Hare Krishna - Hinduism for Christians?


I was thinking about the famous song by George Harrison called “Hare Krishna” and realized I didnt know anything about it. I did a search in these forums and catholic.com but didnt really find anything. I did a google and Krishna.com came up as one of the top and I decided to look through it.

Going into this I was under the impression this was a highly organized religion with a deep history rooted in India…as I read through the website it became clear to me this was paganism, specifically Hinduism repackaged for the West. If I were to speculate I would say it was the natural progression of Protestantism which paved the way for such confusion to come on the scene and be accepted.

Anyway, it is very clear that Krishna.com is targeting Christians, especially those disillusioned with the divisions surrounding them and searching for something to grab onto.
I clicked on the “teachings” link and read from there, here are my thoughts:

  1. They make references to “scriptures” and “God” for example:God primarily reveals Himself through scripture, and the scriptures know as the Vedas contain a vast amount of knowledge about God and reality
    This is clearly aimed at people aware of terms like “scriptures” and “God” and they focus a lot on monotheism.

2)Under the heading of “We Souls” it says:Each of us is one of the innumerable spiritual souls who emanate from Krishna. Although both Krishna and we souls are spiritual, we can never be equal to Him. He is like the powerful sun, and we are like tiny particles of sunshine.
More stuff aimed at Christians while introducing new terms. In this case they give the impression “Krishna” and “God” (what Christians are used to hearing) are the same person. Under the “Krishna” heading it says “Krishna is the Supreme Person, the Godhead.”

3)In regards to a Heaven, in the topic of “Spiritual World” it says stuff like:The main feature of the spiritual world is that everyone there loves God (Krishna and His expansions) with the fullness of their being. When we purify our hearts and awaken our innate love for Krishna, we become qualified to enter the spiritual world to take up our eternal service to the Lord. Once attaining the spiritual world, we souls never have to return to the material world.
What they are describing is a sort of Christian Heaven with the words “spiritual world” substituted.

  1. This sounds similar to a Christian catechism “the Goal of Life”:The goal of human life is to re-awaken our original pure love for God, Krishna. We souls exist to have an intimate loving relationship with Him.

    Awakening pure love for Krishna is perfection. Nothing else will satisfy us. …
    More paganism repackaged to sound Christian.

5)Just when you thought this couldnt get any worse, they believe Krishna became incarnate in a body 500 years ago. To add to this, the “Hare Krishna Movement” wasnt founded until 1966 when someone named:
Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada” from India comes to New York and “founded” this “movement”

6)The “FAQs” section is really interesting, especially the “Philosophy” part. Here are some noteworthy quotes:Are you Hindus?
…in a certain sense we are Hindus, but because of the misconceptions associated with the word, we prefer not to identify ourselves by that name.
What do you believe happens after we die?**
After we die we go into another body—material or spiritual, depending on our actions in this world.
The Vedic literature tells us that we souls can inhabit any of millions of forms of life, including aquatics, plants, insects, reptiles, birds, animals, and human beings. At the time of death, we leave one body and enter a new one. That is called reincarnation.

What are your beliefs about Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ is the son of God, and he sacrificed his life to spread the teachings of God. He is a powerful devotee of God and was an example of compassion, tolerance, and other qualities of a pure teacher. Those who sincerely follow his teachings will make spiritual progress. He taught the essence of Bhakti: to love God fully and to love others as His children.
Wow, pretty amazing.

Another “selling point” especially in modern Western society is the craze over yoga which a key part of this movement.

Any thoughts? Am I off on anything?

Also I would love to read Catholic Apologetics regarding this topic.


I have a few points:

(1) You seem to assume that ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) simply took Christian ideas (such as that of heaven) and changed it somewhat to make it more ‘Protestant’ or ‘spiritual’, whereas much of what ISKCON teaches comes straight from the Vaishnava tradition (that is, the tradition that sees Krishna, also known as ‘Vishnu’, as the Supreme Creator).

(2) Krishna descended to earth, according to ISKCON, at least twice: 500 years ago, and 5000 years ago.

I’m not Catholic by the way. For lack of a better word, you could call me ‘Hindu’.


Does anyone have Catholic Apologetics regarding this topic?


I don’t run into them very much. I did once in Scotland. They have this little game they play. They ask you to repeat something in Hindi. It is an invocation to Krishna. The idea being that you are praising their god. I had heard of this and refused. Instead I urged him to confess Jesus Christ as his only Lord and God. He refused lol. I would think that you would respond to them as you would to Hinduism in general.


