ISKCON, a.k.a the Hare Krishna Movement (Lance Nelson, 12/97)

*International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a.k.a. the Hare Krishna movement. Compiled by Lance Nelson from postings on RISA-L, December 1997.
Bhaktivedanta Swami, A. C., and Bob Cohen. 1983. Perfect Questions and Perfect Answers. New York: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. [An engaging series of discussions between Prabhupada and Cohen, at the time a Peace Corps volunteer in India. Evokes the kind of concerns about religion that undergrads could relate to. Nothing historical about the movement, however (LN).]

Bromley, David G., and Shinn, eds. 1989. Krishna Consciousness in the West. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press. [More current (than Stillson) (SR). I’ve used excerpts from Shinn’s book in a course on alternative religious movements in the US, and students seem to have liked it; it is probably more accessible to students than the Gelberg volume (RR).]

Brooks, Charles R 1989.. The Hare Krishnas in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [More current (than Stillson) (SR).]

Dasa, Ravindra-svarupa. 1984. Encounter with the Lord of the Universe: Collected Essays. Washington, D.C.: Gita-nagari Press. [A collection of essays, originally published in Back to Godhead. (Earlier editions went under the title Endless Love). The author is the president of the Philadelphia ISKCON temple. I’ve used some of these essays for both Hinduism classes and alternative religions classes. His essays discuss topics such as the application of Krishna-consciousness theology to American politics, how the varnasramadharma system might be applied to American society, an ISKCON view of abortion, etc. (RR).]

Gelberg, Steven J. 1983. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: Five Distinguished Scholars on the Krishna Movement in the West. New York : Grove Press. [Contributions by Harvey Cox, Larry D. Shinn, Thomas J. Hopkins, A.L. Basham, Shrivatsa Goswami. Reflects the author’s enthusiasm for the movement when he was an active ISKCON brahmacari (EB, GT).]

Gelberg, Steven J. 1987. “The Future of Krishna Consciousness in the West: An Insider’s Perspective.” In The Future of New Religious Movements, ed. by David G. Bromley and Phillip E. Hammond, 187-209. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

Gelberg, Steven J. 1989. “Exploring an Alternative Reality: Spiritual Life in ISKCON.” In Krishna Consciousness in the West, ed. by David G. Bromley and Larry D. Shinn, 135-62. Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press.

Gelberg, Steven J. 1991. Chapter 10. in When Prophets Die: The Postcharismatic Fate of New Religious Movements, ed. Timothy Miller with an introduction by J. Gordon Melton, 149-164. Albany : State University of New York Press. [Reflects a later phase of his involvement, when he is a disaffiliated and disenchanted ex-member (EB, GT).]

ISKCON Video. “Your Ever Well-Wisher.” [To cater to the MTV generation, another good intro., a video which profiles Swami Prabhupada and includes interviews with some of the earliest US devotees (whom Swami Prabhupada termed “dancing white elephants”) (RR).]

Judah, J. Stillson. 1974. Hare Krishna and the Counterculture. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974. [Somewhat dated (SR).]

Melton, J. Gordon. 1986. Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America. New York: Garland Publishing. [Two entries, which approach ISKCON from the context of debate about groups regarded as “cults” and focuses on controversies about ISKCON (e.g. the West Virginia temple) (RR).]

Palmer, Susan Jean. 1994. “Mothers and Widows in Krishna Consciousness.” Chapter two in Moon Sisters, Krishna Mothers, Rajneesh Lovers: Women’s Roles in New Religions. Syracuse, N.U.: Syracuse University Press. [Palmer interviewed women members of ISKCON, mostly in Canada (RR).]

Rawlinson, Andrew. 1997. The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions. Chicago: Open Court. [Contains a brief statement on ISKCON that is accompanied by a chart of “The ‘careers’ of the eleven original Hare Krishna gurus” and a “lineage tree” of “Lineages associated with or derived from ISKCON” (GT).]

Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. 1985. Hare Krishna in America. Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press. [More current (than Stillson, SR).]

Rochford, E. Burke, Jr. 1995. “Hare Krishna in America: Growth, Decline, and Accommodation.” In America’s Alternative Religions, ed. Timothy Miller. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press. [It’s a short (about 7 pages) intro. to Swami Prabhupada and ISKCON’s history in the US. (RR).]

Shinn, Larry D. 1987. The Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America. Philadelphia : Westminster Press. [Not that great (EB).]

EB = Edwin Bryant; GT = Gene Thursby; LN = Lance Nelson; RR = Robin Rinehart; SR = Steve Rosen