ISKCON : Establishment Day : July 13, 1966

 In Hinduism

ISKCON: Establishment Day: July 13, 1966

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a worldwide affiliation of bhakti-yoga practitioners. Though relatively new to the western world, Krishna consciousness is at the heart of India’s timeless spiritual culture. For anyone looking beyond what this temporary, limited world has to offer, ISKCON is what the Chamber of Commerce is for those looking to get ahead in business.

About His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a branch of the monotheistic Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition within Hinduism dating back 5000 years to Lord Krishna Himself. ISKCON was established in the West in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada) and has since developed into a worldwide confederation of over 500 temples, centers, communities, schools, and restaurants with some 250,000 devotees.

The mission of this nonsectarian, monotheistic movement is to promote the well-being of society by teaching the science of Krishna consciousness according to Bhagavad-gita and other ancient scriptures.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), the founder-acharya* of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness(ISKCON), was the foremost proponent and teacher of Krishna consciousness—devotional service to the Supreme Person, Krishna—of the late twentieth century.

Srila Prabhupada, as he’s known to his followers, translated and commented on over eighty volumes of the most important sacred bhakti texts. His books include Bhagavad-gita As It Is—the definitive commentary on Krishna’s advice on how to be happy in this life and the next, and the multi-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam—a history of Krishna’s activities, His avatars, and His many devotees throughout the universe. Srila Prabhupada also constantly travelled the world, initiating thousands of disciples and managing a global spiritual movement which continues to grow today.

When Srila Prabhupada met his own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta urged the young devotee later known as Srila Prabhupada to preach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu‘s message of Krishna consciousness in English.

After forty years of struggling within India to carry out his guru’s order while maintaining family and business responsibilities, Srila Prabhupada accepted the renounced order of life, sannyasa. He began writing translations and commentaries on the great Srimad-Bhagavatam, the cream of all Vedic literature. After producing three volumes, he boarded a steamship bound from Calcutta to New York City in 1965.

At the age of sixty-nine, with forty rupees and a trunk of his Bhagavatam commentaries—the first ever in English—his aim was to introduce “India’s message of peace and goodwill” to the western world. During the last twelve years of his life, Srila Prabhupada would inspire thousands of Westerners and Indians to devote their lives to Krishna consciousness, launching one of the fastest-growing spiritual movements in the history of the world.

He considered his translations and commentaries as divinely inspired, practical guidebooks for the spiritual and material benefit of human society. Scholars familiar with his books regard Srila Prabhupada as a genuine, realized, and scholarly teacher of bhakti. His definitive writings have become standard university texts.

With the help of his students, he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). ISKCON is popularly known as the “Hare Krishna” movement, due to its members’ widespread practice of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra in public. Srila Prabhupada intended ISKCON to facilitate the association and training of bhakti-yoga practitioners, and his followers continue to spread that mission.

Seven Purposes of ISKCON

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada incorporated the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966 with seven explicit purposes.

This list of purposes (below) was one of the official documents incorporating ISKCON as a charitable organization. At the time, the movement had few followers in the West and was operating out of a rented storefront in New York City. One of the pressing needs at the time was to facilitate donors who wanted to give tax-deductible donations to establish a temple for Lord Krishna in New York City.

In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada expanded ISKCON’s mission and activities beyond some of the details listed in the incorporation documents, while remaining consistent with its principles. For example, ISKCON has established many more than one “holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna”, with temples in major cities around the world. “To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life”has inspired the development of self-sufficient farm communities, ashrams and spiritual retreat centers.

Srila Prabhupada’s plan to re-spiritualize society through the distribution of sanctified food is not mentioned in the original incorporation documents. Yet he established Food For Life and Govinda’s vegetarian restaurants, and the Sunday Feast has become the weekly happening at every ISKCON center.

  1. 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.
  2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
  3. 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).
  4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
  5. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
  6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
  7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

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