winter 1996–1997): 151–182.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A scholarly analysis of succession issues in the context of ISKCON and the Gauḍīya Maṭha. Although both dīkṣa (initiation) and śikṣā (spiritual instruction) are understood as necessary, the emphasis on śikṣā over dīkṣa has the logical consequence of ISKCON members seeking śikṣā outside institutional boundaries or independent of their respective dīkṣa gurus.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • GBC Laws on Initiation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Relevant laws established by the Governing Body Commission on issues relating to taking shelter of gurus, receiving initiation, initiation outside ISKCON, and the still controversial issue of re-initiation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Goswami, Tamal Krishna. “The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity in the Hare Krishna Movement.” ISKCON Communications Journal 5.1 (June 1997): 13–44.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A presentation of successive heresies from ISKCON’s inception to the writing of this article. Excellent resource material and insider perceptions from the writer, who was also one of ISKCON’s most influential leaders during this time. Illustrates an ISKCON coming of age that faces its mistakes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • King, Anna. “The Guru-Disciple Relationship in ISKCON, with Special Attention to Tamal Krishna Goswami.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 11.2 (March 2003): 173–186.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses ideal/real gaps and their bridging within ISKCON in relation to the wider Vaiṣṇava tradition, and between Western ideals of autonomy and contemporary guru-disciple practices, and their bridging within ISKCON. Issues of reason, authority, and the existence or lack of trust are explored in the context of ISKCON.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. “Succession, Religious Switching, and Schism in the Hare Krishna Movement.” In Sacred Schisms: How Religions Divide. Edited by James R. Lewis and Sarah M. Lewis, 265–286. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Overviews and analyzes splits over issues of authority in ISKCON as a result of its evolution from a charismatic to an “ideological movement” (p. 265), focusing on the problem of succession, “religious switching,” and the ISKCON Revival Movement (IRM), that crystallized out of informal devotee “enclave communities.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ritvik-vāda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One position held by some ISKCON members who have split off from what is generally regarded as mainstream ISKCON is the claim that there are no authorized gurus in present-day ISKCON, but rather that Swami Prabhupāda intended for there to be proxys (ritviks) to initiate future disciples on his behalf. This position and the opposing position (held by the Governing Body Commission [GBC] and most current members of ISKCON) are explained in Das 2006. Reviews of this book, assessing the arguments on both sides, are found in Broo and Sardella 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Broo, Måns (Bhṛgupāda Dāsa), and Ferdinando Sardella. “The Rival Positions in the IRM-GBC Controversy within ISKCON.” ISKCON Studies Journal 1 (May 2009): 99–114.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Broo, a former member of ISKCON, seeks to contextualize the controversy the book under review deals with; he weighs the two opponents’ arguments and concludes that the argument of Christopher Shannon (ostensibly representing the GBC position) is stronger. Sardella sees both groups as representing “differentiations” of the Caitanya tradition, with the IRM (ISKCON Reform Movement) position representing a greater differentiation than that of the GBC.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Das, Rahul Peter, ed. The Rival Positions in the IRM-GBC Controversy within ISKCON. Südasienwissenschaftliche Arbeitsblaetter, Band 9. Halle-Wittenberg, Germany: Institut für Indologie und Südasienwissenschaften, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Details two conflicting views as to how the process of spiritual initiation should continue within ISKCON: Swami Prabhupāda alone continues to initiate through ritviks/priests (the ISKCON Reform Movement [IRM] position), or successive generations of ISKCON members take up the role of initiating gurus (ISKCON-GBC position).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Women’s Issues

