Sunday, 15 March 2020

Breakdown Study: The Fanaticism of Iskcon

I have always refrained from penning this article despite a persistent urge. A question from a friend some days back made me rethink my decision.
The question she asked, in verbatim : 

' Why some are saying that Iskcon devotees are very rude and fanatics ?? I'm not like that, isn't it ?? Clarify please '

Foremostly, what I love about Iskcon. This includes the eminent standard of deity worship they hold and their dharma towards Bhakti-yoga. I love their goshala-s. I still do have many friends under Iskcon. I still attend ratha-yatra-s and enjoy the scent of nama sangkirtan that pervades the air.

Image: Pic I captured during a Ratha-Yatra in Penang.

I have even made a video on the meaning and commentary on the Kali Santarana Upanishad of the Yajur Veda which reveals the 'hare krishna' mantra, as shown below : 

Nevertheless, Iskconites in large really do get on my nerves when it gets personal and I guess that's a mutual emotion everyone who labels Iskcon as a fanatical organisation share.

Image: My opinion is mutual to myriads of Hindus in Malaysia

Iskconites and their taunts 

Experience speaks. I have to quote incidents in order to justify my views. So here goes the list. Though these experiences are personal, they still vibe with what a lot of other Hindus go through in this country.

(1) Looking down on those from a different sampradaya / belief

About 5 years back, one of my seniors invited me to a kirtan in a house of an Iskconite. I enjoyed the kirtan and Arati but things turned ugly after that.

A lecturer ( not my department ) actually told me to remove my rudraksha mala and to have it replaced with Tulasi when we sat down for Japa. I have not known of any vaishnavite text which tallies with his command. In fact, the texts glorify rudraksha as a potent bead. Perhaps he assumed to be vaishnavite was to hate other marga-s. Or perhaps he believes I know nothing about Vaishnavite scriptures simply because I adorn myself with Śaiva symbols. Nevertheless, he looked least guilty with his disgusting gesture.

Picture below is taken from a website ( ). This is a screenshot of someone who has shared a similar experience to mine.

His feat ( the lecturer ) did not end there. As we partook prasada after the prayers, he approached me and spoke on his apparent experience of 'realising the true path' - the typical tale of them worshiping false deities until arriving at Krishna to have their standards heightened to a degree superior to mere mortals ( non-iskconites ).

He went on to insult the deities I worship and claimed to have studied the scriptures for years to realise this truth - which he is now mercifully sharing with me in hope that I come to light.

It was simply a sugar-coated version of ' worship the ONLY ONE or rot in hell, imbecile '

What truly pissed me at that point in time was that this lad had led the recitation of nṛsiḿha-kavacaḿ earlier with corrupted pronunciations and is now proudly talking about his scriptural venture. How did he venture so much into scriptures without knowing Sanskrit? Actually, what he meant by 'going through the scriptures' is reading a handful biased Iskcon authored - English Translated books on selected Pauranik scriptures.

Image result for iskcon fanatic

(2) Modifying Vedic Scriptures to Suit Their Belief.

Iskconites love using the term 'demigod' which does not tally with the Vedic vocab. The term devata does not mean 'demigod'. Demigod comes from Greek Mythology. But this is how scriptures are modified in Iskcon to favour Vishnu-tattva. 

A very common word, भगवान् ( bhagavān ) is translated to 'supreme personality of Godhead' to give an impression that it is only applicable to Krishna, when it is clearly not

देवता ( devata ) is translated to demigod.

Bhagavān is actually a term used for One who has Bhaga. Bhaga constitutes 6 guṇa-s: aishvaryasya samagrasya viiryasya yashashash shriyaha | jnaana vairaagya yoshchaiva shhaNNam bhaga itiiraNa.

This is the definition as per the Puranas.

This is also why you don't find any other sampradaya equating the term bhagavān to a 'supreme personality of Godhead' 

Devata means - the One who ''shines''.The root sound is 'div' which means 'to shine. It simply means a 'divine state'. How is demigod a translation to 'devata'? Even if you want to translate 'devata' as demigod, this label is then very applicable to lord Vishnu and Krishna who are also referred to as 'devatas' in scriptures.

In fact, the term bhagavān is widely used across our culture to denote enlightened masters, deities and saints. That means, the fancy term ' supreme personality of Godhead' is verily applicable to many other deities as well.

The same Veda Vyasa who authored Shrimad Bhagavatam also authored the Bhagavati Stotra which refers to Devi as "Bhagavati" ( feminine term of bhagavan')

Iskonites contradicting themselves

The above verse from Gita Mahatmya is commonly used by Iskconite-s for obvious reasons.

