ISKCON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) was founded in New York in 1966 by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Also known as the Hare Krishna movement, it includes 500 major centres, temples and rural communities, nearly 1000 affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of namahattas or local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects and millions of congregational members worldwide. Reaching its 50 years in 2015, ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding.
ISKCON is based on the timeless teachings of the Bhagawad-Gita and Srimad Bhagwatam, as received in the disciplic succession from Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Chaitanya appeared in 1486 and taught the science of Krishna bhakti. He popularized the chanting of
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare”
Which is the most effective in this age of Kali. ISKCON is meant to fulfill Lord Chaitanya‘s mission by preaching Krishna consciousness all over the world.
The Vedic scriptures state that spiritual life begins when one inquires about the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are monotheists and know the Personality of Godhead as Krishna, the all-attractive. Krishna Consciousness is experienced as a process of self purification. The gist of devotional service to Krishna is that one takes whatever capacity or talent he or she possess and dovetails it with the interests of the Supreme Enjoyer.
Devotional service in Krishna Consciousness means regular chanting , hearing talks about the Pastimes of Krishna from Srimad Bhagwatam, and taking foodstuffs prepared for and offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
By books, literature and records, the Society is dedicated to awakening the worldwide public to the normal, ecstatic state of Krishna Consciousness, so that all may regain their eternal position of, favorably serving the Supreme personality. Anyone who regularly chants the holy name,”Hare Krishna Mahamantra” can attain KRISHNA’S ABODE, as stated by Bhagawad Gita. “Sankirtan” i.e congregational chanting is carried by the people: in public parks, schools,etc to spread the Holy Name worldwide.
The popular nickname of “Hare Krishnas” for devotees of this movement comes from the mantra that devotees sing aloud (kirtan) or chant (japa) on tulsi mala. This mantra is also addressed as “MAHAMANTRA”:
“HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE,
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE”
CHANT AND BE HAPPY!
Most ISKCON members practice Krishna consciousness in their homes and live and work in the general community. They also congregate in temples for worship.Congregational chanting is carried by the people: in public parks, schools,etc to spread the holy name worldwide. 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.
ISKCON is a part of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. One can trace its spiritual lineage from Srila Prabhupada back through a chain of spiritual masters, through Lord Chaitanya, through Madhavacharya, to Lord Brahma and ultimately to Lord Krishna himself. This principle is a major hallmark in ISKCON’s authenticity. In 1970, Srila Prabhupada, established the Governing Body Commission (GBC) to be the ultimate managing authority of the society.It decides ISKCON’s major strategies and guidelines by democratic voting and in consultation with Temple Presidents and other leaders.
At present, the GBC body is comprised of thirty-two members who are individually responsible for overseeing the management and spiritual standards of ISKCON centers in assigned geographic regions. GBC members also supervise specific projects, initiatives, and ministries. Know more at www.iskcon.org