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Devotees Turn To Krishna Lifestyle For Solace

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A group chants on the corner of University Avenue and Northwest 13th Street with smiles spread wide.

Energy flows through the gathering, as a simple three-word mantra is repeated: “Hare, Krishna, Rama.” Dressed in flowing, embroidered clothing imported from India and singing in Sanskrit, the Hare Krishna have an air of mystery about them.

Some of Gainesville’s residents may find them unusual, but others have become familiar with the Krishna devotees who have held a presence in the community for more than four decades.

The group frequently gives out literature and serves an all-vegetarian Krishna Lunch at the University of Florida’s Plaza of the Americas, yet some remain skeptical of the spirituality’s legitimacy.

Leah Robbins, a 21-year-old Jewish and women’s studies double major, eats the Krishna lunch once-a-month but believes the religion is based on commodifying trendy parts of Eastern culture.

“They engage in, and profit off of, cultural appropriation,” she said. “They’ve made a pseudo-religion out of the ‘culturally acceptable’ pieces of Hinduism that real Hindus get harassed for. But we eat their food because it’s cheap and we gotta eat.”

The Hare Krishna’s beliefs are based on the teachings of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the movement and translated an ancient Hindu text called the Bhagavad Gita. The philosophy centers on devoting one’s life to God by doing good works and engaging in different forms of meditation.

Christiana Ramirez, a 25-year-old devotee for two months, chants during a kirtan ceremony at the Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua on Sunday, May 21. "I didn't get through the first round, and I had these tears of blissful joy coming down my face," she said. "And I cannot describe the feeling this day, it's such a strong feeling. And when you feel that, you know there is a God."
Christiana Ramirez, a 25-year-old devotee for two months, chants during a kirtan ceremony at the Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua on Sunday, May 21. \”I didn\’t get through the first round, and I had these tears of blissful joy coming down my face,\” she said. \”And I cannot describe the feeling this day, it\’s such a strong feeling. And when you feel that, you know there is a God.\”” credit=”Ashley Lombardo / WUFT

Gainesville is a destination for the spiritual philosophy, and travelers come to live and work at the Krishna House at 214 NW 14th St. Young people come from all over, including Orlando and Virginia, to study there. The house, which currently has 28 members, also draws students who are given the option to live there for free while learning about and practicing the religion.

Lavanga Devi Dasi (formerly Lacie Rosser; Dasi is the surname all female devotees take, she said) is a 25-year-old single mother from Panama City Beach. She was a UF student when she became a devotee.

Lavanga recalls her difficult journey with alcohol-induced fun and working with the sole goal of achieving material gains.

She found her way to Krishna lunch after telling her roommate about her aching stomach and empty wallet. In September 2011, her friends encouraged her to eat the food on campus. The meal was safe, but many warned if she were to eat the food at the Krishna House, it may have additives that would influence her to agree with their belief system.

“I thought, even if they give me stuff that makes me super high, at least I’ll have a story to tell my friends,” she said.

After continued interactions, Lavanga felt there was something different about the devotees and spent more time with them. She was invited to move into the Krishna House when her lease ended, but her mother remained suspicious.

“She’s like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. That is a cult’,” Lavanga said.

Lavanga’s mother was referring to allegations of abuse in the 1980s after Prabhupada’s death, when many of his disciples became hungry for power and deviated from his instructions.

Reports of child abuse in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) boarding schools led anti-cult watchdogs to pounce on the organization, creating the controversy seen in documentary films, such as “The Krishna Calling” and BBC London’s 1980s program “The Hare Krishna Cult.”

“It happened, but those people aren’t around anymore,” she said. “That doesn’t take away how great this philosophy is.”

Lavanga moved into the house despite her mother’s disagreement and continues to practice today. She suffers from cerebral palsy and finds solace in the Hare Krishna philosophy that humans are benevolent souls, not just a body. The Krishna spend their lives working on the soul, rather than serving the material body’s needs and desires.

