PURPOSE OF ISKCON

  • 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.
  • To propagate a Consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
  • To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
  • With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

MISSION & VISION OF ISKCON

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the Hare Krishna Movement, includes 500+ major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly 100+ affiliated vegetarian restaurants, 1000+ of Namahattas or local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide. Although less than 50 years on the global stage.

ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda in New York City in 1966.

ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava Sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavat Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These are the historic texts of the devotional bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”.

God is known across the world by many names including Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Rama, etc. ISKCON devotees chant God’s names in the form of the maha-mantra, or the great prayer for deliverance:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Many leading academics have highlighted ISKCON’s authenticity. Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University, describes the movement as “a tradition that commands a respected place in the religious life of humankind”. In the 1980s Dr. A. L. Basham, one of the world’s authorities on Indian history and culture, wrote of ISKCON that, “It arose out of next to nothing in less than twenty years and has become known all over the West. This, I feel, is a sign of the times and an important fact in the history of the Western world”.

ISKCON’s founder, Srila Prabhupada, has drawn appreciation from scholars and religious leaders alike for his remarkable achievement in presenting India’s Vaishnava spiritual culture in a relevant manner to contemporary Western and worldwide audiences.

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.

HISTORY OF ISKCON

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement or Hare Krishnas, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organisation. ISKCON was founded in 1966 in New York City by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada known to his followers as Guru and spiritual master.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Srila Prabhupada) in the West in 1966. ISKCON belongs to Gaudiya (refers to Bengal) Vaishnavism, a devotional tradition based on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The precepts and practices of ISKCON were taught and codified by the 15th century saint and religious reformer Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1532), his brother Nityananda Prabhu and six of his principle associates, the Goswamis of Vrindavana (Sanatana, Rupa, Jiva, Gopal Bhatta, Raghunatha Dasa and Raghunatha Bhatta).

The Bhagavad-gita was first put into writing about 5000 years ago. The Gita is the principal scripture of The Hare Krishna Movement™ Organization. Its origins are more than 5000-years-old.

Sri Caitanya, whom devotees recognize as a direct incarnation of Krishna, gave a powerful impetus for a massive bhakti (devotional) movement throughout India. Under his direction hundreds of volumes on the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness were compiled.

Many devotees followed in the preceptorial line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu including, in the 19th century an outstanding Vaishnava theologian, Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914) who brought Krishna consciousness to a modern audience.

Bhaktivinoda’s son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami (1874-1937), became the guru of Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977) and instructed him to spread Krishna Consciousness in the West.

ISKCON’s history includes a disciplic succession (sampradaya or guru parampara). It draws its legitimacy from its place in a succession of spiritual teachers and disciples (parampara).

There are four major disciplic successions, and ISKCON belongs to the Brahma-Gaudiya-Madhva (referring to Madhvacharya [A.D. 1239-1319]) Sampradaya, founded by Lord Krishna Himself.

The other three are called the Sri (referring to the goddess Laksmi) Sampradaya, the Rudra (referring to the god Shiva) Sampradaya and the Kumara (referring to the four Kumaras [celibate sages] Sampradaya.

There are many branches to the Brahma Sampradaya. ISKCON belongs to the Brahma-Gaudiya-Madhva lineage founded by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century.

THE JOURNEY OF SRILA PRABHUPADA

His Divine Grace Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the Founder Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world.

Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.

At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.

Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta”. In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, and four years later he adopted the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing.

Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of Radha-Damodara.

There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multi volume translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.

After publishing three volumes of Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Since that time, His Divine Grace has written over sixty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries, and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.

In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society has grown within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred ashramas, schools, temples, institutes, and farm communities.

In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrndavana, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrndavana, then a thriving farm community of more than one thousand acres, his students founded several similar communities in the United States and abroad.

In 1972, His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West by founding the Gurukula School in Dallas, Texas.

The school began with three children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975, the enrollment had grown to one hundred fifty.

Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of a large international center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned Institute of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and International Guest House in Vrndavana, India. These are centers where Westerners can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.

Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous universities. His writings have been translated into over 80+ languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.

In the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe 12 times on lecture tours that have took him to 6 continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

Srila Prabhupada left us a veritable library of Vedic philosophy and culture. Highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, and clarity, his books are used at colleges and universities around the world.

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes his works in over 50 languages.

ABOUT ISKCON AHMEDABAD TEMPLE

History & Foundation

H.G Jashomatinandan Das (President of ISKCON Ahmedabad) on the order of His spiritual master His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, came to Ahmedabad in 1975 and started working on expanding Krishna Consciousness in Gujarat. He installed deities of Gaur-Nitai in his house near the Old Passport office, at income tax, which had a space of around 1000 to 1500 sq. ft. Then they shifted to Nityananda Ashram, at Odhav.

Construction of the present ISKCON temple started in 1984 and was inaugurated in 1997.

Arts of the Temple

The 25,000 sq. ft. temple, which sits on four acres of land, blends the architectural styles of Sompura (Gujarat) and Rajasthan. The temple features ornate stone-clad pillars, intricately carved windows, a marble floor engraved with colored granite designs, and a Khamira (similar to bas-relief) and Araish (a marblelike finish) ceiling decorated in Jaipur style.

Rising from the floor stand 68 large cylindrical columns, tapering from 4 feet at the base to 2 at the top. Inside the ceiling dome, which is 50 feet in diameter, Krsna and the gopis (cowherd girls) dance in beautiful fiberglass bas-reliefs. Elsewhere on the ceiling, Krsna’s pastimes continue on 40 eight-foot circular panels. And on the walls, too, we find Krsna in His pastimes, each with an explanatory verse from scripture.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF ISKCON

The philosophy of Krishna consciousness is non-sectarian and monotheistic. It may be summarized in the following eight points, by sincerely following an authentic spiritual science, we can become worry-free and achieve a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness.

  • We are not physical bodies made of matter. Each of us is an eternal soul, part of God, or Krishna. Realizing that we all have one common father in God helps us to see each other as one global united family.
  • Krishna is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-attractive, and present everywhere. He is the source of all life and the sustaining energy of the universe.
  • The Bhagavad-gita, spoken by Krishna Himself over 5,000 years ago, contains the essence of the Vedas, ancient Sanskrit texts. The goal of Vedic knowledge is simple: to know and love God.
  • A genuine spiritual teacher (guru) is an essential guide on our path to self-realization. The Bhagavad-gita and other sacred texts list many criteria one should look for in a potential guru. Above all, a guru should repeat Krishna’s message unchanged, be free from selfish motives, and constantly focus his thoughts and actions on Krishna.
  • Before eating, we should acknowledge and reciprocate Krishna’s love by offering all our food to Him with a prayer. Like a parent receiving a gift from a young child, Krishna is pleased when we offer Him food, even though He Himself has provided it. Offering food to Krishna purifies our consciousness and brings us closer to Him.
  • Rather than living in a self-centered way, we should act in a way that gives Krishna pleasure. This is known as bhakti-yoga, the science of devotional service.
  • The most effective means for today’s spiritual seeker to reach the blissful, worry-free state mentioned in point one, and to become closer to God, is to chant His holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

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