History

Though far fewer in numbers than either the divisions over other Gaudiya gurus or ritvikism, ISKCON has also experienced schisms when its gurus have formed alternative sectarian groups. Most notable of these is the City of God movement formed by Kirtanananda Swami, also known as Bhaktipada (1937-). One of the original eleven gurus named by Bhaktivedanta, Kirtanananda led the largest ISKCON residential center in North America, the rural West Virginia agricultural commune of New Vrindaban. In 1986, Kirtanananda declared that the community would henceforth be called New Vrindaban City of God, which he dedicated to interfaith religious work. Introducing Christian worship and icons into his religious community, Kirtanananda attempted to fuse Vaishnava and Christian practices. ISKCON expelled the swami and his followers, and his movement subsequently collapsed under accusations of racketeering, conspiracy to murder, and child molestation. Kirtanananda's movement still exists, though with only a handful of members in India and Pakistan. New Vrindaban reverted to normative ISKCON worship and theology in 1994 and was formally re-admitted to ISKCON in 1998.


Study Questions:
     1.     Describe the relationship between Bhaktivedanta's death and the schisms of ISKCON.
     2.     Who was Goswami, and how did he contribute to ISCKON's first official schism?
     3.     What was the ritvik controversy about?
     4.     What sect did Kirtanananda Swami create? Why did it fail?

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