Why is Jesus more popular than Krishna

Hare Krishna

1. The founder

The original name of the founder is Abhay Bhakdivedanta Swami, but is more commonly known as Prabhupada.

He was born in Calcutta in 1896. He grew up in the atmosphere of an aristocratic merchants' guild and was shaped by the Bengali tradition within Hinduism, where setting horoscopes plays a particularly important role. His family intensively cultivated the cult dedicated to the deity "Krishna", which required a strictly practiced vegetarianism from the worshipers. During his college years, Prabhupada studied the politician Gandhi and his writings in depth. Prabhupada was encouraged by him to study the most popular book of the Holy Scriptures by the Hindus, namely the Baghavad Gita. Gandhi also influenced Prabhupada through his socio-critical attitude towards the caste system. Prabhupada received the greatest impetus for his thinking and acting from his meeting in 1922 with a "Saddhu" (especially holy man) by the name of Bhaktisiddanta. He commissioned him as a missionary to familiarize people worldwide with the so-called "Krishna consciousness". It was only in view of the misery and famine caused by the Second World War that Prabhupada was moved as a missionary to bring "Krishna consciousness" to the West. In 1965 Swami traveled to the USA as a mendicant monk with a ticket given to him by a sponsor.

2. The main lessons

2.1. Discipleship through initiation and strict obedience to the Master

Prabhupada first taught among the hippies in New York. He won over mainly disciples from the milieu of the marginal cultures, including many drug addicts. In evening classes he interpreted the holy book of the "Bhagavadgita".

One type of church slowly began to develop through the disciples Prabhupada had won. The disciples had to commit themselves to full obedience to their master Prabhupada through an initiation, which is equivalent to worshiping a deity. Even today, initiation still includes food offerings, combined with purification ceremonies and promises in connection with strict asceticism. With the declaration of loyalty to the master Prabhupada, the initiated disciple is transferred to the deity Krishna, as it were. The religious community founded by Prabhupada is called:

"International Society of Krishna Consciousness" (ISKCON).

2.2. The meaning of the chanted (kirtanas) or spoken mantras

The most important mantra, a formula invoking a Hindu deity, is that dedicated to the deity Krishna

"Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."

When a mantra is sung, it is called a "kirtana". By chanting the mantras, especially the mantra addressed to Krishna, supposedly constructive vibrations spread in the cosmos, which are supposed to spread salvation. To speak or chant this mantra 108 times is the highest duty of every monk of the Hare Krishna movement.

2.3. The importance of rigorous asceticism

Prabhupada demands strict asceticism from his followers. These include sexual abstinence and> vegetarianism. One can only get out of the eternal cycle of reincarnation if everything is avoided that binds to earthly matter. The main enslaving chains are affirmations of sexuality and meat consumption. Sexual contact is only tolerated if conception is intended. For a person, meat consumption has the consequence that in the next reincarnation he has to assume the shape of one of those animals whose meat he has enjoyed. Anyone who adheres to these rules of abstinence can get out of the wheel of compulsive repeated earth lives (> samsara) already in this life.

2.4. A peculiarity of the Hare Krishna movement in contrast to the rest of Hinduism

The Hare Krishna movement based on the Bhakti mysticism emphasizes love and devotion to the deity> Krishna. What is special is the teaching that the individuality of the human being should not dissolve, as most Hindu thought systems would otherwise like to make one popular. Even if the deity Krishna is worshiped as a person, there is still no God as Creator for Prabhupada. For him, the cosmos flowed out of the deity (> emanation). As in the other Hindu systems, a strict distinction is made between body and mind. The body, which is an enemy of the spirit, and its needs must be fought radically. The ultimate goal is the conscious personal communion of the individual released from earthly fetters with the deity Krishna. There is even the notion of a transfigured matter that is supposed to exist in Krishna's "kingdom of heaven". The eroticism so frowned upon in earthly life strangely comes into its own in Krishna's "paradise".

2.5. Understanding of scripture

The Hare Krishna followers encounter their Holy Scriptures, the Bhagavadgita, with great awe. Arbitrary handling of this document of faith is prohibited.

3. Appreciation and criticism

It is positive that "Hare Krishna" distances himself from the caste system. Achieving a high "knowledge of God" is not tied to origin, gender, nationality, education and social class. The principle of reverence for their "Holy Scriptures", the Bhagavadgita, is impressive. The critical attitude towards a one-sided pleasure-oriented society with its unreasonable consumer behavior is very justified.

However, it must be clearly seen that the deity "Krishna" clearly stands out from the biblical creator God. Even if "Krishna" is thought of as a person, he is worshiped with mantras with magical effects (mantra, magic). The great hostility towards the body and the asceticism associated with it do not stand up to the biblical message (cf. Col 3: 20-23). Salvation is achieved in "Hare Krishna" through self-mortification and the strict observance of spoken and chanted mantras, but not through the only true Savior Jesus Christ. "Hare Krishna" shows us unmistakably the spasm and the ineffectiveness of typical practices of> self-redemption. This contrasts with the biblical message of Romans 3: 23-26.

For there is no difference, for all have sinned and do not attain the glory of God, 24and are freely justified by his grace, by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has presented to a mercy seat by believing in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the forgiveness of past sins under the forbearance of God; to show his righteousness in the present time, that he may be righteous and justify him who believes in Jesus.


Sources: Bhagavadgita, translated from the Sanskrit by Prabhupada, 1987; Prabhupada, The Science of Selfrealization, 1984; Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, "Prabhupada", 1984. - Different opinions on "Hare Krishna": Edmund Weber, ed., Krishna im Westen, 1985. - Critical: S. Leuenberger, Hare Krishna - Salvation through mantras? 1999; B. Larson, The Great Book of Cults, 1992, pp. 278 ff.

Lothar Gassmann

You can find more articles in printed form on the website of Dr. Lothar Gassmann (Editor).