Hare Krishna and Sanatan Dharma in Britain

The Campaign for Bhaktivedanta Manor

Dr Malory Nye

Malory Nye has become the leading academic commentator on the issues surrounding the campaign to protect worship at Bhaktivedanta Manor, ISKCON's most popular temple in England. The following article outlines the fifteen-year-old history of the dispute involving ISKCON members, local residents, the Hindu community, local and national government, the media, the courts and two public enquiries. This article has been updated with information about the success of the campaign because of the recent decision by John Gummer, the British Government's Minister for the Environment, to support the use of Bhaktivedanta Manor for public worship.


On the festival of Janmasthami in August 1994 (which happened to coincide with the Bank Holiday Monday) thousands of British Gujarati Hindus visited the 'Hare Krishna centre' of Bhaktivedanta Manor in rural Hertfordshire. Large numbers of these visitors queued up to sit in a marquee to watch a short film entitled One Step From Victory. In the film they were told a brief history of Bhaktivedanta Manor, and the political campaign which was being fought on their behalf to keep the place open to visitors. They were also encouraged to stand up and join the fight, goaded by clips from the Oscar-winning film of Mahatma Gandhi's struggle against tyranny.

The irony of the use of extracts from a British-made film ― directed by an Englishman (Richard Attenborough), and with an English actor (Ben Kingsley) representing the archetypal Hindu campaigner ― was perhaps not lost on an audience of British Hindus who felt under threat from their own society because of their skin colour, their culture and their religion. These British Hindus were then encouraged to be 'warriors in the fight' to save their temple, in a battle which 'would not be fought with swords or arrows, but with plastic' (i.e. credit cards). As Hindus they should financially support this Hare Krishna temple which was (and had been for over ten years) under threat of closure from their local council.

Bhaktivedanta Manor is ISKCON's (the 'Hare Krishna' Movement's) most important site in the UK ― it is an English country house which was converted into a temple and theological college in the early 1970s. The threat to this site has been widely reported in the local, national and international press.[1] Widespread use of the building (such as by the visitors at the Janmasthami festival), and particularly the traffic that this generates, had provoked complaints by local residents, which had led ISKCON and Hertsmere Borough Council (the local authority) into a prolonged and very expensive legal battle. Despite a series of legal defeats by ISKCON the site is still used for public worship, but there is great doubt over whether this situation can be maintained in the future.

In this paper I will be examining the history of this conflict, and discussing some of the most important reasons why the dispute has occurred. In particular I would argue that the cause of the conflict is not (as perhaps one would expect) so much about the use of the Hare Krishna temple as the centre of a 'new religious movement' or 'cult', but rather as a centre of worship by Hindus born into that religious tradition. The campaign for Bhaktivedanta Manor has played an important role in developing the relationship between ISKCON and Indian Hindus. In fact, the sympathy for the Manor aroused among a large majority of Britain's Hindu population has helped ISKCON to take an important place in the establishment of Hinduism in Britain. This paper is therefore part of an examination of the development of British Hinduism, which has looked especially at the use of public religious places (particularly buildings) as significant forums for the construction and establishment of Hindu identities.[2]

Attempts to resolve the conflict have also made a clear and unambiguous demonstration of the role of religion in modern British society. Hindus using Bhaktivedanta Manor claim that they have the right to express their religion in the place of their choice ― that is, they should have the freedom to worship at the Manor if they consider it to be important to them. But under British law such freedom is subject to planning regulations. This position has been challenged by ISKCON at every level in the British courts, and even in the European Court. But the decision has been unequivocal in each case ― religious freedom in Britain is secondary to the laws of planning protection.

ISKCON in Britain

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded in Britain in 1969, as a branch of the movement created two years earlier in the US by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a seventy-year-old Bengali initiated into the Gaudiya Math of Caitanya Vaisnavism. [3] Prabhupada's intention was to transplant this tradition into the West, to proselytise and create followers of Caitanya (a sixteenth century mystic) and through him of the god Krsna. In Prabhupada's own words, his task was to fulfil Caitanya's prediction that the name of Krsna would be spread into 'every town and village', [4] and this mission in the west entailed seeking devotees of Krishna particularly among those for whom his teachings were quite alien (i.e. white, mainly Christian European / Americans). The converts he made in New York and San Francisco were soon incorporated into an international organisation with himself at its head, called ISKCON. Administration and spiritual leadership of the growing movement was transferred in 1972 to a group of twelve senior devotees called the Governing Body Commission (GBC). [5] Before his death in 1977, Prabhupada appointed eleven 'initiating gurus', who were to take on elements of the spiritual leadership of the movement after he had departed. [6]

The foundation of ISKCON in Britain was closely associated with certain members of the pop group The Beatles, particularly George Harrison.[7] ISKCON devotees combined with George Harrison to record the tradition's mahamantra, [8] which soon became a chart success. Of perhaps more lasting impact was the donation George Harrison made to the movement in 1973 of a mock-Tudor house called Piggotts Manor (built in 1884) which included seventeen acres of ground in the village of Letchmore Heath, which lies in the heart of the upper middle class commuter belt around Watford, approximately fifteen miles north west of London. The house was renamed ― Bhaktivedanta Manor, in honour of the movement's founder who used it regularly when he visited Britain ― and converted into a place of study and worship for Hare Krishna devotees, being officially registered with the local authorities as a theological college. A large room in the house was ritually dedicated as a temple ― statues of Krishna and his consort Radha were installed, and regular worship of these deities has been performed daily for over twenty years.

The situation of Bhaktivedanta Manor is however, extremely convenient for a local population of Gujarati Hindus[9] (mainly from East Africa) living in north west London, around Harrow and Wembley. Such Hindus are mainly from predominantly Vaisnavite backgrounds (particularly influenced by Pushtimarg and Swaminarayanism[10] ), but who had little or no experience of the Bengali Caitanya traditions which gave rise to ISKCON. But for various reasons (not all of which are clear) they were drawn to the style of ISKCON worship at Bhaktivedanta Manor.[11]