I think this cult has faded off the scene in North America. When I was a kid you’d see them at the airport alot. They ran into some trouble for hoarding weapons and some shady business at some point. My stepbrother, who was quite a bit older than me, was into them, and ended up a mentally ill drug addict homosexual, I’m not sure if he’s into anymore, I haven’t seen him in many, many years.


Thats one of those things I would consider a mark of the devil and deception and I saw similar baiting on that krishna webpage. Tricking someone into worshiping a unknown god is a sin, too bad only Catholic theology understand this.

Instead I urged him to confess Jesus Christ as his only Lord and God. He refused lol. I would think that you would respond to them as you would to Hinduism in general.

LOL, its amazing how double standards work in cults.


The Hare Krishnas have a house here in Gainesville, and every so often see them on the street corner dancing and singing. When I was attending the local Community College, they’d be on the campus, playing music and hawking their books. I’d take a detour to avoid them (and the JWs).


Krishnaism is not Christian. It’s just a Hindu sect.


They were big when airports were considered public forums by some. Ever since the Supreme Court said they weren’t and that kicking out the Hare Krishnas would not violate their First Amendment rights, they’ve all been banned and their movement pretty much died.


I’d read somewhere that the name Krishna is purposely made to be similar to Christ.

In 1976 I was in an Army band doing a five day gig in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. One of my friends got really starry-eyed over some Hari Krishnas who collared him one day while he was banging around town. He came back that evening saying he was thinking of staying in NO with them. Thankfully, he came to his senses by the time the bus left.


That is the impression I got from their web page, they were targeting Christians with their terms and spinning things to sound compatible with Christianity.

It doesnt help when people like George Harrison make a song which repeat phrases such as “my sweet lord” and “Hallelujah” YET the song is talking about false gods. :mad:


Boy George did his own version of a Krishna song a few years ago and it is followed on the CD by a song that spoofs modern Christian music called Sweet Toxic Love–both songs are gorgeous, but then he has a beautiful voice and is a talented composer. I don’t know if he is Hare Krishna or not, but I would not doubt it. Just from the song(s)—Boy George’s and George Harrison’s-- I would guess there is a lot of ‘christian-ish’ elements to the religion. It seems to present itself as ecumenical and tolerant. Seems to be a product of the 60’s.



hope you saw my long post of a few days ago because then you can see the results of your i think correct analysis! - Nandarani (the introductory post - the first one i posted) in the thread, is krishna god.


Yes I found your story here:
It was amazing, God bless on your journey…:thumbsup:


I will give you the information you are lacking. Because wrong information leads to people identifying everything they don’t understand as the devil. I am 20 I grew up at Assumption Grotto parish in Michigan. I went to St Dennis and was a alter boy. I studied and sought admission into Sacred Heart Major Seminary but decided to do other schooling. I’m just commenting on a few things a read when I was browsing the forum. We are not pagans in the original sense of the terms which was once used to describe old folk religions and polytheistic religions. We are monotheistic. We worship one God i.e Krishna. Vishnu Rahda Nayaran are all expansions of Krishna and the concept is no different then the idea of the trinity. We are not Hindu or a Sect of Hindu but when explaining to people like you it saves time and energy just to say we are. Hindus worship demi-gods like Ganesh and Shiva who are also devotees of Krishna. We also have a defined structure and beliefs unlike the Hindu masses. The man who tried to make you say something you called an invocation was asking you to say the maha mantra which was wrong of him but it is the names of krishna used for meditation and the words are Sanskrit. We are Huge in the U.S and bigger yet in Europe. we are not new by any means. there is a ISKCON temple or community in most states. We are not packaging our beliefs to draw Christians in. Truth be told we don’t care about what you do or who you worship. If you had the knowlege and knew the grand scheme you’d see why wanting mass conversion is pointless.

Coming a catholic background I can say with no remorse people I’ve seen on this forum are the reason people hate Christians abroad. the good old catholic pass time of we accept everybody…as long as they are catholic. And I know growing up in a strict church tolerance was not taught the bashing of peoples “false” Gods. And Finalley if you really want to know find a devotee and ask. dont speculate. speculation makes you look unintelligent and your almost always wrong.


It’s an intensely personal thing, discovering the absence of Christ, when you hardly knew him. And then to want to change course. AND IT TAKES A LOOOOOOOOONG time to really get out of HK, once you’ve left.

Continuing by necessity to live with devotees, and growth of ALLOWING, on very deep levels…but Not taking this drug.

