World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Logo of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Abbreviation ISKCON
Formation 13 July 1966  (1966-07-13) New York City, New York, U.S.
Founder Bhaktivedanta Swami
Type Religious organization
Legal status Foundation
Purpose Educational, Philanthropic, Religious studies, Spirituality
Headquarters Mayapur, West Bengal, India
  • 600 Branch Centres
Area served
Main organ
Governing Body Commission
Affiliations Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Website .orgiskcon

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement or Hare Krishnas, is a

  • Official website
  • Mayapur TV
  • List of temples; ashrams and rural communities; restaurants

External links

  • Bryant, Edwin F.; Ekstrand, Maria (eds) (2004). The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12256-X.
  • Dwyer, Graham; Cole, Richard J. Cole (eds) (2007). The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-407-8.
  • Gibson, Lynne (2002). Modern World Religions: Hinduism – Pupil Book Core (Modern World Religions). Oxford (England): Heinemann Educational Publishers.  
  • Greene, Joshua M. (2006). Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.  
  • "ISKCON in Indonesia". 
  • Lavezzoli, Peter (2006). The Dawn of Indian Music in the West. New York, NY: Continuum.  


  1. ^ Gibson 2002, p. 4
  2. ^ Gibson 2002, p. 6
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Bharati, Baba Premanand. Retrieved on 2013-07-26.
  5. ^ "Svami Sadananda Dasa: Disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Guru of Vamandas (Walther Eidlitz)". 
  6. ^, Bhag.Purana 1.3.28, "All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead."
  7. ^ Guy Beck 2005, p. 39, page 39 'According to Orthodox Gaudiya. Krishna's svarupa, or true form manifests in three ways. His svayam-rupa or transcendent form is self-existent, not dependent on anything. His tadekatma rupa is identical in essence to his true form, though it differs in appearance (and would include such forms of Krishna as Narayana and Vasudeva). His avesa form has Krishna appearing though in varying degrees of possession'
  8. ^ "Directory of ISKCON". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  9. ^ Cole Dwayer 2007, p. 38
  10. ^ Bryant & Ekstrand 2004, p. 34
  11. ^ A Hinduism, Page 8, Lynne Gibson, 2002
  12. ^ "Bhaktivedanta Vedabase Online". Bhaktivedanta Vedabase Online. 
  13. ^ Gibson 2002, p. 18
  14. ^ Brzezinski, J. "Vol 6, No 2 December 1998 ICJ". 
  15. ^ Laderman, Gary (2003). "ISKCON". Religion and American Cultures: An Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.  
  16. ^  
  17. ^ a b "The Four Legs of Dharma". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  18. ^ Krishna Consciousness in the West – David G. Bromley, Prof. Larry D. Shinn, 1989, Page 149
  19. ^ Rochford, E Burke, Jr.Recruitment Strategies, Ideology, and Organization in the Hare Krishna Movement Social Problems Vol.29, No 4 1982
  20. ^ Hare Krishna Transformed, E. Burke Rochford, 2007. Page 67
  21. ^ "History of Food for Life". 12 December 1995. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  22. ^ a b "About Food for Life Global". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  23. ^ "New York Times, Dec 1995". Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  24. ^ "The Hindu: A meal from Lord Krishna". 21 November 2002. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  25. ^ "European Vegetarian and Animal News Agency". EVANA. 2 January 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  26. ^ "AHN Global News". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  27. ^ a b c  
  28. ^ Knot, Kim "Insider and Outsider Perceptions of Prabhupada" in ISKCON Communications Journal Vol. 5, No 1, June 1997: "In an evaluation of the nature of the guru, Larry Shinn, a scholar of religions, utilised Max Weber's analysis of charisma in order to understand Prabhupada and the issue of leadership in ISKCON. He noted that 'Prabhupada profited from two intertwined sources of authority' (1987:40), the traditional authority of the disciplic lineage, parampara, inherited from his own guru, and his own charismatic authority, derived from his spiritual attainment and presence...(49) Shinn offered an analysis based on sociological rather than spiritual (Vaishnava) authority in order to make sense of the role of guru in ISKCON and the unique qualities of Prabhupada." See also Larry D. Shinn (1987), The Dark Lord: Cult Images and the Hare Krishnas in America. Philadelphia: The Westview Press.available online
  29. ^ Cole, Richard; Dwyer, Graham (2007). The Hare Krishna Movement: Forty Years of Chant and Change. London:  