The temple itself is within easy driving distance of this large Hindu population, which makes it very easy to visit at the weekend. The quality of facilities offered by the Manor compares well with other Hindu temples in the catchment area ― in the seventies and early eighties (when the Manor first became popular) there were only a few temples in existence, and these tended to be either in a state of construction, or otherwise housed in rather poor standard buildings.[12] (Carey describes cases of Gujarati Hindus who began to visit the Hare Krishna temple in central London in the seventies because it was the only Krishna temple available to them at the time[13] ). It is quite possible that the rural location of the Manor was an added incentive, making a visit to the temple a welcome day out of London in the countryside. The attitude and commitment of the white British devotees also impressed the Gujarati Hindus who came in contact with them ― what appeared particularly impressive were the devotees' knowledge of Sanskrit along with (a particular strand of) Hindu philosophy. Furthermore, ISKCON had already given a lot of consideration to the teaching of their form of Hinduism to their children, and so Gujaratis bringing up Hindu children in London saw in Bhaktivedanta Manor a place which could provide them with good teaching facilities. [14]

The sources of conflict

By the late 1970s festivals held at the Manor were attracting Indian Hindus in the thousands ― particularly the celebration of Krishna's birthday (Janmasthami) in August, when attendance in the region of 25,000 has been reported. There has, though, been a strongly negative side to this success, which has been manifest in the backlash of the local residents and authorities against the Manor.� Throughout the 1980s, and continuing into the present decade, ISKCON has been in conflict with local residents and particularly with the local Hertsmere Borough Council. Through this struggle ISKCON, and in fact many British Hindus, have been forced to think about the role of their perceived religious and cultural tradition within a predominantly Christian society.

The development of antagonism between ISKCON and Hertsmere council began formally in 1981, when officials in Hertsmere ― led by complaints from several residents within the village of Letchmore Heath ― issued an enforcement notice against Bhaktivedanta Manor, trying to stop public festivals being held at the Manor.[15] � ISKCON appealed against this notice and agreement was signed between the parties allowing ISKCON to arrange up to six events throughout the year which involved more than one thousand visitors. Thus the Manor would be allowed to provide festivities on the major festival days (Holi, Janmasthami, Dussera, Diwali and Ramnavami).

For a few years it appeared that the council had accepted the Manor's status as a place of public worship and that the conflict had disappeared. In the mid 1980s Carey was confident that any problems that may have existed had been resolved, particularly because the costs of a legal battle appeared to discourage both parties from taking the matter to court. But by November 1985 Hertsmere council made it clear that they did not feel the agreed settlement was working, and in that month they issued a High Court writ against the Manor seeking an injunction to prevent ISKCON organising any event which might involve more than a thousand people in any single day. This writ failed in April 1986, with the judge ruling that any attempt to restrict the number of visitors would be impossible. But this decision was soon followed in June the same year by the council making the formal decision to issue a new enforcement notice with the aim of preventing all visitors to the Manor, except for a small number appropriate to its use as a 'theological college'. After a further period of consultation, much of which occurred in the glare of both local and national press, the council served the enforcement notice in January 1987.

Hertsmere Council argued that such action was necessary because they had received fourteen written complaints from residents living near the Manor. These residents were regularly suffering at each festival from 'diminished amenity', experiencing five mile traffic jams leading to 'congestion in country lanes' and a disturbance of 'the tranquillity of the village'.� Neighbours were finding that their overall 'quality of life' had been 'badly affected by life next-door to the Hare Krishna temple'.

Whenever there have been large numbers of visitors at the Manor this has obviously created a traffic problem in the surrounding area. As noted above, on some occasions the Manor has attracted as many as 25,000 worshippers visiting over a two-day period (during Janmasthami) ― and nearly all of these visitors needed to travel to Letchmore Heath by car, since the village has very limited public transport facilities. Such numbers are phenomenally large for what is a very small village, but it is important to note that the Manor would not receive this many people at the same time. As is the norm with much Hindu worship, those who visit Bhaktivedanta Manor do not spend more than an hour or two performing their religious devotion, and during days of major festivals there is usually a constant stream of worshippers coming and going from the temple area. The ISKCON authorities at the Manor have also made efforts to alleviate the traffic problems 'to ease any inconvenience that may be caused to the locality', making consultations with local traffic authorities such as the police, the Council and the� Automobile Association (AA) before any event. They also use a large field within the Manor grounds as a temporary car park to accommodate the volume of cars that arrive, and efficient stewards marshal the arrivals to ensure quick and easy access to the Manor from the public road.

However, the root of the argument between ISKCON and the local council is a disagreement over whether the Manor has been used in ways that were outside of the terms of the planning status originally agreed in 1973 by the council (which was then the Watford Rural District Council). When this permission was given, Bhaktivedanta Manor was registered as a 'residential theological college'.� Clearly its use over the years broke a straightforward interpretation of terms of this permission: in the words of Hertsmere council it had become 'too popular' and a theological college 'had no right to allow outsiders to attend for worship'. Arguing against this Akhandadhi Dasa, the principal of Bhaktivedanta Manor, said in 1991 that the nature of a Hindu theological college was being misunderstood by the local authority:

We feel that Hertsmere ... have refused to recognise the character of a Hindu theological establishment. In India, a college such as ours will always involve the public. We are a missionary group and our planning determination ... recognises that the college has been set up with the aim of promoting our religion.

This argument is based on two rather fine points. Firstly ISKCON points out that the original planning agreement had allowed that the site would become 'a residential college being a theological college in connection with the promotion of the religion of Krishna Consciousness'.� In their opinion the term 'promotion' covered public entertainment and festivals, and therefore ISKCON should be allowed to conduct such activities since they were not in violation of the original agreement.� On this point of law ISKCON has been quite unsuccessful within the British courts, as I will detail below.

Secondly, ISKCON is stressing that there is a clash of cultural and religious attitudes involved in the conflict. That is, the British authorities are imposing the Christian (particularly Anglican) model of what is appropriate for a theological college onto a non-Christian (Vaisnavite Hindu) movement. It was the expectation of ISKCON that in a largely pluralistic society (such as Britain is) there should be some flexibility within the interpretation of the law insofar as it applies to alternative religious groups.� In ISKCON's opinion there was clearly a great deal of legal ambiguity over what is considered appropriate for a theological college.[16] Again in the words of Akhandadhi Dasa, 'How do you specify how much worship by the Hindu community at our shrine would be considered beyond what is ancillary?' [17]

In fact ISKCON considered that there was a hidden agenda within the council's actions, which were motivated not so much by the number of visitors but by these visitors' skin colour. It was thought to be a common practice for the council to employ a 'team of private investigators' who would stand near the gates of the Manor at the times of busy festivals and monitor the arrival and departure of visitors.[18] Frank Ward, a local Labour (opposition) councillor in Hertsmere, who has continually been very sympathetic to the Manor's fight against closure, disclosed in 1985 that these investigators were 'recording figures for Asian and white visitors separately'.[19] Although the majority of residents at the Manor are ethnically white British, as indeed are the majority of leaders of ISKCON, on practically every festival at the Manor the large majority of visitors are of Indian origin. It has been said by a counsel for ISKCON that the council's problem derives from 'the influx of quite an alien being into their society.� These people (Hindus) were alien because of their dress, culture, and sometimes their colour'.[20]

Given the nature of the dispute, the motivation behind monitoring overall attendance levels is quite obvious, but the need to keep a separate record according to skin colour does encourage a conclusion that the Indian-ness of the worshippers is considered by the council to be problematic in some way. However, members of the council and village residents are very keen to stress that their complaints against ISKCON are based on its breach of planning laws and the subsequent disturbance of the village. They show great offence at the suggestion that they are motivated by racism. Indeed, in the 1988 Public Inquiry ISKCON withdrew all allegations against the council of racial and religious prejudice.

