We all know that International Society for Krishna Consciousness has widespread all over the world. These people are very good devotees of Krishna, followed of non violence.

But many of them say they follow only Krishna and he is the only almighty God. The core principle of Hinduism is एकं सत् विप्राः बहुधा वदन्ति| truth is one, wise men call it by different names. This is a very important principle and every Hindu must follow.

ISKCON devotees are good in Bhaktiyoga but they believe that Bhakti is only way to moksh. So should we consider these people as Hindus or not?

  • 5
    ISKCON is not the sole representative of Krishna worship. And yes they are also Hindus or followers of the Sanatan Dharma.
    – Wisdom
    Aug 16, 2014 at 9:29
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    in every sect there are three classes of people. Analogy is: children, the teens and the adults. The children are those people, who do not have much knowledge about God, they blindly accept and follow whatever is told to them. While this is good in one way, it is bad in another way because they are subject to false knowledge. The teens are those people, who having had half-knowledge about God, think that theirs is the ONLY path to God and all ELSE is INVALID or FALSE or NOT EFFECTIVE! Finally the adults, are those who have actually experience God, they know all are different paths to God.
    – Sai
    Jan 9, 2015 at 19:04
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    ISKCON or Ramakrishna followers or Smartas or Vaishnavas, no sect is an exception to this rule. Every sect has these three kinds of followers. Thus by seeing the teen-minded followers one must not conclude that the sect is INVALID and not HINDU. This is not true. ISKCON is a wonderful sect just like all other sects in Hinduism, if we can all learn to accept each other as 'Vasudeiva Kutumbakam (One family)' then we can all be 'true Hindus' instead of 'true Historians' who have learned all the historical facts in Vedas but have practiced NOTHING in daily life hehe :)!! God is One
    – Sai
    Jan 9, 2015 at 19:15
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    Rather than Hindu, let's use the proper term Vedantists. They are Vedantists. 1) They believe in God 2) They believe that the Vedas are the eternal word of God, 2) They believe in reincarnation and cycles. That makes them orthodox Vedantists. May 18, 2016 at 5:46
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    they only pay lip-service to vedas @Swami Vishwananda . their ONLY REAL scriptures are bhagavatam (their version), gita (their verson) and quote unquote Brahma Samhita.
    – S K
    Mar 1, 2020 at 20:57

7 Answers 7


This needs an examination of the meaning of the word Hindu. A few questions already exist about what the term 'Hindu' means. Legally in India, anyone who does not follow Abrahamic faiths are Hindus. That includes Jains, Sikhs & Buddhists too. Similarly ISKCON would also fall under the category of legal Hindu.

If one were to see if ISKCON would fall under theological Hinduism, it would since their main deity is Krishna who is a 'Hindu' deity. The ISKCON people have tried to isolate themselves from the term Hindu since unfortunately a negative connotation has been associated with Hinduism in the west where ISKCON is active. The negative connotation being Hinduism = Casteism = Racism/Slavery. Though many ISKCON devotees like Stephen Knapp have extensively written against racist interpretation of Hinduism, many western ISKCON devotees still suffer from 'difference anxiety' and disassociate themselves from Hinduism.

  • @shreemaypanhalkar, according to supreme court 'Hinduism' is not a religion. In fact many debate that, it's a race. With that argument, most of the followers from Abhrahamic religions are also Hindus. At the same time, many western followers of ISCKON cannot be Hindu.
    – iammilind
    Nov 14, 2014 at 12:16
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    Race is an incorrect word. Its a culture and ethnicity.
    – Bharat
    Nov 14, 2014 at 15:51

It does not matter whether we think ISKCON people are Hindus. They have told me that they follow the superior Vedic Dharma since Hinduism is a vague term. I obtained this info from personal contact. What I think they mean is that Hinduism is an umbrella term which includes even an atheistic branch. It does not accurately portray the philosophical position of ISKCON. Vedic Dharma, on the other hand, is in agreement with ISKCON according to the followers of ISKCON.

  • 1
    "Vedic Dharma, on the other hand, is in agreement with ISKCON".is utterly nonsensical since Krishna is not a god in Rig Veda @pradip gangopadhyay
    – S K
    Mar 1, 2020 at 10:05
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    It doesn't matter what we, non-ISKCON people, think of that claim. It is what the followers claim. Mar 1, 2020 at 14:13

ISKCON is obviously a Hindu organisation because its discipilic succession goes back to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His philosophical teaching of achintya bhedabheda which are based upon Hindu scriptures. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's discipilic succession goes back to Madhavendra Puri who is believed to be a part of Madhavacharya's lineage. So it being a Vaishnava sampradaya its followers are definitely Hindu.