  30. ^ Maria Ekstrand; Bryant, Edwin H. (2004). The Hare Krishna movement: the postcharismatic fate of a religious transplant. New York:  A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Letter of 28 July 1970. "As we have increased our volume of activities, now I think a Governing Body Commission (hereinafter referred to as the G.B.C.) should be established. I am getting old, 75 years old, therefore at any time I may be out of the scene, therefore I think it is necessary to give instruction to my disciples how they shall manage the whole institution. They are already managing individual centers represented by one president, one secretary and one treasurer, and in my opinion they are doing nice. But we want still more improvement in the standard of Temple management, propaganda for Krishna consciousness, distribution of books and literatures, opening of new centers and educating devotees to the right standard."
  31. ^ See the brief essay From Master to Disciple by Jayadvaita Swami.
  32. ^ AC Bhaktivedanta Swami (1977). Room conversation October 18, 1977. Vrindavana, India: Bhaktivedanta Archives. Prabhupāda: ...One Bengali gentleman has come from New York? Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. Mr. Sukamal Roy Chowdury. Prabhupāda: So I have deputed some of you to initiate. Hm? Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. Actually... Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda. Prabhupāda: So I think Jayapatākā can do that if he likes. I have already deputed. Tell him. Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. Prabhupāda: So, deputies, Jayapatākā's name was there? Bhagavān: It is already on there, Śrīla Prabhupāda. His name was on that list. Prabhupāda: So I depute him to do this at Māyāpura, and you may go with him. I stop for the time being. Is that all right? Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Stopped doing what, Śrīla Prabhupāda? Prabhupāda: This initiation. I have deputed the, my disciples. Is it clear or not? Girirāja: It's clear. 
  33. ^ Smith, Huston; Harry Oldmeadow (2004). Journeys East: 20th century Western encounters with Eastern religious traditions. Bloomington, Ind: World Wisdom. p. 272.  
  34. ^ Rochford, E. Burke (1985). Hare Krishna in America. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press. p. 222.  
  35. ^ Ron Rhodes (2001). Challenge of the Cults and New Religions. Zondervan. p. 179.  
  36. ^ Rodney Stark (1985). Religious movements. Paragon House Publishers. p. 100.  
  37. ^ S.G.Goswami. "". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  38. ^ Jayapataka Swami
  39. ^ "Tamal Krishna Goswami homepage". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  40. ^ Flood, G.D. (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 272.  
  41. ^ The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity In the Hare Krishna Movement by Tamal Krishna Goswami
  42. ^ "Srila Prabhupada Disciple Database". Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  43. ^ a b The Perils of Succession: Heresies of Authority and Continuity In the Hare Krishna Movement (Part 2) by Tamala Krishna Goswami
  44. ^ "Hare Krishna! is your official guide to the International Society For Krishna Consciousness". 
  45. ^ Knott, K. (2000). "In Every Town and Village: Adaptive Strategies in the Communication of Krishna Consciousness in the UK, the First Thirty Years". Social Compass 47 (2): 153.  
  46. ^  
  47. ^ Berg, T.V.; Kniss, F. (2008). "ISKCON AND IMMIGRANTS: The Rise, Decline, and Rise Again of a New Religious Movement". Sociological Quarterly 49 (1): 79–104.  
  48. ^ "Krishnas Fear a KO : Religion: Laguna Beach temple may be lost if high court upholds a $5.3-million 'brainwashing' judgment in favor of Robin and Marcia George.". latimes. 
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ "Krishnas Did Not Brainwash Cypress Girl, Court Rules". latimes. 
  52. ^ "Hare Krishnas Seek Retrial in '83 George Case". latimes. 
  53. ^ "Hare Krishna: Cult Observer news articles - 1984-1999 (full text 350k)". Archived from the original on 25 July 2002. 
  54. ^ "Krishna Expels Leader of Group Under U.S. Probe". latimes. 
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Disgraced former leader of US Hare Krishna community dies at 74". 26 October 2011. 
  57. ^ "Kirtanananda Swami: US Hare Krishna leader, deposed after a racketeering conviction". The Independent. 
  58. ^ "Can Hare Krishnas at Palace of Gold in W.Va. rebuild its tarnished community?". Washington Post. 
  59. ^ "BBC News - AMERICAS - Krishnas to file for bankruptcy". 
  60. ^ a b
  61. ^ "Hare Krishnas Say Suit Spurs Bankruptcy Filing". latimes. 
  62. ^ "Children of ISKCON vs. ISKCON Timeline". 
  63. ^ "ISKCON Child Protection Office". 
  64. ^ Graham M. Schweig, "Krishna: The Intimate Deity", in Bryant and Ekstrand, p. 14.
  65. ^ Lavezzoli, p. 186.
  66. ^ Dwyer and Cole, pp. 31–32.
  67. ^ Greene, pp. 148, 198–99.
  68. ^ Carol Clerk, "George Harrison", Uncut, February 2002; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  69. ^ Lavezzoli, pp. 194–95.
  70. ^ "Content not available – omg! news on Yahoo!". Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  71. ^ a b "The Radha Krishna Temple".  
  72. ^ Greene, p. 146.
  73. ^ Radha Krsna Temple.