The legal battle

The enforcement notice of 1987, if implemented, would effectively close down Bhaktivedanta Manor as a place of public worship. So far this has not happened, despite a series of successive negative judgements against them in British courts. An appeal was made by ISKCON, followed by a lengthy period of discussion between the parties in which possible solutions to the problem were examined. Two public inquiries were held (in December 1988 and February 1989). The recommendations of these inquiries were passed to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Chris Patten, who was asked to make a decision about Hertsmere council's enforcement notice. He ruled on 21 March 1990 that the notice was valid, that there were no justifiable reasons to supersede the planning determination of the Manor and so it should only be used for public worship which was ancillary to its use as a theological college. However, he did allow ISKCON a grace period of two years in which they could find an alternative site for worship and festivals.[21]

ISKCON decided to challenge this decision too, saying they would take their case 'through the Appeal Courts, House of Lords and right up to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary' (Akhandadhi Dasa[22] ). The appeal to the High Court was heard in October 1991, at a time which happened to coincide with the Hindu festival of Dussera ― when the defeat by Lord Rama of the evil demon Ravana is celebrated, a figure whom ISKCON devotees described as 'the epitome of attempted abuse of the Lord's property'.[23] � Despite the auspiciousness of the date the judgement still went against ISKCON. The High Court judge, Mr. Justice Kennedy, said that Hertsmere Council's notice was valid and that the points of law argued by ISKCON had 'no substance'.[24] � In response ISKCON decided to take their case to the Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in British law, again challenging the basis of the decision made by the Department of Environment that the enforcement notice was valid.� This appeal was considered by Lord Justice Glidewell on 16 March 1992, who ruled again that there were no legal flaws in the earlier rulings, and thus the legal challenge was lost.[25]

With no further opportunity to appeal within the UK, ISKCON were given the two year grace period originally allowed to them by the Secretary of State, after which, on 16 March 1994, they would have to abide by the notice to no longer allow public worship at the Manor. A further appeal was possible to the European Commission of Human Rights, and this was duly lodged.

At first we discussed the case in planning terms, Green Belt issues for example, and then at the High Court we talked in legal terms ...� But there are human issues.� We are being denied religious rights.� (Akhandadhi Dasa[26] )

However a judgement made by this last court of appeal would not be legally binding within British law, rather a judgement made in ISKCON's favour would merely exert moral pressure on the British government to reverse their earlier decision.

However, in March 1994 the Commission of Human Rights decided to not allow the appeal to proceed to court, rejecting the grounds of ISKCON's application. [27] � In ISKCON's view this rejection was because 'the technicalities of the UK planning laws meant that the issues could not be covered by the Commission'.[28] The Commission ruled that 'ISKCON's freedom to manifest its religion was prescribed by law'[29] , but the British planning authorities had given detailed consideration to the religious needs of ISKCON within the planning process. Insofar as there was a civil rights issue involved ― that is a violation of freedom of religion ― the Commission noted that 'freedom of religion as not formal status as a right which is guaranteed in United Kingdom domestic law'[30] . That is, they could not arbitrate over the issue of planning which is the basis of Hertsmere's case against the Manor, nor could they make a judgement about the right to religious freedom in Britain because there is nothing to guarantee such rights in British law.

Under British law a special case may be made on religious grounds to set aside specific planning controls. In the opinion of Hertsmere Council, the Department of the Environment and the European Commission, due consideration had been given to the religious needs of Hindus and these were not sufficient to override the planning controls for Letchmore Heath (as a Green Belt and Conservation area). Hence religious needs were only admissible within the confines of existing planning structures.[31]

Alternative solutions

During the years in which these legal battles have been fought ISKCON has continued to attempt to find alternative solutions to the problem. If the notice was upheld, as has indeed happened, then some major change to the Manor would be required. One possible solution was to move the Manor temple to another site with better access which would not be so disruptive to the local neighbourhood (or which had a neighbourhood who were not so vociferous). Alternatively, better road access to the present site could be achieved, somehow bypassing the village and thus preventing the traffic problems.

The search for an alternative site proved to be extremely difficult, primarily because of the area in which they were based. Letchmore Heath is located in a part of Hertfordshire on the fringe of north west London which has been stringently protected from the urban sprawl. The designation of much of this area as 'Green Belt' means that building upon it is only allowed in special cases, so that the rural quality of the area may be preserved. Therefore, an alternative temple site is made problematic by the need to either construct a purpose built temple, or otherwise to convert an existing building. A further obstacle to finding a new site is that the value of property within the Letchmore Heath area is very high.� The location of this rural locality within easy commuting distance of London (the Manor is a few minutes away from the M1 motorway) makes it an extremely popular residential area for commuters, and it is therefore very expensive.

ISKCON has a major financial asset in the Manor, but finding another comparable building may prove to be impossible for them. It is very likely, though, that even if the temple is relocated to another site, Bhaktivedanta Manor itself will be kept by ISKCON because of its association with the movement's founder Prabhupada. This conflict has shown that ISKCON has been able to raise considerable sums of money (since the legal costs alone have been around �500,000 [32] ), but the expense of buying a new property at market value near to the Manor appears to be too great for them.

