From Krishna to Christ

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Contact Information

I have purchased a domain to continue the purpose of this site and it is still under construction. Life is much busier now as a father and I would hate to make promises about when I'll have it up and running. In the meantime, I can be reached via email at

If anyone is interested in Christian conversation (including Christianity after ISKCON), please feel free to join the forums at

Just today, Blogger made me update to the newer version and in doing so I lost the following comment sent to me for publishing:

i just stumbled across you site. i, too, was once a devotee (though not initiated), and am currently christian. i am still struggling with some issues of faith. i am sure these will be addressed as i read through your archives. thanks for posting.

Kevin, sorry for the error. Please contact me if you would like to discuss anything. I would look forward to hearing your story.
Michael 8:59 PM | 0 comments |

Sunday, November 19, 2006


In order to better serve the intention of this blog, I've decided to put together a free-standing website. I've accumulated a lot of relevant material and references and I think it would be far better organized and informative in a different format. When everything is ready to go, I will post a link.
Michael 1:32 PM | 0 comments |

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Internet Sabbatical

My son has arrived and the world is standing still. I will begin posting again as priorities allow.
Michael 9:08 PM | 1 comments |

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


For those reading, please excuse the breaks between these posts. With a demanding job and a child on the way time is becoming scarce.

I would really like to move forward at this point to engage some discussions that I have encountered on the internet as well as some of Prabhupad’s teachings. But beforehand, I will leave a second post related to my conversion. I’ve shared my first encounter with the Gospel and would now like to share a little on prayer.

As evident from the earlier posts, growing up within the ISKCON movement I had very little if any Christian influence in my life. We lived isolated from society until my early teens. By that time my parents had divorced and remarried, with father leaving the movement. Through this transition I found myself in public school for the first time, and in the years that followed my faith began to slowly wane. By the time I was in college my childhood almost seemed like a strange dream or a different life altogether. I had become a cynic and skeptic at heart.

At the peak of my doubts a Christian entered my life for the first time on a regular basis. It was my grandmother (father’s mother). Now when I was a child I saw her maybe once a year for a couple days, if that. She lived a couple states away and our relationship was very limited. When I was in my teens she became ill and suffered a stroke, losing much of her cognitive mind. She could remember 30 years ago, but had no recollection of breakfast. After the stroke my father brought her to Mississippi to look after her. This was an enormous burden though as he was in school at the time. Eventually he made the difficult decision of putting her in a nursing home. So on a weekly basis I would visit her and for the first time I had a consistent relationship with my grandmother.

Grandma was delusional, but she was still my grandma. I would sit and listen to her talk for hours. She and my grandfather were missionaries in India for 33 years. They raised 3 boys and a girl overseas, of whom only my aunt remains a Christian today. The influence of India, by the way, played a large part in my father joining the Krishna movement and me being born into ISKCON. Anyhow, I would get to hear stories nonstop from grandma about our family, mission experiences, the church, and of course Jesus Christ. To be honest, I didn’t pay the most attention. Everything she said was pretty much crazy as far as I was concerned. Sometimes I would walk into her room and she thought I was grandpa still alive. But I spent time with her nonetheless because it made her happy.

The thing is, she was the only person at that point in my life, when I despised faith and God the most, that I would actually listen to about anything spiritual. If a kid approached me at college and wanted to talk about Jesus it probably would have ended in an argument. But I would listen to my grandma because I knew that she was out of her mind anyway. And so she went on and on. And she would pray for me. In fact, it would not surprise me in the least if my insane grandmother was the only person on the face of the earth that was praying for my salvation in those dark years of my life. And I would sort of roll my eyes, tell her how much I loved her, kiss her on the forehead, and just go back into my little world.

When my grandmother finally passed and I thought considered it a relief. I was tired of seeing her in such a miserable condition. She was not a perfect woman. She made many mistakes in her life, but to see her suffer in a mental fog was difficult for all of us. I can say that I was actually happy in a way when she died.