For others, like Christiana Ramirez, a 25-year-old former Air Force member for four years, the Krishna House allowed her to break free from everyday pressures. It helped her re-direct her love of dancing and time spent with lost souls in nightclubs toward creating a connection with God.

“The temple is my church now,” she said. “I dance with these people all the time, every Sunday.”

While some are drawn like magnets to the philosophy of the Hare Krishna, others question its validity.

Jeffrey Howell, a 24-year-old pre-physician assistant at North Florida Regional Medical Center, is a member of Gators for Christ at UF. Howell appreciates the concept of worshiping God by serving others but doesn’t necessarily believe the Hare Krishna are on the right path.

“I do believe that Hare Krishna, according to God’s standards, is definitely a false religion,” he said. “I believe that people can be drawn to these kind of religions because they can see certain elements that are truth.”

The Hare Krishna movement is shrouded by the fact that its devotees do not try to aggressively convert the Gainesville population. They prefer to allow people to inquire on their own, according to Lavanga.

“I’ve looked for happiness elsewhere, and there’s actually nothing more blissful than this process,” she said. “But you have to experience it yourself to understand it fully.”

About Ashley Lombardo

Ashley is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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9 comments

  1. Really WUFT?
    To get an objective student perspective on the Krishna’s you’re asking a Jewish studies major and a member of Gators for Christ?
    I’m wondering why you missed the opportunity to ask him his feelings about other important issues of the day like gay marriage or reproductive rights? Or for that matter, why not ask the young Jewish lady her opinion on the benefits of “Gators for Christ” on campus?
    The comment saying the Hare Krishna practice is a profit-seeking pseudo religion is patently offensive.
    The concluding statement say’s the Krishna’s are “shrouded” because they don’t actively proselytize.
    Are we talking about vegetarian hippies or Count Dracula?
    This type of sensational reporting would be more at home in the National Enquirer.

  2. The International Society of Krishna
    Consciousness (“ISKCON”) Hare Krishna (“C-U-L-T”) is focused on a leader to
    whom members must display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.

    ICKSON is preoccupied with bringing
    in new members unknowingly and with making money.

    Questioning, doubt, and dissent are
    discouraged or even punished.

    ISKCON’s mind-numbing techniques
    such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and
    debilitating work routines are used to suppress doubts about the group and its
    leader(s).

    ISKCON leadership dictates sometimes
    in great detail how members should think, act, and feel.

    ISKCON is elitist, claiming a
    special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and members.

    ISKCON has a polarized ‘us-versus-them’
    mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.

    ISKCON teaches or implies that its
    supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered
    unethical before joining the group (for example: collecting money for bogus
    causes).

    The ISKCON leadership induces guilt
    feelings in members in order to control them.

    Members’ subservience to the group causes them to cut ties
    with family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities that were
    of interest before joining the group.

    ISKCON members are encouraged or
    required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

    ISKCON Deception – Group identity
    and/or true motives are not revealed. The group leaders tell members to
    withhold truth from outsiders.

    Emotional Leverage/Love Bombing –
    Instant friendship, extreme helpfulness, generosity and acceptance…ISKCON recruiters
    “lovingly” will not take “no” for an answer-invitations
    impossible to refuse without feeling guilty and/or ungrateful.
    “Love”, “generosity”, “encouragement” are used to
    lower defenses and create an ever increasing sense of obligation, debt and
    guilt.

    ISKCON Exploits Personal Crisis –
    They use an existing crisis as a means of getting you to participate.

    ISKCON employs tactics designed to
    create or deepen confusion, fear, guilt or doubt

    ISKCON has all The Answers – Provides
    simple answers to the confusion they, themselves, create. Support these answers
    with material produced or “approved” by the group.

    ISKCON intense Study – Focus is on
    group doctrine and writings.

    ISKCON recruiters are told that the
    “devil” will cause relatives and friend to say bad things about the
    group to try to “steal them away from their religious and spirituality
    path.” Recruits soon believe group members, alone, are truthful/trustworthy.

    ISKCON guilt and Fear – ISKCON dwells
    on members’ “sinful nature” (many use public confession). Guilt and
    fear arising from “failing Krishna” are magnified to manipulate new
    members.

