I heard about ISKCON during my school days, and I was told it’s a different version of looking at Hinduism. Built to make the concepts reach everywhere, especially to the west. I also learned about the things they do, and their culture. I never happened to attend the courses they offer. In my high school, I was inspired by on my teacher and also my brother, to look at these things. They asked me to be skeptic, I became atheist!. I lost my interest visiting any of the religious place unless either historic or aesthetically different, I was told it is different. I did not get chance anyway. In my college also weekly seminars were happening, I did not attend.
They came to the town once, the lecture was held at the costliest auditorium in the town (heard the rent is 1 lack Rs.
Per day, just heard not sure). And the ticket was of 500 Rs. And for students 250 Rs. (again I am not sure). One of my friends argued, costly because they want quality crowd to understand what they say. I did not know it comes from rich. If I haven’t had the entry pass I wouldn’t have gone at all. But they did not make anything less than a royal treatment. The food, settings, decoration and all the things, it was really pleasant. I had myself entered a different world, everyone wishing “hare rama, hare Krishna”, all the small games we played was based of based on these games. People were so polite.
The problem started with the 108 times chant and meditate. I really did get this concept. Meditation as I know, is to calm your mind, and concentrate. why do you have to chant only the mantra they tell? why not anything else ? Why is it on that particular number? why do we need to count simultaneously ? Why do you need “god” to meditate? I tried but I could not hold it for a long.
Then I came and searched about ISKCON in the net, it read: “the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. This society was started about twenty to thirty years back and stems from the Hare Krishna movement that boomed in America during the sixties and seventies. Followers of the movement hold the Hindu god Krishna at the center of their faith and believe that he is equivalent to Vishnu, the sustainer of life.” And about Bangalore “It sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Bangalore and it is absolutely enormous in its expanse.”
One thing I really liked “the most promising programs in India. It is called “Midday Meals” and works to simultaneously solve the problem of education and hunger in India by delivering basic lunches to school children. Many of the children on the street are not in school because they don’t have food. If the schools provide food then they will go. It is an effort that no one can argue with and has been extremely successful where the government of India has not. So far the program provides over 60,000 meals to children”.
I happened to visit Bangalore ISKCON center, the temple, unplanned. Looks very expensive, I don’t understand what was the need, looks beautiful but. But that is not my problem here.
The first problem I had was the “life members” they never have to wait in line, we happened to stand in a long queue. It’s like you open an account and you have discount. Suppose I do not afford?? And I badly want to see the god, what now?? Why does god prioritize between two visitors? That was
Krishna only right, in our mythology broke the wall to talk to a poor Sheppard? I did not go for this business offer. Finally reached the center hall, made a place to sit ourselves then do what? If you heard that the place is built for meditation, you heard it wrong! that was the noisiest area in the whole temple.
On the way back, the exit was clearly defined, you have to pass through all the things they sell. The books, the cakes, the photos, the cassettes and what not. It made me feel like a kilometer , because this is not I came here for. No visitor came to the temple can skip these shops.
Went to the canteen finally, wanted a coffee or tea badly. They don’t sell it!! They sell one kind of medical tea and I really did not feel like tasting it. it might have medical value, even Neem does. I am not objecting about them giving this, but I have problem with the reason they give to justify. Tea and coffee are bad for health. O yeh. !!!??? What about the bottled cold drink you sell sir??, they are notorious these days!! What about Pani Puri, bhel puri they are good is it?? I took a seven up.
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Also published in Desicritics at ISKCON and I