If you have been or are in this cult, do yourself and the world a favor and speak up about your time in it. Share your experiences, and help to contribute to a much-needed publication that compiles the voices of those who have been left traumatized, abused, confused, and disgusted. Now is the time to share those documents, testimonials, and experiences. You can be anonymous or use your name. It's up to you. But let the healing begin and let those whose voices have not been heard find an expression that will be a warning to others, as well as help folks understand the less-than-savory fallout of these cults and their toll on the minds and lives of those who experienced it first hand:https://never-forget-krishna.square.site
Children are asked to enter a dark Temple room and bow to a picture or statue, or an actual guy they are told is god on earth from birth. They've been told to chant a mantra on rote on beads a certain amount of times every day (64, 16, 8, 4, who the fuck knows anymore—does anyone even chnat on beads anymore???!). And if they don't obey and do all this, they're considered less than a worm in stool. To be sure, they're considered less than a worm and stool just by default, and they hear this kind of rhetoric repeatedly drilled into their minds. They are exposed to all manner of fictional concepts of hell. These gods will rip them apart if they have a different view or opinion—and you don't think that affects the development of the amygdala, the prefrontal cortex, the nervous system, and many other genetic and epigenetic factors?
A vulnerable adult who is suffering from mental illness, depression, drug abuse, or other abuses comes in contact with some happy-go-lucky Hare Krishnas. They quickly find the practices and ideology attractive. But not long after, they are asked to donate their money, surrender to a guru if they want to "really taste the nectar", and do all manner of "service". They are told that whatever "goals" they may have or "talents" they may possess are useless and even detrimental to their spiritual progress unless they "dovetail" it with the whims of a guru, some scripture, or the statue on the altar. They are told that the external world of friends, people in general, is "Maya," an illusion created to keep them away from realizing their "true identity" as a "spirit soul." They are told that god can be related to in many ways. Still, the best way is to imagine yourself as a 12-year-old milk maiden who helps god have sexual dalliances with his girlfriend... for eternity. In some fictional medieval idealistic pastoral world that is "Transcendental,"... They are told to suspend all critical thinking and accept at face value as "absolute truth" all manner of nonsensical stories, hagiographies, and myths.
After years of faithful "devotion", chanting, reading, and studying the scriptures, there is still no clear idea or answer to dozens of questions. You are told to "keep chanting and serving" and "all will be revealed." Years pass, and you go through the rigamoral of garden variety facts of life: Money issues, rearing kids, depression, anxiety etc, etc. Not much has changed for the better because of all the rote chanting and the occasional Sunday feast you attend. After years of doing what they were told, they are still plagued by the same mental issues, life circumstances, and conundrums. They still think that some guru they never really see or speak to is their link to a transcendent, divine experience. They still think fasting from grains or chanting extra "rounds" will change their existence miraculously. Cognitive dissonance. Confirmation bias. They read the scriptures, which naively promise them eternal salvation. On the surface, the religion they are following is not much different than any number of religions making promises of heaven and hell and highlighting good and evil.
Meanwhile, the gurus are fed, massaged, given accolades, housed, and fully taken care of. Some live in extravagant houses, ashrams, and locations and are served hand and foot while they sit on a throne and tell everyone "good tidings." Insane amounts of money, businesses and expensive projects are tossed around in the name of "service". Abuses abound: child abuse, sexual abuse, misogyny, financial crimes, underhanded money-making schemes and often dismissive ways of dealing with the needs of followers, No real counselors, psychological help or any rational method for dealing with the fallout is offered. Years go by, and the cult resembles a garden-variety church where it's "business as usual."
Back some 500 years, an epileptic saint gains momentum with his fanatical "devotional" Bengali sect. No one beyond some small tracts of land knows about the supposed "incarnation of Radha and Krishna.". Before the saint is even dead, his cult is already fracturing and splitting into "camps". Eventually, in less than 50-100 years of his "appearance," the so-called "grand movement" amounts to a bunch of babajis huddling in huts and playing dress up and fantasizing they are "gopis."
Based on "visions" and "dreams", the meat-eating Bhaktivinode and his son revive the cult at the turn of the century. Bhaktisiddhanta gives himself sanyas, a Brahman thread, and dictates that all followers of his cult are "better than Brahmins." All while reviving "Brahmanism" in a cult that had little to nothing to do with it to begin with. He makes a bunch of enemies in and around Bengal as he claims superiority and authenticity belonging to an "unbroken lineage"; Sampradhaya. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The lineage is not only broken, but its assorted adherents can barely agree on fundamental philosophical points, rituals, and myths.
The cult abounds in extravagant claims: The philosophy is over 5000 years old, the "maha mantra" (mentioned in one questionable Purana) is the method of god-realization in the age of "kali". The Bhagavatam and Gita are touted as "Vedas," and the goddess "Radha," not mentioned in either of those scriptures (which also do not mention the maha mantra), is touted as a supreme deity. The cult claims that their tobacco-snuff addicted guru is an "avatar" of god. They claim his blunt racism, misogyny, and anti-scientific views are "the word" and cannot be questioned. They claim they are in an unbroken lineage of master and disciple going back to the "Sun god" who pulls the sun around the earth with his chariot...
Tell your story and RUN.