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ISKCON has more or less denied being Hindus. They claim to use some Hindu scriptures but their translations are sometimes different from translations by established Hindu sources.

Does their work qualify as authentic Hindu scriptures?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Krishna Shweta, Suresh Ramaswamy, Sarvabhouma, Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury, Triyugi Narayan Mani Apr 7 '18 at 8:33

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    In one word the answer should be No. – Just_Do_It Apr 6 '18 at 13:19
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    No they don't. Also they have added 2 million words "Purport" under each verse and some people cite this "Purport" as a reference. Like Really!? How come purports be a reference?! Only the ancient commentaries should be regarded (if at all need be). Only genuine Scriptures should be considered. – user14995 Apr 6 '18 at 13:30
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    @PratikBhat We are not here for exposing something or someone. "answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise" Just look at the answers. None of the answers which say they don't qualify are sourced. They are answered based on opinions and personal experience. That's why it is opinion based. – Sarvabhouma Apr 7 '18 at 17:13
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    @PratikBhat Thanks for your suggestion. I already flagged it. I want the community grow but not alienating a sect one doesn't like or offensive comments and questions about them saying they denigrate hindu Gods, they changed the Hinduism, their teaching of Hinduism etc., This is really not the correct way to make the community grow. There can't be any source why they should not be considered authentic. It is a personal view. This question invites opinions and personal experiences. Hence it is primarily opinion based. – Sarvabhouma Apr 7 '18 at 17:37
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    I am not saying "quote scriptures". It is impossible to quote them. When there are sources to say that their works are considered authentic, why not a single non personal source to say they are not? All the answers here gave their opinions. The question asks "Does their work qualify as authentic Hindu scriptures?" According to whom? Non ISKCON people don't find their works authentic. Not surprising. So, it is natural. It is natural thing. So, what is so special with ISKCON only? – Sarvabhouma Apr 7 '18 at 17:50
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Here's what I will say about this with all due respect. I had been a member of ISKCON for several years during my undergraduate degree (no longer one). My observations are as follows:-

1) ISKCON is a highly anglicized (almost Christianized) version of Vaishnav movements of the olden times (and by that I mean movements of Sri Ramanuja, Sant Tukaram and other Vaishnavas). Why is this an issue? REMEMBER:- Hinduism has always believed in multiple aspects of single unified divinity i.e. One God with multiple manifestations. People worship the manifestation which closely resembles their own spiritual self. ISKCON tends to juxtapose this to ONLY ONE GOD and OTHERS ARE AT HIS BECK-AND-CALL and somehow inferior to HIM. That becomes almost monotheistic and to me, frighteningly scary. Hinduism is democracy and monotheism is dictatorial. I believe in Shri Krishna myself

2) They have denigrated the Vedas to a worse extent. They use Vedic Shrutis and scriptures only to prove their affiliation to Hinduism and to claim the authenticity of their own cult but when it comes to scriptural authority, since the Vedas are backbone of any Hindu lifestyle across India (and beyond), all knowledgeable Hindus (even those who haven't read the Vedas) accept Vedas as supreme. Not so with ISKCON. ISKCON just considers Vedas as chants and hymns to inferior deities

3) ISKCON Bhagavad Geeta verses are the same as the actual Bhagavad Geeta verses if you read them in SANSKRIT but how many of us actually recite the Shlokas and mantras these days? Mantras and Shlokas have actual power, efficacy, and potency. We just read the translation. That's where the brainwashing and cult worship begins. The purports are way too long that deviate people from core values of the verse

4) Thirdly, they have completely forged accounts of events such as Raas Leela etc. in their Srimad Bhagavatam books almost to a degree of making such a character as Krishna's---an illicit playboy. According to them, Shri Krishna is even superior to Shri Vishnu (who is Vedic God) when everyone outside ISKCON knows its vice-versa. In the beginning, there was Trinity and then all the others incarnated. This is done to mess up Hindu timelines and scriptural understanding on purpose I assume

5) Some of the folks have mentioned that they are anti-Shaivites. That is TRUE. This is evident in their literature clearly. They are anti-Shaivites and anti-Brahminical. However, they have done well to masquerade these days as those that worship Shiva to get to Krishna (who is eventually superior). This is done just to attract more people into the cult

6) ISKCON was and still is notorious for sex racquets and other activities quite like Osho's ashrams were. Child trafficking, prostitution etc are some of the major concerns it has had to deal with in the past. Search YouTube and you will find real-life conspiracies of ISKCON priests at high echelons involved in gross scandals. Most of this is influenced by the concocted meaning of scriptures