    ISKCON schedule Control &
    Fatigue – Study and service become mandatory. New member becomes too busy to
    question. Family, friends, jobs and hobbies are squeezed out, further isolating
    the new member.

    ISKCON attack Independent Thought –
    Critical thinking is discouraged as prideful and sinful, blind acceptance is encouraged.

    ISKCON insist on total,
    unquestioning obedience and submission to the group, both actions and thoughts.
    Group “love” and acceptance becomes dependent upon obedience and
    submission. Unconditional love…isn’t.

    ISKCON Totalism – “Us against
    them” thinking. Strengthens group identity.

    ISKCON Motive Questioning- When
    sound evidence against the group is presented, members are taught to question
    the motivation of the presenter. The verifiable (Fact/documentation) is ignored
    because of doubts over the unverifiable (presenter’s motives).

    ISKCON Information Control – Group
    controls what convert may read or hear. They discourage (forbid) contact with
    ex-members or anything critical of the group. Ex-members become feared and
    avoidance of them becomes a “survival issue.”

    Isolation, Separation &
    Alienation – Group becomes substitute family. Members encouraged to drop
    non-members, family and friends, told to relocate, give up hobbies, etc.

    ISKCON Phobias – The idea is planted
    that anyone who leaves goes into a life of depravity and sin, loses their
    sanity, dies, or will have children die, etc. Constant rumors of bad things
    happening to people who leave. No one ever leaves for “legitimate reasons.”

    Striving for the Unreachable – Group
    membership and service are essential for enlightenment. “Work your way into
    Krishna’s favor.” NO matter what you do, it is never enough.

  3. Great article, Ashley! I’ve been a Hare Krsna member (devotee) for over 40 years; so I know a thing or two about it. I live in the City of Alachua where we have a rural community, including our new Krishna eco-farm, just 17 miles from UF.

    It’s true that we do not actively try to convert people; we just let people know we’re here, feed the UF student body healthy vegetarian cuisine, sometimes chant the holy names of God and distribute our books. What we do offer is an education in the science of God which is the most important subject of all and the one that can put an end to all human suffering. Strangely, it’s the one subject the university doesn’t teach.

    Some of the comments by other writers here are hardly worth mentioning; but briefly… Hare Krsna is not a cult. We don’t care whether a new member makes money; Krishna consciousness doesn’t cost anything. In 40 years I have never seen anyone punished for questioning or dissenting. Mind numbing techniques??? We don’t speak in tongues or have denunciation sessions (whatever those are). The rest of his list is equally made up.

    • Hey Paul Is it okay to lie in Iskcon Hare Krishna or do you just use HK propaganda? Lets see you have been in it for 40-years? Iskcon is 50-years old. Are you a pedophile? Did you also abuse all the thousands of kids-see below? You must be so proud of your 50-year history. How many rounds do you chant a day to function? You are most definitely are a cult and a continuous criminal organization. Please use the internet once in a while, you have thousands of ex-members that say you are a cult, why would they lie? Why would they say you ruined their lives? Why would they say you made them numb, stuck, crazy and foolish? It is tough to hide from the truth -isn’t it? Ask the parents of your cult and see how their kids are doing.

      1. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of kids continues. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of minor children was inflicted on children from as young as 3 years of age to 18 years of age, and included both boys and girls.

      2. The abuse to which the ISKCON children were subjected was inflicted on some children for several years. It included a pattern and practice of sexual abuse of both boys and girls, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. In many instances, the abuse could be accurately described as torture of children. Some examples of the types of abuse and neglect to which the children, ranging in age from 3 years to 18 years, were subjected include but are not limited to:

      B. ABUSE INFLICTED

      3. Sexual abuse including rape, oral sex, intercourse with children, sexual fondling of children, and masturbation with children.

      4. Physical beatings of children with boards, branches, clubs, and poles.

      5. Physical beatings by adult teachers and school leaders with fists to the head and stomach.

      6. Kicking the children into submission.

      7. Children were in some instances made to walk great distances in bitter cold, including snow and rain, without jackets, coats, or shoes.

