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"Gouranga" spam - who's behind it and what it's about

Who is Gouranga?
In 2004 and 2005 we received several spams that looked just like the following, sent to several of our email addresses. We didn't have a clue what it was supposed to mean and got annoyed enough about it that we sent abuse complaints to the provider used for sending the spam.

After another recent spam of this type in January 2005 we did some research. Here is what we found:

Gauranga (Gouranga) was a nickname of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a monk in India who 500 years ago founded the branch of Hinduism that during the 20th century was brought to the west by ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as the "Hare Krishna" sect).

Years ago the name Gouranga appeared on motorway bridges in the North of England and on various stickers, causing people to wonder what it was all about. It has been rumoured that the Scottish branch of ISKCON has been trying to spread the name of their spiritual ancestor through a guerilla-type campaign. We have no idea if there is any substance to these rumours. It's equally plausible that this is just somebody's sense of humour. Hare Krishna-related jokes in popular culture are not uncommon, such in the movie "Airplane" or the "Gouranga" references in the Playstation videogame "Grand Theft Auto".

We have contacted ISKCON Scotland by email about the spam but didn't get a reply from them. Instead we were contacted by another person who claimed to have sent all these spams. When asked for his/her motives, he/she replied:

Hello Joe,
 
I am just very enthusiastic person, who wants everybody to be happy. 
 
:)))
Which is not the worst of motives, I suppose :-)

If you want to block this spam the easiest way is to add the following email address to your banned sender list (even though this is a fake sender address, it appears to be used consistently):

  • NitaiGouranga@aol.com

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Here is the spam sample:

Return-Path: <NitaiGouranga@aol.com>
Received: (qmail invoked by alias); 13 Jan 2005 03:31:27 -0000
Received: from ppp-80-47-194-81.lns.access.uk.tiscali.com (HELO Nitai1)
 (80.47.194.81)
  by mx0.gmx.net (mx060) with SMTP; 13 Jan 2005 04:31:27 +0100
From: "Neateye" <NitaiGouranga@aol.com>
Subject: Gouranga
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 03:31:24 -0000
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain;
	charset="Windows-1251"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Priority: 1
X-MSMail-Priority: High
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.0000
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2600.0000
To: emailaddress
Message-ID: <20050113033127.25207gmx1@mx060.gmx.net>

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

Here's another copy:
Received: from [80.47.212.230] (helo=Nitai1)
	by mxeu1.kundenserver.de with ESMTP (Nemesis),
	id 0MKpV6-1CqKJ7453q-00086z; Mon, 17 Jan 2005 00:59:45 +0100
From: "Neateye" <NitaiGouranga@aol.com>
Subject: Gouranga
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2005 23:59:47 -0000
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain;
	charset="Windows-1251"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Priority: 1
X-MSMail-Priority: High
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.0000
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2600.0000
Message-ID: <0MKpV6-1CqKJ7453q-00086z@mxeu1.kundenserver.de>
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
X-SpamScore: 4.450
	tests= X_MSMAIL_PRIORITY_HIGH X_PRIORITY_HIGH FORGED_MUA_OUTLOOK

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

Email to ISKCON Scotland:

From: "Joe Wein" <joewein@pobox.com>
To: <scotland@iskcon.org.uk>
Sent: Friday, 14 January, 2005 1:45
Subject: Fw: Gouranga

Hello,

I found your explanation of "NITAI-GOURANGA!" at http://www.iskcon.org.uk/scotland/ after receiving the following spam.

To be honest, I did not feel the highest happiness when I received it in my mailbox, I was rather pissed off!

What is the position of ISKCON Scotland regarding this spam?

Regards
Joe Wein

Yokohama, Japan


Readers comments:

Subject: Gouranga !!?
Date: Tuesday, 01 February, 2005

I just had to react to your email / comment on 
:"http://www.joewein.de/sw/spam-neateye-gouranga.htm" I really do think 
that you have over reacted !?

I mean receiving "spam" about how I could enlarge my penis or get lots 
of woman to sleep with might be a problem but being wish some happiness 
is not ! I have received that email many time so did lots of my friend 
and from all the people that I know it never offended anyone, on the 
contrary it put a smile on many peoples face, including me !

Of course in today world it could be somewhat scary to be wish 
happiness by a stranger but you really should give it a try !

Also, the internet is the biggest communication tool and people over 
reacting about what is "spam" are making that statement less and less 
true everyday. Might I suggest you acquire some email filtering tools 
if you can't handle a little unrequested mail ?
Our reply:
> I just had to react to your email / comment on
> :"http://www.joewein.de/sw/spam-neateye-gouranga.htm" I really do think
> that you have over reacted !?
>
> I mean receiving "spam" about how I could enlarge my penis or get lots
> of woman to sleep with might be a problem but being wish some happiness
> is not ! I have received that email many time so did lots of my friend
> and from all the people that I know it never offended anyone, on the
> contrary it put a smile on many peoples face, including me !

Hello Martin,

maybe I did overreact, maybe I didn't.

