In Conclusion

The Vaisnava/Hindu tradition, commonly referred to as the Hare Krishna Movement was transplanted to the West by the singular efforts of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada. It took root in America in the 1960's amidst the hippy, counter culture movement. In the first ten years, the Movement guided by Srila Prabhupada experienced a phenomenal and unprecedented growth.

The International Society For Krishna Conscious (the movement's official name, aka ISKCON) and New Vrindavan Community have gone through many changes since their beginnings. New Vrindavan Community itself, of course, is somewhat a microcosm of the Movement. There have admittedly been mistakes and abuses of power along the way since Srila Prabhupada passed away in 1977.

Then again, there are certainly many inspired leaders who are dedicated to presenting the message of Bhagavada Gita and carrying on Srila Prabhupada's vision - a vision of a Krishna (God) conscious society of people of many different religious traditions around the world living in peace and prosperity; a vision of unity in diversity.

ISKCON has had some successes. The Hare Krishna devotees have helped fan an interest in Eastern spirituality and vegetarianism in America. It has inspired musicians, artists and film makers. The Movement has also influenced the style of clothing, apparel, and hair styles. The zealous proselytizing mood of the devotees during the Movement's first decade caused many churches and synagogues to take a deeper look at their own faith and to look for new ways for them to reach out to their congregations.

That youthful zealousness of the devotees has given way to a maturity and to the understanding that answers, alliances and even friendships can also be found outside the walls of ISKCON. In turn, the Movement has also been influenced as it has begun to seek advice and help from counselors in conflict resolution, educators, and motivational speakers. It has also engaged in and hosted interfaith dialogues. By the early 1990's the emphasis and direction of the Movement had already begun to shift and will continue to do so.

It has also begun to listen to the members within its own ranks. It has started to listen to, rather than fear and condemn, dissenting voices. The direction of the Movement is no longer solely being steered by the managers and International Governing Body Commission(GBC). What is emerging is a grass roots movement within the Movement; a shift in the leadership and essential paradigm of the movement, which was driven for many years by the renounced (monastic) order, to the more user friendly, householder and ecumenical perspective; a shift from the efforts of an organization to the efforts and voices of individual devotees.

ISKCON was at one time a predominately sannyasa (celibate clergy) leadership driven organization. I feel it is gradually transforming into a multifaceted movement charged by many inspired individuals carrying out numerous projects and undertakings. Devotees are also making important contributions as they take up positions in the greater society in the academic, corporate, artistic, and scientific sectors. These individuals are creating networks of their own far beyond what the organization itself is able to create.

The Movement is undergoing growing pains. In effect, in it's first 50 years in the West, the Krishna Movement will have dealt with issues (i.e. abuse of power, child abuse in the ashramas, leadership by women, interfaith outreach, as well as its being labeled a "cult" and its legitimacy by the larger society brought into question) that have taken other religious organizations hundreds of years to process. Therefore, it would serve those who are interested in religious movements, spirituality, intentional communities, social patterns and the growing diversity of American culture to take a closer look at the Hare Krishna experience.

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