International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
International Society for Krishna Consciousness, also known as ISKCON or the Hare Krishna movement, is a religious organization founded in 1966 by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. ISKCON is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organization that follows the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. The organization is devoted to the practice and propagation of Bhakti yoga, which involves devotion to the deity Lord Krishna.
History of ISKCON:
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher and founder of the Gaudiya Math. In 1966, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada established ISKCON in New York City with the aim of spreading the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam to the Western world. He started the first ISKCON temple in New York City and later established many more temples in different parts of the world.
Philosophy and Beliefs:
ISKCON follows the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, which are the two main scriptures of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The organization believes in the philosophy of Bhakti yoga, which involves devotion to Lord Krishna. It teaches that the ultimate goal of human life is to attain love of God and to develop a personal relationship with Him.
ISKCON also believes in the principles of ahimsa, or non-violence, and follows a vegetarian diet. The organization promotes the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra as a means of attaining spiritual liberation. The Hare Krishna mantra is a 16-word Sanskrit chant that is repeated as a form of meditation and devotion to Lord Krishna.
ISKCON is governed by a governing body commission (GBC), which is composed of senior members of the organization. The GBC is responsible for making decisions on behalf of ISKCON and for overseeing the management of the organization’s activities. The GBC is also responsible for appointing regional directors and temple presidents, who are responsible for the management of local ISKCON centers.
Activities and Programs:
ISKCON is involved in a wide range of activities and programs, including religious education, cultural programs, community service, and humanitarian aid. The organization runs schools and colleges, as well as training centers for students and teachers.
ISKCON also conducts a variety of cultural programs, including dance, music, and drama performances. The organization also runs food distribution programs, providing meals to the needy in communities around the world.
One of the most well-known programs of ISKCON is the Hare Krishna Food for Life program, which provides free vegetarian meals to people in need. The program operates in many countries around the world, including India, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Despite its many positive contributions, ISKCON has also been the subject of controversy over the years. Some critics have raised concerns about the organization’s finances, claiming that it is not transparent enough in its financial dealings.
Additionally, some former members of ISKCON have raised concerns about the treatment of women in the organization, claiming that they are not given equal treatment or opportunities. However, ISKCON has made efforts to address these concerns and has implemented policies to promote gender equality.
International Society for Krishna Consciousness is a religious organization that is dedicated to the practice and propagation of Bhakti yoga and the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Through its activities and programs, ISKCON seeks to spread its message of devotion to Lord Krishna and to promote the principles of ahimsa and vegetarianism.
Despite some controversies, ISKCON has made a positive impact on the lives of many people around the world, providing spiritual guidance, education, and humanitarian aid. Its efforts to promote the ideals of Bhakti yoga have made it a major force in the world of religion and spirituality. Whether through its temples, schools, or cultural programs, ISKCON continues to inspire and uplift the lives of millions of people, making a lasting contribution to the world.
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