See also

One song from 1969 by Radha Krishna Temple (London), produced by Harrison and simply titled "Hare Krishna Mantra", reached number 12 on the UK singles chart,[71] resulting in ISKCON devotees twice appearing on the music show Top of the Pops.[72] The single was similarly successful in Germany, Czechoslovakia and other countries.[71] Less well-known but equally relevant to fans of pop music culture are recordings of the Hare Krishna mantra by The Fugs on their 1968 album Tenderness Junction (featuring poet Allen Ginsberg) and by Nina Hagen.[73]

Of the four Beatles, only Harrison fully embraced Krishna Consciousness; he also provided financial support for ISKCON's UK branch[66] and enjoyed a warm friendship with Swami Prabhupada,[67][68] who provided the inspiration for Harrison songs such as "Living in the Material World".[69] After he posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009, his son Dhani Harrison uttered the phrase "Hare Krishna" during the ceremony.[70] The contemporary Broadway musical Hair also included a song (credited as "Be-In") that included the mantra.

The Hare Krishna mantra appears in a number of famous songs, notably in former My Sweet Lord".[64][65] John Lennon also included the phrase "Hare Krishna" in his lyrics to "Give Peace a Chance" and the Beatles' 1967 track "I Am the Walrus", as did Ringo Starr in his 1971 hit "It Don't Come Easy", written with the help of Harrison. Later Paul McCartney produced a single with a picture of Krishna riding on a swan on the cover, although there was no chanting of Krishna's names inside.

In popular culture

The Child Protection Policy and Procedure Guidelines was revised and ratified by the GBC in June 2012 as the most current document which clearly and extensively details the policies and procedures to be followed within ISKCON. This document is ecclesiastical in nature.[63]

Up until 2009, the office had conducted 9 Review Panel training which resulted in 104 devotees volunteering their services as review panelists. Subsequently 5 more training sessions were held (UK, Sweden, Belgium, India and South Africa) The Child Protection Office has also held Child Protection Information Trainings in various countries such as the UK, Italy, India, Hungary, Germany, Canada, South America, and North America, Belgium, Sweden, Dubai, Australia and South African resulting in more than 500 devotees trained worldwide. The CPO also has sent out information packets to ISKCON centers and devotees worldwide, and has compiled reports on local Child Protection Teams.