No way would I have understood things as I do now, some years ago.

For reasons including physical changes we all go through… There was: being part of a group, a sense of colorful, intrinsically superior…as they see their intellectual understanding of life and therefore, *movement *- I know; I’ve heard countless talks, and read deeply…countercultural membership.
There is no way to reconcile HK and let’s just say, Catholicism. As an Orthodox priest told me, when I was investigating Eastern Orthodox in 2007, the best minds have tried. I KNOW I HAVE!!!

Bottom line: it’s a myth. The characters, philosophy and colorful material is real enough on its’ own level, however. Let it be.

A BIG however!.. The above depends how seriously interested one is… How much wants to truly strip away the illusions of comfort, here on earth, from one’s religion. HK offers nothing whatsoever when life really gets tough. I tried to find it. Got up every morning at 2:30 am and chanted all my rounds, for several years, and was also head pujari at the only temple here, on Oahu. Read. Listened. Enjoyed …A sense of “special clubness.”

Very convenient, and the reason India has been the way it is historically, with Christian elements taking on the “lower” activities the devotees wouldn’t bother with because it is not philosophically supported to get involved with helping others in this life, **except **to give them the highest thing, as they would put it, and I have heard this plenty of times, HK, knowledge of Krishna. There are plenty of other prejudices. Unique to HK this is NOT!

Plenty of people from the West give serious money to support Eastern gurus (I have been associated with the most charismatic, who specializes in writing books, commentaries on private revelations of devotees in the distant past (meditation, presumably, but no one really asks, they just listen eagerly and readily admit their childlike state in comparison with the trusted Eastern emissary)… revealing intimate sexual pasttimes (let’s be direct!) of Radha and Krishna.

The goal for this large HK group is to be a servitor of Radharani in conjugal pasttimes with Krishna, upon leaving this world. That’s the highest place to arrive after death. How to get there? Chant Hare Krishna. Read the books, color your consciousness, and expect to go. It may take many, many lifetimes, as it is understood in Hinduism. Krishna also has plenty of other adolescent girls to chose from. Some devotees’ destiny is to actually have conjugal relations with Krishna; others, at a “higher” level, merely prepare to serve Srimati Radharani in her pasttimes to titillate Krishna, with a host of other gopis (adolescent maidens). There are two rival groups of gopis. This is the great Goloka Vrindavan soap opera? ! Never occurred to me before to put it that way; don’t watch tv.

I’ve been at the center of HK in the West, for many years, and learned my lessons well. The only reason I have the grace to leave it seems to me must be because on some level, I didn’t believe it, knew that the “Supreme Personality of Godhead” is not a blue god. Period. If your average human being doesn’t believe this, or agree, either, it is because* that person (your grandmother, your mother, anyone you see on the street…) is at a lower level of consciousness*. Not evolved enough to appreciate the true meaning of life, to fly to Goloka Vrndavan, where you could be a plant, and equally exalted in terms of spiritual attainment as if you are serving Srimati Radharani…but not, actually, equally exalted - there are levels… and this is a problem, too! Vedic setting in the sky, complete with butterchurning buxom maidens.

The reason for all this is in my opinion, that Christ had not appeared, and very determined people, from very very very long ago… who had a lot of time on their hands, pursued matters to find out the most tasty brew for their spiritual approach. Most likely older men - which the entire HK at its esoteric levels, would explain. THIS IS A GREAT generalization, I am well aware.

IT MUST be said that there are serious approaches in Hinduism, including HK, and seriously miraculous feats due to intense concentration over long periods of years. This occurred in the past, however. Our concentration today is difficult to achieve - really challenged by our internet culture, and general culture - not only in the USA. Just read AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, to see these types of things.

CHRIST DOESN’T exist in Hare Krishna. There is no substitute. Not everyone is acutely enough aware of their existential suffering here on earth to be aware of a need for any intimacy deeper or other than that which they imbibe from HK, and then choose to nourish inside themselves. From what is fundamentally not nourishing though it certainly appears to be. Devotees **take for granted **their need to be looking up to Eastern gurus, often very elderly if they are the genuine article from the kind of lineage that impresses. Christ is regarded as a lower path, “He has his own planet” summed it up. Of course Goloka Vrndavan is higher.

Devotees, like most people might if they knew of them, like color, beauty, and all the good things, tasty foods, beautiful arts, music, and more… to be found in Hinduism. As for the elderly and other gurus traveling from group of devotees to group of devotees, … in return these gurus are financially supported. Devotees feel it is their good karma to do so.


as I read through the website it became clear to me this was paganism, specifically Hinduism repackaged for the West.