Fortuitously, in 1988 a piece of land about two miles from the present Manor, in Dagger Lane, Elstree was offered to ISKCON by London Regional Transport (LRT) for the nominal sum of �1 (on the condition that planning permission be given by the council to LRT to build on adjacent land, ISKCON pay all LRT's legal fees and that ISKCON covenant an agreement that the land be used 'solely for religious purposes'[33] ). Although initially sympathetic towards this new site, Hertsmere Council eventually decided to reject the proposal on the grounds that the area lay within the Green Belt[34] , saying that 'ultimately they wanted what was best for their residents'.[35] � ISKCON asked the Secretary of State to reconsider this decision at the same time as his ruling on the enforcement notice, but Chris Patten agreed with Hertsmere's judgement that 'the Elstree site was not appropriate for a temple'.[36] � This may have been due to considerable opposition from residents living within the Elstree area, one of whom is quoted as saying about Chris Patten's decision:

We are over the moon. It was not a question of racism, it was a question of sensibility.� We, the little people, have won our case. (Leslie Winters, chairman of Bushey and Elstree Green Belt Association, March 1990[37] )

With the collapse of this relatively low cost possibility for an alternative temple site, and after strenuous efforts to find alternative sites, ISKCON decided that there would be no purpose in them moving from Bhaktivedanta Manor. Thus the youth magazine of ISKCON told its readers in 1991 that:

... it would be a sad illusion for (ISKCON's) members and friends to believe that there was going to be an alternative venue. The only real hope of continuity of public worship seems to rest on access to the Manor ― and the campaign to achieve that is far from over.[38]

Likewise Akhandadhi Dasa said in September 1991:

Our community has decided to stay put, we are happy here and we believe that the idea supported by some politicians and half the village residents for a new access road to the temple is the right solution. [39]

Both of these quotes point to the other alternative practical solution to the dispute. The question of access has primarily revolved around the feasibility of building a new road to the Manor which bypassed Letchmore Heath. A major trunk road (the A41) passes within a mile of the Manor, and in 1988 ISKCON suggested that they construct a driveway (at their own expense) to connect the Manor to an existing lane which links with this road. The main obstacle to this, however, was that the land on which this access road would be built was not available ― it was being used as farmland, and one of its owners (St Bartholomew's Hospital in London) did not want to sell it [40] ; thus the suggestion of a public inquiry to be held in 1989 to discuss the possibility was dropped.[41]

Negotiations over this issue have continued for more than six years, with ISKCON generally considering Hertsmere Council as obstructive to the potential of this solution[42] . In 1993, however, the situation changed when the landowners offered to make a deal with ISKCON. A planning application was duly lodged with Hertsmere council, but was rejected at a meeting of the Council on 19 October 1994 on various grounds. It was felt that the road would encourage even greater use of the temple, and perhaps further development of the site.[43]

The large scale use of the Manor over the years has drawn attention to the fact that facilities to accommodate the many worshippers have been fairly unsatisfactory. There is no room within any of the buildings on the site for such large numbers and so temporary structures have to be erected. For example, awning is placed in the courtyard outside the temple room, under which worshippers queue up to file into the temple to have darshan[44] of the temple deities. Once they have left this room, however, there is very little indoor space for them, which means that crowds of visitors have to remain outside when they queue up for and then eat the prasadam food which is given to them. Even if the future of public worship at the Manor is secured in some form, it is extremely unlikely that planning permission would be granted by the Council for the construction of any further buildings. In this sense, it would not be possible to improve the limited facilities at the Manor, and therefore an alternative site may become desirable to ISKCON if they could afford it.

The Hindu political campaign

The legal challenge and the search for a practical solution has also been accompanied by a political campaign by ISKCON to gain support for their case. This has primarily been based upon the issue of freedom of religion, and the threat against a religious minority within a multicultural society. Many local and national politicians have shown support for the Manor over the past ten years ― for example, in March 1992, during the General Election campaign, there were visits to the Manor by prominent figures from the major political parties, including Glenys Kinnock (the wife of the then leader of the Labour party, Neil Kinnock).[45] More recently, Keith Vaz, MP for Leicester East (and the only Asian Labour MP in the 1992 Parliament) has taken up the cause of Bhaktivedanta Manor.[46]

In this political struggle ISKCON has presented the threatened closure of the Manor not only as an attack against the Hare Krishna movement, but have also strongly emphasised the point that the implementation of the council's decision would entail the closure of a Hindu temple. For devotees of ISKCON, their beliefs and practices are only 'new' in the sense that they were first brought to Western countries in the 1960s. But, as mentioned earlier, Krishna worship through the line of guru succession deriving from Caitanya dates back to the sixteenth century, and is (for the devotee) part of the Vedic Hindu tradition which has existed for millions of years.[47] As I have already noted, the majority of full time devotees within the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple are ethnically white British[48] , and these devotees consider themselves to be part of the generic 'Hindu' tradition, sharing a common spiritual homeland with those Hindus who have a more tangible (i.e. ancestral) link with the subcontinent. Indeed, many Indian Hindus in Britain are ready ― to a certain degree ― to accept the legitimacy of these Hare Krishna devotees, and it is this acceptance of the white converts that makes the temple so popular. Therefore there is some strong justification for the ISKCON claim that the closure of Bhaktivedanta Manor will be the closure of an important Hindu shrine in Britain.[49]

This link between ISKCON and Indian Hindus is strengthened by the institutional connections that exist between ISKCON and Hindu organisations, particularly the National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHT) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). The NCHT is an umbrella organisation of temple groups across Britain (with a membership of approximately ninety).� Bhaktivedanta Manor was one of the founding members of the NCHT in the 1970s, and since that time there has been a close alliance of interests when either organisation has perceived a threat to Hinduism in Britain. For example, in 1983 the nightly television news programme 'Nationwide' showed a negative story on the Hare Krishna movement, which drew strong complaints not only from ISKCON themselves, but also from the NCHT.[50] It is not surprising that the NCHT have given their full support to ISKCON over the issue of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple. The Secretary of the NCHT made the following statement in 1993:

No other Hindu temple offers such facilities as Bhaktivedanta Manor to practise our Sanatan Dharma. It is vital that the British government recognise how important the Hare Krishna Mandir (temple) is to the Hindu community throughout the United Kingdom, before it is too late. The NCHT pledges to do all in its power to help save the temple for all our community. We beg all Hindu organisations to support the campaign now at this vital stage. (Vipin Aery, Secretary of the NCHT)[51]

Similarly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the 'World Hindu Council' (which is an international organisation seeking to represent Hindus across the world), are also very supportive of ISKCON's attempts to keep the temple open. In 1988 a VHP conference in Nepal passed several resolutions to create an International Campaign Committee to save Bhaktivedanta Manor, whose remit was to 'arouse awareness of this matter worldwide and bring pressure to bear on each country's respective government to urge the British government to intervene and save the temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor'.[52] The Secretary of the UK branch of the VHP has worked with ISKCON to raise awareness of the issue within this country.

