The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. This society has been founded in 1966 in New York City by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. This movement of mercy has spread to all continents of the world. Within 40 years it has established centers in most countries and important cities. The objective of this educational non-profit organisation is to make Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement available to every town and village.
Srila Prabhupada gave a clear mission statement for ISKCON which is outlined in the following seven points.
The Seven Purposes of ISKCON :
To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people 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.
To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
The Vedic scriptures state that spiritual life begins when one inquires into the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are monotheists and know the personality of Godhead as Krishna, the All-attractive. But it is also recognised that the Supreme has unlimited names such as Rama, Buddha, Vishnu, Jehovah, Allah, etc. The ultimate goal of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is to develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Godhead.
To understand knowledge of self-realisation one must approach a genuine spiritual masterThe Vedas also tell us that the understanding of the self, as being non-material or spiritual by nature, is the preliminary stage of realisation of the absolute truth. To understand knowledge of self-realisation one must approach a genuine spiritual master, just as one learns the essence of any subject from a perfected practitioner.
The congregational chanting of the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, as promoted by Sri Caitanya, is accepted by the Vedas as the most effective means of self-purification in this age. The Vedas describe the mantra as a prayer to the Lord, “Please Lord, engage me in Your service”.
Devotees may accept formal initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name vowing to abstain from intoxication, gambling, illicit sexual connections and the eating of meat, fish or eggs. ISKCON members believe indulgence in the aforementioned activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society. At the time of initiation devotees also agree to chant a prescribed number of mantras each day.
Most ISKCON members practise Krishna consciousness in their homes and live and work in the general community. They also congregate in temples for worship.
Most temple-based members are in training, or serve as clergy engaged in ministerial and missionary work. Some members also help maintain ISKCON rural communities throughout the world.
Governing Body Commission (GBC) :
In 1970 Srila Prabhupada formed a Governing Body Commission (GBC) to help manage an expanding ISKCON. Before Srila Prabhupada passed away in 1977, he requested that executive authority for ISKCON be passed to this Commission. The GBC decides ISKCON’s major strategies and guidelines by democratic voting and in consultation with Temple Presidents and other leaders.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT)
Working tirelessy over 12 years, Srila Prabhupada managed to write over 70 volumes of books – translations of Vedic scriptures into English and extensive commentaries on them.
Established in 1972 for publishing Srila Prabhupada’s works, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) has become the world’s largest publisher and distributor of books on Indian philosophy and religion.
To date, the BBT has published over 500 million books and magazines in more than 60 languages.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966. It belongs to the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition, 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 saint and religious reformer Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his principle associates, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana.