I visited ISCKON vrindavan during my pre final year with bunch of my fellowmates(there was a group in college dedicated towards isckon) .It was definitely a worthwhile experience and few things i observed were:-
- Isckon works like an organization. It is one of largely expanded religious organization in world claiming to spread consciousness about krishna whole over the world.They claim to be a modern-religious centre or what i observed to be a luxury form of worship.T- hey deliver their spritiual speeches (not every) in english in air-conditioned halls, provide luxury foods and often invite politicans for their programs
- They have bulit large and magnificent krishna temples ( also known as ISKCON temples) which are basically their branding centres . ISKCON vrindavan is building world’s largest temple.
- ISCKON, unlike other temple trusts are highly organized. They have their own set of rules, own system, own people & regardless of other systems, they only follow themselves.
- Undoubtly, they target large organisations and rich people for money (in name of donations, akshay patra ) . They have their marketing team which they train to lure people in their organisation. They hire(influence) graduates from reputed institutes for their teams .I specifically remember how janmastmi celebration was carried out in a lavish air conditioned pandal with seating arrangement like a theatre( the front one have to pay more and so on).
- They have membership program also which are same as a gym membership . They have their own hierarchy system for devotees and you have to fulfill the criteria to get romoted.
- The thing i disliked the most was their baptizing approach towards krishna movement i.e. they believe only krishna is god (irrespective of whole hindu mythology) and forcibly persude to fall in love with him and this philosophy is being spreaded by them throughout the world. I found their teachings somewhat twisted or forcibly generalised towards Krishna movement
- I found large no of educated professionals during my stay there. I think the lavishness and a non-chaotic clean atmosphere lures them (No one like general class of train, everybody wants to travel in AC, irrespective of cost).
- They are definitely growing in terms of their influence because of their approach, marketing strategy and targeting the audience. Akshay patra is definite a success and they are trying to replace mid-day meal whole over india.
In conclusion, they are not bad or a scam it is just a way or option to satisfy your religious aspiration. Religion is after all changing and getting organised.
By: Nikunj Garg,
PGDIE-49, NITIE, Mumbai