Several years went by before I ever found myself on my knees praying to God for forgiveness. Now I can’t help but shake my head as I look around in a troubled world that spites Him as a tyrant. This, the very God who kept His covenant promise to a deranged old woman on her deathbed.

If any old friends or any in ISKCON should read this, just know that today I pray for your salvation and will continue to do so until my grave. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Perhaps you will not agree with anything I have to say. Maybe I even sound mad. But I will share with you regardless and pray unto the end.
Michael 9:46 AM | 0 comments |

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Gospel

Back in gurukul in rural Mississippi, we had a teacher (English and philosophy) who thought it would be a good idea to bring in some evangelists to meet with our class and share thoughts about Christianity. The idea was to educate us kids about the beliefs of our surrounding culture. After the preachers were gone, we would discuss what they had to say and attempt to show how their faith was inferior to Krishna Consciousness by comparison.

So one by one they came, they saw, they prayed, and they went. We would have maybe one visitor a week. I will never forget some of these encounters. In particular, I will never forget the expressions on their faces as they entered the upstairs classroom of a converted country barn to find a group of American boys and girls in a bubble of Indian culture. This isn’t something you just happen to see every day in the boonies of the South. I know they were not prepared for what they encountered.

The one fellow I remember in particular was a Baptist pastor from the Coast who used to do some simple television commercials promoting the Gospel. He was a gentle man, but one who was visibly disturbed by what he saw. He talked to us about Jesus. He told us about the cross and how our sins were paid for if we accepted Christ as our savior. You could see the trouble in his eyes. If I was a betting man, I’d say that he still thinks of us from time to time. He prayed with us (our teacher had no problem with us praying Christian prayers) and then left with what seemed a heavy heart.

I remember this preacher above and beyond the others because of his noticeable frustration and to this day I have great sympathy for him. I wonder what it must have been like to stroll up into our classroom bewildered as to what he was going to tell these kids. The others who came by seemed to be on their own agenda, but this man was troubled because he had a duty to do and he was not exactly sure how to go about it. He did not know the first thing about what we believed or what would be said after he left. But with a prayerful mind, he did exactly the right thing. He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew that we were confused well beyond our years, and he knew that there was nothing that he could personally do to talk us for or against anything. He simply spoke of Christ, crucified and raised. And though he left with a certain amount of frustration on his face, what he shared with us was the actual power of God unto salvation. Now it may have taken a while, but in His own time and in His own way, God used that power and those prayers (along with others) to drag me out of a seemingly hopeless darkness.

It remains to be seen if more from the Krishna movement will ever wake up. I now only know of one other who is a solid Christian. So while it is very tempting for me to spend pages of writing trying to explain the various nonsenses in Krishna philosophy, all of it would prove worthless if the simplicity of the Gospel was not at the forefront. Quite literally, the Gospel means the "good news”. And that is exactly what it is.

This is what was shared with me in so many words.

God created all things and He created them good. He then created man in His image to reign and have dominion over His creation, thereby glorifying Himself. But man was not satisfied with his place and desired to be like God, knowing good and evil for himself. He was tempted and fell from grace, bringing sin and death upon himself and all of his posterity. Though man defected and rebelled, God, in an act of unfathomable love promised to restore man through the work of His Son.

In the early years of man, God took a people and set them apart in preparation to bring His Son into the world. He gave them the Law, namely the Ten Commandments, so that man would know his hopeless state in sin. He required of man sacrifices to keep the gravity of sin on their minds at all times. Then, just as foretold by the prophets, God Himself became incarnate through the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin, thereby bypassing the inheritance of sinful nature. He walked among us as Jesus Christ. For the first time on this earth since the Fall, there walked a man who knew no sin, perfect in every way.

