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Fw: Cults In The News

Apr 06, 1998 08:56 PM
by Jeffrey Michael Hoover

>From: The Chela News <>
>Subject: Cults In The News
>Date: Monday, April 06, 1998 5:56 PM

Cults In The News
April 6, 1998

Source: "The Miami Herald" (Miami, Florida, USA)


NEW DELHI, India -- More than three decades after their movement was
founded in New York, the Hare Krishnas have come full circle -- from
exporting Indian spirituality to the West to using modern Western
technology to promote ancient Indian ideas.

On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will open the newest
Hare Krishna complex, which includes a temple and a cultural center where
robots act out Hindu scriptures.

The Hare Krishna movement -- formally known as the International Society
for Krishna Consciousness -- was founded in New York in the mid-1960s by
Srila Prabhupada, an Indian who believed it was his destiny to spread the
teachings of the Hindu god Krishna.

Today it claims a worldwide membership of more than 3 million.

Inside the red-brick cultural center, life-size robots that are mobile from
the waist up will act out scenes from the Bhagavad Gita and other ancient
Hindu texts.

Robot makers from Disneyland and Hollywood were putting the finishing
touches this week on the likenesses of gods, scenes from Indian epics and
computerized special effects.

"Everything can be used in the service of the lord . . . we are living in
an age where technology is respected," says Gopal Krishna Goswami,
spiritual leader of the project.

The Hare Krishna movement traces its spiritual lineage to the Bhagavad Gita
in which Krishna discourses on karma, life after death, life on other
planets, and the purpose of life.

The teachings are part of most Indians' spiritual upbringing, though Hare
Krishnas are followers of a specific guru's teachings.

Devotees must incorporate into their daily lives four principles drawn from
Hindu religious texts -- compassion, truthfulness, cleanliness and
austerity. To uphold those principles, devotees do not eat meat, use
tobacco or caffeine, have illicit sex, or gamble.

Prabhupada's students once chanted "hare Krishna" -- "hail Krishna" -- and
danced while handing out flowers and religious texts at airports and on
street corners. They often attracted ridicule.

Followers broke ties with their families, leading parents in the West to
accuse Hare Krishnas of being a cult that brainwashes impressionable young

Today, the spirit of renunciation that was integral to the movement has
altered considerably, and most Hare Krishnas hold regular jobs and raise
families, said spokesman Madana-Mohana Das.

"We had a stage where we were overzealous . . . people were ignorant about
us," Das said. "We are getting mature . . . acceptance is growing."

The Hare Krishnas relied entirely on Indian donors to raise the estimated
$6 million for the new temple.


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