Henry Speaks on Cult or Just Weird Podcast

October 10, 2023: Henry discussed his books Killing For Krishna, Eleven Naked Emperors, and the ten-volume series Gold, Guns and God, with Chris and Kayla on Cult or Just Weird, a bi-weekly podcast of Chris and Kayla’s journeys of humor, discovery, and the absurd as they try to answer the question: “Is it a cult, or just weird?” Topics discussed during Henry’s interview included: Why Henry joined ISKCON, and why he left; the Dallas, Texas boarding school; the two New Vrindaban murders, and Kirtanananda Swami’s trials in court.

Kayla’s last question for Henry was: “We ask everyone this question on our podcast: Would you personally define ISKCON as a cult, or would you define it as just weird?”

Henry replied, “Well, it’s not weird. I would never say it’s weird. You can say that it is a religion with cultish aspects. That’s what I would personally say. You can also say it’s a cult based on a religion, which is Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The cultish aspects come because the guru is supposed to be worshiped as good as God. He’s not God. But he’s as good as God because the only way the disciple can approach God is through the guru. That’s part of the theology.

“I don’t think it’s weird at all. What else would be weird about it? That they’re vegetarians? That they worship statues? That they feed their statues? Well, maybe that might be a little weird for people unfamiliar with Hinduism, but it’s a tradition for thousands of years in India to feed the statues!

“Hindus say, ‘This IS God! This statue IS God!’ Because for one thing, where is there not God? God is all pervasive. He's everywhere! He’s everywhere! So why can’t he be in this statue!

“It gives you a chance to render service to the Supreme. That’s Bhakti Yogi. It’s all about service; service with love. You can’t have love or bhakti or service, without at least two persons. Love means two.

“The Mayavadis or Monists say ‘All is One.’ And that’s also a type of bliss, no doubt about it. Brahman realization is an experience of bliss, tranquility, peace, cosmic consciousness. It’s a transcendental experience: out of this world. Material pleasure can’t come close.

“However you don't have love in Brahman realization, because all is one. And love means two or more. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas say that the pleasure of love is higher than the pleasure of Brahman. And in order to have love you have to have at least two individuals so that love can be reciprocated.”

Kayla: “That’s a beautiful answer and a great note to go off.”

To listen to the 91-minute interview, go to: Cult or Just Weird. PS: Henry appears on the second of a two-part podcast series. In the first episode, titled “The Chanters (Hare Krishnas, Part One,” Kayla and Chris discuss the history and theology of ISKCON, and also describe their experience visiting the ISKCON temple and restaurant in Los Angeles.

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