7) ISKCON is also notorious for breaking up married couples who are true seekers of spiritual path as a couple. I have heard numerous stories of divorces because one amongst the couple suddenly expects to live a celibate life after having followed ISKCON lifestyle for a while just because of misrepresented Hindu material on celibacy in their books

8) Women and children (especially women) are considered inferior in this cult. Unlike Shiva and Shakti who are equal halves of Unified divinity, the concocted understanding that ISKCON promulgates is that Radha serves Krishna or is subservient to Him. There are modern-day ISKCON gurus who are inspired to make more followers so they would deny this but in their core culture, this is a fact

9) Their (ISKCON's) present version of scriptures are tainted with adulteration as the publishing authority lies with that faction of ISKCON which is run from America. This faction was responsible for apparently killing its founder Srila Prabhupada. There is a power struggle going on within ISKCON and only renegade temple is the Bangalore's ISKCON at West of Chord Road Rajajinagar

10) Even then, Srila Prabhupada's ideology was also against core Hindu belief systems but now due to the internal conflicts between two different ISKCON entities, it has grown worse especially in the literature publishing, profit sharing etc.

11) Other great saints of ancient India such as Adi Guru Shankaracharya are vilified (as Mayavadi) by ISKCON literature Srimad Bhagvatam even though it isn't part of original Srimad Bhagavatam

I would suggest read authentic scriptures from places like Geeta Press Gorakhpur and other reputed local INDIAN authors with strong Hindu foundations and beliefs only. Don't read the translation from international writers as there is bound to be prejudice, the malice of forethought etc. Hope this helps. Refrain from joining cults and channels and do your own homework. Refrain from reading about Hindu material on the internet and especially Wikipedia.

This is not to hurt any current followers but I'm merely trying to explain the contrasting beliefs between actual Hindu belief systems and those of cults. I'm against any cult and choose to learn this on my own from what I consider the authentic representation of our scriptures which is the least adulterated way of learning about our culture. A Guru is always helpful if you find a genuinely knowledgeable one just as our own scriptures say that "Just as the Guru tests its prospective Shishya (disciple) so must a Shishya (Disciple) test his Guru in order to identify Guru's capabilities and whether the Guru is able to guide him to the right path". It takes time and effort which no one wants to put today. I would also encourage people to learn Sanskrit and Shuddh Hindi (untainted with Urdu and Persian words) as well as Tamil. Thanks! Appreciate your motivation

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    This post justifies the existence of this board. Anyone who agrees even partially, please make sure that it doesn't get deleted. – S K Apr 6 '18 at 21:46
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    "4)..according to them, Shri Krishna is even superior to Shri Vishnu (who is Vedic God) when everyone outside ISKCON knows its vice-versa." There are other sects too who believe Krishna is Supreme other than Gaudiyas. – Krishna Shweta Apr 7 '18 at 1:02
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    All the answers on the site should backed up with sources. Personal opinions will not work as answers. – Sarvabhouma Apr 7 '18 at 4:47
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    @adithskv That is a definite yes. This site is a neutral site. They are also Hindu scriptures. We don't ban the work of <put your unfavorite sect> and alienate them. The OP doesn't like ISKCON, the person who gave answer gave his opinions and personal experiences which are not considered sources and talked about ISKCON. They are also Hindus because their beliefs are based on Hinduism also. If you don't like them, don't read and don't cite them. That's it. – Sarvabhouma Apr 7 '18 at 5:03
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    Only personal experience isn't enough, try to cite some sources. Unsourced claims may be deleted. – Paṇḍyā Apr 7 '18 at 13:00
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ISKCON is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organisation. They are in fact Hindus. But they consider Sri Krishna as the supreme lord (Swayam Bhagawan) and claim to follow the Mahabharata and Bhagawath Gita. They describe Sri Krishna as the source of all the avatars of God. It was established to propagate spiritual knowledge, consciousness of Krishna, The principle of reincarnation, sankirtana movement etc.

But their beliefs contradict even basic ideas of Hinduism. They are basically against Shaivates.

Their version of Hindu scriptures are not accurate. I have personally read their publications and observed that they generally deviate from the normal content to glorify Sri Krishna.

Though the main story remains the same, if you read deeper, many things seems to be different, which does matters.

Also refer this link http://avalon.wz.cz/Dusevni_rust/Distortionsofscriptures.htm

I think it is better not to use iskcon for reference or citations.

