ISKCON, also known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is a worldwide spiritual organization that promotes the teachings of Lord Krishna as presented in the ancient Indian scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam. ISKCON temples, commonly known as Hare Krishna temples, serve as centers of worship, education, and community activities for followers of Krishna consciousness. These temples are found in various countries around the world and are designed to create an atmosphere conducive to spiritual growth and devotion.
The design and architecture of ISKCON temples often follow traditional Indian temple styles, featuring ornate decorations, domes, and spires. The central focus of the temple is the deity of Lord Krishna and his eternal consort Radha. Devotees engage in congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, study scriptural texts, perform devotional rituals, and participate in various activities aimed at deepening their spiritual understanding.
WHO Founded ISKON
ISKCON was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is commonly referred to as Srila Prabhupada by his followers.
Srila Prabhupada was born on September 1, 1896, in Kolkata, India, with the birth name Abhay Charan De. He became a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, a prominent spiritual teacher and the founder of the Gaudiya Math, a Vaishnava organization.
In 1965, at the age of 69, Srila Prabhupada journeyed to the United States with the aim of spreading the teachings of Lord Krishna. He established ISKCON in New York City in 1966, with the purpose of disseminating Krishna consciousness throughout the world.
Under Srila Prabhupada’s guidance, ISKCON grew rapidly, with the establishment of temples, ashrams, and preaching centers worldwide. He translated and authored numerous books on the philosophy and teachings of Krishna consciousness, including the multi-volume Bhagavad Gita As It Is, which became one of his most significant contributions to spreading Vaishnava philosophy.
Srila Prabhupada served as the spiritual and philosophical authority within ISKCON until his passing on November 14, 1977.. His disciples and followers continue to carry forward his teachings and maintain the activities of ISKCON temples and centers worldwide.
Where IS ISKON Located
ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, has several centers located throughout India. Here are some prominent ISKCON centers in India:
- ISKCON Temple, Vrindavan: Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
- ISKCON Temple, Mumbai: Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra
- ISKCON Temple, Mayapur: Mayapur, West Bengal
- ISKCON Temple, Delhi: Sant Nagar, East of Kailash, New Delhi
- ISKCON Temple, Kolkata: Albert Road, Kolkata, West Bengal
- ISKCON Temple, Bangalore: Hare Krishna Hill, Chord Road, Rajajinagar, Bangalore, Karnataka
- ISKCON Temple, Hyderabad: Nampally Station Road, Abids, Hyderabad, Telangana
These are just a few examples, and there are many other ISKCON centers across different cities in India. Each center typically consists of a temple complex where devotees worship Lord Krishna, engage in devotional activities, and promote spiritual teachings.
Teaching Of ISKON
ISKCON focuses on teaching the principles and practices of Bhakti Yoga, which is the path of devotion and love for God, particularly centered around Lord Krishna. The teachings at ISKCON are based on the ancient Vedic scriptures, primarily the Bhagavad Gita and the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Some of the key teachings of ISKCON include:
- Devotion to Lord Krishna: ISKCON emphasizes developing a deep and loving relationship with Lord Krishna through regular meditation, chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, and engaging in devotional activities.
- Scriptural Study: ISKCON encourages the study of sacred texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, which provides guidance on leading a meaningful and spiritual life. The Srimad Bhagavatam, another important scripture, narrates the pastimes and teachings of Lord Krishna and other divine incarnations.
- Karma Yoga: ISKCON promotes the practice of selfless service, known as karma yoga. By offering one’s actions and skills for the benefit of others and the service of God, individuals can purify their hearts and cultivate spiritual growth.
- Vegetarianism and Ahimsa: ISKCON promotes a vegetarian lifestyle, considering it as a means to promote compassion, non-violence (ahimsa), and spiritual purity. Devotees follow a lacto-vegetarian diet, avoiding meat, fish, and eggs.
- Community and Fellowship: ISKCON emphasizes the importance of community and fellowship among its members. Devotees gather together in temples for worship, spiritual programs, festivals, and social activities, fostering a supportive and spiritually uplifting environment.
- Outreach and Preaching: ISKCON is known for its active outreach programs aimed at sharing the teachings of Bhakti Yoga with the wider community. Through various means such as public programs, book distribution, festivals, and educational initiatives, ISKCON seeks to spread spiritual knowledge and uplift individuals.
ISKON In Foreign Countries
ISKCON has a global presence with centers and communities in numerous foreign countries. Here are some notable ISKCON centers in different parts of the world:
- ISKCON Temple, New York: Brooklyn, United States
- ISKCON Temple, London: Soho Street, London, United Kingdom
- ISKCON Temple, Los Angeles: Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, United States
- ISKCON Temple, Sydney: Darlinghurst, Sydney, Australia
- ISKCON Temple, Moscow: Solyanka Street, Moscow, Russia
- ISKCON Temple, Durban: Chatsworth, Durban, South Africa
- ISKCON Temple, Paris: Rue Rebeval, Paris, France
- ISKCON Temple, Sao Paulo: Tupa Street, Sao Paulo, Brazil
- ISKCON Temple, Tokyo: Funabori, Edogawa, Tokyo, Japan
- ISKCON Temple, Nairobi: Ngong Road, Nairobi, Kenya
Lord Krishna told Arjuna the Bhagavad Gita as advice on what is right and wrong when Arjuna hesitated to go to war against his own cousins, the Kauravas. Sage Vyasa described the events that led to this war in the Mahabharata, a 200 thousand verses long epic. The Bhagavad Gita is divided into 18 chapters and consists of 700 verses.
Bhagavad Gita talks about various paths to spirituality such as the right action (Karma Yoga), devotion (Bhakti Yoga), and knowledge (Jnana Yoga).
देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा।
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति॥ २-१३
Just as the boyhood, youth and old age come to the embodied Soul in this body, in the same manner, is the attaining of another body; the wise man is not deluded at that.
य एनं वेत्ति हन्तारं यश्चैनं मन्यते हतम्।
उभौ तौ न विजानीतो नायं हन्ति न हन्यते॥ २-१९
He who thinks that the soul kills, and he who thinks of it as killed, are both ignorant. The soul kills not, nor is it killed.
नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः॥ २-२३
Weapons do not cleave the soul, fire does not burn it, waters do not wet it, and wind does not dry it.