Jesus spoke things that only God could speak and did things that only God could do. He healed the sick, raised the dead, performed numerous miracles, and made many promises. All the while he had very serious things to say about the self-righteous, and in doing so He greatly offended many. And just as sinful man would do today if they could get their hands on God, Christ was crucified for who He claimed to be. But this was not done against His will, as His purpose was to be the ultimate and final sacrifice that would defeat the power of sin and death. With perfect obedience, He laid down His life so that all who believe may live and abide in Him forever. And as promised, on the third day, Christ was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven where He now rules at the right hand of God the Father as King of creation.

What He has left behind for us is His Gospel and His Church and the blessing of His Holy Spirit until He returns to judge both the living and the dead. And though every man stands guilty before God of the sins he has committed, those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths Jesus Christ as savior will be set apart and counted holy in His name. It is by this good news we are called out of darkness and into light. And through it we are adopted as children of God and are blessed with entry into His covenant body, the Church, sealed with sign of baptism and nurtured through Holy Communion with our Lord and Savior.
Michael 2:40 PM | 4 comments |

Friday, June 02, 2006

Krishna Consciousness and Many River Theology

“Many River Theology” goes something like this: Just as many rivers take different paths to the same ocean, so similarly the many religions of the world serve a divine purpose in guiding the diversity of mankind towards salvation. This is theological diplomacy, so to speak, at its savviest or most insecure, depending. Here is how it manifests itself:

· First is Universalism. God loves everyone, but more importantly God could not possibly be a “good” or all powerful God if He does not redeem all of His creation and everyone in it. For those familiar with Christian theological terminologies, this could perhaps be called “Hyper-Many River Theology.”

· Next there is the more mainstream believer who reaches a particular difficulty when it comes to the reality of hell. Hell seems no doubt the most sensitive doctrine in all of religion. In orthodox Christianity it is a place of eternal separation from God's grace, and therefore the ultimate offense to anyone who does not approve. In Krishna Consciousness hell is a place of customized karmic punishment, however the tenure there is considered only temporary (even if it lasts several million lifetimes). This can still be highly offensive, but there is a little room on the table for human opinion to negotiate its worth. Regardless of the belief system involved, within Christianity, ISKCON, or any other faith, there always seems to be a number of followers who just can’t swallow a doctrine of divine punishment. The resulting inclination towards Many River Theology here stems from this refusal to believe that God would cast out anyone from a false or concocted faith so long as it is pursued with good intentions. More often than not, what follows is a subsequent belief in annihilation or death as non-existence for those most vile sinners or unbelievers in general.

· Then we have religious agnosticism. This was where I personally found myself spending the most time in the years between Krishna and Christ. God is considered to be undeniably real, but as to exactly who He is, nobody can be so certain. With this foundation, any claims of an absolute truth by others tend to become an insult of arrogance. At times this line of reasoning is put forth in a typical Universalist fashion, but under other circumstances the argument is more likely to be clothed in false humility, suggesting that to believe otherwise is to judge beyond human warrant. Thus all religious efforts are validated by nothing more than man's ignorance and the presumptuous demand that God respect it.

So up to this point we have three general sub categories of Many River Theology: 1. everyone is saved; 2. we might not all be saved but surely no one is damned; and 3. let’s not act so pious as to pretend to know who is right.

So what are we to make of these compromises? They are most definitely not exclusive to any one religion. Even solid Christians have fallen into this type of reasoning before. But what makes ISKCON so interesting is that they present their own twist, a fourth compromise. This is the idea that all other world religions are good, just not the ultimate good. Other faiths are but stepping stones in the reincarnate evolution of man to become more spiritual and to conquer the bondage of the material world. If you are a good Christian, your reward shall be with Christ after this life (the major assumption here being that Christ does not reside in the ultimate heaven). Or if you are a good Buddhist, you shall go to be with Buddha. Etc, etc. But upon these inheritances, one resumes the quest of salvation all over again, albeit on a possibly higher platform. With this interesting twist one is allowed to believe in a certain system, an ultimate salvation that comes from such a system, as well as a doctrine of punishment for missing the mark. And still all rivers can flow towards redemption. Vedic philosophy, in and of itself, is Many River Theology at its most intricate. It confirms the efforts of divine universal redemption, it allows for hell in the process, it denies eternal damnation by a doctrine of reincarnation, and at the same time it attempts to shake hands with all other theologies by using a big ‘T’ or little ‘t’ for truth.