      8. Children were often forced to sleep on cold floors and in unheated rooms.

      9. Children were frequently deprived entirely of medical care or provided such inadequate medical care as to suffer long-term and, in some instances, permanent injury. The medical conditions for which children were not treated included malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever, teeth being knocked out, broken facial bones, and broken bones in their hands, often inflicted as they attempted to shield themselves from beatings.

      10. Children were sometimes kept in filthy conditions. In at least one instance, a local group utilized what had recently been a cattle or horse barn for a nursery.

      11. In almost every school the children were kept in severely overcrowded conditions, often forced to sleep shoulder to shoulder on the floor or in small rooms in three-high bunks with 10 or 12 children to each tiny room.

      12. The children were physically abused by being awakened every day in the early morning hours (generally at 4:00 a.m.) and subjected to a cold shower, after which they were taken, without any breakfast, to a daily religious service. At some schools, the children were forced to walk
      great distances in the dark to attend the service, and often in cold or rainy
      conditions, clothed only in their thin gown-like “dhoti.”

      13. The children were not provided bathroom tissue, but instead were expected to wipe themselves with their fingers, after which they would dip their fingers into a bowl of water.

      14. As punishment for not cleaning themselves thoroughly, children were scrubbed with steel wool until their skin was raw and sometimes bleeding.

      15. Children were abused when they were forced to sleep on their wet blankets or in tubs as punishment if they wet their bedding.

      16. Some children were forced to wear their soiled underclothes on their heads for long periods of time because they had wet themselves.

      17. Children were often forced to go without food entirely, either because there was none, or as punishment. When food was provided, it was always inadequate for a growing child’s diet.

      18. The inadequate food that was provided was often prepared in unsanitary conditions, was of very poor quality and so unpleasant that even hungry children frequently could not eat it. In at least one school, the children learned as a matter of routine to remove insects from their food before eating it.

      19. Each child was expected to eat what they were provided. If they did not do so, their served portion was kept on their plates until the next meal when it was served again. This process often continued until the cold food — even moldy and insect-infested — was swallowed.

      20. In some schools, children were forced to lick up their vomit from any foul food they may have thrown up.

      21. …three young boys, about six or seven years of age, who worked in the kitchen, took some food to their hungry friends. They were caught and punished by being gagged, having bags placed over their heads, and being put in a small room for several days with only a bucket for their waste and no food or water. One of the same boys was later slammed by a teacher into a marble wall, resulting in a loss of some teeth and fractured facial bones.

      22. Children were controlled by various threats to hurt or kill them and by punishments. Young children, strictly limited to a vegetarian diet, were continually terrorized when told that non-Krishna’s were meat-eaters, that they ate each other, and that the children, if given to or taken by the meat-eaters, would themselves be eaten.

      23. Children often saw rats in their rooms and schools. Some children were told the rats lived in a particular old closet, and the child would be, and often was, placed in the closet if they didn’t do as told.

      24. One form of punishment included forcing little children to stand on a crate for long periods of time in a darkened closet “so the rats would not eat them.”

      25. Very young children were in fact placed in those dark and locked closets and left afraid and crying for hours at a time. They were locked overnight in dark cellars with dirt floors. One young child was made to sleep alone in the loft of a cold barn for many nights.

      26. Sometimes the children were sent by their superiors to massage and bathe the religious gurus and then drink their now “blessed bath water.”

      27. In some cases, children were stuffed into trash barrels for periods of two to three days, with the lid on, as punishment for relatively trivial “sins.”

      28. Children were almost universally told that if they disclosed their condition or complained to their parents or others, they would be severely punished. When complaints were made, the children were publicly and often severely beaten or subjected to other forms of punishment.

      29. Girls, as young as 12 or 13 years, were frequently “given” or “promised” to an older male in the movement. Although their marriages were generally not sexually consummated until the child was at least 16 or 17 years old, the little girls were terrorized by the threats, and often reality, of being given away by their leaders to become engaged to marry “strange old men.”

