International Society For Krishna Consciousness : ISKCON

International Society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded in 13th of July 1966 in New York, United States Of America by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. ISKCON, also known as the Hare Krishna movement or the Hare Krishna’s is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization.

ISKCON beliefs and principles are based mostly from the Hindu Scriptures. It is the largest branch of Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition which roots back in India to the 16th century and in America and Europe since the early 1900s.

How did the International Society For Krishna Consciousness come into existence?

Gaudiya Vaishnavism has had a following in India, especially in West Bengal and Odisha for the past 500 years. Gaudiya Vaishnavism was founded by the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He established the Sankirtan, which is a way of publically showing love and devotion towards Lord Krishna.

He also emphasized on chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas consider him as an incarnation of Krishna himself.

Swami Prabhupada brought Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s to the West in 1965. At the age of 70, Prabhupada landed in New York. At the start Prabhupada started chanting and preaching in public places and parks attracting mostly hippies and the youths.

A year later when he moved to San Francisco, his movement, i,e. the Hare Krishna Movement became even more prominent and big scaled. When his movement spread to England, it gained more support and publicity and frinancial backing from the famous Beatles.

He recorded several song tracks with the Hare Krishnas and also included the Mahamantra in his famous hit track, “My Sweet Lord.”

This journey of growth and support continued and by now ISKCON has over 800 centres all over the world along with millions of followers. In 1968, Prabhupada established the first ever Krishna commune, New Vrindavan (West Virginia).

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Beliefs and Teachings

Kirtan, is one of the most popular practices publically done. It a congregational way of chanting or rather singing of the Hare Krishna mantra/mahamantra. Kirtan works both as a means of worship and devotion to god and also it works as a way to influence and attract new people into the movement.

The International Society For Krishna Consciousness describes Krishna as the main source of all the avatars of God. That is why the devotees worship Krishna as the highest form of God.

Practices

Some other practices within the ISKCON include the Japa A meditative practice where the name of Krishna on a set of prayer beads are chanted repeatedly.

Another important practice of the ISKCON is the AratiIt is a practice where devotees offer inscence, water, lamp and flowers to the sacred statue of Krishna. This practice is accompanied by prayers and bahjans (devotional songs).

ISKCON devotees often have meets to worship and listen to the sayings of senior devotees offer kirtans and eat offered food.

How is the Succession of teachings in ISKCON done?

The International Society For Krishna Consciousness follows Disciplic Succession. In this form of succession the teachings which are upheld by scriptures are handed down from the master to the disciple and this continues from generation to generation.

Main festivals that are followed in a grand manner in ISKCON

The ISKCON society celebrates a number of the numerous Indian festivals. The Prominent ones that are celebrated in a grand manner are the Janmashtami and the Rath Yatra. Janmashtami is celebrated as birth of Lord Krishna.

Rath Yatra is the festival of chariots. This parade is an annual event where devotees chant and dance the street pulling the chariot with deities Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra on it. The most grand form of this chariot pulling festival event is also held every year in Jagganatha Temple at Puri, Odisha, India.

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Frequently Asked Questions :

When was the ISKCON founded?

ISKCON was founded in 13th of July 1966 in New York, United States Of America by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

How is the Succession of teachings in ISKCON done?

It follows Disciplic Succession. In this form of succession the teachings which are upheld by scriptures are handed down from the master to the disciple and this continues from generation to generation.

What is the way of eating followed by ISKCON devotees?

Vegetarianism, which the devotees term it as Krishnatarian is the eating style followed by ISKCON.

What are the core practices followed by ISKCON?

Japa – A meditative practice where the name of Krishna on a set of prayer beads are chanted repeatedly.
Arati – It is a practice where devotees offer inscence, water, lamp and flowers to the sacred statue of Krishna.

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is one of the most core principles. Swami Prabhupadi has always had food distribution as prime principle. Thus many devotees have opened vegan and vegetarian eateries. Krishnatarian is the term used by the Hare Krishna followers to describe their type/style of eating.

A Krishnatarian is one which contains fresh vegetables of different types and also milk products, which is usually cooked by a Krishna Conscious individual for devotion and not for profit. First the food is offered to Lord Krishna before it is distributed or given to any individual or devotee.

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