The origin of the Hare Krishnas (International Society for
Krishna Con-sciousness or ISKCON) dates back to the fifteenth
century A.D., when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu developed The Doctrines
of Krishnaism from the Hindu sect of Vishnuism.
Simply stated, Vishnuism believed Vishnu, the Supreme God,
manifested himself at one time as Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
taught the reverse: Krishna was the chief God who had revealed
himself at one time as Vishnu. The doctrinal system of Krishnaism
is Hinduistic and while worshiping Krishna, acknowledges
universal monism. This system believes every individual must go
through a series of successive lives (rein-carnation) to rid
himself of the debt of his actions (karma).
Krishnaism was one of the early attempts to make philosophical
Hin-duism appealing to the masses. While pure Hinduism's god is
impersonal and unknowable, Krishnaism (and other sects)
personalize god and pro-mote worship of and interaction with the
personalized aspects of god, such as Krishna. In 1965 Krishnaism
came to America by means of Abhay Charan De Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, an aged Indian exponent of the wor-ship of Krishna.
He founded ISKCON and remained its leader until his death in
1977. Presently, ISKCON is ruled by two different groups, one
group of eleven men rule over spiritual matters, while a board of
direc-tors heads the administrative matters. This wealthy
organization presently has about 10,000 members in America. Part
of ISKCON's wealth comes from soliciting funds and distributing
its lavishly illustrated literature including the Bhagavad-Gita:
As It Is and its periodical Back to Godhead. ISKCON's beliefs are
those of Hinduism and are wholly incompatible with Christianity.
This can be observed by a comparison between the statements of
ISKCON on matters of belief with those of the Bible.
The Bible speaks of God as the infinite-personal creator of the
universe. He is eternally a separate entity from His creation. He
existed before His creation came into being. The Scripture says,
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the
earth" (Genesis 1:1), showing God was there before His
ISKCON practices monotheism. However it assumes traditional
Hin-duistic monism (essential pantheism). To them they are all
one. "In the beginning of the creation, there was only the
Supreme Personality Narayana. There was no Brahma, no Siva, no
fire, no moon, no stars in the sky, no sun. There was only
Krishna, who creates all and enjoys all.
"All the lists of
the incarnations of Godhead are either plenary expan-sions or
parts of the plenary expansions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna
(alternate spelling of Krishna) is the original Personality of
Godhead Himself," Srimad Bhagavatam 1:3:28 (Bhaktivedanta
Book Trust, n.d.).
According to Scripture, Jesus Christ is God Almighty who became a
man in order to die for the sins of the world. He has been God
from all eternity. "In the beginning was the Word and the
Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1). ISKCON
denies this by making Christ no more than Krishna's son.
"Jesus is the son, and Krsna is the Father, and Jesus is
Krsna's son" (Jesus Loves Krsna, Los Angeles Bhaktivedanta
Book Trust, n.d., p. 26).
The Bible teaches that all of us have sinned against a holy God
and are therefore in need of a Savior: "For all have sinned
and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23); "For
the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). This is not so
in the teachings of ISKCON. According to ISKCON, salva-tion must
be earned by performing a series of works. To get rid of the
ignorance, one must practice disciplinary devotion by chanting
the name of God, hearing and singing his praises, meditating upon
the divine play and deeds of KRSNA, and engaging in the rites and
ceremonies of worship. One must also repeat the name of God to
the count of beads (Abhay Charan de Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada, Bhagavad-Gita As It Is p. 326).
Self-denial and sacrifice are crucial for salvation in ISKCON.
Note the following quotation: All these performers who know the
meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reactions, and,
having tasted the nectar of the remnants of such sacrifices, they
go to the supreme eternal atmosphere (ibid p. 81).
The Passantinos have done extensive research in the area of the
cults, and they offer pertinent comments regarding salvation in
Salvation in Hare
Krishna is thoroughly entwined with the Hindu concept of karma,
or retributive justice. This teaching, which requires belief in
rein-carnation and/or transmigration of the soul, says that one's
deeds, good and bad, are measured and judged either for or
against him. Only when his good deeds have "atoned" for
his bad deeds (and he is thus cleansed of this evil world) can he
realize his oneness with Krishna and cease his cycles of rebirth.
The idea of karma and reincarnation is anti-biblical. Is it just
or reasonable for a man to suffer in this life or be required to
atone for sins in this life that he committed in a previous life
that he doesnt even remember? How can suf-fering for an
unknown sin reform the sinner and mature him to the point where
he no longer performs that sin? Such so-called justice is cruel
and absolutely opposed to the God of the Bible (Robert and
Gretchen Passantino, op. cit., p.150).
Since ISKCON has a different God, a different Jesus, and a
different way of salvation from what the Bible reveals, it is
impossible for there to be any compatibility between the two.
They differ on all crucial issues. A person must choose between
Krishna and Jesus Christ; no harmony can exist between the sect
of Hare Krishna and Christianity.
Hare Krishna Terms
ISKCON- Acronym for the official name for the Hare Krishna
movement: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Prabhupada, A. C. Bhaktivedanta -Late founder and spiritual head
of ISKCON, a religious philosophy of self-denial where the
devotees stress asceticism to attain God-consciousness. Born in
India in 1896, he came to America in 1965 with the message of
Krishna. He was considered by his devotees as Krishna's
representative on earth.
Back to Godhead-The best-known of the Hare Krishna (ISKCON)
Bhakti Yoga -The type of yoga, or exercise to spirituality,
practiced by Hare Krishnas.
Karma -The Hindu idea of one's accumulated debts (bad deeds).
Karma must be paid for during an individual's succession of lives
Karmis -The Hare Krishna term for non-members, who are said to be
captives of their own bad karma.
Laksmi -The Hare Krishna term for money. Also the name of one of
the Hindu god Krishna's consorts. (Also Lakshma.)
Mantra -The Hindu prayer chant, specialized for each Hindu sect,
in-cluding the Hare Krishnas.
Nirvana -The Hindu concept of heaven or bliss.
Paramatma -The Hare Krishna term for the Holy Spirit.
Sankirtana -The mantra, or religious chant in the Hare Krishna
move-ment. Chanting of the Sankirtana "brings one ever
closer to God--consciousness. " This term is now used
loosely to refer to any income--producing activity.