      30. Children were often forced to lie awake in their beds or sleeping bags and listen as their little friends were sexually molested by teachers and other leaders.

      31. The children were emotionally abused by subjecting them to near-total parental and societal isolation. In an effort to totally control their minds, the children were, in most cases, separated and isolated from their parents and were not allowed to have regular contact with their parents. Personal visits, correspondence, and telephone calls were either forbidden or discouraged. Gifts, particularly of food, were intercepted. For example, one young boy felt abandoned by his parents, and had no contact with his family for more than a year. He later learned the one small package of cookies sent by his mother was intercepted and kept from him.

      32. Children were frequently moved to different schools in different states without the consent (or, sometimes, knowledge) of parents. Some children were hidden from parents. Some boys were shipped out of the country to ISKCON schools in India. In at least some cases, after the parents discovered their child’s whereabouts and made arrangements for them to
      come home, their plane tickets were intercepted, and torn up in front of the
      children. Then, these children were punished for their parents’ attempt to bring them home.

      33. Even though the children were given by their parents to ISKCON to educate, except for the reading of their “Vedic scriptures,” the children received little or no education.

      34. Because of near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education, the children who remained within the ISKCON schools for extended periods of time were totally unequipped to enter outside society. They have experienced extreme difficulty in earning a living, entering and maintaining relationships, including marriage, and in adapting to the laws and regulations of society. Many are in need of extended psychological
      and/or vocational training, rehabilitation, and medical care.

      YES WE ARE ISKCON-HARE KRISHA

      BRINGS US YOUR KIDS, EAT OUR FOOD.

  4. To Our ISKCON Hare
    Krishna Devotees:

    Please accept my
    humble obedience, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    It’s a fact, we
    started out racist against blacks, homophobic against gays, sexist against
    women, anti-Semitic against Jews and thoroughly against all others who
    don’t believe in our illusions, fairytales and fantasies and we still are
    today, but we love our cows, and we eat our vegetables.

    We have lovingly
    grown up in the past 50-years to be known as specialist in child sexual abuse,
    child sexual torture, slave labor, mind-control, thought-reform and
    brainwashing.

    We put the god in
    Krishna, and our bone in your kids.

    Even though we are
    not material, we love your money too, so YOU can become more spiritually advanced
    with Krishna and US with your money, and with no more child sex abuse scandals
    to pay for including attorney fees and the pittance of a small settlement we
    had to give your tortured abused kids unless of course we get caught again. Yes,
    we are celibate but like our sex with your young kids.

    Cheers to the free
    market system, now chant a couple rounds and tell everyone how “happy” you are.
    Sell, sell, sell those books, and recruit others to believe in the illusion but
    please spend wisely as we would love to take your money for Krishna.

    But please DO NOT go
    on the internet, there are smart people and ex-members out there who figured it
    out and think it is wrong for us Gurus “as good as god” to take your money, abuse
    you, your kids, your brains while ruining your lives and now you know why we
    can’t stand outsiders who ridicule you and us and make up true stories of the
    abuse and for us taking your money, lives, kids and brains. Now go chant a
    couple rounds.

    And whoever said “insanity
    is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” never
    chanted the same 1,728 words every day in each round-Hare Krishna, Hare
    Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
    Okay only 107 more times for your first round today, and then a seven more rounds still to go.

    Keep chanting and giving us your free slave labor, your money and
    your mind.

    We are your caring Gurus
    of ISKCON Hare Krishna.

    Kalakantha Dumb Das
    ACBSP

  5. ­There is no single description that fits the lifestyle of being in a destructive group such as Iskcon. But there are some common themes. Most ex-Iskcon devotees depict a type of insulated, moment-to-moment existence in which repressing fear and anxiety is job one. Chanting and meditation become prime coping mechanisms in this regard. Cut off from family, old friends and the outside world, their old life becomes like a dream. In their new life, psychological growth just stops – Iskcon members are caught in a static life that depends on not thinking, not questioning, not wondering, not remembering.