In 2005 the GBC adopted a Child Protection Policy and Procedure Guideline for implementation on how to respond to allegations of child abuse.

In March 1998 the ICOCP was incorporated as the Association for the Protection of Vaishnava Children (APVC, Inc) with its head-office in South Africa.

This led to the establishment of a Task Force on Child Abuse in ISKCON created by the GBC in 1997. As a result of the recommendations of that Task Force, the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection was established.

In 1998, ISKCON published an unusually candid expose detailing widespread physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children. Parents were often unaware of the abuse because they were traveling around soliciting donations for their guru's books, in airports and on the streets, leaving their children in the care of Hare Krishna monks and young devotees who had no training in educating children and often resented the task, the report said.[60]

A suit for $400 million was filed in Texas State Court by alleged victims of abuse in the temples' schools in the 1970s and '80s.[59][60] ISKCON had to later file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[61] Known as the Turley Case, the eventual 2008 settlement was $15 million.[62]

Child abuse cases

The case placed a spotlight on New Vrindaban, which by then had nearly 500 members, making it the largest and most famous Hare Krishna community in the United States at that time.[58]

[57][56][55] and after serving 8 years of a 20-year prison sentence was subsequently released in 2004. Previously in 1991 the jury found him not guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit the murders-for-hire of two devotees, but found him guilty of racketeering and mail fraud. These convictions were later overturned on appeal, only to result in the later retrial.racketeering pleaded guilty before his 1996 retrial to one count of [54]

Murder cases

The court eventually reduced the original $32.5 million award to $500,000 plus interest, dismissing charges of brainwashing, intentional emotional distress and libel.[50][51][52][53]

Robin George contended that the Hare Krishnas prey on minors, she was 14 at the time when she left her parents' Cypress home to join the Hare Krishnas. At a civil trial later, jurors found that the Krishnas had brainwashed her and kept her hidden from her frantic parents. They even found that her father's fatal heart attack was related to the stress from the months he spent searching in vain across the country for his daughter. The group was not protected by the Constitution for the emotional distress it caused in deceiving the parents by pretending not to know their daughter's whereabouts, the court held.[48][49]

A brainwashing lawsuit filed by an Orange County mother and daughter Robin George in 1984 turned into a drawn-out legal battle with numerous appeals reaching the Supreme Court.

Brainwashing cases


ISKCON has experienced a number of significant internal problems, the majority of which occurred from the late seventies onwards, and especially within the decade following Prabhupada's death.[44] ISKCON has also been scrutinised by some anti-cult movements.[45][46][47]

Other controversial issues within the society

While the capitulation of the GBC members previously following Bhaktivedanta Narayana has certainly demonstrated GBC solidarity it was insufficient to prevent a continued exodus of devotees who feel unable to repose full faith in the ISKCON Governing Body Commission authority.[43]

The elder sannyasi Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami was a disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's sannyasa guru and was long a well-wisher of ISKCON. A small group of prominent ISKCON leaders were closer to his association and Bhaktivedanta Narayana made no effort to conceal his relationship with them, which as time went on became increasingly intimate. His emphasis on gopi-bhava, the mood of Krishna's cowherd lovers, particularly disturbed his ISKCON audiences since Bhaktivedanta Swami had stressed that the path of spontaneous devotion was only for liberated souls. At the annual GBC meeting in 1993, members questioned their affiliation with Bhaktivedanta Narayana. Those involved minimized the seriousness of the relationship, though for some it had been going on for as long as five years. By the next annual meeting, the GBC forced the involved members to promise to greatly restrict further association with their new teacher. Though adhering externally, their sympathies for Bhaktivedanta Narayana's teachings were unabated. In 1995 GBC position was firm and the controversy was first on the 1995 annual meeting's agenda. A week of thorough investigation brought the implicated members in line. Asked to suggest what they might do to make amends, the leaders involved with the controversy tendered their resignations, which the GBC promptly refused. They further volunteered to refrain from initiating new disciples or visiting Vrindavana until their case could be reassessed the following year and at the March 1996 meeting GBC insisted on maintaining most of the restrictions.[43]