Although both the NCHT and the VHP have rather limited political power within Hindu groups, they do have quite considerable lobbying power within the political scene as national representatives of Britain's Hindu population. This population, numbering approximately 500,000[53] (approximately half of whom live in North and West London[54] ), is a large and fairly prosperous constituency whose views and feelings cannot be easily ignored by politicians. It was hoped by both ISKCON and the NCHT that the government could be scared away from a confrontation over the Manor issue. There are obvious parallels here with the problems caused between the British establishment and Muslim groups in 1989 over the publication of the author Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses.� But unlike the Rushdie case, the principle of freedom is being invoked here by a religious minority ― that is, ISKCON and Hindus in general see their freedom to worship being curtailed by a heavy handed government.

This very issue has indeed been tacitly recognised by the local authority taking the action. As early as December 1988, the counsel for Hertsmere Council told a public inquiry that:

The fact it is of national importance; that three or four million Hindus (sic.) do not have sufficient amenities; that many of them live in north west London; and the fact that the Manor takes a special place in their heart cannot possibly justify planning permission being granted, and the consequent effect it will have on the village.� (Elizabeth Appleby QC, counsel for Hertsmere Borough Council,� December 1988[55] )

However, the combined lobbying power of the NCHT, VHP, other Hindus and ISKCON have not been altogether successful, since the issue has not been resolved. Indeed a source within ISKCON told me that before the Department of the Environment made its judgement on Hertsmere's enforcement notice in March 1990, there was considerable fear that the Hindu population would react violently in the same way that some Muslims had done over Rushdie only a few months before.� Therefore the government consulted with a representative of British Hindus, asking whether a ruling against ISKCON would lead to Hindus rioting on the streets in favour of their temple and their religion. The response was an accurate prediction that the Hindus would certainly be upset, but they would not riot.

The international dimension of both ISKCON and the VHP have also created some political pressure on the British government in the international arena. A report in the Sunday Telegraph [56] suggested that a member of the Indian government had told the British Prime Minister that the Bhaktivedanta Manor dispute could cause disruption of the trading links between India and Britain.� Another report, related to Eleanor Nesbitt by an ISKCON devotee in Coventry, said that demonstrations by Hare Krishna members outside British embassies throughout the world had made the Foreign Office exert pressure on other departments of the British government to find some solution to the dispute.[57]

Thus ISKCON have attempted to challenge the government and the local authority by both a� media campaign and direct political lobbying. Alongside this, ISKCON have also attempted to organise mass support for their cause. The Hare Krishna Temple Defence Movement (HKTDM) was formed in 1990, following the government's decision to uphold Hertsmere's decision. This movement has sought to create support for the campaign, to raise funds for their efforts, and to encourage people to make the pledge 'to continue the fight to defend the temple until justice is obtained and all the devotees can visit the shrine without further intimidation and persecution'.[58]

Those who join the HKTDM are encouraged to manifest their support by writing to the Prime Minister John Major and 'demanding the right to worship at your temple', by 'offering a prayer every day to Lord Krsna that He protect His temple so that His devotees can worship Him without harassment', and thirdly by 'taking part in all the rallies and events organised by the temple and the HKTDM'.[59]

One such rally took place through Central London on Wednesday 16 March 1994, which was planned to coincide with the end of the two year 'grace period' of the enforcement notice. This march was attended by several thousand Hindus coming from many parts of Britain, including both Indians and white converts (according to ISKCON the attendance was 36,000, whilst a more conservative estimate by the Daily Telegraph was 'more than 20,000'[60] ); following a bullock cart the demonstrators carried plaques showing their support for the Manor.[61] Leaflets were distributed in temples around London advertising this march saying:

Because the Government supports persecution, they ignore our needs and rights, they refuse to listen to reasoning. We must NOW take action. We will show our outrage at this minority injustice. We will show our defiance of the ban.[62]

The scale of support for this particular rally was considered to be a great success for the campaign, and for British Hindus. According to an ISKCON report the demonstrators 'were heralding the dawn of a new era for this awakening (Hindu) community'.[63]

There has also been a marked increase of agitation among younger Hindus, who are making use of the Manor issue to demonstrate their perception of being excluded from British cultural life.� This reaction against 'racism' is, in fact, focused not so much on the issue of 'race' or cultural difference, but more specifically on their perception of religious exclusion, that is as Hindus. Thus a youth branch of the HKTDM, called 'Hindu Youths Saving Our Temple' (HYSOT), sent out the following challenge to Hindu visitors to Bhaktivedanta Manor:

If you have any self respect, any pride for your culture, your heritage, your religion, then you would ... stand up and fight for your rights and your culture ...� Who's the Problem. Obviously, you are. WHY? It seems you are an unacceptable element in the quality of life in an ideal English village.[64]

HYSOT encourages Hindu youths to 'activate your youth club ― make them aware of the situation' and to contact other youth groups (either temple or cultural) to 'let them know what's going on'.[65]

Another group appears to have developed recently (in early 1994), which is called 'Pandava Sena, youth movement upholding the rights of British Hindus'.� In February 1994, prior to the end of the two year grace period, they began to agitate on the specific issue of the Manor, distributing leaflets in colleges around London advertising a 'Peace vigil against persecution of Hindu shrine' for 'young British Asians from all over England', which was to be held outside Bhaktivedanta Manor. This leaflet told Asians:

Your rights as a British Hindu have been denied. How long will the Hindu Community sit back and tolerate the destruction of their religion? If this can happen to the temple ― it can also happen to the Gurudwaras and Mosques. Time and time again Asians have let others walk all over them. Now its time to stand up and fight.� Support the cause of Pandava Sena and uphold your rights. Help save Hare Krishna temple from closure!!![66]

The rhetoric and some of the tactics of Pandava Sena are not accepted by ISKCON leaders, who prefer a more cautious approach. The movement's name is derived from a group of brothers in the Hindu religious epic the Mahabharata, who go to war to defend justice and righteousness and to regain a kingdom which had been wrongly taken from them by their cousins. This name, and the rhetoric they use (such as the exhortation to stand up and fight, rather than sitting back and tolerating their religion's destruction) suggest a (non-violent) militant type of Hinduism. It is possible that they may take some inspiration from organisations such as the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who have themselves played an important role within revivalist Hinduism in India (often in relation to other groups such as Muslims).