Funny enough, this verse quotes Devaki Putra ( Lord KrSHNa ) as a deva ( Eko devaH..). Iskonites can call Lord Shiva and Ganapati 'demigods' because according to them, deva = demigod.

Then why is Krishna not called a demigod as per this verse?

As you can see, they cunningly manipulate scriptures and use fancy English terms to suit their philosophy.

Image result for bhagavan ramana

Nothing wrong with following what your guru has chosen to enlighten you with. But don't go around shoving your ideology into people from other paths and lineages. That's when you get labeled.

And you cannot avoid them stressing non-Viṣṇu-tattva deities as 'demigods'. For example, they can never say Shiva or Gauri. They gotta use 'demigod Shiva'. They cannot live without a hierarchy where they place Gods they have never experienced in an order - highest to lowest.

Malaysian Iskconites use disgusting jargons among themselves. For instance, terming other deities as dummy gods ( demigod ridiculed as dummy god ). It's like they get high by insulting deities they dislike. It is as though they earn merits for every insult so they have enough points to get an express train to Goloka.

Pic: Iskconites and their ego. You fellas edit shit into these pictures and expect tolerance?

The problem is these closed minded people understand Vedic terms in a biased English translation which fuels nothing but fanaticism. This fanaticism assumes a crude form when they believe themselves to be scripturally enlightened enough to dictate.

Try replacing every ' supreme personality of godhead' in their books with simply 'bhagavan' and every 'demigod' into 'devata' and you will see how different the very books appear.

Rudra is Bhagavan in the Yajur Veda. Agni is halted supreme in the Rig Veda. But you don't see Vaidikas going around calling Rudra as the 'supreme personality of Godhead' and demeaning Vishnu-tattva deities as demigods like there's no tomorrow. They could if they wanted. The same applies to every path.

Nothing wrong with worshiping the deity you perceive as supreme without having to condemn other deities desperately.

Other sampradaya-s have this bias too. But you don't see people getting pissed with them as much as they do with Iskconites simply because Iskconites are overdoing it with sheer ego - that they KNOW it and those who do not submit to their philosophy are worthy of harassment.

(3) Refusal to Quote Vedas as Pramana

Though Iskconites claim to represent the Vedic tradition, they never take reference or quote verses from the Vedas which stand as the highest authority of Hinduism. This is because no part of the Vedas proclaim Lord Krishna as the only true God. The Narayana Upanishat proclaims Krishna as an incarnation of Brahman, in the same manner in which the Ganapati Upanishat extols Vinayaka as Brahman or the Rudra prashna which declares Rudra as the all-pervading consciousness. Oh, not to forget the Rig Veda which celebrates all deities as Brahman, including the Devaraja, Lord Indra who is portrayed as a buffoon in silly Iskcon cartoons.

Iskconites cunningly claim to quote the Vedas but whatever they say comes from buffeted Vaishnavite Puranic scriptures ( typically Shrimad Bhagavatam ).

(3) Forcing Others to Leave their Sadhana and stick to the 'maha-mantra'

You will find Iskconites giving you free initiations into their version of the best 'mantra-sadhana'. I was told by many Iskconite-s to stop reciting the Vedas or to teach them. Yes, you heard me right. I was told to instead resort to their 'Hare Krshna' mantra and nothing else. They reasoning was that the only worthy mantra is what they preach and that is the only key towards enlightenment. PFFFTTT !

I have had many contacts from Iskcon and it is common to see them ridicule people who have meditation, yoga or any non-bhakti oriented sadhana as their focus. To them, anything other than the 'Hare Krishna mantra' and their form of 'bhakti-sadhana' is filth.

Grab the Mahabharata and look at the anushasana Parva - where Lord Krishna Himself declares that His daily sadhana was to worship Lord Shiva with the recitation of Rudra Prashna. This occurs in a conversion between Lord Krishna and King Yudhishthira.

But Iskconites will never speak about this. To them, Vedic scriptures are like buffet - you pick what you like and suits your ideology and pretend like everything else is non-existent.

It's like they need this daily dosage of roasting other sects to convince them they are on the best path. This actually heavily resembles insecurity. So insecure about your belief that you gotta constantly put other deities and lineages down.

(4)  Hypocrisy and Pseudo-humility

See, Iskconites know that they have a bad reputation among the general Hindus in Malaysia because of their uncouth and pesty behaviour in the name of merciful preaching. So they adopt silly methods in an attempt to debunk the fanatical label.

