International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded by His Divine Grace A .C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the year 1966 in New York City in the United States of America in order to promote Krishna Consciousness worldwide.
ISKCON is a completely spiritual organization
ISKCON is a spiritual organization which follows the Gaudiya-Vaishnava community of traditional Vedic culture. Bhaktivedanta Swami established ISKCON with the mission to help the suffering jivas in restoring their lost relationship with the supreme father Lord Krishna and take them back to their eternal home, the spiritual world. ISKCON doesn’t belong to or gratify any political or commercial organization. The purpose of this organization is to awaken the dormant spiritual knowledge among the people. It propagates ‘Bhakti Yoga’ and its teachings are primarily based on Vaisnava philosophy established in the light of Vedic scriptures like Bhgavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, the Upanishads and other Vedic scriptures, by the most magnanimous Lord, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who appear in the age of Kali to deliver the love of Godhead by simply chanting the holy names of Lord together (Sankirtan).
Scriptural analysis of the term ‘ISKCON’
The name International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was very intelligently coined by its founder-Acharya His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada after lot of analysis and thinking. The significance of using the word ‘International’ here is the inevitable prophecy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, described in the Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat (Anta khanda, 4/126).
“Prithivite Ache jato nagar adi gram
Sarbatro prochar hoybe mor nam”
A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had very strong faith and conviction that since Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has already predicted, his message would be definitely propagated all over the world. So he established it as an international society. The name ‘Krishna Consciousness’ or ‘Krishna-bhavanamrita’ was adopted by Srila Prabhupada in the sixteenth century from the verse named ‘Krishna-Bhakti-Rasa-bhavita’ of ‘Padyavali’ written by Srila Rupa Goswami. ‘Krishna’ is derived from ‘Krishna Bhakti’, ‘Amrita’ from ‘Rasa’ and ‘Bhavana’ from ‘Bhavita’, thus came the word ‘Krishna Bhavana 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 Bhavanamrita 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 Bowari 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. Prabhupada was very clear and insistent on using the term ‘Krishna Consciousness’ although suggestions came for using the term “God Consciousness’ instead, to make it relevant for the Western world. According to Prabhupada 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. He was determined that 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. This was his mission and he was fully prepared with all conviction to spread Krishna Consciousness throughout the globe.
Prabhupada often mentioned in his lectures that the purpose of this Krishna consciousness 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 goal of life. Prabhupada had a very broad vision behind establishment of ISKCON. It has potential to solve all problems of human life and thus help the jiva reinstate in its original constitutional position.
In the present degrading age of Kali-yuga there is no truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy or penance due to sinful activities like meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. The members of this organization chant ‘Hare krishna Mahamantra’ and observe the four regulatory principles of avoiding the above mentioned sinful activities. Thus they practice devotion and progress towards their ultimate goal 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-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 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.”
Updated on 16 November 2021