What is ISKCON?
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the Hare Krishna movement, was incorporated in New York in the year 1966 by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavat Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These are the historic texts of the devotional bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”.
Although less than fifty years on the global stage, ISKCON has expanded widely and now includes over five hundred major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly one hundred affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of namahattas (local meeting groups), a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide.
Members of ISKCON practice bhakti-yoga in their homes and also worship in temples. They also promote bhakti-yoga, or Krishna Consciousness, through festivals, the performing arts, yoga seminars, public chanting, and the distribution of the society’s literatures. ISKCON members have also opened hospitals, schools, colleges, eco-villages, free food distribution projects including Food Relief, and other institutions as a practical application of the path of devotional yoga.
ISKCON and its’s founder, Srila Prabhupada, have drawn appreciation from scholars and religious leaders alike for his remarkable achievement in presenting India’s Vaishnava spiritual culture in a relevant manner to contemporary Western and worldwide audiences.
“[ISKCON] A tradition that commands a respected place in the religious life of humankind.”
- Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University.
“[ISKCON] arose out of next to nothing in less than twenty years and has become known all over the West. This, I feel, is a sign of the times and an important fact in the history of the Western world.”
- Dr. A. L. Basham, one of the world’s authorities on Indian history and culture