Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness and the Hare Krishnas

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Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988 - Religion - 414 pages
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When ex-Krishna Steve Bryant launched a one-man holy war against the Hare Krishna cult, his body was found murdered. It was the Krishnas' response to make Bryant a "monkey on a stick", a gruesome warning to all other Krishnas that death was in store for those with dreams of defection. 16 pages of photos.

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Before considering Bhakti Yoga or any of the other entry levels of Hare Krishna, everyone should read this book because the universal truth is evident: IDEAS have CONSEQUENCES. If the followers of this teacher / religion / cult who were so able to move the world in a time of turmoil are themselves subject to the temptations of power (even though everything they needed was provided), how are the simple devotees to trust that any of their teachings are valid. Character proves worth. If one must lie, cheat, and steal to promote the ideas of peace and love and harmony, then the foundations of that religion are rendered null and void.
I applaud the authors and those who contributed to this excellent book, and would remind those who are involved with HK or who are considering this religion / cult to carefully consider all the information about this life, these teachings, and remember the words of Jesus: "The truth shall set you free...." and (even more to the point) "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come...saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many....And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. ...There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and if possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 23: 4, 5, 11).
Current day HKs pretend they are Christian, even using Bible verses on their Facebook pages. They are servants of Krishna and those who brought this religion to America deserves unbiased examination absent the emotions of a follower of this religion. Monkey on a Stick is that unbiased examination and is an excellent read.
I just finished this "can't put it down" read; few books grab and hold me like this one did. I wonder why it wasn't up for a Pulitzer: this book is fascinating, frightening, eye-opening, bone-chilling and anger-invoking all at once. Brilliantly crafted expose of the HK movement and key figures in the U.S. As with any groups, there are those by whom nobody wants to be judged. But the abuses and law-breaking was systemic in this movement and so the whole thing has to be examined and held highly suspect.
This is a must read for anyone involved in or interested in the many forms of Hinduism, regardless of the "flavor" but especially anything near the HKs.

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Before reading this book one should understand that the contents have absolutely nothing to do with the Hare Krishna ancient Vaishnava philosophy of India, or indeed individual devotees and one should not view all Hare Krishna devotees from the picture that developes by reading this book, as it focuses on certain individuals which brought their mundane attributes and attitudes into a spiritual society which attempts to practice a philosophical system, that excludes all negative vices. There are murderes in human society at large, but no one would be unintelligent enough to conclude that we live in a society of murderers. The fact is that we find more loving and affectionate people in this world then otherwise and so we can not judge society by a handful of bad apples. There are new branches of the original Hare Krishna movement which have sprung up as a result of the transgressions described in the book and others and of which the ritvik system which is described in the book, is a transgression itself, as it is not described or given in the original founder Bhaktivedanta Swamis books, or indeed in the Vedas of India as a bonafied continuation of the ancient system of "disciplic succession or Parampara" The book therefore, really serves no purpose at all, other then to rightly point out some injustices committed in the movement after its founder had passed away but in no way reflects the beauty and sweetness of the Hare krishna societies philosophy and goals. It also fanatically declares that there is only one altenative, which is the ritvik dogma and the ritvik movement, which stands in direct opposition to Vaishnava practices and the movements founders writings where He personally declares that there are many genuine Vaishnava insitututions in this World and by attaching ones self to any such institution one can make spiritual advancment very quickly. This book is certainly not helpful at all for any genuine seeker.  


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About the author (1988)

John Hubner is a former staff writer at the Boston Phoenix. He was also a magazine writer and investigative reporter for many years at the San Jose Mercury News, where he is now the regional editor. He lives with his wife and two children in Santa Cruz.

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