You will them having typical quotes to approve their apparent 'respect' the deities they called 'demigods' - to demonstrate that they are not fanatical but merely quoting the scriptures. 

For instance, you can hear them revering Shiva as the greatest Vaishnavite as their texts say so.

वैष्णवानां यथा शम्भु: 
vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ

( The greatest Vaishnavite is Shiva )

Next, you have the typical milk to yogurt analogy where they give an impression of their reverence towards Shiva ( Milk can become yogurt but yogurt can never become milk - Kṛiṣhṇa can become Shiva but Shiva can never become Kṛṣṇa )

These are the typical pickup lines they mug and parrot in public to mask their fanaticism.

Again, a screenshot from '

Firstly,these texts ( used by Iskconites as reference ) are Puranoktam and not from the Vedas.

Puranas are always biased to a particular principle. Take Linga Purana and you will find Shiva being glorified as Supreme. Take the Brahmanda Purana and you will find Devi being glorified as Supreme.

So simply picking up a verse from your desired text and claiming it to be the only right truth is never applicable to our culture - which is overly rich with literature and scriptures.

Iskconites have awareness on this and they make huge attempts to prevent Hindus from venturing into any scripture which doesn't suit their ideology.

Image: Hypocrisy - they will call themselves the servant of servants but will boss you on what you should read.

Image result for hindu puranas

If you want to talk about scriptures - talk about all of them, not pick what you like. This ain't a buffet.

Many paths exist to accommodate people from different backgrounds who have an affinity toward a particular sadhana that leads to their enlightenment. So stick to yours and stop poking your nose into the sampradaya of others.

Any Shaivite, Saura or Shakta can do the same by picking a verse that glorifies His or Her preferred deity as supreme. But you don't find that often.

Iskconites do it like drinking water - and that's why the label.

Image result for vibhuti
(5) Demonising Bhasma - The Sacred Ash of Hindu Tradition

Once, an acquaintance from Iskcon pled me ( like literally begging me ) to refrain from using vibhuti as the Agni Purana apparently classifies bhasma ( ash ) as dirt.

( No worries, in this context the Agni Purana is perfectly authentic, non-tamasic for Iskconites. It only becomes inauthentic when one quotes a verse which glorifies deities other than Vishnu. This rule is as per the Iskcon protocol )

I showed Him another reference from Shiva Purana which glorifies the same vibhuti. But again, they have a typical answer to that. Any scripture which does not agree to their belief is termed 'tamasic' - hence inauthentic. Any philosophy that does not tally with their belief system is classified as 'mayavadi philosophy'.

Firstly, these nutcases need to realise that vibhuti or bhasma is not about just smearing random street dust on your body. The Kamika Agama gives detailed instruction on preparing bhasma which involves using ash from the remains of a shiva agni. So the ash described in Agni Purana is not in reference to the sacred bhasma Shaivites use. Shaivites use consecrated bhasma, just like how Iskconites worship consecrated deities and not stones.

It's a typical denial mode were they using fancy terms to live under their shell. Arguing with an Iskconite is like playing chess with a pigeon. It simply flies around shitting everywhere, toppling the pieces - ultimately believing itself to be the winner.

(6) Iskconites who Traumatise temple visitors

This always happens when I visit the Shri Radha Kṛṣṇa Kanhaiya Temple of Penang.

Image result for penang iskcon temple

Iskconites never fail to disrupt my inner peace in that awesome temple. I can barely appreciate the beauty of the deity alankara before getting ambushed by a hardcore preacher.

It is fine to share what your sampradaya has to say - but do it in a socially acceptable way. You should especially have some courtesy when I have my own guru and path.

This is literally how I get ambushed verbally :

'' So,when are you gonna get the Tulasi Mala around your neck ? ''

'' Do you know Hinduism? You should start reading our books. I was also worshiping demigods like Shiva and Kali before learning Hinduism. Finally, truth dawned by the grace of Krshna and I am here''

'' Even the Bala Muruga who resides beside this temple is a servant of Krshna. He is a vaishnavite, a demigod. Yet, people do not visit our temple and they pray to the servant of Krshna''

Lord Krishna Himself quotes His state of Oneness with Skanda by proclaiming Himself to be 'Skanda among the Lord of Wars' in the Bhagavad Gita. And here we have a joker who insults Muruga, the deity who is a breath to Tamizhs.

They do this shit and expect the public to love them? Dude, you are insulting a deity who is celebrated by millions of Hindus here. Stop being a nitwit!

