The Movement Of Indi The Struggle Of The Power Left A Young Iskcon Shaken
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Many of these challenges stemmed from Prabhupada’s death in 1977, which “left a young ISKCON shaken”. Although the movement was growing rapidly, it still relied heavily on the charismatic authority of Prabhupada, and his death created deep uncertainties within the organization’s leadership. As the organization scrambled to fill the void in institutional power left by its founder, there was a significant “movement of Indians into local positions of power, which had a [stabilizing influence on] many of the temple-level conflicts and also encouraged a greater degree of Indian participation”. As Indian-Americans continued to take on leadership roles in ISKCON, they began to draw spiritual legitimacy and authenticity from their status as…show more content… Before this period, Prabhupada distanced himself from traditional Hinduism and publicly stated that his movement was not Hindu: “I don’t want a Hindu temple. Our constitution is different. We want everyone”. However, the movement was forced to abandon this conviction as anti-cult sentiment grew in the 1970s. By the middle of the decade, ISKCON fell under intense scrutiny by the media and government officials. In order to protect the movement “against accusations of being a dangerous cult, the leadership asked ISKCON’s Indian supporters to speak to the movement’s authenticity as a traditional Hindu religious group”. This testimony was successful in alleviating public fears and allowed ISKCON to escape government sanctions. Without the leadership and support of Indian immigrants, ISKCON would have been far less prepared to survive the death of its founder in 1977 and the subsequent financial and legal issues that plagued the movement in the 1980s.
III. Hippies and Immigrants: Comparative Perspectives
Two major groups have historically populated the membership of ISKCON: first, the rebellious youth of the American counterculture, and second, the Indian immigrant community that exploded in the wake of 1960s immigration reform. While Indian-American devotees currently represent a large proportion of ISKCON’s following, their circumstances appear to differ dramatically from those of the counterculture’s hippies.