However, the western followers of it are at best Hindu only by belief or practice. They are not actually considered Hindu owing to a lack of Hindu birth. Hence, they are not allowed to enter the Jagannatha temple at Puri, which is restricted to Hindus only.

But it is incorrect to think that they are not Hindu just because they believe bhakti is the only path to mukti. There are many sects, many beliefs in Hinduism which are quite opposite to each other. But all are part of Hinduism. ISKCON just happens to preach the easy path of bhkati (chanting Krishna's names) suitable for this age as suggested by the scriptures.

  • "They are not actually considered Hindu owing to a lack of Hindu birth." That's a very controversial assertion. Lots of Hindus consider people to be Hindus even if they weren't born into the religion. Now it may be that the Puri Jagnnath temple doesn't consider Western adherents of Hinduism to be Hindus, but that's hardly a universal sentiment. Aug 19, 2014 at 16:39
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    Personally I think the way to judge whether Western ISKCON members are Hindu is to simply judge whether ISKCON is Hindu. And more broadly, I think the way to judge who is and is not Hindu is the astika/nastika distinction. Aug 19, 2014 at 16:42
  • I see a chance of opinion based answers for the derived question from this answer...Whether being a Hindu is based on the birth in Hindu family?
    – user11
    Aug 19, 2014 at 17:14
  • I read about their books during my volunteer service at Vrindavan on Janmashtami, it wrote a lot of negative things about women. So i decided to shun off their misleading practices.
    – ABcDexter
    Dec 24, 2015 at 12:04
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    I have to disagree with the claim that 'they are not considered Hindu owing to a lack of Hindu birth'. If this is true then how would then one classify the millions of Indonesian Hindus? Apr 9, 2017 at 13:52

A Hindu is identification of the people which form the Sanatan Religion (the ancient religion) which is prescribed by god(Sriman Narayana) himself. God had prescribed only one text (which represents a lifestyle) known as Vedas, also Vedas have been reincarnated in a simpler form as Purana's and Bhagwad Gita which was word of Lord Krishna. He himself is regarded as BramhaSwaroop (one face of supreme godHead) by Vedas , he prescribed in Bhagwad Mahapurana the path of Bhakti so in a way they(ISKCON people) are correct by believing one god and have supreme faith in him so as in Veda, this Concludes that they are HINDUS.

  • 1
    I know they are Hindu and I don't have problem with their devotion to one god. But how much correct is insisting that only Bhaktiyoga is correct? Bhagawadgeeta as it is by Swami Prabhupad is not as it is. Its bhakti version of Geeta. Aug 16, 2014 at 9:41
  • See every one has it's own path if you don't like bhakti path much you should not atleast criticize it as it is one of the path's mentioned in RajYoga which is real hindu stuff.If you want to see the real mahima of bhakti and to know why they empahsize so much on bhakti read Shrimad Bhagwatam or atleast try to read/hear the samvaad(conversation) between Uddhav and Shri Krishna, also read Uddhav geeta
    – Yogi
    Aug 16, 2014 at 10:24
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    I dont have any problem with Bhaktiyoga. But only Bhakti is right and olny way for culmination. This attitude is wrong. Aug 16, 2014 at 10:32
  • See bhakti comes with knowledge and purva jnma (previous life) sinchit karmas (previous life karma's) so it is foolish to call that only bhakti it is true wisdom when one feels soul and truly gains freedom form the material body and world
    – Yogi
    Aug 16, 2014 at 10:35
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    @ShreemayPanhalkar your arguments seem to suggest that ISKCON follow 'wrong Hinduism' by insisting on Bhakti yoga. Hinduism doesn't have rigid boundaries like Abrahamic religions. The 6 main Darshanas(Nyaya, Purva Mimaamsa, Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta) all have different means for liberation and even contradicting means. That does not make any of them un-Hindu. Hinduism allows diversity. It cannot be pigeonholed into some exclusive framework.
    – Bharat
    Aug 16, 2014 at 15:24

You will not find anyone except krishna or his incarnations to be addressed as 'Bhagavan' in vedas and puranas. They might be addressed as 'Deva' or demigod. Even in Bhagavad Gita lord is always addressed as: "Bhagavan Uvacha" Bhagavan is used for krishna only.

