Is Krishna Consciousness a cult?
Yes and no. Our present dictionary app defines cult in various ways:
A. "a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object."
Yes. Krishna consciousness is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward Krishna.
B. "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister."
Yes, in those places where Krishna consciousness is not yet well-established as a major religion, it has often been seen in this way. But in India, where Krishna has been worshiped since before recorded history, Krishna consciousness is increasingly understood more as the essence of all spirituality than as anything strange or sinister.
C. "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing."
We think it makes perfect sense to admire Krishna—an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, all-attractive personality—and that the general public's admiration for musicians, sports figures, movie stars, and political leaders who are here today and gone tomorrow is really excessive and misplaced.
The scriptures and saintly persons within the tradition of Krishna consciousness also describe the existence of a spiritual world, which is always existing and infinitely greater in size than this material world. From that point of view, this entire material world is a cult—a strange, sinister, small group of people with misplaced admiration for themselves.