Human Rights and Slavery

Please accept my humble obeisances and dandavats! 

All glories to Srila Prabhupada and all pure devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead! 

I became involved with ISKCON over 40 years ago.  Recently I was researching the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase and I was unable to find very much spelled out regarding human rights and Slavery.   

Does anyone have any insight or information about human rights or slavery following Srila Prabhupada,  ISKCON and Bona fide Vaisnava Acaryas? 

Thanks and Hare Krsna! 

You need to be a member of ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT to add comments!

Join ISKCON Desire Tree | IDT

Email me when people reply –


    • Thanks!

      I think the Brahmacari situation is usually a temporary one. 

      Some things that are actually Vedic or Vaisnava concerns can seem extreme by some people in certain areas of the world.  

      I think on the bottom line is the abuse question.  What is abuse?  Is it abusive to expect the elderly to live in the woods with very little food and very little shelter?  As far as I understand the Vaisnava devotees accept the concept of living in abject renunciation at least on faith.  However, I see many devotees living in some comfort to the end of life rather than trying to live in a grass hut. 

      For children the abuse could be sexual or could be some other form of physical abuse.  Verbal abuse, psychological abuse and emotional abuse may be more subtle and more difficult to discern.  Apparently, there are some cultures in the world that advocate so much corporal punishment or other forms of physical suffering on children. 

      The extreme that happens in some areas of the world with certain cultures or traditions is the "Debt Slave".  What I read is that somehow debt is discerned even over a whole family and it seems that even small children are sent out to do hard labor due to this supposed debt.  Perhaps this is an extreme only in certain areas.  However, I am not completely certain about that.  The statistics are actually suggesting that India itself is a world leader in enslaving people.  How is ISKCON free from enslaving anyone and how is ISKCON free from possibility of being abusive on anyone?  Srila Prabhupada seemed to have the door somewhat unlocked regarding this slavery and human rights question by not explaining to his followers more specifically. 

      Some businesses seem to own their employees at least in a subtle sense.  I have seen in the news how athletes such as basketball players and football players are supposedly "purchased" by another team.  As far as I know these athlete still often make millions of dollars.  Is ISKCON somehow similar?  Is ISKCON purchasing people with food and even a place to flop?  But what is the devotee follower of ISKCON getting out of the deal?  Is the devotee follower of ISKCON going to become subject to abuse such as the following. 

      *Possibly physical harassment which may be just sometime during more extreme circumstances...

      *Verbal harassment which could include being spoken to as if they were an indentured servant and possible even a slave...

      *Kept in the dark about serious ISKCON managerial issues..

      *No medical insurance...

      *No retirement insurance...

      *No savings...

      *Privacy violations...

      *Having private possessions which may be difficult to replace tampered with, damaged, or stolen...

      *Expected to serve long hours despite risk to health needs...

      *Allowed to wind up in or directed to be somewhere where their life may be in jeopardy;  I read one Mataji was murdered while participating in development of preaching center in Africa somewhere.  I do not know how she got there.  Was she directed to be there by an ISKCON authority?  Another Mataji  was directed to participate in establishing an ISKCON center in Japan.  She described that someone was after them a couple of time in what seemed like they could have been suffered with a very serious physical assault. 

      Admittedly, devotees sometimes may not mind very much being put in or winding up in a situation which could turn into martyrdom.  However, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu told Vasudeva Datta that he did not have to suffer martyrdom to save souls.  it was just a question of the pure devotee satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead with pure devotional love and prayers. 

      How far can a Master/Servant relationship go before it can be considered abusive? 

      Of course, ultimately, in the Supreme, all souls are controlled and owned by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. 

      Thanks for the response!

      Hare Krsna!


  • Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura often said that he admitted to no deficiency in this world except the lack of Krishna consciousness. If we can remove the ignorance that covers the living entities eternal identity then in that one stroke we can remove all the problems of the world. There is no need to endeavor independently to solve the problems of the world. Krishna consciousness is the only and final solution.
  • ur consideration certainly has its place. but please understand this - wheather someone chains us, abuses or slaves and tortures us or someone treats us will so much of love ,respect .
    whether anyone gives us freedom or not , all these kinds of considerations will be absolutely useless at the time of death. none of this will be important at that time, only whatever service to krsna we have done that will be important.
    all these slavery one undergoes isnt permanent. think about how many years we live, and how long our aggressors live. upon that we dont know when death comes. it may be today ,after few hours or few years( i personally saw my friend die before me. he was rich,learned ,respected and well built. so nice he was sitting morning hearing music but within 2 hr later he met accident and died. - no one expected this. but it happened. what use was all of his money , knowlege and freedom when death came. all events of his life was of no use.)
    then as eternal spirit souls ,what significance is there in 80 human years(if we get so far) its just like a flash in eternal time scale. then what more importance is there for the slavery or freedom within this tiny human years.
    we have undergone many troubles in so many species , what is the seriousness of this slavery (its just one of the many problems of this material world) .
    many philantrophists have given their lives for this freedom ,but still the problems are there. they will be there .because this is such a world. but they never did any bhakti so what is the use of all this -
    durlabha manava janma labhiya samsare/ krsna na bhajinu dukha kahibo kahare//

    this rare human form is not meant for endeavors for relief from such temporary issues rather it is for attaining ultimate good(sreya uttama). without this what is the use of freedom or slavery.

    samsara samsara kori miche gelo kala/ labha na hoilo kichu ghatila jhanjala//

    alas! we are spending this valuable life in such social and worldly concerns not knowing that we have not aquired anything useful but are uselessly busying ourselves in samsara .