I think the email is inconsiderate. Whishing people happiness is one thing.
Sending an obscure reference to "Gouranga" is another. It's puzzling for
most people, who haven't got a clue what it's all about or how they can find
out. It's like starting to tell someone a joke but then not telling them the
punch line: It's a wind-up, it's annoying!

If you want to make people smile, make them smile, fine. Don't get them
worried about something they don't understand. They have enough to worry
about every day.

Can you see my position?

>
> Of course in today world it could be somewhat scary to be wish
> happiness by a stranger but you really should give it a try !

I don't have a problem with that really. I help out dozens of people every
day who receive scam emails. As a result lots of total strangers wish me
happiness and I enjoy that. They don't do it in obscure ways though.

> Also, the internet is the biggest communication tool and people over
> reacting about what is "spam" are making that statement less and less
> true everyday. Might I suggest you acquire some email filtering tools
> if you can't handle a little unrequested mail ?

That "little unrequested mail" happens to come on top of 500 other
unrequested emails every day. I have had the same email address for the last
seven years and as a result it must be on every spammer's CD ROM.

About 80% of all email sent to my mail accounts is unsolicited junkmail. Of
course I use a spam filtering tool, or I would have had to give up on email
by now. Since this message didn't mention any spammy websites and my filter
wasn't set up to treat "Gouranga" or "Happiness" as dirty words ;-) it
didn't catch it as spam.

I will be filtering for the fake AOL sender address used for this spam and
hope that the sender will stick to that address in the future.

Here is another opinion, from a reader in Scotland:

Hi Joe,
Just read with intrest your page about the Gouranga E-Mails. Firstly may I start off by saying I have absolutley nothing to do with Gouranga, just read your website and decided to reply.
I myself live in Scotland and remember many, many years ago (probably going back about 10), every public phone box, every disused bit of billboard space streets, bus stops, everywhere you looked had a big "Call out Gouranga" poster on it. These went away (Got washed off or whatever) and a few years later appeared "Dial Neateye" posters.

I was at the time of these posters about 10 years old and used to always ask my family what the hell Gouranga and neateye was, and absolutley no-one could tell me. So there was the whole town covered in Gouranga posters, and no-one knew what they were.

I recently found out what they were at work a few days ago when a colleague told me : "They are strange people in orange curtains who come over to you in the street and ask you to say Gouranga. At first you tell them to go away because you dont know what there going on about, but after a while of them annoying you, you say it, just so they go away! When you say this amazing word, their faces light up, and they ask you for funds". Having never been approached by the Gouranga gang, I cannot say wether or not this is true.

However, thats a bit of history. After reading your website, you seem to be on a crusade to stop these E-Mails reaching you. Thats fair enough, however I think your reasons are wrong. I am now quoting you from your website :
"If you want to make people smile, make them smile, fine. Don't get them worried about something they don't understand. They have enough to worry about every day."

Now as I have already stated, there were posters all over town for years with this silly word on it, which no-one understood, however Im sure a few people smiled at it, just because it was, well, silly and pointless and a complete waste of time maybe. People didnt worry about it. It didnt concern them. The word wasnt harming them, and neither were the instructions on the posters, which incidentally read "Call out Gouranga, Be Happy!" and that was all. Im sure some drunks coming out the pub late at night tried out the posters theory, and maybe it did work, who knows, and really who cares?!!

I know personally when I recieved that E-Mail today it certainly put a smile on my face, maybe because I remembered the posters, or because of my colleagues description of the "Men in orange curtains". I dont know.

Anyways Joe, Im sure your a cool guy and all the rest, but really, try not to get so worked up about things. Try smiling at them, try taking the humor out of my E-Mail, it is after all supposed to be humorous.

Best Regards,
Andrew

OK Andrew, point taken. I promise I'll try to lighten up a bit :-)


Hi Joe,

I totally agree with you about this email about calling out to gouranga - I just received one today. This is a very subtle way for these people to spread the word about their 'god' and have innocent people speak those things out. I don't know how much you know about the spiritual realm - God and the devil etc but when you begin to declare such things you are actually coming into agreement with the lies of the enemy. There is life and death in the power of our words and I for one do not want to 'call' out to any false gods. You may think I am crazy and that's ok but I just wanted to let you know that I am quite concerned about these issues as innocent people are being 'set up'. Speaking things out can bring curses upon ourselves and that is exactly how the devil operates.
In my opinion, your actions was spot on and thank you for researching what gouranga means - it gave me a real insight to what is actually going here. Continue to warn people Joe, follow your heart and don't allow the negative comments take you away from what you believe - you don't need to lighten up - you are on the right path and it is very disturbing to some people to get things via email that they don't understand.
Well done Joe...


From a visitor in South Africa:

I received the Gouranga email yesterday. I was not pissed of, in fact I was just curious to know where it came from.

I did a search and thus, here I am.

I am a DJ. I’m planning to open my own Music / Entertainment Lounge. A name has always been a problem….

Until now….

I’m gonna call it GOURANGA (place that brings the highest happiness)

Super Cool, don’t you think…


 

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