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Prophets and ProtonsNew Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America$
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Benjamin E. Zeller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814797204

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814797204.001.0001

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Science and the Foundation of the Hare Krishnas

Science and the Foundation of the Hare Krishnas

(p.73) 3 Science and the Foundation of the Hare Krishnas
Prophets and Protons

Benjamin E. Zeller

NYU Press

This chapter begins by examining the life circumstances of Swami Bhaktivedanta, considering his exposure to Western-style education in British colonial schools. Bhaktivedanta would come to reject the English educational foundation that he encountered, instead embracing a traditional sect of devotional Hinduism known as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. This Hindu sect itself formed in response to cultural encounters, first with Muslims in the sixteenth century and then with the British three centuries later. The chapter then treats Bhaktivedanta's earliest published writings, the English-language Back to Godhead magazine, which he published in India. Bhaktivedanta focused on science in many of that journal's articles, and his underlying approach is examined through a close reading of several of his most detailed contributions on the topic. It shows that Swami Bhaktivedanta attempted to both claim the mantle and prestige of science as well as contest the value of the Western naturalistic science that the British had imported to India. The chapter concludes by considering Bhaktivedanta's early work in the United States, to which he came as a missionary in 1965.

Keywords:   Swami Bhaktivedant, Hare Krishna, religious movements, Hinduism, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Back to Godhead

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