Chakra Discussions

No Racism In ISKCON

by Radha Mohan das, ISKCON UK Communications Secretary

Posted May 18, 2006

The incident described in the article "Racism In ISKCON?" concerning the photographer from The Independent newspaper and the temple school is not a typical example of conduct at Bhaktivedanta Manor.

During the visit, the newspaper photographer was very sensitive and respectful. However, we were more concerned with the way one of our staff members had communicated with some children. We had an investigation and corrected the situation and apologised to the related individuals.

The school at Bhaktivedanta Manor is well known for the excellent and holistic education that it provides. Each child's education is subsidised by the Manor, which contributes over 50,000 ($90,000) annually in facilities, resources and finance. Thus, in effect our children receive a private education for next to nothing in fees.

The newspaper simply desired photos that would reflect what the future Hindu school in Harrow may look like. That was what their feature was about. Considering the school is likely to be more than 95% British Hindu children of an Indian ethnic background, that was what the newspaper wanted to capture. (Harrow has the highest Indian Hindu population in Britain thus entitling the area to the government-funded school in the first place). Therefore, although the newspaper took pictures of all the children, they used the ones most useful to their needs. In the same way if they had wanted to run a feature on children of a European origin that have taken up Krishna Consciousness (which has happened on various occasions), the photos selected would have been specifically focused on that subject.

Perhaps when prejudice persons on either side of these matters hear of such indifference they become agitated and interpret the matter in a negative and fault finding way.

As a result of receiving our guest from the Independant (who could technically could have gone to any temple), Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON got some excellent publicity in full colour in one of our country's most popular national newspapers. It's just a shame that some people related to ISKCON continually contribute to bad publicity with their redundant criticism.