The following article is reprinted from HINDUISM TODAY, September 1991: WESTERN PSYCHIATRI

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The following article is reprinted from HINDUISM TODAY, September 1991: WESTERN PSYCHIATRISTS APOLOGIZE TO HINDU PEERS The American Psychiatric Association (APA) published a report in 1989 labelling the Hare Krishnas as destructive cultists and loosely linked Hundu swamis to Satan worship. APA member Dr. Deen Chandora--a Hindu psychiatrist but not a Hare Krishna member--saw the remarks as gross untruths and felt they had slandered his fiath. Steaming a little under his otherwise professionally cool, Advaitic collar, he figured, "If we don't stand up for what is true, we are not doing our social duty." Dr. Chandora then proceeded to rally together a band of prestigious Hindu psychiatrist colleagues to set religious records straight. He succeeded. Two years later the APA graciously submitted a full apology and promised to be more sensitive in the future. Here is the story in Dr. Chandora's own words: "In the late 1980's, there were article appearing in psychiatric journals like the Psychiatric Times accusing various religious groups, in particular the Hare Krishnas, of being destructive cults, aligning them with the [Christian] cult of Jim Jones. I felt this was a misrepresentation. So I wrote a letter to the editior to correct it. I explained that Hare Krishna has been known in India long before it was introduced to America. It belongs to the Chaitanya school of Vaishnavism and Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest Vaishnavs. When i was a child, I used to go with my grandmother to the Hare Krishna temples. Those are the temples of Vallabacharya in Rajasthan. There is no essential difference between the Vallabacharya and Chaitanya sect of Hare Krishnsas. But the editor did not publish the letter until a year later and still there were psychiatrists who insisted in calling them a cult. "Then I attended the World Congress of Psychiatry in Athens in 1989 and reiterated that the Hare Krishns represent authentic Vaishnav practices that have been around for thousands of years. They are not robots and zombies, but practicing bhakti yogis. "Then I got in touch with Dr. Prakash Desai, professor of Psychiatry at the V.A. Medical Center of Chicago and Dr. Velandy Manohar, President of the Indo-Psychiatry Association in Connecticut, and wrote a two-page petition to correct the various misrepresentations about Hinduism in APA writings. Along with several eminent colleagues, I presented it to the president of the American Psychiatry Association, Dr. Elisse Benedek, at a meeting in New York City in 1990. I quote briefly from it: Many of the authors included in the APA's tack force report [on cults] are mainstream religious ministers. This contributes to the report's dangerously one-sided views. we find a distorted perception of other religions of the world and a neglect of a fundamental sociological principle: that one culture cannot be judged by the standards of another. In the great melting-pot of America, where freedom is so dearly cherished, we ask that the APA withdraw the task force report, or at least modify it so as not the denigrate Hindu, Buddhist and Zen philosophies by gratuitously labeling them as "cults." Partly as a result of violence against immigrant Hindus in the Northeastern United States, our nation last month passes public law #101-275, known as the "hate crimes" Bill. The purpose of this law is to deter violence against individuals or groups who "look different" or think differently from established norms. We feel the APA must suport the spirit of this new law. "Dr. Benedek said to us, 'Why not present a workshop on this whole area.' So we did. On May 14, 1991, New Orleans, we conducted a workshop, 'Indian Religions are not Cults,' ath the 144th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Assoication. Over 100 people attended. It was extremely successful and corrected much misinformation and educated in a positive way." [end of HINDUISM TODAY article] Some notes on the above: (1) Don't confuse the American Psychiatric Association (mentioned above) with the American Psychological Association. The latter has a much better record of respect for the dignity of minority religions. (2) This may be a serious set back for the deprogrammers, who have committed themselves to a strategy of portraying minority religions (what they call "cults") as epidemics of deliberately induced mental illness (what they call "mind-control"). The APsychologicalA rejected this pseudo-science years ago, but the APsychiatricA had been swallowing the deprogrammers' line about "destructive cults." Since the deprogrammers and their apologists (CAN, etc.) make no distinction between the Krishnas and other minority religions (CAN founder Ted Patrick was fond of saying "There's not a brown penny's worth of difference between any of them"), this victory for Hinduism is a victory for all minority faiths.


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