Can we move off the margins, and be seen more than a fringe group? I think that there’s a sad irony in that the same efforts (i.e., Harinam) that have been so successful in putting us on the map outside of India have also pigeonholed us as at best some sort of hippie eccentrics and at worst a bunch of loons.
When I began my doctoral work at Harvard, I quickly learned that ISKCON was a laughing stock in my department. Devotees would come to Harvard Square to jump and run around, banging on drums. We all know the story.
By Krishna’s arrangement, I was the best student in my generation at the department, and finished my doctorate in about half the time as the other students. After I was there for a while, students and professors began inquiring respectfully about ISKCON, and I was invited to give lecture to the department and public on ISKCON related topics.
Twice, I hosted the entire department, students and faculty, at my place for prasadam and discussion. They all came.
Harvard Press published one of my talks while I was still a student, and they are now publishing my dissertation.
The point here is that we can all do quality work and regain the respect of many scholars.