Betrayal of the Spirit


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About the Author

Nori J. Muster, a freelance writer and website designer, lives in Arizona. Larry D. Shinn, president of Berea College, is the author of "The Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America."


Perhaps the most colorful and aggressive of the Asian spiritual communities to take root on American shores was that of the Hare Krishnas, more formally known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Who has not witnessed their American converts' dancing in the streets in their orange robes, confidently baring their shaven heads, or endured their fundraising efforts in airports? Against those finger cymbal-clanging memories of the 1970s, Muster's narrative of her insider's experience of ISKCON is nothing less than mesmerizing. That the American adventure into the worship of the noble Krishna would come to grief after the death of their ISKCON's charismatic Guru Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Praphupada in a scandal of murder, greed and corruption was perhaps not surprising to those who saw more than the Hare Krishna's superficial celebration of Krishna's love. For Muster, who worked for 10 years as a public relations secretary and editor of the organization's newpaper, the ISKCON World Review, the humiliation of ISKCON meant the loss of an admirable spiritual vision. Her narrative of that scandal confronts the ways in which traditional patriarchy and philosophical rigidity regularly defeated spiritual vitality. Muster's book is an important testimony that might be instructive to those involved in the leadership of any religious movement. (Nov.)

"An important insider critique of a disturbing era in ISKON's history." - Publisher's Weekly "Scholars of religion will find much of value in Muster's thoughtful and well written account. Anti-cultists will find ammunition for their crusade as well." -- Catherine Wessinger, Nova Religio

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