The Hare Krishna movement is accurately described as a cult; Examination and comment on this claim.

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One day my friend and I met a young student in Nottingham who presented himself as a monk. He smiled all the time and said to us that we were very nice people. We had been specially chosen. If we gave him £10 he promised to give us a free CD. I saw a Hindu god on the cover of the CD and that one of the tracks were called Krishna Hare Hare. He told us that we could listen to the CD together and be happy. The CD would be given to us for free if we only gave him a little contribution of £10. The money, he said would go to education. He didn’t mention for whom. I asked him: How do I know that the money is going where you are telling me. Then he showed me pictures of multicoloured classrooms. But I still didn’t trust him so we didn’t give him any money. Another friend of mine bought a book of a similar monk further down the street. I say buy cause that what’s really happened. What it was called was: A special present for you if you give me a little contribution. Both of the monks appeared very friendly and happy. But smiles that never fade are for me false smiles. I looked in the book that my friend “had been given”. It was obvious that it was about a religious group. The book was filled with commands and pictures of happy people. The methods that the monks used are famous to be used by cult people. If you don’t know how to recognise a recruiter I can understand that it is easy to believe what they say. In this essay I am going to tell you how to recognise a cult.

The Hare Krishna has in many aspects been classified as a cult. In the book “Att leka med elden” (To play with fire) the author Karl-Erik Nylund has placed Hare Krishna as the sixth most dangerous cult in Sweden. Before we can examine and comment on this claim some things need clarifying. 1. What is a cult? 2. What is Hare Krishna?

What is a cult?

I started to look up the word cult in a dictionary and found the explanation: “A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authorian, charismatic leader.” If the cult is false why do so many people believe in it? I have looked up some information about how people are getting involved in cults that I will come back to later.

A cult is recognised by its leader. He or she can never be questioned and has therefore always right. The cults are often ruled by money; e.g. something terrible will happen to you if you don’t pay the leader a special amount of money. It is also forbidden to tell outsiders about the cults methods. One of the fastest growing international cults “The Scientologists” has a book, a kind of scientologist bible. For many years it has been impossible to read this book for outsiders. Now after that Zeno Panoussis has handed in the book to the Swedish government the book has because of its danger become an official document that anyone can read. It is now possible to go to a library and order the book but before you can get it a scientologist will come and hide it or borrow it before you. The only way to get it is to go to the Swedish consulate of the government where you can go directly and read it. But many people don’t know that so it still hard to get it without being a member. I think it’s obvious that they want to hide something. Here is a short summary of what the bible says:

The story of Xenu and the overpopulating problem

A long, long time ago an evil emperor ruled over the universe. His name was Xenu. 75 million years ago Xenu saw that the universe had been overpopulated. Something had to be done. To solve this problem Xenu took 78 billion humans from each planet. Evil psychiatrists injected them all with alcohol and glycol mixed to paralyse them. Then they were put on a big spaceship on the way to the planet Teegeeack (what we today call Earth). Here everyone was packed on the foot of the volcanoes on the Canary Islands. Atom bombs were blasted inside the volcanoes and the prisoners died. But their thetans (souls) were still alive and they wanted to return home. The thetans were caught in special thetan traps made of electronic rays. When they all had been collected they were packed in boxes and taken to huge cinemas where they over and over again were shown a film about God and Jesus. Now they were indoctrinated with false visual pictures of Christianity. When the thetans came out of the cinema they lumped together in clusters that went into those few humans that were still alive. Xenu was overthrown and locked in on a far distant planet. There he is now surrounded by a power plant that gets its energy from an eternal battery. Ends well all well.

But the thetans are still alive and they are living inside us and fill us with thoughts about Christianity and faith in a fake God. They stop us from developing and only with the Scientologist you can learn how to get rid of the thetans. This is the religious material that about 25000 people has been allowed to read after that they have paid a ransom of 600$ to go on the Scientologists “developing” courses.

Do you think that the story was ridiculous? So do I. But for a scientologist that has come to the stage where you are allowed to read the bible this is 100% truth. After that Zeno Panossis left the book to the Swedish government he had to leave the country.

How they recruit you

A cult recruit you with a method rather then a message. Most of the recruiters are young, good looking and appear to be very friendly. They will try to make you believe that you are specially chosen, if you just have lost your job or something traumatic just has happened in your life the recruiter has easier to convince you that everything will be fine. If you just follow the recruiter you will be rescued from all your problems.

