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Inside the Hare Krishna Movement: An Ancient Eastern Religious Tradition Comes of Age in the Western World Hardcover – April 10, 2001
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The ICB followed a policy of strict privacy until 1991. It was thought be an "inside" information because the ISKCON distracters were not just vociferous but were also in head-hunting (paid kidnappings) and de¬programming efforts. This information ban was lifted in 1991, but the newsletter usually remained within the confines of local temples. The writings commented on events of the day: the demise of Mother Teresa and of Princess Diana, euthana-sia, nuclear proliferation, Oprah Winfrey's legal battle over meat, and issues on the environment mainly from the Hare Krishna viewpoint. In one instance in 1976, Srila Prabhupada was angered by a defamatory article that appeared in a Bombay tabloid called Blitz. The devotees contacted magazine but the stories continued for nearly a month, and later it also published favorable articles about ISKCON. The planned lawsuit was called off. Another interesting development was in 1986 in Springbook, Australia, the Krishna kids sang Hari Bandhu's arrangement of "Dear Mr. Gorbachev, Please Let Our Friends Go." This was promoted in support of the oppressed Soviet Hare Krishnas, culminating in a popular record sung by twelve-year-old Prahlada dasa, the media covered this campaign, and the two pictures (in this book) of adorable Krishna kids in traditional attire singing, and holding protest signs outside Soviet embassy in Sydney speaks volumes about the tremendous effect on the conscious of the public.
The Sunday feast is a traditional temple service followed by generous distribution of prasadam (delicious vegetarian dishes) in the form of Food for Life has helped the positive image of the organization. In the wake of a US Supreme Court decision banning collecting monies for books in US airports, ISKCON Los Angeles took its case before the Los Angeles City Council early 1990s, and its purpose was to establish its right to distribute books and collect money in the Los Angeles airport. The council agreed with ISKCON, a successful negotiating strategy worked. ISKCON used the threat of a lawsuit as a means to negotiate for a positive story. One such battle was with NBC in 1978 when NBC aired a malicious story about ISKCON's Bombay temple. The threat of lawsuit resulted in the airing of another positive story about the "Palace of Gold" in West Virginia.
Good community relations with neighbors have helped ISKCON centers in Detroit, Dallas, and Kiev (Ukraine). In 1980s, devotees in Detroit purchased several houses opposite the temple and renovated them and the local government and neighborhood associations treated this as good commu¬nity service. The area was like a slum but ISKCON volunteered to improve the neighborhood. Similar story from East Dallas, a poverty pocket of the city, but the devotees dug in, bought houses near the temple, and started renovating them. They also turned a school-house into a beautiful temple room, built up an attractive and popu¬lar restaurant, and managed all operations carefully and with great concern for the "host" community. In Ukraine, the capital city of Kiev, devotees wanted to construct five floors of a projected seven-story building, which will comprise a temple, community hall, restaurant, and living facilities for men and women. The construction site is in the middle of a suburban residential area. The devotees found themselves with no permission to build, because of widespread corruption in the government, even though they did have all the funds and building materials on hand to complete the entire structure. So they decided to begin an intensive Hare Krishna Food for Life program among their would¬-be neighbors, promising to make this a lifelong program. Local officials tried to pressure the neighbors to petition against the devotees, but to no avail. In fact, the neighbors insisted that ISKCON's plan move forward unobstructed. Their neigh¬bors became supportive of their ongoing presence in the neighborhood.
1. Hare Krishna in America
2. The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant
3. Hare Krishna Transformed (The New and Alternative Religions Series)
4. Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights
He wrote in the Introduction to this 2001 book, "[this book] spans a period of only ten years... It has been assembled from the vantage point of an insider. From 1988 to 1998 the Hare Krishna movement was developing in ways hidden from people... Twenty years after its founding in 1966, ISKCON had become a fact of life. We were here to stay. In my view, our movement would influence the world. It was in this historical context that I decided to publish the following collection of 'insider' essays and editorial views, which, for a time, were strictly confidential... 'Inside' is a look into how we saw things from the inside out." (Pg. xix, xx)
He notes, "Srila Prabhupada often said we should present Krishna consciousness as a cultural, scientific movement and not necessarily as a religion." (Pg. 33) Later, he adds, "Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam should be out guidebooks for improving the quality of life. They present a basis for broad values and a morality universal enough to help America unravel its present moral enigma." (Pg. 109)
He asserts, "ISKCON devotees know that miracles occur. The very fact that one elderly and ill gentleman from India spread Krishna consciousness throughout the world in a few years, and that this global assault on godlessness continues since his passing nineteen years ago, is itself a supernatural happening. The radical transformation of thousands of lives now committed to spiritual life, many of whom follow strict vows of celibacy as well as eschewing meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling, is Srila Prabhupada's miracle." (Pg. 165) He adds, "The transformation of selfish humans into godly saints is the most astonishing miracle of all." (Pg. 168)
He recounts, "Regarding the end justifying the means, Srila Prabhupada wrote... 'Regarding the controversy about book distribution techniques, you are right. Our occupation must be honest. Everyone should adore our members as honest. If we do something which is deteriorating to the popular sentiments of the public in favor of our movement, that is not good. Somehow or other we should not become unpopular in the public eye. These dishonest methods must be stopped. It is hampering our reputation all over the world. Money collected for feeding people in India should be collected under the name ISKCON Food Relief." (Pg. 210) Later, Goswami adds, "All religions depend on donations. In the past, some of our devotees were overly zealous in approaching the public. We are sorry for that. Now we are much more careful about training our volunteers. If anyone ever experiences a problem with one of our members, we encourage that person to immediately contact our local leadership so that we can rectify it." (Pg. 233)
Definitely not suited as an "overview" of the Hare Krishna movement, this book will nevertheless be very valuable for anyone looking for more detailed and specific information about it.