They should really consider stand-up comedy. They can put the clowns of the London Royal Circus to shame.

Krishna Kanhaiya temple, Penang: I captured their image as they captured my heart

However, what I witnessed during one of my visits disturbed me deeply. It was a Saturday morning in 2017 and I saw a simple nuclear Indian family - Father, mother and a kid visit the temple. It was their first time there and they wanted to experience a temple that appeared a little different from the norm of Shaiva Agama.

They could barely pray as they wanted before getting ambushed. A preacher traumatised them by throwing insults. And mind you, these were very simple people who worshiped all deities with a pure heart. They clearly did not like arguing over scriptures and supremacy.

This went on for an hour. The preacher treated them like literal shit. He said they were wasting their lives all these years without worshiping the 'only true one'. He then went on to promote some Iskcon-translated scriptures to them.

With a huge dosage of verbal abuse, the wearied family left with the unasked lecture and I took the chance to have a word with them. They actually expressed how their way of worship was beyond form. They practice a form of meditation where they contemplate upon God as jyoti ( light ). That is their personal wish. In addition, they visit all temples without any bias for a particular form.

They looked pretty hurt and expressed their horrid experience. I tried my best to convince them not to hate vaiṣṇavism because of these jokers. It didn't seem to work and they left with an oath to never foot into the temple again. I swear I ain't exaggerating this. I will never forget the tears in their eyes when they left the temple.

And you can ask the world as to why Iskcon is getting labeled as a fanatic association?

I was actually instructed not to 'waste' time in the Bala Subrahmanya temple adjacent to Kanhaiya and if this is not fanaticism, I do not know what else defines it.

Image result for bala murugan temple penang
The Bala Subrahmanya temple beside Krishna Kanhaiya temple in Penang.

For now, I have a new method to get rid of such pests - just ask them to recite the shloka of reference they use to validate their philosophy. If they fail to recite it with perfect pronunciations or at least give the individual meanings for each word without parroting the presented English translation, they are in no authority to dictate. 

The last debate I recall is having a heated argument with a staff who used to work in Bangsar Ramalingeshwara temple. He was not happy with me teaching Rudram in the temple and tried to convince me to teach Bhagavad Gita instead. I started the game of debate. The fun ended when this chap started to run away from me while shouting ' mayavadi.. mayavadi...' around the perimeter of the temple.

If you have experienced similar trauma, warn any preacher who starts harassing you. Remember- no one has the right to dictate over which Guru, lineage and deity you should adhere to.

There is one thing you can learn from Iskconites which is their sheer reverence to their Ishta Devata. When you have a similar reverence, you will not allow any tongue to talk ill about the deity you worship. Many Hindus here lack that and that's giving the podium for these fanatics to dance around.


  1. Thanks bro, I have encountered them a few myself and yes they seem to be arrogant and not following their own philosophy properly.

    1. Yes.They are simply an abrahamic version of Hinduism now.It's all about 'believe in the only One or rot in hell'.To convince themselves that they are on the right path,they constantly insult other deities and gurus.

  2. Any mention of words like Hell indicates abrahamic religion.

    1. Yes, Prabhupada however intelligently uses words like 'materialistic real' or anything which is not goloka. Simply put - hell. It's either you accept Krishna as the only true god or rot in hell. We know Krishna never said this but Prabhupada does and the cult tells the world what ' prabhupada has said ' rather than Krishna.

  3. If we were to follow the Hindu scriptures by upholding the supremacy of shastras beginning from Vedas, Tantras and even Itihasas and Puranas, then the HK movement can be classified as a deviant cult. They are not even considered as a valid school of Vaishnava sampradaya even though they branched out from Gaudinya Vaishnavam. The reason is because all valid sampradayas must adhere to the principles of the Vedas and Tantras. HKs will even go to the extend of claiming that Krishna is the supreme personality although Krishna is a human who was equated as an avatar of Vishnu. When the valid sampradayas agree that all forms of devata leads back to the same source of Parabrahma, HKs will go in the reverse direction and claim that all leads back to Krishna. They will never quote from the Vedas and Tantras because they know that those scripture will expose their cult.

    1. yes I agree as someone who has been in this cult ( not able to leave till now ) for 18 years. The brainwashing is heavy and Iskcon is nothing but the projection of Prabhupada's ideology , nothing to do with Krishna. Haribol

  4. Hi guys i am an ex-devotee of iskcon and i can say that fanaticism is very thick in the organisations. Actually most malaysians who join iskcon join to look and appear like brahmins. most of these guys are b40 pariahs who want to look like higher class by dressing up like gopis.