Both things are pretty much true, depending on how you measure. Krishna is an ancient Hindu hero-god, who became the object of a devotional religion (subset of “hinduism” - Hinduism is many religions) in India during medieval times. The “Krishna Consciousness” movement is a modern form of that old religion repackaged for westerners by Swami Prabhupada, in 1966 or so.

Anyway, it is very clear that Krishna.com is targeting Christians

Yes, the target Christians, and in fact, the devotional religion probably came about as a response to Catholic (and Muslim) proselytizing in India during the middle ages.

1) They make references to “scriptures” and “God” for example

Those are entirely fair translations. They have a central written work, the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God), that couldn’t be called anything else than ‘scripture’ in english. The Gita is a lovely work, with a strange setting, as the god-hero Krishna rides off to war against the forces of evil.

Hinduism has a funny relationship with monotheism. While Hinduism grows from tribal polytheism, later Hindu philosophy has, again, been influenced by Christianity and Islam, and does have a native strain of all-is-one mysticism. Hindus sometimes use the term ‘ishwara’, which just means ‘lord’, for this all-god, and consider the many faces of their traditional deities to be expressions of that oneness.

2)Although both Krishna and we souls are spiritual, we can never be equal to Him. He is like the powerful sun, and we are like tiny particles of sunshine.

Some schools of Hinduism teach that individuals can ‘become one with’ God, even vanish into God. Others, such as the Krishna religion hold that we can only come to rest and bask in His glory and bliss, never becoming one with His transcendence. In this way it is also rather like most schools of monotheistic theology.

3)The main feature of the spiritual world is that everyone there loves God (Krishna and His expansions) with the fullness of their being. When we purify our hearts and awaken our innate love for Krishna, we become qualified to enter the spiritual world
What they are describing is a sort of Christian Heaven with the words “spiritual world” substituted.

Hinduism has always contained the notion of many ‘spiritual worlds’ - ‘heavens and hells’, and places that aren’t either. This one can’t be blamed in Christian influence. The notion that the blessing of the God allows the devotee to enter the God’s specific ‘heaven’ isn’t unusual either. In that case Heaven = presence.

4) The goal of human life is to re-awaken our original pure love for God, Krishna. We souls exist to have an intimate loving relationship with Him.
More paganism repackaged to sound Christian.

See, I’m not sure that’s fair. I don’t think it’s at all fair to think that the modern Krishna religion was simply ‘repackaged’ to ‘appeal to Christians’. Krishna devotionalism is a major strand of traditional Hindu religion, and exists in places that have never seen a bible.
The western extension of that, brought here by that famous swami, is rather more deliberately tailored for western, therefore culturally Christian, proselytes. But it came over whole, and just had to be adjusted. The descriptions you quote are just translations of Indian concepts.

Krishna became incarnate in a body 500 years ago.

A core belief of Hinduism is that the God Vishnu occasionally incarnates among mortals to bring the power of the divine into the world. The most famous of his incarnations is the hero-god Rama (George sings Hare Krishna, Hare Rama in the song…) and the other most famous is Krishna. Many Krishna devotionalists deny this, and call Vishnu an aspect of Krishna, rather than t’other way 'round, but Vishnu is the original, and the incarnate hero-God Krishna much later.

The occasional birth of the divine in flesh is a standard Hindu doctrine from way before Christianity happened. Web-search avatar-vs-incarnation for Christian discussions on the ideas.

**Another “selling point” especially in modern Western society is the craze over yoga which a key part of this movement. **

And, once again, honestly come by. These Krishna devotees are authentic inheritors of one of the traditional religions of India, though some Hindus find them heretical. Yoga is a core part of the spiritual practice of Indian religions - as core as things like solitude and repetitive prayer (which Catholics really may have gotten from the Hindus) are to Catholic practice. So it’s no surprise to find it in this system.

So, there’s some notes. I find the Krishnas an interesting sect - they make lovely temples, have great devotional music and do wonderful devotional art. There God isn’t for me, but I did go see them do ceremony at their big commune in West Virginia some years ago. Incidentally they encourage monasticism (which Catholicism may have gotten from Hinduism or Buddhism), sexual purity, vegetarianism and what they call ‘ahimsa’ - non-violence.

And a Merry May to all :slight_smile:


Yes, its the website of the Bhaktivedanta Trust.

