New Delhi, Sep 27, 2023: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is the "biggest cheat" in the country as it sells cows from its gaushalas (cowsheds) to butchers, BJP MP Maneka Gandhi said in a scathing attack on the religious organization.
The ISKCON, the most influential Krishna sect in the world, rejected the allegations as "unsubstantiated and false".
Ms Gandhi, a former union minister and an animal rights activist, is vocal on social media over issues of animal welfare.
"ISKCON is the biggest cheat in the country. It maintains gaushalas and get benefits from the government, including vast lands," she is heard saying in a video that has gone viral.
She then recalls her visit to ISKCON’s Anantpur Gaushala in Andhra Pradesh, where she says she couldn’t find any cow that doesn’t give milk or calves. "There was no dry cow in the entire dairy. Not a single calf was there. It means all were sold."
A dry cow is one that has not been milked for some time.
"ISKCON is selling all its cows to the butchers. No one else does this as much they do. And they go on and sing ’Hare Ram Hare Krishna’ on the roads. Then they say their entire life is dependent on milk. Probably, no one has sold as many cattle to the butchers as they did," she alleges.
Rejecting the allegations, ISKCON’s national spokesperson Yudhistir Govinda Das.said the religious body has been at the forefront of cow and bull protection and care not just in India but globally. "The cows and bulls are served for their life not sold to butchers as alleged," he said.
ISKCON has pioneered cow protection in many parts of the world where beef is a staple diet, said an ISKCON statement shared by him. "Smt. Gandhi is a well-known animal rights activist and well-wisher of ISKCON hence we are surprised by these statements," said the statement.
The ISKCON, associated with the Hare Krishna movement, has hundreds of temples and millions of devotees around the world.
The ISKCON hit the headlines a couple of months ago after one of its monks criticized Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. The religious body had promptly "banned" the monk Amogh Lila Das and sent him for atonement after his comments triggered a big controversy.