Episode 2 airs July 5

Coming up on Generation Cult, Episode 2: A Recovering Monk:
Nitai grew up in an International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) or Hare Krishna family. His older brother, who became intensely devout, preached to him about the religion. And although Nitai didn’t feel pressured to embrace the group’s ideology at the time, “that line of thinking stayed there,” he said. “That life is meaningless without practicing this religion. It was there and growing in my head for the next few years and with it came dissatisfaction with my friendships and my life.”
He dropped out of school at 14 and, at age 18, went on to join an offshoot of the Hare Krishna movement. He quickly rose through the ranks of the temple, becoming a monk and the guru’s personal assistant.
“In hindsight, this was part of his broader scheme to steal money from my trust fund — which succeeded,” Nitai said.
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He left the group just a few years ago and is now a student at Columbia University. How did he get from there to here? Did he leave because of the money or was it the celibacy and long hours of work? How did he adjust to life outside the temple?
Here’s how he described the transition: “Not the ground being pulled out from under you but the entire universe being removed from all around you.”
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All photos courtesy of Nitai Joseph

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