You need to stop and consider your words carefully and get your terms right. It’s not a religion per se, its a sect within three clearly discerned schools of Hinduism.

For example, would you call the Presbyterian Church a religion? No, you wouldn’t but you might call it an ecclesial community, a communion, a group of believers within the general scope of what is called Christianity. You might cause a lot of rancour if you called the Presbyterians a sect, (which they are not) and make note, I am only using the Presbyterians as an example.

These are your conclusions. Use of the word “pagan” from within a Christian context colours how what you say is going to be received. “Pagan” is a perjorative term. Are you scared of them? If not, why do you need to label that which is different as Pagan? Follow the lead of the Second Vatican Council, be nice to them. Call them our separated brothers and sisters.

Vaisnavism is Protestantism? You have a lot of ground to cover to defend such a speculation.

They are targeting everybody. Not just Christians. They are the fundies of Hinduism. They leave a bad taste in the mouth. “Oh, them,” people say.

You missed the point. Hinduism has its own way of delivering divine revelation. This is fairly technical, but one key point must be made. Nobody who calls themselves Bharathiya, will engage in dogmatic disputation or arguments.

[quote="“A source on Hinduism”]The Vedas are the authority for the faith of millions. They are the very words of God. The Hindus believe that the Vedas had no beginning and will have no end. God speaks to man. They are not books written by authors. They are revelations conferred by God on many inquirers, of the ways of earning the Supreme Goal. They existed before they were revealed as valid paths. They will continue valid even if man forgets the path. They did not originate at any period of time nor can they be effaced at some other time

You missed a point here. They have their own slant on things, and present their own message. Its a bit like sola scriptura, sola fides, the faith v. works cyclic discussion.

The point you missed is they have placed Krishna in the centre and say that all emerges from Krishna; and they’re not quite right as purveyors or promotors of Hinduism in any of its many shades and schools. Krishna is understood, known and worshipped as an avatar in Hinduism, a divine incarnation.

Be that as it may, (A claim about a divine incarnation outside Christianity) that cannot shake your faith in Jesus as the Word of the Father, risen from the dead, and as he tells you in John 14: “I go before you to prepare a place for you, so that where I am, you may be also”.

SPLIT REPLY—> go to the next part…


SPLIT REPLY—> Part the Second.

No, you have lost it there. Let me break it up for you a bit. Recall that they place Krishna in the centre.

They say
–> everyone loves Krishna,
–>we awaken our innate love for Krishna,
–> we take up our eternal service to the Lord
–> never have to return to the material world

That’s not quite right, and insidiously presented. “Everyone loves Krishna” pulls the rug out from underneath your discrimination. When they say you “awaken innate love for Krishna”, this presupposes your devotion to God, which they will shape and form; when they say “we take up our eternal service to the Lord” this presupposes an awful lot of philosophy and and dogmatic interpretation of reality.

Remember I said before, nobody who is a true follower of Hinduism will engage you in dogmatic disputation or argument.

You need to research into Beatific Vision, (i.e., HEAVEN) and discover for yourself exactly what this is. To say we are doing eternal service unto the Lord is anthropomorphism, and worse still,

All this is a chimera of what is life after death. You have got to remember that these people are the fundies of Hindiusm, and are trying to attract everyone to their cause. Nandarani makes an important point which is kinda overlooked, because many of you are not aware that Hinduism honours both the masculine principle and the feminine principle as embodiments of the Divine.

With the HK’s, they are into presenting both Krishna and Radha as the model of divine union, and everyone must model themselves on the perfect devotee of God, Radha, who achieved divine union with God Krishna, as taught in Hindiusm. IN the HK sect, you are supposed to emulate that, become a Gopi, and strive to emulate and become the perfect devotee. It is a goal that cannot be achieved. In this respect, they are very close to a cult. And I think there is the main place where you lost it.

It is not paganism, it is not a repackaged Christian Catechism for the West; far from it. It is a sect with its own repackaging of Hinduism. They follow the Bhakti path (path of love-filled devotion) and promote one part of Hinduism as the fulness and centre of Hinduism. And yes, they believe and teach that Caitanya was an incarnation of Krishna. (I haven’t looked into that very much.)

Yoga simply means path of union with God. There are three yoga paths, Jnana, Karma, Bhakthi. What you are referring to is possibly the physical exercises often called yoga, which are simply namaskars and mudras.

It doesn’t always help to see everything as anti-Christian or as a threat to Catholicism. What is most important is your own personal faith in God, and your faith-experiences.

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