In a recent viral video, BJP MP Maneka Gandhi allegedly claimed that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is the “biggest cheat” in the country for selling cows to slaughterhouses.
This statement was made as BJP MP Maneka Gandhi recalls her visit to ISKCON’s Anantpur Gaushala (cowshed) in Andhra Pradesh where she could not find any cows that were either not giving milk or had calves. “There was no dry cow in the entire dairy. Not a single calf was there. It means all were sold”, she recounts. Gandhi, an animal rights activist, has often been vocal about the issues and concerns regarding animal welfare on social media sites.
Gandhi further adds that people from this Krishna sect go and chant “Hare Ram Hare Krishna” on the roads, with so much fervor and passion. They say that their lives are dependent on milk entirely and yet nobody has sold as many cows to butchers as they have.
ISKCON’S Response to Maneka Gandhi’s Statement
ISKCON is associated with the Hare Krishna Movement and was founded in 1966. It is considered one of the most important branches of the “Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition” and has millions of followers on a global level. Vegetarianism is one of the four main tenets followed by ISKCON.
Yudhistir Govinda Das, one of the ISKCON spokespersons, has denied all accusations and claims, calling it “unsubstantiated and false information”. He has further elaborated that ISKCON has been a pioneering organization in protecting cows, not only in India but across the world. Many of the cows that are protected and provided for, by ISKCON, have been brought to them after being found injured or abandoned. In addition to this, the organization has also started programs for farmers and households located in rural areas, so as to resuscitate the times when cows were worshiped and also to provide training about how to care for the better health and welfare of the animals.
Yudhistir Das has also commented on how none of the workers and staff remember Maneka Gandhi visiting the Gaushalas. Further inquiry will be made by the official documents provided by the staff. Das has also addressed how they were surprised by Maneka Gandhi’s comment as she has been a supporter of ISKCON in the past and a well-acclaimed animal activist.
ISKCON was in the headlines a couple of months ago too when one of the monks, Amogh Lila Das, criticized Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He was “banned” and sent away for atonement later.