Again I would like to mention the definition of GOD which is given by parashar muni who is the father of vedavyasa(the compiler of vedas). In fact, Shri Parashara listed a total of six “attractive” qualities as explained in the following verse.

aishvaryasya samagrasya
viryasya yashasah shriyah
jnana-vairagyayosh chaiva
shannam bhaga itingana

In the above verse from Vishnu-purana 6.5.47, Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is thus defined by Shri Parashara Muni as one who is full in six opulences—who has full strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation.

All through His life five thousand years back, Krishna had continually engaged in various pastimes that establish the fact that He possesses all the six opulences in full. Krishna exhibited unlimited strength. His strength was present from the moment of His birth. When He was just three months old, the Putana demon attempted to kill Him, but instead she was killed by Krishna.

Krishna also possesses unlimited fame. Of course, devotees of Krishna know of Him and glorify Him, but apart from them, many millions in the world are aware of the fame of the Bhagavad-gita. In all countries all over the world the Bhagavad-gita is read by philosophers, psychologists, and religionists. The fame of the Bhagavad-gita is Krishna’s fame.

Beauty, another opulence, is possessed unlimitedly by Krishna. Krishna Himself is very beautiful, as are all His associates. The earth planet is an insignificant planet within the universe, yet this one planet has so many attractive features. We can just imagine, then, how many attractive features must be possessed by God, who is the creator of the entire cosmic manifestation. How beautiful He must be—He who has created all beauty?

A person is attractive not only because of his beauty, but also because of his knowledge. A scientist or philosopher may be attractive because of his knowledge, but what knowledge is more sublime than that given by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita? There is no comparison in the world to such knowledge. At the same time, Krishna possesses full renunciation (vairagya). So many things are working under Krishna’s direction in this material world, but actually Krishna is not present here. A big factory may continue to work, although the owner may not be present. Similarly, Krishna’s potencies are working under the direction of His assistants, the demigods. Thus Krishna Himself is aloof from the material world. Details regarding this are all described in the revealed scriptures.

You would have understood by now how Krishna possesses all the six opulences in full, therefore being “all-attractive”. Thus He is considered by great Vedic authorities as Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

  • 2
    "You will not find anyone except krishna or his incarnations to be addressed as 'Bhagavan' in vedas and puranas" nope this is false. This has me worried that Iskcon is trying to brainwash you.
    – Wikash_
    Mar 2, 2020 at 6:32
  • Several others are referred to as Bhagavan (e.g. Brahma, Narada, etc.) even in the Srimad Bhagavatam itself. Mar 12, 2022 at 1:04

I would like to mention few things:

  • Hindu is just a name of lifestyle given to the people living aside of river sindhu.

  • Lord Krishna is supreme as mentioned by many vedas and puranas. It is not that ISKCON people are just following sentimentally. Some references are here:

Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28

ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ
kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam
indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ
mṛḍayanti yuge yuge

Krishna is the source of all incarnations.


isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah

  • Other 33 millions demigods are there which are generally considered as equal as to GOD due to lack of knowledge. It is just like a Government in which you see a prime minister and many other ministers who are handling many departments. In the same way different demigods handles different departments like fire,water,modes of nature etc.

If someone is following the rules and regulations, he might have gone through these slokas also in which it is clearly mentioned that a foolish worships demigods for some material desire.

Read Bhagvad Gita chapter-7.20 to 7.24 at vedabase


They are NOT hindu, according to them:

  1. Hinduism Today

"Srila Prabhupada was aware that the Indian community had a mistaken impression of his Hinduness. In a 1970 letter to a temple administrator in Los Angeles, he wrote, "The Hindu community in the West has got some good feeling for me because superficially they are seeing that I am spreading Hindu religion, but factually this Krishna Consciousness movement is neither Hindu religion nor any other religion." That remains the case today, for Srila Prabhupada left no successor with the authority to change his spiritual edicts."

  1. Are Hare krishnas Hindus

"Krishna devotees—specifically those who consider themselves part of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, follow Krishna's teachings in the Bhagavad-gita. The word "Hindu" isn't found there, or anywhere in Vedic literature. When we speak of Krishna, we're referring to the Supreme Person, the Absolute Truth, the ultimate source of all energies.

"Hindu" is a relative term referring to customs and beliefs of a portion of the population of Southeast Asia. It came into use in relatively recent history. The Supreme Person, God, isn't bound by time or space, so He can't be referred to as "Hindu," "Christian," or "Muslim," and nor can His devotees. "

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