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The tension between “traditional Indian” and Western women’s (as well as men’s) understandings with respect to women’s “roles” has manifested in ISKCON due to its identity as a mission representing “Indian tradition” yet operating in the West. GBC Statement Reaffirms Vaishnava Respect for Women in ISKCON News provides an official statement from the Governing Body Commission (GBC) on the subject, calling for equality in terms of respect. Knott 1995 documents the debate about women in ISKCON up to that time, while Dasi 2002 reflects on the perceived more positive attitudes and treatment of women in ISKCON up to the demise of Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda. Muster 2001 stands as a voice of disenchantment with certain dealings in ISKCON from a woman ISKCON member involved closely with its public relations activities in the 1980s, whereas Dāsī 1995 represents a voice for more positive representations of women’s experience in ISKCON than are given by the book here reviewed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Dasi, Jyotirmayi. Women in ISKCON in Prabhupada’s Times. Jagannatha’s Chakra, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Contends that the decisions and actions of ISKCON’s leaders, rather than Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, resulted in women, and married life generally, becoming increasingly depreciated, particularly in the United States, from the mid-1970s. Argues that this resulted in a weakening of ISKCON’s potential. Lists reform measures that have been adopted from the 1990s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dāsī, Sītā devī. “Review of Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women’s Roles in New Religions, by Susan Jean Palmer.” ISKCON Communications Journal 3.1 (1995): 83–86.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While offering some positive comments this review generally critiques the book’s depiction of women within ISKCON as being unrepresentative due to the small number of ISKCON women interviewed. Believes it reinforces outdated and regressive views about women and marriage within the Hare Krishna movement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • GBC Statement Reaffirms Vaishnava Respect for Women. ISKCON News, 29 May 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An official ISKCON-GBC response to an attempt to undermine ongoing efforts at correcting the wrongs of the past in relationship to ISKCON’s female members and implementing the requested improvements and adjustments in the institution’s dealings and relationship with its women members.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Knott, Kim. “The Debate about Women in the Hare Krishna Movement.” ISKCON Communications Journal 3.2 (1995): 33–49.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Explores the spiritual “equality” of opportunity offered to male and female devotees and then compares this with views of “difference” in terms of gender and opportunity. Argues that the implementation of a solution to this apparent conundrum be carried out in a more inclusive manner for the female gender than it has to date. Also published in Journal of Vaishava Studies 3.4 (Fall 1995): 85–109.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Muster, Nori J. Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A personal account, by a public relations officer within ISKCON, of her experiences—largely of shock and disappointment—during the 1980s in the United States, showing the varieties and complex dynamics of the organization’s cultish behavior during the “zonal guru” era. Larry Shinn’s 2001 edition foreword serves as a useful contextualization of the book. Originally published in 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Relations with Prabhupāda’s Godbrothers and the Gauḍīya Maṭha

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        With the increasing activity of Gauḍīya institutions other than ISKCON around the world, an ongoing issue in ISKCON is its relationship with these other institutions and their leaders. Sivarama Swami 2002 articulates a “conservative” position (urging ISKCON members to keep distance from members of other Gauḍīya institutions). Dasa n.d is a short article elaborating on the implications of two relevant “purports” by Swami Prabhupāda that suggest a somewhat more “liberal” position. Maharaja 1996 presents an alternative perspective from one of the non-ISKCON institutions. The Last Conversation documents and comments on a recorded conversation of Swami Prabhupāda with a senior Gauḍīya Maṭha member, while Collins 2004, invoking Weber’s notion of charisma, explains the attraction for ISKCON members of such senior preceptors from outside ISKCON.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Collins, Irvin H. “The ‘Routinization of Charisma’ and the Charismatic: Confrontation between ISKCON and Narayana Maharaja.” In The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharistmatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Edited by F. Bryant Edwin and Maria L. Ekstrand, 214–237. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Analyzes the conflict between ISKCON and Swami B. V. Nārāyaṇa by using Weberian analysis of the “routinization of charisma” and the charismatic religious leader. Holds that ISKCON, due to its routinization in the post-Prabhupāda era, became particularly vulnerable to charismatic preachers outside its institutional confines, such as Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Dasa, Krishna Ksetra. The Spirit of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Mission: Challenging Statements in Srila Prabhupada’s Caitanya Caritamrta Purports.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Aims to contextualize and further explain Prabhupāda’s negative comments about his “godbrothers” and the Gauḍīya Maṭha found in some purports to his translation and commentary of Caitanya Caritāmṛta through balancing them out with his positive comments about them in other contexts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • The Last Conversation between Srila Prabhupada and His Holiness Narayana Maharaja. ISKCON News, 10 April 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An official ISKCON response to claims made by the late Swami B. V. Nārāyaṇa that he was to be Swami Prabhupāda’s spiritual successor and thus should have a unique position of leadership within ISKCON. Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s recent passing away has largely diffused the long-standing controversy between himself, his mission, and ISKCON.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Maharaja, Vishnu. Our Affectionate Guardians: A Historical Perspective: Published Version. Karnataka, India: Gaudiya Vaisnava Society, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An alternative history by a former ISKCON member, about the relationship between Swami Prabhupāda, his godbrother B. R. Śrīdhara, and ISKCON. Contrary to ISKCON’s general position on the matter, believes that Bhaktivedānta Swami instructed ISKCON’s members to take guidance from Swami Śrīdhara.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sivarama Swami. Śikṣa outside ISKCON? Calcutta: Lāl, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Swami argues, based on his reading of Prabhupāda’s comments on the matter, that ISKCON’s progress and unity is better served by its members not taking śikṣa (spiritual instruction) outside ISKCON’s institutional confines. Believes doing so has caused ISKCON much grief, particularly in the context of receiving śikṣā from Gauḍīya Maṭha gurus.

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