What is most interesting is how many devotees over time become dissatisfied practices that elaborate these compromises and attempt to broaden them even further. Perhaps now Krishna will not punish (even temporarily) for small amounts of intoxication. Or perhaps it is not such a big deal if ekadasi (holy day of fasting from grains) is broken. Maybe mangal arati (morning worship) is no longer a priority. The important thing is just to know who Krishna is and live a good life. As Plato would suggest, bhakti yoga is to be considered only the “ideal”, not the “real”—and Krishna no doubt understands this. God looks upon the heart, right? "I have his promises and he will be merciful." This is the way the thinking goes. With every possible compromise already in place, there is still a search for just one more until even Krishna becomes bearable.

Being that this is a site explaining a journey from ISKCON to Christianity, I felt it very important to mention the unique perspectives involved here. You see, in order for me to explain anything right about Christ I am also forced to mention how and where Krishna falls short. If I do not, the "Many River Devotee" will just agree with me and adorn my efforts with a little ‘t’. But I am not here to witness about how my new faith fits into my old one. If Christ is right, then Krishna is not God. That is the gravity of the situation at hand.

So it is with the coming posts and continuation of this blog that I intend to lay out the distinctions that separate Christianity apart as absolute truth, particularly from ISKCON’s fundamental theology and also apart from the reasoning behind those who attempt to further soften Krishna Consciousness as a shelter from reality.

But before signing off it would feel unproductive if the following point was not made. Please consider it carefully:

When it comes to God, human opinion has absolutely no influence on what is true or what is not. This is the nature of our place as created beings. God is who He is. It makes no difference if one believes something different with all might and soul. We are either in alignment with His truth and reality, or we are not. Therefore true faith and religion have nothing to do with personal preference, but rather acknowledgement of and submission to divine reality.

So goes the paddle of human sovereignty. Now maybe we can discuss the rivers.
Michael 3:22 PM | 2 comments |

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Strivings of Bhakti Yoga: An Initial Witness and Testimony

First of all, thanks be to God who has given us this Lord’s Day for His glorification in worship and our subsequent sanctification.

Now that the tiniest bit of personal perspective and background has been given with the last post, allow me to jump right in and share some thoughts on the directions I have seen devotees go in the last twenty-something years. For those unfamiliar with ISKCON, its history, beliefs, or practices, please utilize the link provided to their website.

When I look at the New Talavan site today (posted under My Links as “Where I grew up”), I only recognize a few faces here and there. Most, I assume, are either new devotees altogether or transplants from other temples or various parts of the world. I won't speak for the people I don’t know, but amongst those who I do recognize, I would consider even fewer to be above marginal in their beliefs. To old friends who may read this, please correct me in honesty if I am wrong here.

Perhaps it was the naivety of childhood blanketing my eyes, but the faith and cohesiveness of temple congregants twenty years ago seemed much stronger, and without question, much more dogmatic. I recall very little compromise in the structure and practice of Krishna Consciousness when I was a boy. I remember the days when all heads were shaven, all attire in worship was spiritual, initiated members chanted sixteen rounds every day, caffeine was enforced as an intoxicant, etc, etc. If you were a bhakta (new or aspiring devotee), you stood out like a sore thumb in your jeans and secular haircut. Maybe that is one of the reasons that things have loosened up over time. Maybe the temple is attempting to become more inviting to newcomers and visitors by making the expectations of the lifestyle seem more feasible in our society. But I must ask, does this not defeat the whole purpose of divorcing oneself from the material world, as is the foundational message of the Vedic scriptures? If I may say so myself, it seems to me a bit like someone attempting the Atkins Diet, except modifying it to allow sugar and carbohydrates.