Problems and controversies

Before his death, Prabhupada "deputed"[32] or appointed the following eleven of his disciples to serve as gurus[33][34] or to continue to direct the organisation:[35] Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami,[36][37] Jayapataka Swami,[38] Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, Tamal Krishna Goswami,[39] Bhavananda Goswami, Hansadutta Swami, Ramesvara Swami, Harikesa Swami, Bhagavan Dasa, Kirtanananda Swami, and Jayatirtha Dasa. These eleven "Western Gurus were selected as spiritual heads" of the ISKCON after 1977, however "many problems followed from their appointment and the movement had since veered away from investing absolute authority in a few, fallible, human teachers",[40] however of these eleven, the first three have remained prominent leaders within the movement, as was Tamal Krishna Goswami until his death in a car accident in March 2002. Bhavananda no longer holds the post of an initiating guru. Ramesvara, Bhagavan and Harikesa resigned as spiritual leaders in 1985, 1987 and 1999 respectively and the remaining three were all expelled from the movement by the Governing Body Commission during the 1980s.[41] Of Prabhupada's disciples, who number 4,734 in total,[42] approximately 70 are now acting as diksha gurus within ISKCON. As of April 2011, ISKCON had a total of 100 sannyasis, most of whom were acting as gurus (see List of International Society for Krishna Consciousness sannyasis).

See also: Principal disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.
Rajiv Gandhi with Soviet Hare Krishna devotees in New Delhi (1989).

Influential leaders since 1977

ISKCON adheres to the traditional system of paramparā, or disciplic succession, in which teachings upheld by scriptures are handed down from master to disciple, generation after generation.[31]

The Guru and the Parampara

The letter outlined the following purposes of the commission: 1) improving the standard of temple management, 2) the spread of Krishna consciousness, 3) the distribution of books and literature, 4) the opening of new centers, 5) the education of the devotees. GBC has since grown in size to include 48 senior members from the movement who make decisions based on consensus of opinion rather than any one person having ultimate authority.[27][30] It has continued to manage affairs since Prabhupada's death in 1977 although it is currently a self-elected organisation and does not follow Srila Prabhupada's instruction that members are to be elected by temple presidents.

  1. Sriman Rupanuga Das Adhikary
  2. Sriman Bhagavan Das Adhikary
  3. Sriman Syamsundar Das Adhikary
  4. Sriman Satsvarupa Das Adhikary
  5. Sriman Karandhar Das Adhikary
  6. Sriman Hansadutta Das Adhikary
  7. Sriman Tamala Krsna Das Adhikary
  8. Sriman Sudama Das Adhikary
  9. Sriman Bali Mardan Das Brahmacary
  10. Sriman Jagadisa Das Adhikary
  11. Sriman Hayagriva Das Adhikary
  12. Sriman Kṛṣṇadas Adhikary

The Governing Body Commission (or GBC) was created by Bhaktivedanta Swami in 1970.[29] In a document Direction of Management written on 28 July 1970 Prabhupada appointed the following members to the commission, all of them non sannyasi:[27]

Bhaktivedanta Swami spent much of the last decade of his life setting up the institution of ISKCON. As a charismatic leader, Bhaktivedanta Swami's personality and management had been responsible for much of the growth of ISKCON and the reach of his mission.[27][28]

