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The attitude towards religion in our society is not easy. The name itself is Western, because in its homeland, in India, the movement is called Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

According to the teachings, a Vaishnava is a devotee of the supreme Vishnu. The teaching of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is based on Vedic sources, like many others in India. In the West, Krishnaism appeared in 1965 thanks to Srila Prabhupada, a spiritual master.

And in 1971 he even visited the USSR, where he found students. This is how Krishnaism appeared in our country. The believers stood out sharply from the general crowd with their clothes, songs and dances. It is no coincidence that the authorities persecuted them, the inhabitants themselves persecuted them, considering them sectarians.

Today the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is perhaps the most influential Hindu organization in the West. There are branches in every major Russian city. So who are the Hare Krishnas and their teachings - a sect or a light teaching that allows you to achieve harmony? And how true is it and how close to Hinduism? It is worth debunking the main myths about this religion in order to get to know it better.

ISKCON is Hinduism. The teaching is relatively young, appearing at the time of the decline of traditional Indian philosophy and Vedism, at the time of the domination of Muslims there. Krishnaism was formed in Bengal, in the Islamic environment. And although the doctrine originated in the cults of the villagers of India, it was Islam, and later Christianity, that deeply influenced it. Prabhupada himself, translating and commenting on the Bhagavad Gita, brought there many of his own ideas that came from Bengali Vaishnuism. The Society for Krishna Consciousness is based on the little-spread philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Prabhupada saw that in the 60s people were immersed in spiritual quest. The answer was a cult that differed little in its essence from Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In Hinduism, the sixties were looking for complete mental liberation, Krishnaism is similar only outwardly. Prabhupada himself in his conversations revealed the attitude towards Hinduism. He explained that his teachings did not promote outdated and useless Hinduism, a branch of the Vedic religion. In India itself, few people are generally familiar with this philosophy in detail. Interestingly, in ISKCON there is a philosophy of dvaita, which implies dualism, the eternal break of man with God. This trend emerged with the Islamic invasion of India in the 12th century. But the founder of such a teaching, Madhva, openly conflicts with many sayings of the Upanishads and Vedas.

The Krishnas were the first to bring Hinduism to the West. That Krishnaism is not Hinduism is clear from the previous myth. There are patriarchy, characteristic of monotheism, and intolerance to other religions. And Hinduism did not appear in the West at all thanks to the pharmacist Abhay Charan (Prabhupada). The civilized world got acquainted with yoga much earlier, thanks to such gurus as Sivananda, Satyananda and Vivekananda. The latter spoke back in 1893 at the World Congress of Religions in Chicago, gaining applause with his address to the brothers and sisters of America. It was Vivekananda who aroused interest in Hinduism in America, who founded several Vedic centers, lectured and in every possible way initiated interest in his culture. In the middle of the 20th century, tantric and yogic techniques were discovered to the West by Satyananda Sarsvati. He became famous all over the world as an authoritative representative of Hinduism. While Prabhupada was engaged in propaganda work, Sarsvati conducted quite scientific research on the influence of yoga on human physiology. Yes, the West and independently discovered the East and India. Kipling, Gese, Roerichs wrote about her. In this environment, Prabhupada does not look like a guru, but as a charismatic leader and businessman who managed to combine the techniques of sects and NLP.

Krishnaism is an ancient Vedic tradition. In fact, the followers of this teaching of the Upanishads and Vedas do not recognize. Gaudiya Vaishnavizim appeared in Islamic Bengal in the 16th century. The doctrine was based on authoritative scriptures created later. The very word "Vedism" is often used for speculation purposes. Even books on Bengali cooking are being published under the name Vedic Cookery. But there is nothing in common with that period and its culture, when it was possible to eat meat of animals and even cows.

Krishnaism is an open, peace-loving religion. It is difficult to recognize Gaudiya Vaishnavism as a peace-loving religion. Believers themselves call it the only correct one, while other schools of Hinduism are called literally "fake teaching." Prabhupada himself openly stated in his lecture that he considers yogis, karmis, jnanis to be simply rascals, with whom one cannot associate and eat together. People, on the other hand, should be freed as quickly as possible from such philosophical systems as Buddhism, Jaivanism and Mayavada. Other philosophies are considered hostile, and their followers are considered offensive.

ISKCON is true Krishnaism. The representatives of ISKCON themselves consider themselves to be real Hare Krishnas who believe in the main deity, ishtadevata, Krishna. In fact, this is just one of the directions of Krishnaism, moreover, not the most prosperous. On a philosophical level, there are differences with other cults of the deity. In India, even traditional Krishnaism does not recognize the representatives of ISKCON, not allowing them to enter the temples.

