Founder Acharya: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
We take this opportunity to introduce ourselves as a part of the worldwide, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) movement, which is a Non profit, Social welfare & Spiritual organization engaged in propagating the teachings & values of the great ancient literatures of our Vedic heritage.
We are a Charitable Trust dedicated to promoting individual and global peace, harmony and prosperity by spreading the message of divine love and fraternity given in the Vedic texts of ancient India. Our Trust was originally started in 1966. Since then the trust has brought spiritual joy, integrity and dignity to the lives of millions of people worldwide through it’s over 600 branches.
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 sankirtanamovement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya 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 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 Lord Chaitanya, who is direct incarnation of Lord Krishna in 15th and his principle associates, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, 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 have followed in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu including, in the 19th century, an outstanding Vaisnava theologian, Bhaktivinoda Thakura who brought Krishna consciousness to a modern audience. Bhaktivinoda Thakur's son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, who is the Spiritual Master of Srila Prabhupada, instructed him to spread Krishna consciousness in the West.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness draws its legitimacy from its place in a long succession of spiritual teachers and disciples (parampara). There are four major disciplic successions (sampradayas), ISKCON belongs to the Brahma Sampradaya, founded by Lord Krishna Himself.
There are many branches to this sampradaya. Our society belongs to the branch founded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century. The principle is that Vaisnava teachings should be passed on, unchanged, from guru to disciple. The most prominent devotees in this lineage are accepted as acaryas: those who teach by example, who carry the line forward. Listed below are the acaryas, starting from Lord Krishna Himself all the way down to the Founder Acharya of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada:
Chronological History of the Hare Krishna Movement
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) commonly known in the West as the Hare Krishna Movement comes in a tradition that traces all the way back to Lord Krishna Himself. ISKCON was founded in New York in 1966 by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), referred to as Srila Prabhupada. His spiritual teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, asked him to teach Bhakti to the English-speaking world.
- At 69 years old, Srila Prabhupada arrived in Boston in 1965. By 1966 he was living in New York City and had developed a following.
- From 1966 to 1968, temples were established in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first Ratha-yatra outside of India was held in San Francisco and began an annual ISKCON tradition in more than 20 major cities around the world.
- From 1971 to 1973, temples opened in Europe, Canada, South America, Mexico, London, Africa, and India.
- In 1970, the Governing Body Commission, ISKCON's international managerial body, was established to oversee the Society, which had grown to close to one hundred temples, schools, restaurants, and farm communities.
- From 1970 to 1977, ISKCON built major centers at the pilgrimage sites of Mayapur and Vrindavana, India, and a large temple in Bombay.
- In 1972, Srila Prabhupada founded the publishing house Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT), now the world's largest publisher of books on Bhakti yoga. Krishna.com is sponsored and maintained by the BBT.
- In 1973, the Bhaktivedanta Institute was formed to write books and magazines and to hold conferences to present the teachings of the Vedas in scientific terms.
- From 1974 to the present, ISKCON Food for Life has run food relief programs in dozens of cities around the world.
- In November 1977, Srila Prabhupada passed from this world. ISKCON had 108 temples and more than 10,000 followers.
- In 1989, the Hare Krishna movement come out from underground in the Soviet Union, as glasnost brought an end to persecution.
- By 1991, more than one million copies of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is had been sold in the former Soviet Union.
- In the early 1990's, Krishna.com is launched, as well as ISKCON.com and other Hare Krishna websites.
- Today, ISKCON has about 400 centers around the world, with a worldwide congregation in the tens of thousands, from all walks of life.
The Vedic scriptures state that spiritual life begins when one inquires into the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. Gaudiya Vaishnavas are monotheists and know the personality of Godhead as Krishna, the All-attractive. But it is also recognized that the Supreme has unlimited names such as Rama, Buddha, Vishnu, Jehovah, Allah, etc. The ultimate goal of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is to develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Godhead.
The Vedas also tell us that the understanding of the self, as being non-material or spiritual by nature, is the preliminary stage of realization 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 Chaitanya, 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”