Management structure

ISKCON has inspired, and sometimes sponsored, a project called Food for Life. The goal of the project is to "liberally distribute pure vegetarian meals (prasadam) throughout the world", as inspired by Bhaktivedanta Swami's instruction, given to his disciples in 1974, "No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry . . . I want you to immediately begin serving food".[21] The international headquarters known as Food for Life Global, established by Paul Rodney Turner (ref) and Mukunda Goswami,[22] coordinates the project. Food for Life is currently active in over sixty countries and serves up to 2 million free meals every day.[22] Its welfare achievements have been noted by The New York Times and other media worldwide.[23][24][25][26]

Member of Food for Life Russia giving food

Food for Life

The Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI) is the scientific research branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Founded in 1976 by Bhaktivedanta Swami and Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami (Dr. T.D. Singh), it aims to advance the study of the nature and origin of life, utilising Vedic insights into consciousness, the self, and the origin of the universe. The institute's motto in the Sanskrit language is: "Athato brahma jijnasa" "One should inquire into the Supreme." Under the directorship of Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, the Bhaktivedanta Institute organized four international conferences and hundreds of panel discussions and talks, and published over thirty books. Currently there are a number of branches of BI, with one of the main branches in Kolkata. The director of BI Kolkata is Vrajapati Das. Currently Ravi Gomatam is the Director of BI Berkeley.

Bhaktivedanta Institute

The vast majority of ISKCON youth, even those for whom ISKCON is primarily a social rather than religious setting, seek a spouse from within the Hare Krishna community, often travelling to festivals in America, Poland or India attended by devotees from all over the world to meet a potential partner. It is not uncommon to maintain a long-distance relationship before one person re-locates, before getting married in a traditional Vedic ceremony. All but very few of the youth remain vegetarian even if they see little value in following the other three regulative principles (see section above). Most report that they believe in God, karma and reincarnation and will give their own children Sanskrit names. Another common feature of the youth is their enthusiasm for 'bhajans' or 'kirtan ', even amongst those who show little interest in other forms of worship such as chanting or scriptural study. A strong focus exists on reaching a high level of musical proficiency in kirtan and mastering complex melodies and rhythms. Older members of the movement have been known to criticise youth for turning kirtan into a performance as opposed to focussing on its primary purpose as shared worship experience. In spite of this many people enjoy youth kirtans at events within and outside temples.

A humorous view is often taken of difficulties experienced in navigating the outside world; many accept feeling like an outsider as they view the religious beliefs they were raised with as the truth which will result in salvation. Greater levels of resentment and rejection of beliefs may be seen among youth who grew up in smaller communities, with fewer children, limited positive cultural experiences and a less vibrant atmosphere. These youth may feel that they grew up with all the disadvantages and few of the benefits of a Hare Krishna upbringing. They may also feel they have little choice but to abandon much of their cultural identity; doing so may be the only way to fit in with their peers and form meaningful friendships due to the absence of a sizable community.

Huge variety in degrees of belief and devotional practice exist among Hare Krishna youth. Few live in temples as their parents did. This is likely to be due to a general shift in ISKCON from a largely monastic tradition to a family-oriented, congregational one where people live in their own houses and visit the temple. Many youth take up employment outside of ISKCON but a significant number prefer to socialise within ISKCON circles, even those for whom religion is a minor part of their lives. This preference to socialise within ISKCON may be due to feeling understood by people who share a similar experience of growing up. Many ISKCON youth retain their belief in Krsna, karma and reincarnation and remain vegetarian regardless of how small or large a part religion plays in their daily lives. Many report having felt or feeling like a misfit outside of ISKCON circles and struggling to integrate into mainstream society. This may be due to sharing very few common cultural references with peers outside ISKCON. Other reasons include differing customs and practices in day-to-day life. For example, it was previously the norm to sleep on a mattress on the floor, to eat from metal plates with a spoon while sitting cross-legged on the floor, shower from a bucket and wear traditional Indian clothes. Owning a television or listening to secular music was frowned upon. Most members of the community have reverted to Western norms with regards to sleeping, eating, showering and dress. Few now choose to raise their children without access to the media.

