ISKCON

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Srila Prabhupada) in the West in 1966. ISKCON belongs to Gaudiya (refers to Bengal) Vaishnavism, a devotional tradition based on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The precepts and practices of ISKCON were taught and codified by the 15th century by Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1532), his brother Nityananda Prabhu and six of his principle associates, the Goswamis of Vrindavana (Sanatana, Rupa, Jiva, Gopal Bhatta, Raghunatha Dasa and Raghunatha Bhatta.

The Bhagavad-gita was first put into writing about 5000 years ago. The Gita is the principal scripture of The Hare Krishna Movement Organization. Its origins are more than 5000-years-old.

Shri Chaitanya, whom devotees recognize as a direct incarnation of Krishna, gave a powerful impetus for a massive bhakti (devotional) movement throughout India. Under his direction hundreds of volumes on the philosophy of Krishna consciousness were compiled. Many devotees followed in the preceptorial line of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu including, in the 19th century an outstanding Vaishnava theologian, Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914) who brought Krishna consciousness to a modern audience.

ISKCON’s history includes a disciplic succession (sampradaya or guru parampara). It draws its legitimacy from its place in a succession of spiritual teachers and disciples (parampara). There are four major disciplic successions, and ISKCON belongs to the Brahma-Gaudiya-Madhva (referring to Madhvacharya [A.D. 1239-1319]) sampradaya, founded by Lord Krishna Himself.

There are many branches to the Brahma Sampradaya. ISKCON belongs to the Brahma-Gaudiya-Madhva lineage founded by Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century.

Bhaktivinoda’s son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami (1874- 1937), became the guru of Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977) and instructed him to spread Krishna consciousness in the West.

Under Srila Prabhupada’s guidance, ISKCON has grown from a small group of disciples assembling in a New York City store front into an international society with scores of centers. Today ISKCON comprises of more than 400 temples, 40 rural communities and over 100 vegetarian restaurants. It also conducts special projects throughout the world, such as “Food for Life”, the only free vegetarian relief program in the world.

The aim of ISKCON is to acquaint all people of world with universal principles of self-realization and God consciousness so that they may derive the highest benefit of spiritual understanding, unity and peace. The Vedic literature recommend that in the present age of Kali-yuga the most effective means of achieving self-realization is always hear about, glorify, and remember the all-attractive Supreme Lord Sri Krishna.

Therefore, it recommends the chanting of the Holy Names:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

This sublime chanting puts the chanter directly in touch with the Supreme Lord through the sound vibration of His Holy Name.

 ISKCON’s teachings are non-sectarian, following the principle of Sanatana Dharma or eternal religion, which denotes the eternal activity of all living beings – loving devotional service (bhakti-yoga) to Supreme Personality of Godhead.

 

According to Srila Prabhupada’s will, ISKCON continued thereafter under the ultimate managing authority of the Governing Body Commission (GBC). In ISKCON’s incorporating document, Srila Prabhupada imparts the “Seven Purposes of ISKCON”:

(1) To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.

(2) To propagate a consciousness of Krishna as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.

(3) To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, and thus to develop the idea, within the members, and humanity, at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).

(4) To teach and encourage the Sankirtan movement of congregational chanting of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

(5) To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.

(6) To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.

(7) With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.