However, this militant Hinduism is combined with a pan-Asian approach, suggesting there is a threat not only to Hindus, but to Sikhs and Muslims as well. What is interesting here is that religious differences usually help to divide South Asians in Britain, rather than act as a basis for co-operation (or even attempted co-operation). Although there may be a measure of sympathy for the Bhaktivedanta Manor campaign among some British Sikhs (a number of prominent Sikhs ― particularly Namdharis and Radhasoamis ― joined a march in support of the temple in February 1994 in Wembley[67] ), it is extremely unlikely that much support for the issue would be found among Muslims groups (who generally find Krsna worship idolatrous).

The situation in 1994

As noted already, the legal decision made against ISKCON ordered them to close the temple to public worship on 16 March 1994. During the months prior to this date visitors to the temple were warned that closure was imminent. Announcements were made at events at the Manor and messages put in newsletters saying that this would mean: No Darshan� No Worship� No Festivals.[68] Worshippers were left in no doubt that the date would be significant and that every action should be taken to prevent the closure occurring.

However, on the day of the deadline ― after long consultations between ISKCON and Hertsmere ― the Council announced that they 'would not be prosecuting anyone worshipping at the temple ... despite being legally entitled to' [69] � whilst the prospect of the access road was being seriously considered. They did, however, make the proviso that they may still take action if the numbers attending the Manor 'significantly increased'[70] ― but they did not specify what level of increase would prompt them into further action.

On 19 October the same year a full Council meeting was held at which the access road and the implementation of the enforcement were discussed. By the time of the meeting the leading groups (Conservative and Liberal Democrats) had decided that the 'solution' of the road would cause as many problems as it would resolve [71] , and so as noted above planning permission was refused. But immediately following this decision a last minute motion was proposed and agreed for ISKCON to enter into negotiations with the managing director of the Council, and then subsequently with local residents' groups, to find a compromise which kept the Manor open without inconveniencing the villagers. Several members on both sides of the council chamber used the rhetoric of peace in support of this motion ― comparing the situation with recent developments in Northern Ireland, Israel and South Africa. It was felt that if these insoluble international problems could be resolved, then so could the Bhaktivedanta Manor issue.

However, in a private session of the same meeting the Council went on to decide to prosecute ISKCON for failing to comply with the enforcement notice. It was decided that the organisation of the Janmasthami festival in August 1994 (mentioned at the beginning of this article) had disregarded the legal judgement that the Manor should not be a place of public worship.[72] Court proceedings will be initiated, and ISKCON stand to be fined up to �20,000 for holding a religious gathering which contravened their planning determination.

Despite Hertsmere's rejection of the access road, there is still a possibility of it happening.� Before the October meeting ISKCON launched an appeal with the Department of the Environment for a public inquiry. This began in January 1995, and will take approximately ten months to reach a decision, which ultimately will be made by the Secretary of State for the Environment. The inquiry is hearing all representations on the issue of the road ― including Hertsmere's decision as expressed at the October 1994 meeting. But at the governmental level it will be very difficult to predict what decision it will reach. The intense national and international pressure by Indians in support of the Manor may well influence the Secretary of State to go against the local council's wishes.

There does still remain the unlikely possibility of some agreement being reached outside of these formal procedures. For this to happen, however, there needs to be compromises made on both sides. The council and residents will need to recognise ISKCON's (and British Hindus') need to use the Manor for public worship. ISKCON feels that there is already a precedent for this, since the Section 52 agreement signed between them and Hertsmere in 1983 allowed use of the Manor on a large scale for six days in the year, and for up to one thousand at other times. However, Hertsmere deny that this was an acceptance of the place as a public shrine.[73]

On the other hand, ISKCON will need to somehow limit the numbers and / or use of the temple.� This could be achieved by limiting the number of festivals (to between three and six days per year).� This would allow many Hindus to still use the temple, although not perhaps as often as some would wish. ISKCON and Hindu leaders could also seek to limit the number of visitors attending such festivals (and at other times), so that the traffic jams and traffic pollution would be less severe.� Imposing such limits would be difficult ― as both the Secretary of State (in 1990) and the High Court (in 1985) have both concluded.

In concl.usion, there is a possibility in the future for agreement and compromise if the various parties are prepared to find a solution. But compromises reached in the past have not succeeded, and so it requires a lot of optimism to believe that such negotiations will be more successful.

Another possibility for a solution is if ISKCON decides to purchase an alternative site for their temple. As I discussed above, this would leave Bhaktivedanta Manor as a theological college and quiet 'spiritual centre', whilst large scale worship would occur in a purpose built / converted building elsewhere. This could be sited either in North London itself (and thus be closer to the majority of Hindus who currently visit the Manor), or otherwise in an out-of-town area within easy access of London, but with fewer planning constrictions. Hertsmere have made vague suggestions about locating a temple in Milton Keynes (which would be inconvenient for the majority of current worshippers at the Manor, and also away from Hertsmere's concerns) or close the M25 motorway ― but no practical site has been identified since the Dagger Lane area fell through.

It is probably the huge expense of such a move that prevents ISKCON from pursuing this solution. But the legal costs of keeping the Manor as it is have been very large, and to keep the place open in future will require even further large costs (not only in legal fees for the public inquiry and any subsequent legal action, but also for the construction of the access road if it is allowed). There may come a point when ISKCON decides that they could spend this money more effectively in creating a religious centre elsewhere which is more suitable to their needs (for example, with a large temple, hall and theatre). However, this would be extremely expensive, and ISKCON in the UK may well find it difficult to find such money. The cost of maintaining such a building may also rule out its practicality.� The money for this could only be obtained through a major programme of fundraising among Indian Hindus, which has not been possible in recent years because of financial problems within this population following the recession and the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).


This long and very costly conflict has been (and remains to be) an interesting case study of a political campaign being fought over a primarily religious issue, but which has also been complicated by factors which go beyond the pure ideal of 'freedom of religion'. In fact, it has been an important test case for minority and new religions in Britain, demonstrating the very limited safeguards for 'freedom of religion' in British law. The conflict has involved a number of quite diverse interest groups, involving local residents' associations, councils, political parties and several different religious and cultural organisations.

What have come out in the argument are not only the problems of intolerance against minority religions in Britain, but also the role of local government, and the nature of a pluralist society which is both multi-faith and multi-cultural. In some respects, there is not only a clash of religious values occurring in the conflict, there is also a strong clash of cultural values. After all, the legal paramouncy of 'planning regulation' is merely an expression of a shared value that a 'rural English village' should be conserved and enhanced, so that its historical character is not lost. That is, the planning laws are placing the character of the village over and above the significance of a religious centre ― or more extremely, the planning laws are 'protecting' the village from the intrusion of the religious worshippers.

