ISKCON (Hare Krishna movement)
The Hare Krishna movement is designed to assist persons interested in reconnecting with Krishna (God) by offering them an opportunity for association of like-minded people. Members of ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) follow the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. There are temples and gatherings all over the world where people get together and chant, read and speak about Krishna and work together to revive their loving relationship with Him.
Anyone can be a member of this movement who is sincerely interested in participating in the process and connecting with Krishna. We try to spread the holy name by chanting in the streets, inviting people to feast and chant with us, and offering many spiritual books which will assist you in learning more about the philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness.
As far as evidence that God exists, such evidence is all around us. The regularity of the seasons, the beauty of life and nature, the complexity of the human body and animal bodies, and the overall order of the universe seem to indicate that someone with incredible intelligence is behind the creation. Science may try to explain creation one way, but the creator is far more intelligent then anyone trying to study it.
Anyone can experience their relationship with God by chanting His holy name, "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare." If you concentrate on the sound of this mantra and focus on the vibration of this holy name you will come to experience your relationship with Krishna.
Since anyone can participate in the Hare Krishna movement, it's unfortunately true that unscrupulous people sometimes come into the association of devotees and engage in immoral or even criminal activity. Many years ago this was the case; the devotees, being very trusting, found that people with criminal motives had infiltrated amongst the devotees and were taking advantage of our children in our schools while pretending to practice Krishna consciousness. We are now much more vigilant and trying to prevent such things.
It is unfortunate that in many religious traditions we find that people with ill intention take advantage of the generally trusting mentality of spiritually-minded persons and engage in harmful activities, often going undetected for some time.
ISKCON, the International Society for Krsna Consciousess, was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada in 1966 in NY, USA. ISKCON is dedicated to bringing as many people as possible, all over the world, to Krishna's service. ISKCON is focused on offering knowledge of Krishna to whomever is interested in receiving it, via the chanting of Hare Krishna, the distribution of prasadam, and the study of spiritual literature, world wide. Our temples all over the world also provide opportunity for association of like-minded persons, and beautiful Deity service, study opportunities, and large festivals, open to everyone.
It is extremely unfortunate in this day and age that anyone, without any filter, can self-publish online. People can record themselves, post videos, and appear—like the Wizard of Oz—to be a big person, when in reality they are merely sitting somewhere behind a computer.
It's part of our spiritual responsibility to place filters on whom we associate with. Although it may be difficult at times, it is certainly not impossible. Simply set your Internet preferences in such a way that the kind of language that unfailingly accompanies malicious content doesn't appear in front of your eyes.
You wouldn't stand and listen to such talk if someone was standing in front of you, so with the same wisdom you should avoid hateful and blasphemous words about devotees.
You should also be diligent in your own spiritual practice, research and association. You can certainly research well written articles, and discussions answering whatever accusations you hear. You should make a deliberate effort to seek the proper information from reliable sources in order to satisfy yourself that what you're reading is the truth.
Here's a link to a clear presentation dealing with one such ISKCON controversy—the so-called "Srila Prabhupada poison issue." You may find helpful information there on other topics as well.
The Internet is a landmine; without making careful assessment to see how authentic a site is, you run the risk of finding very misleading and malicious information. That's simply the nature of the Internet. There are people attacking every government in the world, saying that Martians are invading the earth, that everything from the food you eat to the news you read is controlled by one evil force or another. We all need to study Srila Prabhupada's books, to understand how to recognize when devotees are serious about spiritual life, to avoid bad association, and to find good association.
Krishna devotees—specifically those who consider themselves part of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, follow Krishna's teachings in the Bhagavad-gita. The word "Hindu" isn't found there, or anywhere in Vedic literature. When we speak of Krishna, we're referring to the Supreme Person, the Absolute Truth, the ultimate source of all energies.
"Hindu" is a relative term referring to customs and beliefs of a portion of the population of Southeast Asia. It came into use in relatively recent history. The Supreme Person, God, isn't bound by time or space, so He can't be referred to as "Hindu," "Christian," or "Muslim," and nor can His devotees.
Some believe the Absolute Truth to be ultimately impersonal, and that Krishna is merely a historical personality appearing in India to teach "Hinduism." In answer to this, Krishna Himself says in the Bhagavad-gita,
"Unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme." [7.24]
"They say Krishna is Indian or Krishna is worshiped by the Hindus and therefore He is one of the Hindu Gods; and they think that Krishna is saying, "Yes, I am the Hindu God. Yes, I am Indian." But He is like the sun. Why American sun or Indian? Nothing is American or Indian; that is all artificial."
—Krishna Consciousness, the Topmost Yoga System, Ch. 4
"Krishna is not sectarian. Krishna is not Hindu; Krishna is not Indian; Krishna is not African. Krishna is nothing of this material world. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, transcendental. Simply by knowing Krishna, one becomes immediately liberated and goes back to Krishna. . ."
— Srila Prabhupada, from a lecture given on Bhagavad-gita, 7.3 in Bombay on February 18, 1974