    ­Above all else, life in a totalistic group like Iskcon is typically characterized by tight
    control. There is very little freedom in daily life. The leader prescribes
    what a member can and cannot do for every minute of the day. This includes what
    food he can eat, what books he can read, whom he can talk to, what he can wear,
    where he can go and how long he can sleep. The leader makes decisions, and the
    followers do as they’re told.

    This type of lifestyle causes intense psychological distress. Many people experience a persistent fear of angering the leader or losing group approval. They must constantly avoid the tension between their group world and their former life
    and stifle any doubts or longings that arise.

    This level of
    stress can lead to chronic anxiety, physical illness or even a complete mental
    breakdown in which an Iskcon member may become unable to function in daily
    life.

  6. ISKCON-HARE KRISHNA-BRINGS US YOUR KIDS

    WE ARE PROUD OF OUR HISTORY OF SEXUAL TORTUROUS ABUSE

    1. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of kids is believed, continues to the present. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse of minor children was inflicted on children from as young as 3 years of age to 18 years of age, and included both boys and girls.

    2. The abuse to which the ISKCON children were subjected was inflicted on some children for several years. It included a pattern and practice of sexual abuse of both boys and girls, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. In many instances, the abuse could be accurately described as torture of children. Some examples of the types of abuse and neglect to which the children, ranging in age from 3 years to 18 years, were subjected include but are not limited to:

    B. ABUSE INFLICTED

    3. Sexual abuse including rape, oral sex, intercourse with children, sexual fondling of children, and masturbation with children.

    4. Physical beatings of children with boards, branches, clubs, and poles.

    5. Physical beatings by adult teachers and school leaders with fists to the head and stomach.

    6. Kicking the children into submission.

    7. Children were in some instances made to walk great distances in bitter cold, including snow and rain, without jackets, coats, or shoes.

    8. Children were often forced to sleep on cold floors and in unheated rooms.

    9. Children were frequently deprived entirely of medical care or provided such inadequate medical care as to suffer long-term and, in some instances, permanent injury. The medical conditions for which children were not treated included malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever, teeth being knocked out, broken facial bones, and broken bones in their hands, often inflicted as they attempted to shield themselves from beatings.

    10. Children were sometimes kept in filthy conditions. In at least one instance, a local group utilized what had recently been a cattle or horse barn for a nursery.

    11. In almost every school the children were kept in severely overcrowded conditions, often forced to sleep shoulder to shoulder on the floor or in small rooms in three-high bunks with 10 or 12 children to each tiny room.

    12. The children were physically abused by being awakened every day in the early morning hours (generally at 4:00 a.m.) and subjected to a cold shower, after which they were taken, without any breakfast, to a daily religious service. At some schools, the children were forced to walk
    great distances in the dark to attend the service, and often in cold or rainy
    conditions, clothed only in their thin gown-like “dhoti.”

    13. The children were not provided bathroom tissue, but instead were expected to wipe themselves with their fingers, after which they would dip their fingers into a bowl of water.

    14. As punishment for not cleaning themselves thoroughly, children were scrubbed with steel wool until their skin was raw and sometimes bleeding.

    15. Children were abused when they were forced to sleep on their wet blankets or in tubs as punishment if they wet their bedding.

    16. Some children were forced to wear their soiled underclothes on their heads for long periods of time because they had wet themselves.

    17. Children were often forced to go without food entirely, either because there was none, or as punishment. When food was provided, it was always inadequate for a growing child’s diet.

    18. The inadequate food that was provided was often prepared in unsanitary conditions, was of very poor quality and so unpleasant that even hungry children frequently could not eat it. In at least one school, the children learned as a matter of routine to remove insects from their food before eating it.

    19. Each child was expected to eat what they were provided. If they did not do so, their served portion was kept on their plates until the next meal when it was served again. This process often continued until the cold food — even moldy and insect-infested — was swallowed.