ISKCON and the Gouda Sampradaya are Vaishnavism, and the Hare Krishnas are Vaishnavas. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are not pure Vaisnavas. After all, primordial Vaishnava texts such as Vishnu Purana, Yoga Vasishtha are not considered authoritative here. ISKCON does not recognize the traditional way of Vaishnava religion, except for Vishnu the supreme deity. His place was taken by the shepherd Krishna, who came from the cult of the abhirov shepherds. The Vaishnavas have four lineages: Rudra, Brahma, Lakshmi and Kumara. But the direction of Gaudiya does not apply here. The Krishnas try to add authority to themselves by posing as followers of Brahma. But their teaching is very different.

ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math are the only followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the Gaudiya Sampradaya. The major Gaudiya Vaishnavist movements do not recognize Prabhupada and his disciples as the authoritative representatives of their family. Back at the end of the 19th century, Bhaktivinod Thakura, together with his son Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, took and declared the rest of the Gaudiya teachings unauthorized, mired in lies. With connections to British colonial power, the thinkers were able to promote their cult.

ISKCON Books are Indian Vedas. The fact that these philosophical records are the Vedas is only mentioned in them. But that doesn't give them overall authority. The true spirit of the Upanishads and Vedas is alien to the creations of the Gaudis, besides, the basis of their philosophy (the identity of God and soul) is criticized with might and main.

ISKCON, like Gaudiya Vaishnavism, is popular in India. This teaching is known there to a maximum of one percent of people. Even in the homeland of the tradition, Bengal, there are quite few followers, in contrast to the much more traditional directions of Hinduism.

ISKCON and Gaudiya Vaishnavism are taught by professional gurus. Bhaktivinod Thakur was a lawyer in the colonial British government. Abhay Charan, before becoming Prabhupada, was a pharmacist who graduated from a Christian college. So ISKCON gurus are not professional or hereditary brahmana thinkers. Continuity from authoritative traditions was not envisaged. As a result, the spirituality of the community was shaped in such a way that it was expressed in a series of sex scandals with children in the 1970s and in the criminal train that accompanied the movement in the West. Hare Krishnas began to be associated with extortion and drugs, and not with spirituality.

In Krishnaism, Shiva and other deities are demigods. Hinduism honors Shiva, Brahma and other gods as complete supreme beings. But in the tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the Indian word “deva” is translated not as “god” but as “demigod”. This is done on purpose to diminish the importance of other deities in relation to Krishna. The first of the Vedas says about the gods that they are all equally great. In Hinduism in general, Shiva is considered not something that is not a demigod, but on the contrary, a Great God. His cult is very ancient and revered by the people. But the attitude towards Krishna in India is not so straightforward.

Krishnas perceive God only as a person. After the 16th century, Gaudiya Vaishnavism thinkers put forward the idea that the impersonal absolute, Brahman, is the illumination of the god Govinda. This primitive and naturalistic philosophy still dominates ISKCON today. But traditional Hinduism believes that the absolute can take the form of a person (God, Ishtadevata, Bhagavan), and an impersonal form (Brahman, Sadashiva).

The distribution of books by Hare Krishnas is their spiritual activity. In fact, the distribution of Gaudiya Vaishnava literature is a business as usual built by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Almighty and absolute God does not need such help to spread the truth, especially if it leads to the enrichment of the book publisher.

Through practices, Hare Krishnas can be freed from samsara. The Gaudias are offered to practice goloka, but its goal is not liberation from samsara at all. This is the same world where karma acts like others. And Hinduism considers the attainment of Nirvana and the state of Brahman to be real liberation. Yoga practitioners consider the higher and lower worlds to be hindrances, because samsara operates there. For them, she is a symbol of eternal torment.

Hare Krsna is a Vedic mantra. There is no such mantra in the Vedas. It appeared in the already modern text "Kalisantarana Upanishad". And this mantra is not included in the canon of the sacred texts of Hinduism.

Hare Krishnas respect women, considering them equal. Gaudiya Vaishnavism emerged on the basis of Islamic views. It is not surprising that sexism and patriarchy are clearly expressed here. In ISKCON, men are kept separate from women, they cannot occupy top positions, there are divisions in clothing. One of the leaders of the Hare Krishna community, Kirtanananda Swami, generally said that the drum, the dog and the wife get better from being beaten. In the Bhagavad Purana, Prabhupada deliberately speaks primitively about the womb, calling it a stinking womb, a breeding ground for worms and worms, a mess of blood, urine and stool. But in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, being in the womb, on the contrary, is compared with divine consciousness and carelessness. There are even practices designed to return the soul to that state.

Hare Krishna sexuality is not sinful. And again it is worth remembering that the doctrine was created on the basis of Islam, in which sexuality is prohibited. Sex is recognized only as a means of reproduction. But in Hinduism in general there is a pronounced cult of sexuality. There are often revered symbols of male and female genitals, images of copulating gods. In Hinduism, sex is not low and sinful; in some teachings, it is generally a tool for spiritual development.