The “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” acronymed as ISKCON, was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada in 1966 in New York, U.S.A with the sole aim of bringing people from all over the world towards Krishna’s service and making them Krishna Conscious there by spreading peace and happiness among people.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya – Vaishnava Sampradaya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically, it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-Gita and the Shrimad Bhagavatam. These are the sacred historic texts of the devotional Bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”.
While incorporating ISKCON in 1966, Srila Bhakthivedanta Prabhupada outlined 7 purposes:
ISKCON has disciples all over the world from every race and is mainly focused on offering knowledge of Krishna to whomever is interested in receiving it via the medium of chanting of Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, distribution of prasadam, the study of spiritual literature and offering beautiful deity service all over the world. Also it provides opportunity for association of like-minded persons, study opportunities and participation in large festivals like Jagannath Ratha Yathra, Krishna Janmashtami celebrations which are open to everyone. Here, the devotees are held together by mutual agreement to accept the principles of Bhakti-Yoga or devotional service as the goal of life. By mutual endeavor, the entire Society concentrates on Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, while being engaged in various tasks, cooking, eating, working in an office or chanting the holy names in the city streets. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee, and those disciples who sincerely follow his instructions have every chance of becoming pure devotees themselves.
Srila Prabhupada prescribed four regulative principles that all devotees must follow as the basis of the spiritual life. These comprise four behaviors that are seen as ways to overcome the lifestyle of karmis or “materialists” who are ignorant of Krishna:
As prescribed in Sastras, indulgence in the aforementioned activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society.
Currently, ISKCON has developed into a worldwide confederation of over 500 temples, centers, rural communities, schools, nearly one hundred affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of namahattas or local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide with some 2,50,000 devotees. Although less than fifty years on the global stage, ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in New York City in 1966.
The devotees have centers and farms all over the world and the students and sanyasis live within the centers while the householders have houses around and nearby to the centers. The householders usually have regular jobs while the students distribute books which were written and translated by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada (the founder Guru).
The initiated devotees in each center live in urban commune settings and are freeing themselves from the conditions of birth, death, disease and old age by fixing their minds on the eternal joyful Krishna. To live in ISKCON as an initiated student, one agrees to accept four rules: no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxicants and no gambling. The disciples perform devotional service, duties and chanting in a life-routine characterized by simple living and high-thinking. At the time of initiation, devotees also agree to chant a prescribed number of maha mantra japa each day (16 rounds on a basic level).
The Sanyasis are Gurus and exclusive preachers who live with in the center are the best in the world and can explain about Krishna and His teachings where ever they go, better than any other religious group, being an inspiration to everyone.
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, and other institutions as a practical application of the path of devotional yoga.
Many leading academics have highlighted ISKCON’s authenticity.
The Hare Krishna movement is “a tradition that commands a respected place in the religious life of humankind.”
ISKCON Visakhapatnam is coming up with a new temple at Sagar Nagar. If you would like to contribute for temple construction, please follow the below link.