Cognitive resonance

One of the most successful methods to catch you is by using social psychology. The American sociologist Leon Festinger studied a cult who believed that the world was going to be destroyed by a flood. Many people gave up their works and their homes for the cult. When the flood did not happen the members didn’t recognised that they hade made fool of themselves. Instead they were convinced that the flood did no happen because of the faithfulness of the cult members. The method this cult was using is called cognitive resonance. It is a way of making a lie to a truth. If learning something has been difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating enough, people are not likely to admit that the content of what has been learned is not valuable. To do so would be to admit that one has been “had” or “conned”. The more difficult it is to get on a course, the more people will value it and try to get in. That’s why so many people want to study psychology today. Ditto the more expensive etc. this method can easily be recognised in H.C Andersen’s fairytale “The Emperor’s cloths. One day two tailors came to the emperor to make him some new cloths. The tailors said that the cloths were very special and could help the emperor to see whom he could trust. Those, who were unable to see his new cloths had to be stupid. This was a very hard fact for both the emperor and the people when nobody could see the clothes and the same time didn’t want to appear as stupid.

How to recognise a cult

There are many way of how to recognise a cult. Except the ones given most cults wear a special uniform. This method is also used in the military and in many schools all over the world. The leaders uniform is a bit different to show the members that he/she has more status. The uniform symbolises that the members belong to something and make them think that they are all a part of a greater intellectual fellowship. Studies show that this feeling only is imaginable.

The members don’t get enough sleep so they have easier to be brainwashed. They want you to give them money but they refuse to show you where the money goes. They will say that it goes to print books and charity but normally there are no proofs for this.
The members are also forbidden to tell about the cults methods for outsiders.

What is Hare Krishna?

The Hare Krishna movement has its roots in the old Indian Veda writings. These contain knowledge, which comes from the highest lord. 500 years ago Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed himself to remind the Indians of this culture that nearly had been forgotten. Srila Prabhupada was one of those who took this culture to New York, where he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness ISKCON. Before he went to America he wrote what would come to be one of the most read writings for Hare Krishna. Before his death he had founded Krishna centres in 49 different countries and introduced millions of people to the Veda culture.

As a member of ISKCON you have to give some resolutions. You must promise not to eat any meat. The movement believes in reincarnation and if you e.g. eat a cow you will be a cow in all your next coming lives so you can feel the suffering in slaughter. You are not allowed to have sex except if you are married and are going to produce children. In the societies the leaders decide who will be allowed to get married with whom. It is forbidden to take drugs. Even cigarettes coffee and tea counts. The members often live in collectives. Here they have their own rules that do not always follow the general human rights. Girls are only allowed to go to school up till that they are twelve years old. This is because they early need to learn how to take care of the man, the children and the household. Women in the Hare Krishna are not allowed to work. Therefore they don’t need a higher education. Under their periods women are not allowed to be in the kitchen because this is seen as unhygienic. The Hare Krishna accepts homosexual but they are not allowed to have sex when they can’t do it to produce children. They also think that homosexuality can’t be really healthy. The Hare Krishna doesn’t look down on people who doesn’t belong to them but they feel sorry for them which I think is quite similar.

Why would Hare Krishna be a cult?

To recruit new members a cult uses a lot of social psychology. I have found some examples of this in Hare Krishna. On one of their homepages I read a poem. It was a description of a roe deer and how an emotionless man just killed this vulnerable poor little creature. It was painful just to read. If it were a person who talked about meateaters like that it would have been embarrassing or even humiliating to say that it was ok to eat meet. This would be the same thing as to say that you were a cold emotionless person.

The organisation also uses the code system of cloths. Here it’s not only a difference between members and leaders but also between men and women. Their claim that the genders only are a bodily difference and that man and woman are equal doesn’t live up to itself.

Every morning the members have to go up at 03.30 a.m. for the first temple ceremony. Here they sing and say the Hare Krishna mantra. Each member also has to meditate individually. They use bracelets with 108 beads. For each bead they have to say the mantra. Everyday they have to do 16 rounds. Here is an example of what they say:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
1728 times everyday.

Those who don’t follow this are told that they are not able to develop their love to God. This must doesn’t give the members enough sleep which is another sign of a cult. Without enough sleep the members are more unaware and are therefore easier to brainwash.


I have tried to find some good comments about cults, but all the information that I have found is very disparaging except the cults own information. The most mild that I have read that outsiders have said about the Hare Krishna is. We don’t agree with their views and we know that they are wrong but we respect what they

After a lot of research about what a cult is and if Hare Krishna fits in to this my answer is yes. Hare Krishna is defiantly a cult.


Baron Robert A. (et al.), Exploring Social psychology, Forth Edition, Allyn and Bacon.

Atherton J S (2003) Learning and Teaching: Cognitiv dissonance [Internet] UK: Avaliable from:

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