Gaudiya Vaisnava teachings state that being born into a Vaisnava family is a privilege or blessing and an indication of good karma, or having completed good deeds in a previous life. This belief has at times caused friction between children and their parents, who may be disappointed by a lack of interest in Krishna-related activities on the part of their children. Many parents prefer that their children be educated at a community-run temple school, and in the absence thereof, may opt for home education. Enrollment in a state school is an undesirable but not uncommon last resort. Although parents from many different faiths would prefer their children to attend a faith school, Hare Krishna parents express concerns about their children being given non-vegetarian food or being exposed to ideas threatening their religious beliefs. Some may fear attack of beliefs from both peers and teachers. This may in part be due to a lack of awareness of a clear agenda to promote equality and inclusion, celebrate cultural diversity and show sensitivity toward different faiths which is present in English schools.

Early unsuccessful attempts at education within ISKCON led to some of the youth becoming disengaged, having completed their education with few or no formal qualifications. Education is now generally seen as more important within the community, and participation rates in formal education, including at university level, have significantly increased. It is not uncommon for children to attend a community-run primary school attached to a temple, before progressing to a state school for their post-primary education.

A move away from boarding schools or asrama education in ISKCON has given way to an increase in community-run primary schools and home education. These ventures have had mixed results and some have been short-lived. However the ISKCON temples in Alachua, Florida and in Hertfordshire, England have established, successful primary schools on-site which form an important part of the community and are often spoken of positively by youth who attended them. A shift in emphasis has been seen in ISKCON schools with less focus on scriptural study and more emphasis placed on following the national curriculum, although worship of Krishna, celebrating devotional festivals and learning to play devotional instruments are still an important part of school life. The creation of free schools in the UK also meant that government funding allowed the UK's first Hindu primary school to be opened by the I-Foundation in the north London borough of Harrow. Avanti House, a Hindu secondary school with free school status, founded by the I-Foundation was opened in September 2012 in Harrow.

The Ministry of Education also oversees education for religious and sastric study, developed and monitored by the UK-based Vaisnava Training and Education organisation.

The ISKCON Ministry of Education regulates educational activities within ISKCON, and oversees the operation of primary, secondary, tertiary, and seminary schools and centres of education.

Educational activities and youth

There are ISKCON communities around the world with schools, restaurants and farms. In general, funds collected by ISKCON are treated as communal property and used to support the community as a whole and to promote the preaching mission.[20] Many temples also have programs (like Food for Life) to provide meals for the needy. In addition, ISKCON has recently brought the academic study of Krishna into eastern academia as Krishnology.

A study conducted by E. Burke Rochford Jr. at the University of California found that there are four types of contact between those in ISKCON and prospective members. Those are: individually motivated contact, contact made with members in public arenas, contact made through personal connections, and contact with sympathizers of the movement who strongly encourage people to join.[19] According to the doctrine of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, one does not need to be born in a Hindu family to take up the practice of Vaishnavism.

ISKCON advocates preaching. Members try to spread Krishna consciousness, primarily by singing the Hare Krishna mantra in public places and by selling books written by Bhaktivedanta Swami.[18] Both of these activities are known within the movement as Sankirtan. Street preaching is one of the most visible activities of the movement. ISKCON street evangelists sometimes invite members of the public to educative activities, such as a meal with an accompanying talk.

Preaching activities

  • Daya: Mercy
  • Tapas: Self-Control or Austerity
  • Satyam: Truthfulness (playing any games keeping/for money and/or things)
  • Śaucam: Cleanliness of body and mind

The four legs of Dharma are:[17]

  • No eating of meat (including fish) or eggs.
  • No illicit sex: only between married couples and only for the procreation of children;
  • No gambling.
  • No intoxicants (including alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and other recreational drugs).