Bhaktivedanta Manor is problematic as a religious centre in two different ways. It is the centre of what is perceived as a new religious movement, or more extremely as a (dangerous) 'cult'.[74] � Furthermore it is the missionary centre of ISKCON's activities in Britain, and as long as the Hare Krishnas are seen as threatening to the British way of life it is likely that the Manor will not be popular either. [75] � But the Manor is also a place of worship for Indian Hindus ― people who are British citizens, but who are seen as different and 'alien' because of their skin colour (and also their dress and language). As noted, most of the parties who have opposed the Manor and supported Hertsmere Council have denied that they have racist intentions, but there is a strong sense of cultural exclusion by the Hindus who use the Manor. Regardless of whether or not the Council have intended to be 'racist' in their actions, many British Hindus are interpreting the conflict as a racist attack on their religious rights as a minority ethnic group, and it is worth asking whether the conflict would have taken so long to resolve if the temple had been a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant church.[76]

In conclusion, the conflict and the issues that it has raised have paradoxically been of some benefit to ISKCON. The financial costs have been extraordinarily high, but through a successfully managed media campaign they have gained a lot of positive publicity from the attempts to curtail their actions. The dispute has also helped to reinforce and develop the ties that already existed between ISKCON and other Hindu groups in Britain, and has strengthened a political alliance of British Hindu representative groups. Because the campaign has shown Bhaktivedanta Manor as the one Hindu temple in Britain that many Hindus are prepared to fight to save, the dispute may well have helped to develop a sense that ISKCON themselves are now a very significant voice of British Hinduism.


Beckford, J. A. Cult Controversies: the Societal Response to the New Religious Movements. London: Tavistock, 1985.

Brooks, C. R.� The Hare Krishnas in India.� Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

Burr, A.� I Am Not My body: a Study of the International Hare Krishna Sect. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1984.

Carey, S.� 'The Indianisation of the Hare Krishna Movement in Britain', in Burghart, R., Ed. Hinduism in Great Britain: the Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu. London: Tavistock, 1987.

Eck, Diana.� Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India.� Chambersburg: Anima, 1981.

Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami. Prabhupada: He Built a House in Which the Whole World Can Live.�(The Authorised Biography).� Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1983.

Jackson, R. and E. Nesbitt.� Hindu Children in Britain.� Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books, 1993.

Judah, J. S.� Hare Krishna and the Counterculture.� New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974.

Kalsi, Sewa Singh.� The Evolution of a Sikh Community in Britain.� Religious and Social Change�among the Sikhs of Leeds and Bradford.� Monograph Series, Community Religions Project, Dept of Theology and Religious Studies: University of Leeds, 1992.

Knott, K. 1987.� My Sweet Lord: the Hare Krishna Movement.� Northampton: Aquarian Press, 1987.

Knott, K.� 'Bound to Change? The Religions of South Asians in Britain', in Vertovec, S., Ed.�Aspects of the South Asian Diaspora. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Knott, K.� 'Problems in the Interpretation of Vedic Literature: the Perennial Battle Between the Scholar and the Devotee',� paper presented to seminar on 'The Sanskrit Tradition in the�Modern World', Dept of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Newcastle, 17 May 1985.

Michaelson, M. 'Domestic Hinduism in a Gujarati Trading Caste', in Burghart, R., Ed. Hinduism in�Great Britain: the Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu.� London: Tavistock, 1987.

Nye, M. 'Constructing a Hindu Temple Community in Edinburgh', Religion Today 8, No. 1, 1992.

Nye, M. 'A Place For Our Gods: the Construction of a Hindu temple Community in Edinburgh'.� Ph.D thesis presented to Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, 1992.

Nye, M. 'Temple Congregations and Communities: Hindu Constructions in Edinburgh', New�Community 19, No. 2, 1993.�

Nye, M.� A Place For Our Gods: the Construction of a Hindu Temple Community in Edinburgh, Centre for South Asian Studies Series.� London: Curzon Press, 1995.

Nye, M.� 'Hindus Old and New: Problems of Sacred Space', in Warburg, M. And E. Barker, Eds. New Religions and New Religiosity (In press).

Shinn, L. The Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1987

Subhananda Dasa. 'ISKCON After Prabhupada: An Update on the Hare Krishna Movement', in�ISKCON Review, No. 1, 1985.

Williams, R.� A New Face of Hinduism: the Swaminarayan Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University�Press, 1984.


[1] In Autumn 1994 two TV documentaries were made on this issue, which helped to further raise the profile of the temple.� These were Quarrel, 13 September 1994 (Channel 4) and Everyman, 2 October 1994 (BBC1).

[2] See also Nye (1992, 1993, 1995 and n.d.l.).

[3] For a description of the history of ISKCON, see Judah (1977), Knott (1986) and Shinn (1987).

[4] Brooks (1989: 82), Goswami (1983: 42–4).

[5] This GBC was subsequently increased over the years to twenty-four members (Subhananda Dasa 1985) and in 1995 has twenty-nine members.

[6] Shinn (1987:48-50), Knott (1986: 37-40).

[7] For a description of the contact made between ISKCON and The Beatles, see Knott (1987: 33–7) and Goswami (1983: 158–74).

[8] 'Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama , Hare Hare.

[9] ISKCON also attracts Hindus from other parts of India (such as Punjabis, Tamils, Bengalis, etc.) but the majority of Indian Hindus who visit Bhaktivedanta Manor are Gujaratis. Visitors to the Manor also travel from other parts of the UK such as the Midlands, the West and the North.

[10] See Williams (1984), Michaelson (1987), Nye (n.d.2: 109–20).� Although both of these traditions appear to have influenced general Gujarati Vaishnavism, very few followers of Swaminarayan have any involvement with ISKCON.

[11] See also Burr (1984: 239–56).

[12] Ibid. p. 246.

[13] Carey (1987: 87).

[14] Jackson and Nesbitt (1993: 118–22) descr5ibe cases of how ISKCON classes have veen used by Hindus in Coventry in the `980s and 1990s.

[15] Nama Hatta: Newsletter of the Vaisnavacommunity in Britain, December 1986, p. 7.

[16] Ibid.; West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 20 March 1992, p.7.

[17] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 20 March 1992, p.7.�

[18] Media release from ISKCVON Communications, 28 August 1991.

[19] Ibid. The practice of recording separate figures for ethnic groups was stopped soon after it was revealed in 1985 and has not resumed.

