Mad After Krishna

My Life in a Destructive Cult

Copyright © 1994 by Paul Ford


A Brief Cult Update

The Krishna Cult: A Critique

A Letter from a Former Member

Afterword

Acknowledgments

Appendix: Brainwashing

Glossary

Bibliography

About the Author


Chapter 1: Transcendental Hippiedom It was on a Saturday afternoon in the late spring of 1969 that I first saw the Hare Krishna people. I was walking with a former schoolmate in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, New York. Dressed in ankle-length orange robes, the Krishnas danced and sang. One was playing an oblong double-headed Indian drum while others clanged hand cymbals. Their odd dress and behavior repulsed my friend, but I was intrigued. It was as if I were seeing something from another world. Most of the passersby simply ignored them. ... [more]

radha krishna

Chapter 2: Initiation into Bhakti Yoga At the end of August, I left my guitar on the island with Marguerite and moved into a rented room in a house near the temple. Every day for the next few months, I attended morning and evening services at the temple. It seemed at first that I would never be able to memorize all the words to the common prayers, as most were in Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Hindu scriptures. After a few weeks, however, I had managed to memorize them all. ... [more]

Chapter 3: Sankirtan Party My superiors in Los Angeles assigned most of the other new devotees and me to sankirtan duties. For the next few years, my life revolved around selling magazines and books and spreading Krishna consciousness. "Krishna's Army" of sankirtan devotees had declared war on Maya, according to Prabhupada. ... [more]

Chapter 4: On the Road for Krishna Some of the larger temples sent traveling parties to college campuses, state fairs, and cities that had no ISKCON temple. Once there, the devotees distributed books, collected Lakshmi, and sometimes tried to recruit new members. The parties traveled in everything from panel vans to full-sized intercity busses. The latter were converted into traveling temples by removing most of the seats and installing a small set of Deities at the rear. For years, an advertisement on the back cover of the BTG referred to these traveling sankirtan parties with a headline that read something like, "Experience Life as a Bhakti Yogi for a Week or a Month!" ... [more]

Chapter 5: Back in Los Angeles After a fortnight in Vrindavan, we boarded busses for New Delhi. From there, we flew to New York by way of Bombay (now Mumbai), Kuwait, and London. At Kennedy International, the karmis seemed to have gnarled, mean-looking faces. I was surprised to see that their teeth were not pointed, and that they had neither claws nor horns. ... [more]

Chapter 6: Laguna Beach In September 1976, Ramesvara sent me and several other devotees to Laguna Beach, a resort town about forty miles south of Los Angeles. The outside world knew Laguna Beach for its sunshine, magnificent beaches, and high rents. The devotees knew it as the place that Prabhupada once said would be the first Krishna-conscious community in the US. Nevertheless, many stalwart devotees in Laguna Beach had succumbed to Maya in the form of beautiful women, plentiful drugs, and a laid-back, hedonistic lifestyle. ... [more]

Chapter 7: Exit from the Cult The day after Christmas, 1978, a car struck me as I was crossing Venice Boulevard a few blocks from the LA temple. When I regained consciousness, I was lying on my back in the crosswalk. By then the light had changed and the drivers were squeezing into the right lane to avoid running over my motionless body in the left lane. I looked up into the faces of several curious karmi pedestrians, and later into the faces of several devotees who had run over from the temple. None of the motorists stopped to help me. ... [more]

Chapter 8: Rehab After leaving the motel where my deprogramming had taken place, my mother and I, along with Virginia, Doug, and a pilot friend of theirs, flew in a private six-seat propeller craft to Tucson, Arizona. There I became the first guest at Rancho Libertad, a center for recovering cult members, and received the information, food, rest, recreation, and friendships I needed to begin picking up the pieces of my broken life. My counselors were Virginia and another former Moonie named Chris. ... [more]


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