Known as the Hare Krishna movement on the western side, ISKCON is better recognized as a monotheistic subdivision of the famous Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition. Mainly, ISKCON believes in the teaching of Lord Krishna.
Chanting the sacred names of God is an essential practice in the Krishna Consciousness. It is one of the major processes of the spiritual service. It is helpful in bringing peace and happiness by enlivening the relationship of humans with God.
Around 525 years back, Lord Krishna descended on this earth to preach the recitation of the Holy Names and to teach the people of the Kaliyuga how to become a devotee ,by Himself taking the form of a devotee. This devotee form was none other than great Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu,who is a combine form of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna. Later, He popularized the sacred mantra: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ,Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”.
In the year 1965, the famous envoy of the spiritual teachings in India, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977) carried the movement further and established ISKCON in the New York. Let’s have a look at the brief history of the ISKCON:
- During 1965, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada ,left Vrndavan behind for spreading the message of Lord Krishna in the Western countries. After that, he entered Boston with a trunk full of Lord Krishna’s books and just 40 rs. in his pocket. Initially, he struggled a lot but within a few days, people started noticing him. Some curious people joined him in his chanting while some started to acquire serious concern in his holy mission.
- He lived in the New York until the year 1966. He had started giving lectures on the sacred Bhagavad Gita weekly. In 1966, he established ISKCON in the NYC successfully.
- During the time period of 1966-1968, more followers joined the sacred mission. As a result, he inaugurated temples in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Montreal and New Mexico as well.
- The first Rath-Yatra festival was organized in the San Francisco. Rath-Yatra festival is the largest and oldest yearly festivals, celebrated in India. However, at present, this Rath-Yatra festival is also celebrated in the different corners of the world as well, by the devotees of the ISKCON.
- Between 1969-1973, several temples were inaugurated in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Africa, South America and India. A supervisory body was also established in the year 1970 to supervise the overall growth of the society.
- During the time of 1970-1977, ISKCON created several major pilgrimage centers and sites at the Vrndavana and Mayapur in India. A largest temple in the Mumbai was also built by the same name.
- Srila Prabhupada established BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust), a publishing house in 1972. In the contemporary, they are one of the biggest publishers of Lord Krishna’s books. Srila Prabhupada converted over 40-volumes of Krishna Literatures from Sanskrit to English in the span of 1966-1977. Books like ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’ or ‘Bhagavata Purana’, the ‘18-volumes of Lord Krishna's incarnation’s history’, ‘pastimes and devotees’, ‘Sri Caitanya Caritamrita’, the ‘9-volumes of biography and teaching methods of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’ have been issued by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in over 50 languages.
- Bhaktivedanta Institute created in 1973 to support the Vedas teachings.
- 1974 is a crucial year for ISKCON. They started the relief programs of food in the disaster areas globally.
- It was November 1977, when Srila Prabhupada left his devotees alone. As of now, ISKCON had successfully established around 108 temples, educational communities, centers and over 10,000 members.
- The whole ‘Hare Krishna Movement’ appeared as a revolutionary change in the former Soviet Union during 1989. As a result, around 1-million copies had been vended in the country by the 1991.
- Several internet projects like ISKCON.com, Krishna.com and more Krishna websites were launched in the beginning of the 90’s.
- In the present, ISKCON has more than 500 centers globally.
Just like the sun, ISKCON has different names in the different corners of the globe. You can also practice consciousness of Lord Krishna and turn out to be a part of ISKCON. For this, you don’t have to leave your religion. You just need to take on the practices. Even though, it is ethically a part of the ‘Gaudiya Vaishnava’ institution within Hinduism, the Krishna consciousness is all about going beyond the boundaries of material bodies also related designations and relate with the ultimate power.