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ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

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  #1  
Old 02 December 2007, 10:26 PM
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ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

A few years ago, I was involved with the local ISKCON group in Dunedin, New Zealand, attending weekly Sunday meetings at the university Clubs and Societies centre. I learnt quite a lot about it, and I visited an ISKCON temple in Christchurch. Not long after, I left ISKCON and investigated Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. Since then I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church and back to Islam. However, my girlfriend's father, who is a Hindu, would never let his daughter marry a Muslim. He agreed to give me a chance if I became a Hindu. I agreed. I've been visting temples here in Malaysia, and they are lovely. They are quite different from the ISKCON temples, My girlfriend's uncle, who is quite knowledgable about Hinduism, said that ISKCON are extremists. With what I've seen and heard about them, they are. I have a few questions.

1. The murtis (deities) in the temples here are usually made out of black stone or brass, and the facial features are very hard to see. There is usually one deity per shrine. The murtis in the ISKCON temples are made of marble, and you can easily see their facial features. There are usually two or three deities on the shrine (Caitanya-Nityananda, Radha-Krishna, Rama-Seeta-Lakshmana, Jaganatha, Subhadara and the other one). Is this an ISKCON innovation, or are there mainstream Vaishnava temples like this in West Bengal? The temples here are all South Indian ones.

2. The ISKCON puja or arati is quite different to the puja in the Malaysian temples (which are usually dedicated to Sri Maha Mariamman or Lord Shiva). The ISKCON puja involves incense sticks, a five-wick ghee lamp, water in a conch that is sprinkled, a handkerchief, flowers on a plate, and a camara whisk. The puja here involves cone-like incense burnt in a round bowl with a handle, a one-wick oil lamp, a conical camphor lamp, flower petals, a pot of water with a spoon used to feed the deity. Is the ISKCON puja practiced by any mainstream Hindu temples?

3. ISKCON follows the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Are there any mainstream Hindus who follow his teachings and worship him as an incarnation of Vishnu?

4. Is it all right to sing bhajans composed by Caitanya's disciples, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan? I love the bhajan Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava Dayite. What about if they have verses expressing worship of Caitanya?

5. The ISKCON devotees talk about Krishnaloka, the celestial abode of Lord Krishna. Is this the same as Vaikuntha, or is Krishnaloka the highest level of Vaikuntha?

6. I know that the Maha-Mantra comes from the Kali Santarana Upanishad, and I chant it quite often. However, does it actually have the effect that ISKCON says it does, that chanting it cleanses you from karma?
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Old 02 December 2007, 11:17 PM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

Oh, and also, is Prabhupada's translation of the Bhagavad-Gita reliable? It seems easier to read than the one I have now.
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Old 03 December 2007, 02:28 AM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

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Originally Posted by ScottMalaysia View Post
A few years ago, I was involved with the local ISKCON group in Dunedin, New Zealand, attending weekly Sunday meetings at the university Clubs and Societies centre. I learnt quite a lot about it, and I visited an ISKCON temple in Christchurch. Not long after, I left ISKCON and investigated Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. Since then I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church and back to Islam. However, my girlfriend's father, who is a Hindu, would never let his daughter marry a Muslim. He agreed to give me a chance if I became a Hindu. I agreed. I've been visting temples here in Malaysia, and they are lovely. They are quite different from the ISKCON temples, My girlfriend's uncle, who is quite knowledgable about Hinduism, said that ISKCON are extremists. With what I've seen and heard about them, they are. I have a few questions.
Make sure your local mullah doesn't hear about your plans to covert from Islam...ow it may be the hindu girl who may need converting.

Staying in an Islamic country, what u propose should be against the LAW??
Don't about malaysia (think they have diff laws for diff ethnic grps)...in Saudi, surely your head wud be in the basket if police came to know.

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Old 03 December 2007, 02:39 AM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

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Originally Posted by ScottMalaysia View Post
1. The murtis (deities) in the temples here are usually made out of black stone or brass, and the facial features are very hard to see. There is usually one deity per shrine. The murtis in the ISKCON temples are made of marble, and you can easily see their facial features. There are usually two or three deities on the shrine (Caitanya-Nityananda, Radha-Krishna, Rama-Seeta-Lakshmana, Jaganatha, Subhadara and the other one). Is this an ISKCON innovation, or are there mainstream Vaishnava temples like this in West Bengal? The temples here are all South Indian ones.

2. The ISKCON puja or arati is quite different to the puja in the Malaysian temples (which are usually dedicated to Sri Maha Mariamman or Lord Shiva). The ISKCON puja involves incense sticks, a five-wick ghee lamp, water in a conch that is sprinkled, a handkerchief, flowers on a plate, and a camara whisk. The puja here involves cone-like incense burnt in a round bowl with a handle, a one-wick oil lamp, a conical camphor lamp, flower petals, a pot of water with a spoon used to feed the deity. Is the ISKCON puja practiced by any mainstream Hindu temples?

3. ISKCON follows the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Are there any mainstream Hindus who follow his teachings and worship him as an incarnation of Vishnu?

4. Is it all right to sing bhajans composed by Caitanya's disciples, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan? I love the bhajan Radhe Jaya Jaya Madhava Dayite. What about if they have verses expressing worship of Caitanya?

5. The ISKCON devotees talk about Krishnaloka, the celestial abode of Lord Krishna. Is this the same as Vaikuntha, or is Krishnaloka the highest level of Vaikuntha?

6. I know that the Maha-Mantra comes from the Kali Santarana Upanishad, and I chant it quite often. However, does it actually have the effect that ISKCON says it does, that chanting it cleanses you from karma?