Bhaktivedanta Swami prescribed four regulative principles, in relation to the four legs of dharma,[17] as the basis of the spiritual life:

Four regulative principles

  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, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The principle of reincarnation is accepted.
  3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus to develop 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 names of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya 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 and more natural way of life.
  7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

When Srila Prabhupada first incorporated ISKCON in 1966, he gave it seven purposes:[16]

Public street festivals are a significant part of ISKCONs outreach programmes. Seen here is a Ratha Yatra festival in central London.
ISKCON Vrindavan
Ratha Yatra festival in Moscow, Russia.
Deities of Krishna-Balaram at ISKCON Bhubaneswar temple

Seven purposes of ISKCON

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

The Maha Mantra:

The popular nickname of "Hare Krishnas" for devotees of this movement comes from the mantra that devotees sing aloud (kirtan) or chant quietly (japa) on tulsi mala. This mantra, known also as the Maha Mantra, contains the names of God Krishna and Rama.

Mahamantra in Bengali script

Hare Krishna mantra

Krishna is described as the source of all the avatars of God.[13] Thus ISKCON devotees worship Krishna as the highest form of God, svayam bhagavan, and often refer to Him as "the Supreme Personality of Godhead" in writing, which was a phrase coined by Prabhupada in his books on the subject. To devotees, Radha represents Krishna's divine female counterpart, the original spiritual potency, and the embodiment of divine love. The individual soul is an eternal personal identity which does not ultimately merge into any formless light or void as suggested by the monistic (Advaita) schools of Hinduism. Prabhupada most frequently offers Sanatana-dharma and Varnashrama dharma as more accurate names for the religious system which accepts Vedic authority.[14] It is a monotheistic tradition which has its roots in the theistic Vedanta traditions.[15]

ISKCON devotees follow a disciplic line of Gaudiya Bhagavata Vaishnavas and are the largest branch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.[10] Vaishnavism means 'worship of Vishnu', and Gauḍa refers to the area where this particular branch of Vaishnavism originated, in the Gauda region of West Bengal. Gaudiya Vaishnavism has had a following in India, especially West Bengal and Odisha, for the past five hundred years. Bhaktivedanta Swami disseminated Gaudiya Vaishnava Theology in the Western world through extensive writings and translations,[11] including the Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), Chaitanya Charitamrita, and other scriptures. These works are now available in more than seventy languages and serve as the canon of ISKCON. Many are available online.[12]

For further information see: Achintya Bheda Abheda and Gaudiya Vaishnavism
ISKCON's Bhajan during Navratri Golu at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Pancha-Tattva deities: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara and Srivasa, installed in a Gaudiya Vaishnava temple

History and belief


  • History and belief 1
    • Hare Krishna mantra 1.1
    • Seven purposes of ISKCON 1.2
    • Four regulative principles 1.3
  • Preaching activities 2
  • Educational activities and youth 3
  • Bhaktivedanta Institute 4
  • Food for Life 5
  • Management structure 6
    • The Guru and the Parampara 6.1
    • Influential leaders since 1977 6.2
  • Problems and controversies 7
    • Rasika-bhakti 7.1
    • Other controversial issues within the society 7.2
  • Litigation 8
    • Brainwashing cases 8.1
    • Murder cases 8.2
    • Child abuse cases 8.3
  • In popular culture 9
  • See also 10
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of bhakti yoga, in which those involved (bhaktas) dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing the Supreme Lord, Krishna.[6][7] ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 550 centres, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools, and 90 restaurants.[8] In recent decades the most rapid expansions in membership have been within Eastern Europe (especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union) and India.[9]

[5] and in England in the 1930s.[4] since the early 1900s in North America,converts The appearance of the movement and its culture come from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which has had adherents in India since the late 15th century and American and European [3]. ISKCON says it is a direct descendant of Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya.Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and the Bhagavad-gītā, particularly the Hindu scriptures Its core beliefs are based on select traditional [2] who is worshipped by followers.A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada ISKCON was founded in 1966 in New York City by [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.