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Re: Hare Krishnas?

In article <2to71o$ssb@ucunix.san.uc.edu>, misrael@csi.UOttawa.CA (Mark Israel) says:
>In article <haycock-150694130117@mac76.think.com>, haycock@think.com (Anne Haycock) writes:
>> I have a quick question for whoever may be reading right now and can help
>> me out.  What exactly does the Hare Krishna cult believe?
>   They believe in the Hindu gods.  Krishna is their primary deity, the 
>Bhagavad Gita is their primary scripture, and Srila Praphupada (who died
>recently) was considered the only authorized interpreter.
>   They have to chant mantras some very high number of times per day,
>they forgo hair for the sake of asceticism, Western members forgo their 
>Western names and take on Indian names, they're vegetarians, they believe
>in reincarnation, and they have to wash after every bowel movement.

I think Prabhupada died in the early 80's.  From Hindu friends and people
I've worked with, the opinion on the HK's vary greatly.  A few of them
think that HK's are good in that they've brought some Indian/Hindu culture
over to the west.  A fair amount see them as fanatics who are clueless to
the mainstream Hindu way of things.  And still others see them as a more
fanatical sect of Hindus, sort of like how fundamentalist Christians appear
to Catholics.  One think I remember about the HK's
is that I don't remember them going much into the caste system.  I wasn't
a devotee, though, I just hung around for the food and music when I was
in college.  Oh yes, 

To be honest, if it wasn't for George Harrisson of the Beatles and the fact
that they were in the right place at the right time (San Fran and NYC in
the 60's), I'm not so sure they would have had such success.  If Prabhubada
came to the US in the Disco 70's or the Greedy 80's, he probably would have
died unknown in the Bowery.

>> From my biased, Christian teaching it is a cult, but I'd like to know what 
>> criteria it fulfills to be called such.

Well, from my biased, atheist teaching all religions are cults until >1000
people are in it!  :-)

>   A couple of things that might be worth noting:  Missionaries sometimes
>identify themselves in what I would regard as a cryptic fashion.  One asked
>me for a donation to what he seemed to imply was a secular charity, and 
>showed me a form with "ISKCON" printed on it.  If I hadn't recognised the 
>abbreviation ("International Society for Krishna Consciousness"), I might 
>have donated.

I first found out of them at the airport in Atlanta (what a surprise :-)
and they were up-front about who they were and what they were doing; of course
it was obvious.  The ones I see in Philly do tend to try and get money without 
fully representing who they are; I've also seen the Unification Church
(Moonies) and Scientologists doing that.  I think the HK's are more "legit"
since they're based in Hinduism at least.

>   I've heard that members have to donate 50% of their income to the 

I never heard of that one, but I wouldn't be too surprised.

Carl M. Christensen                     Fox Chase Cancer Center
Senior Systems Analyst                  Department of Biostatistics
C_Christensen@fccc.edu                  Philadelphia, PA  19111

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