International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). In 1966 His Divine Grace A .C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada founded ISKCON in New York City in the United States of America in order to promote Krishna Consciousness worldwide.
ISKCON is a completely spiritual organization
ISKCON, a spiritual body belonging to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava community, belongs to the traditional Vedic culture. The mission of this organization is to restore our lost relationship with our supreme father Lord Krishna and take us back to our eternal home, the spiritual world. ISKCON is not a political or commercial organization. The purpose of this organization is to awaken the development of dormant spiritual knowledge among the people. This organization preaches ‘Bhakti Yoga’ among the general mass of people according to vaisnava philosophy established in the light of Vedic scriptures, the revered words of Godhead Sri Krishna, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the crown prince of Vedic knowledge, Srimad Bhagavatam, the Upanishads and other Vedic scriptures, by the most magnanimous Lord in the age of Kali, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Scriptural analysis of the term ‘ISKCON’
The word ISKCON, even from the scriptural point of view, is the most significant name. ISKCON founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada very cleverly named it-International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The significance of using the word ‘International’ here is the inevitable prophecy of the Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, described in the Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat (Anta khanda, 4/126).
“Prithivite Ache jato nagar adi gram
Sarbatro prochar hoybe mor nam”
That is, A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was convinced that since Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu prophesied, his message would be propagated all over the world. So he established it as an international society. The name ‘Krishna Consciousness’ or ‘Krishna-bhabanamrita’ was adopted by Srila Prabhupada in the sixteenth century from the verse named ‘Krishna-Bhakti-Rasa-bhabita’ of ‘Padyabali’ written by Srila Rupa Goswami. ‘Krishna’ is derived from ‘Krishna Bhakti’, ‘Amrita’ from ‘Rasa’ and ‘Bhabana’ from ‘Bhavita’, thus came the word ‘Krishna Bhabana Amrita’ or ‘Krishna Consciousness’. That is, when one is associated with this society, he can taste the nectar of ‘Krishna Consciousness’. The word ‘Sangha’ has special significance. The Scriptures say that “Sangha Shakti kalau-yuge”. That is, in this age, union is power. The more organized the nation or community, the stronger it is. Again, the essence of all the restrictions of the Scriptures is “Always remember Krishna, never forget him.” From that point, the analysis of the word ISKCON (ISKCON) shows that I = IS, K = Krishna Consciousness and ON- IS Krishna Consciousness ON? That is, are you in the Krishna consciousness? Always remembering Krishna?
Considering all these aspects, Srila Prabhupada has named the organization – “Krishna Bhabanamrita Sangha” or International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
His Holiness Satswarup Das Goswami Maharaj quotes Srila Prabhupada in the book “Preaching Krishna consciousness in the West” and writes, “We will name our organization ‘ISKCON”. Laughing in joking mood Prabhupada first announced the acronym of the organization. It was during his stay in Bawari in the spring that Prabhupada started doing legal work in the formation of that organization. But before that he was talking about the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and he mentioned it in his letters to India and articles published in The Village Voice. One well-wisher suggested that if the name was kept in the International Society for God Consciousness, people in the West would have the benefit of understanding it. But Srila Prabhupada insisted – Krishna Consciousness. The word God Consciousness is very vague but the name Krishna is clear and scientific. The name God Consciousness is spiritually very weak and impersonal. And if people in the western world do not know that Krishna is God, then the International Society for Krishna Consciousness will preach the message of Krishna’s glory in all the cities and villages of the world.
Srila Prabhupada has said that the purpose of this Krishna conscious movement is to protect human society from the spiritual death. The only purpose of human life is to restore the lost relationship with God. This Krishna conscious movement is enlightening human society about that important issue. This is not a narrow group. Anyone can join the movement. This movement can solve all the problems of the world.
The four main pillars of religion – truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy and penance are vanquished as a result of the four sins; these are meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. The members of this organization have to chant ‘Hare krishna Mahamantra’ in order to observe these restrictions. And by this, every living entity can be held in true devotion and taken back to their real home, back to Godhead.
ISKCON’s Seven Purposes:
- 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-gitaand 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 sankirtanamovement, 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.
The four main pillars of ISKCON
ISKCON is based on four pillars –
- Purity is the Force
- Books are the Basis
- Utility is the Principle
- Preaching is the Essence
Srila Prabhupada has constructed the above four pillars of ISKCON in a way that is well respected worldwide. In this regard, Dr. M N Basham says – “Srila Prabhupada has built a house where the whole world can take shelter.”