[20] Dacvid Altars, QC, counsel for ISKCON at a public inquirey in December 1988, quoted in West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 9 December 1988, p. 7.

[21] Ibid.; Manor Youth Forum, Issue 4, Autumn 1991, p. 21; West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 23 March 1990, p. 5.

[22] Quoted in West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 20 March 1992, p. 5.

[23] Manor Youth Forum, Issue 4, Autumn 1991.

[24] The Independent, Friday, 1 November 1991.

[25] The Independent, Friday, 17 March 1992.

[26] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 20 March 1992, p. 7.

[27] European Commission of Human Rights, First Chamber.� Decision of the Commission.� Private sitting, 8 March 1994.� Application no: 20490/92 by ISKCON and eight others against the United Kingdom.

[28] Shree Krsna Janmasthami 1994 Magazine / Brochure, ISKCON, Bhaktivedanta Manor, Hertfordshire, August 1994, p. 79.

[29] Ibid., p. 14.

[30] Ibid., p. 17.

[31] Agenda for Hertsmere Borough Council meeting, 19 October 1994, p. 16.

[32] Akhandadhi Dasa, personal communication.

[33] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 25 November 1988, p. 7.

[34] Hare Krishna, Summer 1988, p. 3.

[35] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 23 March 1990, p. 5.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Quoted in ibid.

[38] Manor Youth Forum, Issue 4, Autumn 1991, p. 21.

[39] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 13 September 1991, p. 7.�

[40] Temple Campaign Newsletter, No. 10, 1993, p. 3.

[41] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 9 December 1988, p. 7.�

[42] Hare Krishna, Summer 1988, p. 3.

[43] Agenda for Hertsmere Borough Council meeting, 19 October 1994.�

[44] Literally 'sight' or 'seeing', but generally meaning to worship, c.f. Eck (1981).

[45] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 20 March 1992, p. 7.��

[46] Today programme, BBC Radio 4, 16 March 1994.

[47] The Western academic is more reticent about dating the beginnings of the Vedic Hindu tradition.� For a discussion on the conflict between the academic and the Hare Krishna devotee, see Knott (n.d.).

[48] In 1983 Carey reported that of approximately four hundred full-time devotees within ISKCON in Britain, there were forty-three of Indian descent (Carey 1987: 93).� A more recent estimate is that twenty out of sixty devotees at Bhaktivedanta Manor are of Indian descent (Bimal Krishna Dasa, personal communication).

[49] Hare Krishna, Summer� 1988, p. 3; Back to Godhead, March / April 1992, p. 49.

[50] Press release from National Council of Hindu Temples, 14 March 1983 and 25 March 1983.� In archives of Centre for New Religions, King's College, London.

[51] Quoted in Temple Campaign Newsletter, No. 10, 1993, p. 3.

[52] Hare Krishna, Summer� 1988, p. 3.

[53] Figures for the number of Hindus in Britain vary considerably.� For a more cautious estimate see Knott (1991: 91).

[54] Agenda for Hertsmere Borough Council meeting, 19 October 1994.� Additional appendices p. A36V.

[55] Quoted in West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday 9 December 1988, p. 7.

[56] Sunday Telegraph, 3 July 1994.� I am grateful to Rasamandala Dasa for pointing this article out to me.

[57] Eleanor Nesbitt (personal communication).

[58] Temple Campaign Newsletter, No. 10, 1993, p. 4.�

[59] Ibid.

[60] Shree Krsna Janmasthami 1994 Magazine / Brochure, pp. 79–80.

[61] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday 18 March 1994, p. 3.�

[62] Leaflet produced by Hare Krishna Temple Defence Movement for Rally on 16 March 1994 (emphasis in original).� In archives of Centre for New Religions, King's College, London.

[63] Shree Krsna Janmasthami 1994 Magazine / Brochure, p. 79

[64] Temple Campaign Newsletter, No. 10, 1993, p. 4� (emphasis in original).�

[65] Ibid.

[66] Leaflet produced by Pandava Sena for demonstration at Bhaktivedanta Manor on 13 February 1994 (emphasis in original).� In archives of Centre for New Religions, King's College, London.� My thanks to Judith Thompson for first drawing my attention to these leaflets.

[67] [67] Shree Krsna Janmasthami 1994 Magazine / Brochure, p. 78.� There is some debate about whether Radhasoamis belong to the Sikh Panth, although they are strongly influenced by Sikh traditions (see Juergensmeyer 1991: 78, Kalsi 1992: 73).

[68] Temple Campaign Newsletter, No. 10, 1993, p. 1.

[69] West Herts and Watford Observer, Friday, 18 March 1994, p. 3.

[70] Today programme, BBC Radio 4, 16 March 1994.

[71] Agenda for Hertsmere Borough Council meeting, 19 October 1994.

[72] It is likely that ISKCON will argue that they did not encourage visitors to this festival  the worshippers came of their own volition and they were merely let into the Manor so that they were not left to paralyse the village outside the Manor gates.� Furthermore, they will also point to the confused situation in Summer 1994, since at that time the issue of worship and access were awaiting decision by the Council.

[73] Agenda for Hertsmere Borough Council meeting, 19 October 1994, pp. 15–6.�

[74] c.f. Beckford (1985). Of course, not all 'cults' or new religions are dangerous, but elements of the public and media may wish to see ISKCON as though it was similar to the (mainly Christian) religious groups as at Waco and Jonestown which have ended violently.

[75] ISKCON in Copenhagen, Denmark have faced rather similar problems with their temple.� In this case the Hare Krishna temple was based in a suburban house and faced opposition from neighbours who complained about chanting 'in the back garden', use of a blue spotlight on the sacred tulsi plant and the noise of a water fountain.� At the root it appears that the complaints were motivated by neighbours wishing to sell their houses and their concern about ISKCON's effect on property prices (which some have argued is motivating some of the campaigners against Bhaktivedanta Manor).� However, in the Danish case, the temple authorities decided not to resist and they sold the house and moved to a cheaper location outside Copenhagen (and also later to small premises within the city centre).� My thanks to Mikael Rothstein (personal communication) for this information.

[76] The Inspector's report following the public inquiry in 1988 concluded that the situation would be similar if the Manor was Christian and not Hindu (Agenda for Hertsmere Borough Council meeting, 19 October 1994, p. A36Z; Inspector's report para. 37.17).� However, this is a debatable point which perhaps comparisons with other religious institutions in the UK may well clarify.