INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS
Founder Acharya: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Popularly known as the Hare Krishna Movement, ISKCON is a worldwide confederation of more than 600 temples and centers, 110 vegetarian restaurants, and a wide variety of community projects. ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya, or denomination, a monotheistic tradition within the broad Vedic, or Hindu culture.
Based on the Bhagavad-Gita, ISKCON traces its spiritual lineage directly to the speaker of this sacred book, Lord Krishna, who is revered as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The text teaches that the goal of life is to develop love of God, or Krishna, realized through the practice of bhakti-yoga, the science of devotional service. In the latter part of the 15th century, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revitalized the bhakti-yoga tradition by introducing an expansive spiritual movement that swept India. Central to this renaissance was the emphasis on chanting of Krishna’s name. Underlying this simple practice was a profound, rational, and intellectually comprehensive theology.
This non-sectarian, monotheistic movement’s mission is to advance the well being of society by promoting the spiritual science of Krishna consciousness.
In 1965, at the age of 70, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada journeyed alone from India to America, to bring the teachings of Krishna west. On July 11, 1966, Srila Prabhupada officially registered the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York City, and thus began the worldwide Hare Krishna movement.
Krishna devotees teach that people are not their material bodies, but are eternal spirit souls, and that all beings are interrelated through God, the source of all existence. God is known by many names, primarily by the name “Krishna” which means “the All-Attractive Supreme Person.” The goal of life is to develop love of God, realized through the practice of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service.
In addition to daily meditation by chanting the holy names, ISKCON members practice attending regular worship services, studying scriptures, sharing sanctified vegetarian meals, and fostering fellowship among other Krishna devotees. To focus the mind and senses on spiritual pursuits, practitioners follow strict vegetarianism and abstain from intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex.
Participation is open to anyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or any other factor. While some “Krishna devotees” live in temples and ashrams (monasteries) as monks and nuns, the vast majority of Hare Krishna devotees live and go to work in the general community, practicing Krishna consciousness in their homes and attending the temple on a regular basis.
Prior to his passing away in 1977, Srila Prabhupada established a Governing Body Commission (GBC) to oversee the international society’s activities. This ecclesiastic board consists of 35 senior Krishna devotees, both men and women, who work together as a body to guide the organization. Each ISKCON temple is individually incorporated and manages its affairs through local leadership.
ISKCON promotes social progress through teaching spiritual solutions to the myriad of problems we face today including war, poverty, environmental degredation, racial and sectarian strife, etc. ISKCON also operates the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program through its Annamrita projects. ISKCON affiliates also operate several hospitals and schools across the world.