  5. I have to oblige to anonimity because i don't want people to know my identity. I was born in an iskcon family and am still in it, because I am not able to leave. But whatever you said its true. As I grew older, I realise that I was just brainwashed to accept whatever Prabhupada says. We are not allowed to read non-iskcon scriptures even with interest. We are told to treat everyone else as mayavadis and we are made to feel like we are the best. My opinion changed with the age of internet when I explored the colourful traditions of hinduism and I realise I know nothing other than to parrot some words of Iskcon.
    In Iskcon women initiates like me need permission from our guru to even have sex with our husbands.
    I stopped taking prabhupada as an authority when I heard his discourse on women. I totally unattached myself from this cult the moment I heard him say women enjoy rape ( while laughing ) and that blacks and shudras should be made slaves. He also says the lgbt are confused and sinful. I don't think a closeminded, narrow minded fool like this can even lead me to Krishna. I rather worship my lord with all my heart and join other sects of vaishnavism. My family won't allow that. I hope I will take the decision one day.

  6. Haribol You really have guts to speak on this. Let me share my part. I have been serving in Iskcon for 18 years and I can tell u what I know.
    1. Firstly Iskcon in Asia is very fanatic. Singapore has even banned Iskcon. Your stories shocked me a little but I can digest them because as I know, Malaysian Iskcon is very fanatic.
    2. I was brought up in a typical harekrishna movement and i was brainwashed to think that we are all superior than everyone else ( we use the term 'karmi' to term non-believers). This is very true and we are groomed to treat prabhupada as krishna's voice. Whatever he says is ultimate truth and flawless.
    3. with time i grew and began to see the cult in this organisation. let me tell u a secret of iskcon and about the founder. Iskcon is not about krishna. That is the surface. In real it is the propagation of prabhupada's ideology. If u really see, they worship Prabhupada in the image of krishna.
    Prabhupada's ideology
    (1) all other gurus are rascals. I am the only right one
    (2) Drop every other scripture. Read only the ones I author
    (3) Only my interpretation of scripture is real
    (4) don't associate with non-iskcon ppl. they are fallen beings ( unless of course you need their money to build temples )
    (5) the only way to krishna is the mahamantra. Ppl who do anything else never attain krishna they rot in hell
    (6) everything else is demigod and useless. only krishna.

    - if you notice, krishna doesn't tell any of these. in BG he says there are many paths to reach me. Prabhupada has made his own christianised version of hinduism. These questions bothered me a lot because as i matured I realised that we were just a bunch of ego-driven brainwashed servants of Prabhupada who felt we were better than everyone else. This was until I did my research on Gaudiya tradition ( iskcon itself branched from Gaudiya Vaishnavism ). I learnt the true story of prabhupada and it all made sense.
    See, Prabhupada was part of the Gaudiya mutt. He had his brother disciples and he wanted to outshine them and wanted power. He was power crazy and that led him to bring his own religion. He opposed his brother disciples and went on to create this harekrishna cult, introducing his own philosophies and ideologies and masking it by terming them as the right interpretation or 'hidden truths, deeper meaning' of scriptures. He used Krishna to establish his stardom and brainwashed people to think that he represents Krishna. A lot of us started to even worship Prabhupada mentally. Whatever he says was the words of Krishna. This was how prabhupada mentally brainwashed the entire cult. If krishna speaks 3 words, Prabhupada expands it to 3 pages and speaks on Krishna's behalf. And we are forced to take it as divine words, regardless of the doubts we have because oh we don't want to do vaishnava aparadha ( offence ) !
    The whole cult is programmed in mind control, brainwashing and is centred on prabhupada.
    You will see Prabhupada's face in Iskcon more than Krishna. Just mark my words, in time Iskcon will slowly develop into saying Prabhupada is none other than Krishna
    Just like how christ as son of god became god with time, so will this old man.

    I have not left iskcon because the mind control is still in me despite me realising it. I hope i can leave the cult and find my true devotion to krishna ( rather than being told on what is devotion by the old man ).
    I sincerely apologise for all the adharma i did in the name of this cult - making people to leave family deities, making people to oppose their family for iskcon, telling people to leave their original guru, telling people to leave the gods they originally worshiped and forcing people to accept krishna.
    I was so dumb to see that i was part of a horrible cult and missionary. I just hope forgiveness from Krishna.

  7. The HK movement is like a frog in a well trying to explain ocean it has never seen before

  8. In orissaa we never entertain the HK. Even vrindavana doesnt' welcome this cult.