All these questions boils down to differences in philosophy and practice / rituals of 2 entirely different Hindu sects. There is nothing like Mainstream Hinduism Vs Non Mainstream Hinduism. I suspect hinduism as practiced in Malaysia comes from the south indian saiva community. A good place to explore this variety of savism is :- www.himalayanacademy.com

ISKCON is an offshoot of Gaudiya Vaishnavism (founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ~ who is indeed worshiped by many non-ISKCON vaishnavas as incarnation of Krishna is Kali Yuga).

Some people may question validity of ISKCON as a Hindu organization (I do so because they themselves want to be classified outside Hinduism, reason is mainly political), there cud be no such doubt about Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

To understand the difference in iconography and practices one has to dive deep into the philosophy, culture and practices of these 2 different sects. But the key is they are both "mainstream" hinduism, at least in terms of religion (not politics).
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Old 03 December 2007, 10:56 AM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

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Originally Posted by sm78 View Post
All these questions boils down to differences in philosophy and practice / rituals of 2 entirely different Hindu sects.
So non-ISKCON Vaishnavas would have many of the ISKCON practices?

My girlfriend's great uncle died last night. At his funeral today, I met a friend of her mother, who is a devotee of Lord Krishna. She gave me the address of a Krishna temple in Petaling Jaya, and she said that she would take me there when the funeral rites are over (apparently they go for 3 days).

Quote:
There is nothing like Mainstream Hinduism Vs Non Mainstream Hinduism. I suspect hinduism as practiced in Malaysia comes from the south indian saiva community.
Much of it does. Many of the temples are Shiva temples or Mariamman temples.

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Some people may question validity of ISKCON as a Hindu organization (I do so because they themselves want to be classified outside Hinduism, reason is mainly political), there cud be no such doubt about Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
The lady that I studied with in ISKCON said that 'Hindu' was a term created by the Persians for the people who lived east of the Indus River. It does not occur in the Vedas. That is why ISKCON rejects the label 'Hindu', or so I'm told.
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Old 03 December 2007, 03:01 PM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

Namaste.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottMalaysia View Post
So non-ISKCON Vaishnavas would have many of the ISKCON practices?
Yes. ISKCON is a matha (Hindu religious organization) of Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavism. So, the Vaishnavism practiced by ISKCON is similar to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. However, ISKCON is more strict. Note that ISKCON devotees are commanded to do japa of the Hare Krishna mantra a certain number of times. Caitanya Mahaprabhu (the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism), however, recommended the number of times one is to chant japa and he never set a specific commandment.


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The lady that I studied with in ISKCON said that 'Hindu' was a term created by the Persians for the people who lived east of the Indus River. It does not occur in the Vedas. That is why ISKCON rejects the label 'Hindu', or so I'm told.
What she said is true.

"Hindu" was how the Persians mispronounced "Sindhu". "Sindhu" is a term that refers to the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Indians themselves referred to their land as "Bharata" and called their religion "Sanatana Dharma" (meaning "[The] Eternal Law"). Sanatana Dharma included Buddhism and Jainism, but these two religions were later deemed "heterodox" and were rejected from the religion today known as "Hinduism". The word "Hinduism" is made from the word "Hindu" meaning "One of the Indus Valley" and the English suffix "-ism" meaning "to belong to".

Please note that I myself follow the philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya (Vishishtadvaita).

Last edited by Haridas : 03 December 2007 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 03 December 2007, 05:13 PM
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Arrow Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

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Originally Posted by Haridas View Post

"Hindu" was how the Persians mispronounced "Sindhu".
The word "Hinduism" is made from the word "Hindu" meaning "One of the Indus Valley".
Namaste Haridas,

The English word Hinduism is based on the Persian word Hindu, but the Persian word is taken directly from Sanskrit ~ just as Arabic numerals and the decimal system actually arose in India and were passed second-hand to Europeans (who had no idea of the original source).

Consider: sindhu is the heavenly waters, indra is the divine dropper, and an indu is a sacred drop.
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Old 03 December 2007, 07:22 PM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

Hari Om
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Namaste Haridas,

The English word Hinduism is based on the Persian word Hindu, but the Persian word is taken directly from Sanskrit ~ just as “Arabic” numerals and the decimal system actually arose in India and were passed second-hand to Europeans (who had no idea of the original source).

Consider: sindhu is “the heavenly waters”, indra is “the divine dropper”, and an indu is “a sacred drop”.

Namaste sarabhanga/haridas (et.al)

It seems to me you also outlined hindu हिन्दु ( a Hindu more properly Hindo) in a past post if my memory serves me correctly? This was more of a conversation of being born in India then of belief...


just a thought.


pranams,
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Old 04 December 2007, 02:35 AM
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Post Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

Namaste Yajvan,

The word Hindu first appeared in English as Hindoo, but that is merely a matter of archaic transliteration. Is avadhUta (for example) more properly spelled avadhoota or avadhuta?

The normal pronunciation would be hiNDU or hindU, and the closest Sanskrit terms are hiNDuka (shiva, the lord of the hiNDU and of the sindhu) and hiNDI (durgA) and indu (the moon, a drop of soma, a spark of agni, a wandering jIva) and indus (vAstoSpati, the lord of the sacred hearth, indra or rudra shiva).

Note that the underlined line above (sindhu is the heavenly waters, indra is the divine dropper, and an indu is a sacred drop) is actually a link to further discussion ~ the same as http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/sho...67&postcount=3
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Old 04 December 2007, 03:37 PM
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Re: ISKCON vs. "Mainstream" Hinduism

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Originally Posted by ScottMalaysia View Post

My girlfriend's uncle, who is quite knowledgable about Hinduism, said that ISKCON are extremists. With what I've seen and heard about them, they are.

Namaste,

Are ISKCON's extremists??? Um, compared to certain sects, of which, I will not mention, I would say, no, not at all...
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