    20. In some schools, children were forced to lick up their vomit from any foul food they may have thrown up.

    21. …three young boys, about six or seven years of age, who worked in the kitchen, took some food to their hungry friends. They were caught and punished by being gagged, having bags placed over their heads, and being put in a small room for several days with only a bucket for their waste and no food or water. One of the same boys was later slammed by a teacher into a marble wall, resulting in a loss of some teeth and fractured facial bones.

    22. Children were controlled by various threats to hurt or kill them and by punishments. Young children, strictly limited to a vegetarian diet, were continually terrorized when told that non-Krishna’s were meat-eaters, that they ate each other, and that the children, if given to or taken by the meat-eaters, would themselves be eaten.

    23. Children often saw rats in their rooms and schools. Some children were told the rats lived in a particular old closet, and the child would be, and often was, placed in the closet if they didn’t do as told.

    24. One form of punishment included forcing little children to stand on a crate for long periods of time in a darkened closet “so the rats would not eat them.”

    25. Very young children were in fact placed in those dark and locked closets and left afraid and crying for hours at a time. They were locked overnight in dark cellars with dirt floors. One young child was made to sleep alone in the loft of a cold barn for many nights.

    26. Sometimes the children were sent by their superiors to massage and bathe the religious gurus and then drink their now “blessed bath water.”

    27. In some cases, children were stuffed into trash barrels for periods of two to three days, with the lid on, as punishment for relatively trivial “sins.”

    28. Children were almost universally told that if they disclosed their condition or complained to their parents or others, they would be severely punished. When complaints were made, the children were publicly and often severely beaten or subjected to other forms of punishment.

    29. Girls, as young as 12 or 13 years, were frequently “given” or “promised” to an older male in the movement. Although their marriages were generally not sexually consummated until the child was at least 16 or 17 years old, the little girls were terrorized by the threats, and often reality, of being given away by their leaders to become engaged to marry “strange old men.”

    30. Children were often forced to lie awake in their beds or sleeping bags and listen as their little friends were sexually molested by teachers and other leaders.

    31. The children were emotionally abused by subjecting them to near-total parental and societal isolation. In an effort to totally control their minds, the children were, in most cases, separated and isolated from their parents and were not allowed to have regular contact with their parents. Personal visits, correspondence, and telephone calls were either forbidden or discouraged. Gifts, particularly of food, were intercepted. For example, one young boy felt abandoned by his parents, and had no contact with his family for more than a year. He later learned the one small package of cookies sent by his mother was intercepted and kept from him.

    32. Children were frequently moved to different schools in different states without the consent (or, sometimes, knowledge) of parents. Some children were hidden from parents. Some boys were shipped out of the country to ISKCON schools in India. In at least some cases, after the parents discovered their child’s whereabouts and made arrangements for them to
    come home, their plane tickets were intercepted, and torn up in front of the
    children. Then, these children were punished for their parents’ attempt to bring them home.

    33. Even though the children were given by their parents to ISKCON to educate, except for the reading of their “Vedic scriptures,” the children received little or no education.

    34. Because of near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education, the children who remained within the ISKCON schools for extended periods of time were totally unequipped to enter outside society. They have experienced extreme difficulty in earning a living, entering and maintaining relationships, including marriage, and in adapting to the laws and regulations of society. Many are in need of extended psychological
    and/or vocational training, rehabilitation, and medical care.

    YES WE ARE ISKCON-HARE KRISHA

    BRINGS US YOUR KIDS, EAT OUR FOOD.

  7. Here is what
    Iskcon Hare Krishna victims say:

    You start to
    see everyone outside the group as the enemy. Friends and family become the
    enemy. You believe “they want to knock you off the path”. “They don’t
    understand”. By this point your entire foundation is gone, your entire sense of
    self is gone, your intuition is gone, your life is gone…and you cling
    desperately to the only thing you now trust: your guru.”

  8. Wow. A lot of hate speech in the article, AND the comments. You Christians must be SO proud of yourselves. I’m sure Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK will be happy to have your association!

    But seriously, what kind of “reporter” goes to anti-Hindu and Christian Supremacist students for their opinions on Hare Krishnas? Do you ask the local Neo-Nazis what they think of Jews when you do an article on a local synagogue?

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