    I work hard just like an ass everyday and now I am wondering for whom am I working so hard? I am still surrounded by so many illusions.

    6) I waste every day in useless, insignificant work, and I waste every night controlled by sleep. And in every 24 hours I never for one second consider that cruel death is sitting very close by my side.

    7) I live a very carefree life-style, sometimes eating a lot, or eating a little if I feel like it, sometimes I see nice things around the town, or sometimes I do not go out at all, sometimes I wear opulent clothing, or if I'm in the mood, I'll wear something simple. I live so carefree that I never consider that one day I will have to give up this body.

    8) My poor heart is plagued by constant anxieties about the maintenance and daily turmoil created by my body, my house, my wife, my family members and my social obligations. All these anxieties are pinching me and destroying all my intelligence.

    9) Alas, alas! What a remorseful situation has arisen! I am absorbed in all this trouble, but I never consider that all these things are temporary and subject to perish very soon. After I'm dead and gone, where will all of my material opulences remain?

    10) When my body will be thrown in the pit at the cremation grounds, it will simply lie there motionlessly. Then many crows, vultures, ants, and worms will come and playfully sport there.

    11) All the stray dogs and jackals will then become very much delighted, and in great ecstasy they will make a festival ground out of my body and will have a huge celebration and feast.

    12) Just see, this is the ultimate destination of this material body. And the most amazing thing is that all of my material opulences, house, family and friends have exactly the same destination.

    13) Therefore I ask of anyone who has any sharp intelligence: please give up all of these temporary illusions presented by maya, and kindly search after the means to get pure devotion to Lord Krsna, for this is the only really tangible eternal truth.
    - <<kalyana kalpataru>>
  • Hare Krsna!


    Thanks most kindly for the response!

    Yes, you are getting at what might have been referred to by ISKCON years past. 

    I was thinking it is a funny thing to say we are slave to our senses.  Are we slaves to lust, anger, and greed?  Are we slave to meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, or gambling?  Are we slaves to the three modes of material nature? 

    It is a fact that rich or poor all are subject to the laws of nature and Nature is ultimately controlled by God in the Supreme. 

    But, I think that usually when we say "Slave" or "Enslaved" that we are talking about someone who is supposedly owned by someone or owned by other people.  In this case the extreme example is the slave in chains. 

    Are we slaves to a particular business?

    Are we slaves to a mortgage or loan?

    It is a fact that in a household one or more individuals are paying the bills.  Then, other members of the household not paying the bills becomes subject to those who are paying the bills.  it does not completely matter how perfect and how spiritual advanced the payer of the bills is. 

    Although, Bhismadeva was a celibate he still had family obligations.  Consequently, he became a debtor to Duryodhana.  Isn't that why Bhismadeva fought on the side of the Kauravas during the battle of Kuruksetra? 

    What of ISKCON?  Do followers of ISKCON become debtors to ISKCON?  Could the followers of ISKCON have their human rights affected due to indebtedness to ISKCON? 


    Hare Krsna!


  • actually kc is directly dealing with slavery issues. but not in a narrow view point of just human enslavement; that too of only a minute number of humans(in a particular country ,circumstance or within the scope of fleeting time) it elaborately discusses about enslavement by maya ,the mind,senses and desires. This actually is the serius problem, the whole sale problem. all others are just the symptoms of this problem.
    kc deals with directly uprooting this main root. by simply cutting the trunk, only gives temporary relief but the plant will grow up again. but if we uproot the roots then the plant wont grown again. this is the permanent solution (to slavery).
  • Let us prove that ISKCON and Hare Krishna people are sincerely concerned about all human rights and Slavery issues.
    • Thank you for your response! 

      Based on my researching Srila Prabhupada's teachings in the Vedabase, Srila Prabhupada did not give very much explanation about slavery or human rights. 

      One thing that eventually enslaves people is debt.   In the early stages this indebtedness is more probably referred to as showing gratitude and then there is some sense of obligation to reciprocate. 

      The indentured servant is a debt-servant. 

      Even when enslaving people in real metal chains the bottom line is abuse.   How abusive is the situation of enslavement. 

      Is a sweat shop a type of enslavement? 

      How much should there be health and safety standards? 

    • E-Counselor

      Hare Krsna Prabhuji,


      A Krsna devotee is compassionate not only towards humans, but towards all living entities. A devotee is mindful that paramatma is present in each and every nook and corner of universe, whether living or non living. 

      A sadhaka thinks himself to be servant of servant of servant of Krsna, then how slavery can be accepted by them. 

      "There are apparently a number of levels of enslavement. " It appears that you have something in mind - pls elaborate.

      You have been in ISKCON for 40 years, making you senior to most of us. There is nothing we can say on philosophy that you dont know prabhuji. So what is your point prabhuji - pls explain.


      Your servant,

      Radha Rasamayi DD

  • Slavery is bad. Period.

    We don't need a scripture to tell us that.

    • Thank you Sachin Joshi!  I appreciate your comments. 

      Perhaps we need to define slavery.  There are apparently a number of levels of enslavement. 

      Thanks!  Hare Krsna!

This reply was deleted.