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    Good answer. Having said all these, ISKCON has a great contribution in the propagation of Bhagavad Gita in India and abroad. It deserves respect in that aspect. – iammilind Apr 6 '18 at 14:14
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    @iammilind I am not against ISKCON. They have contributed a lot, but they are losing their reputation. You read their version of Bhagavath Gita (BHAGAVAT GITA AS IT IS), and you will come to know that it differs a lot from the original one. – adithskv Apr 6 '18 at 14:18
  • Their version is more about the messenger than the message. It message is the essence of the book. But I' m not saying their version is bad, for somebody who has already studied another version, ISCKON's book might seem a little (not too much) weird. – adithskv Apr 6 '18 at 14:40
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    @adithskv Lord Krishna was not "messenger" you know, he was narayana. He was messenger as well as the message. – Anubhav Jha Apr 6 '18 at 15:55
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    "They are basically against Shaivates." - that's just a view mostly driven by their usage of the word "demigod". That alone does not qualify them as Shiva haters nor does it make them "abrahamized". People who do think that should read other vaishnava sampradaya teachings as well. Of course, some would violently disagree with me... but I have had a lot of association with Gaudiya vaishnavas... If you talk to any mature ISKCON devotee, you would not find any disrespect for Lord Shiva. – Ambi Nov 22 '18 at 13:48
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Hare Krishnas are Hindus.

His philosophical teaching of achintya bhedabheda which are based upon Hindu scriptures.

When their philosophy has roots from Hindu scriptures then Yes, ISKCON versions of Hindu scriptures qualify as Hindu scripture.

In Distinguishing Srila Prabhupada's Original Books from Changed Ones, there is a reference which says Parabhupada Himself said that His books which are printed are not the original ones.

Srila Prabhupada's books can be broken into 3 basic categories:
1) Books that he himself directly wrote.
2) Books that are compilations of his statements coming from lectures, letters and conversations etc…( these were compiled specifically under his instruction by his disciples, such compilations were put together in his physical presence.
3) Book compilations that were put together after his physical departure.
.....
The significant point which is worth noting is that even though some books are titled pre-1978, edition they may still have unauthorised changes to them. To properly understand this it would be in the reader's best interest to read in the Vedabase the 1977 conversation titled "Rascal Editors". In this conversation with Srila Prabhupada it is very clear that his books were being changed without his authorisation even in HIS PHYSICAL PRESENCE!!! Therefore the question which should naturally arise is "among the pre-1978 books, which ones are authorised and which are not?" This basically is the crux of the matter.

So, it is far better to focus on the original versions and rather edited ones.

The same website Book Archive Original pre-1978 Books has all the original books by Prabhupada.

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First of all I think this question is more suitable for meta rather than main site. But since you have asked, so here is my answer. First we should know What is ISKCON?

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the Hare Krishna movement, includes five hundred major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly one hundred affilated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of namahattas or local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide. Although less than fifty years on the global stage, ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda in New York City in 1966.

ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavat Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These are the historic texts of the devotional bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”.

So, it is a Hindu sect that treats lord Krishna as supreme. And since on this site all Hindu sects and their Acharya works (specifically their commentary and translation on old scriptures) are valid, so surely we can use ISKCON works here to cite sources.

This topic has been discussed on meta previously and here is the list of useful resources.

  • dandavats.com/?p=8489 "Psychologically, the Gaudiya Matha gurus are not prepared to see themselves as anything other than the superior guide for ISKCON. But they have insufficient ability to guide ISKCON, just as the captain of a small sailing ship on a peaceful lake has insufficient ability to guide a fleet of high powered modern warships into battle on the high seas. They may be able to give shelter to ISKCON members who have fallen off one of the boats in the ISKCON fleet, usually because of inability to accept the results of ISKCON’s collective decision making process" – S K Apr 6 '18 at 19:35
  • @S K Yes I do agree with you on this that ISKCON doesn't follow the traditional Hinduism completely but still their works are considerable like of other sects and acharya. – Triyugi Narayan Mani Apr 6 '18 at 19:39
  • I think you are more concerned about Term Supreme personality of Godhead which they use for lord Krishna or Vishnu. But it is fine because for them He is the supreme lord and they don't want to address him by name so they use that term as many people do not call their gurus or saints by their name. @S K – Triyugi Narayan Mani Apr 6 '18 at 19:44
  • Since they are not Hindu legally nothing stops them from creating new scripture (like the Guadiyas' "brahma samhita"). I have posted on meta asking to ban citing ISKCON sources as Hindu sources. – S K Apr 6 '18 at 19:52
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Their work doesn't qualify as "scriptures", we already have scriptures.

But commentaries produced by acharyas from that sampradaya can also be used as references just like other acharyas of other sampradayas. Their opinions can be useful too.

Unless they are talking about something which doesn't have any scriptual basis, I don't see what the big problem is.

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