Read the following two arguments about whether ISKCON is a legitimate form of Hinduism and decide which one is a good example and which one is a poor example. Give reasons to justify your decision, particularly in relation to the use of quotations, references to scholars and the style of reasoning.

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Is ISKCON a legitimate form of Hinduism?

Develop the basic argument below by using any relevant quotes/references to scholars that are listed. You may also use your own. It should not be assumed that all are relevant or required. Then, compare with others in the class and discuss any differences, while assessing the justification given for those differences. Don’t forget to also consider the different styles of evaluation examined above.

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Was Prabhupada vital for the development and growth of ISKCON?

  • Many would argue that without Prabhupada’s influence ISKCON would not have grown or developed.
  • Prabhupada travelled around the world many times and established more than 100 Hare Krishna centres, gathering more than 10000 disciples into the ISKCON movement.
  • Prabhupada capitalised on the ‘decade of discontent’ in the USA where the feeling of anti-establishment and anti-war were widespread.
  • Prabhupada brought the Hare Krishna Movement into the popular public domain by some very practical but effective means. For example, public chanting, creating a magazine in English for distribution and delivering lectures.
  • Prabhupada’s message of peace and love matched the counter-culture created by the hippie youth of America.
  • Interest shown by groups such as The Beatles and the support of George Harrison in particular was effectively utilised by Prabhupada which made ISKCON high profile in the media.
  • Prabhupada created an alternative lifestyle to traditional Hinduism like Gandhi had done with the ashram communities in India; this gave a close community of devotees but strength in numbers.

For their authority, depth, and clarity, his books have won praise from professors at colleges and universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, Syracuse, Oberlin, and Edinburgh. (

Making these Vaisnava texts available is one of Srila Prabhupada's greatest contributions. Apart from the masses, his books have also reached well into academic circles and have spurred academic interest in the Chaitanya tradition ... The significance of making these texts available is not merely academic or cultural; it is spiritual. (Cox et al, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: five distinguished scholars on the Krishna movement in the West. New York: Grove Press, 1983)

Devotees should not be lazy, idle...we are not afraid to work. Whatever our engagement is, by offering the result to Krishna we become Krishna conscious. (Prabhupada, Charisma and Religious Innovation in ISKCON Journal, 2008)

If today the Bhagavad Gita is printed in millions of copies in scores of Indian languages and distributed in all nooks and corners of the world, the credit for this great sacred service goes chiefly to ISKCON. ... The voyage of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to the United States in 1965 and the spectacular popularity his movement gained in a very short spell of twelve years must be regarded as one of the greatest spiritual events of the century. (Atal Vihari Vajpayee, Speech given on Vaishnava News Newtwork, 1998)