More realistically, I think it is probably as simple as a slow decline in ISKCON’s fundamentalist enthusiasm. So what paths are devotees taking in life? Over the years I’ve noticed four very general trends unfold:

• First, and by far the obvious minority, are those devotees who have stayed the course with just as much passion as when they first joined or were born into the movement. Make no mistake, they do exist, but only in small numbers.

• Second and most broadly, there are those who still consider themselves a part of ISKCON, but have simply become less dogmatic about their faith and beliefs. This is where I find the majority of those from my youth to be today. They live fairly secular lives, enjoy Coca-Cola and coffee (and perhaps even beer) in good conscience, occasionally pray or chant rounds, and try to focus on just living a good life in general at the mercy of Krishna. For the most part, these devotees have already experienced a great deal of rigid devotional service within the temple and have (in some sense of rationale) “stored up” a treasury of good karma on which they now live spending. They are usually still staunch vegetarians, still attend major festivals or services, and still carry a shell of the general belief system that once indoctrinated their lives.

Most interesting, however, is that within this group there are an ever increasing number who are becoming comfortable with other religions being validated as but another river leading to the same ocean (more on this to come). That said, these more “lukewarm” devotees usually still stand by Krishna Consciousness as the safest and most faithful path to heaven.

• Third, there are some who have detached themselves from ISKCON either significantly or in full, yet who still believe in the teachings of the Gita, Chaitanya, and Srila Prabhupad. These are devotees who have grown tired of today’s gurus or ISKCON politics in general and who wish to search out Krishna on their own. Sometimes they are fervent, but quite often they also choose to live out mostly secular lives.

• Lastly, there are those who leave both ISKCON and Krishna Consciousness behind entirely. In tongue-in-cheek manner, these ex-devotees are referred to by remaining congregants as “blooped”, a term used by Prabhupad to describe food cooked too long over the fire. Admittedly, this category describes me. I have “blooped” and am no longer a follower of the movement, its beliefs, or its practices. I have remained a vegetarian, but not for any karmic reasons (once again, more on this to come).

As far as I can remember, most converts to ISKCON start out with relative enthusiasm. The test, superficially put, seems to be religious endurance over time. On the simplest level, Krishna Consciousness is a practice of works-based salvation, namely perfecting bhakti yoga, accompanied by a unique system of loop-hole promises and various superstitions. The followers who stay the course of faithful works with all their might are the ones in the first trend mentioned above. Honestly, is quite a remarkable race to run, but in my experience it is also a very unfortunate effort to begin with.

Most who stumble enough in search of achieving a life entirely on this spiritual platform seem to eventually find themselves settling for isolated promises in the quest for peace and salvation. To these devotees (and I too became one), the big picture of deliverance from the material world and its vicious cycles is still favorable in their minds because the nature of divine standard and acceptance is boiled down to a mere handful of comfortable proverbs or practices. For instance, I may be a thief and adulterer, but if only I chant Hare Krishna and die with a tulasi leaf in my hand I will be saved (see previous post, blessing 9). This is the land where struggling devotees find rest. And let me tell you, I've been there enough to share this: there is no hope to be found in such an illusion.

At this point, a current devotee may object to the purpose of these observations, especially considering that I am a Christian. Does not the Christian church experience similar struggles? With patience, I fully intend to discuss those as well (so far as I have encountered them). But rest assured that there is a remarkable difference between the two.

Next, and as time permits, I'll share what I've personally come to know as "Many River Theology", a compromise held by many devotees today. Then, my own coming to terms with who God is and how He turned my world inside out, leaving all protests in dust and ashes.

Until then, may His grace sustain you.
Michael 4:41 PM | 1 comments |