The founder of the Hare Krishna movement (or International Society for Krishna Consciousness / ISKCON) was the Indian guru, Swami Bhaktivedanta, who during the last years of his life brought a Hindu denomination to the West. He represented the Bengali (Gaudiya) school of Vaisnavism—devotion to Vishnu and Krishna—which he molded somewhat to the times when he arrived in New York in the 1960s. Since then, ISKCON has evolved along more conventional—by Western standards—denominational lines with a largely middle-class, lay membership.
When Bhaktivedanta arrived in America, it was a bold step because historically a guru who ventured outside of India was stripped of his Brahman status. However, the effort bore fruit—not the least of which was the type of intercultural understanding promoted by the current authors through their study of ISKCON’s place within the religion and culture of India.
Federico Squarcini (Ph.D., University of Bologna) is currently a research fellow at the University of Florence (Italy). He is the editor of Verso l’India, Oltre l’India (“Toward India, Beyond India”) and co-editor of L’Oriente che non Tramonta (“The East That Never Fades”). He is a contributor to Critica Sociologica, Orientamenti Pedagogici, Parole Chiave, Rivista di Studi Orientali, and Testimonianze and is a member of the board of editors for Religioni e Società and Kykéion.
Eugenio Fizzotti is dean of the education faculty and professor of psychology at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome (Italy). He is co-founder of the Victor Frankl Institute in Vienna, Austria, and president of the European Association of Existential Analysis (ALAEF). He has authored nineteen books on the psychology of religion and new religious movements.