18 June, 2021

Second Avatar

Reeling under lawsuits and near bankruptcy, ISKCON goes in for a less strident image

Jitender Gupta
Second Avatar
Lord Krishna's international image is in for a serious makeover. Burdened with $400 million in claims and a consequent bankruptcy protection filing in the United States, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is seeking to radically alter its decades-old monastic tradition to that of a congregational one, in a bid to salvage declining membership and resources across the globe. "The focus is to create more good citizens and not necessarily saints living in the commune. It'll now be a blend of both the spiritual and material life," Anuttama Dasa, chief spokesperson and director of ISKCON's all-powerful Global Business Council (GBC), told Outlook.

A large segment of ISKCON's one-million-strong devotee base has increasingly turned to family life, reflecting the speedy reorganisation within the sect that runs 300 temples in 71 countries. Today, temple-based members number just a little over 10,000 and all ashram-based schools have radically altered their curriculum in an attempt to close one of the ugliest chapters in the commune's history: a spate of...

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