International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Overview
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was a Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher and the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the "Hare Krishna Movement"...

. Its core beliefs are based on traditional Hindu scriptures such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

 and the Bhagavad-gītā
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

, both of which, according to the traditional Hindu view, date back more than 5,000 years.
Encyclopedia
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was a Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher and the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the "Hare Krishna Movement"...

. Its core beliefs are based on traditional Hindu scriptures such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
Bhagavata purana
The Bhāgavata Purāṇa is one of the "Maha" Puranic texts of Hindu literature, with its primary focus on bhakti to the incarnations of Vishnu, particularly Krishna...

 and the Bhagavad-gītā
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

, both of which, according to the traditional Hindu view, date back more than 5,000 years. The distinctive appearance of the movement and its culture come from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which has had adherents in India since the late 15th century and Western converts
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 since the early 1930s.

ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga is one of the types of yoga mentioned in Hindu philosophies which denotes the spiritual practice of fostering loving devotion to a personal form of God....

, in which aspirant devotees (bhaktas) dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing the Supreme Lord
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

, Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

. ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 400 centers, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools and 90 restaurants. In recent decades the movement's most rapid expansions in terms of numbers of membership have been within Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 (especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

) and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Beliefs and history

For further information see: Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, , svayam bhagavan. and also between God and his energies within the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition...

 and Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...


ISKCON devotees follow a disciplic line of Gaudiya Bhagavata Vaishnavas and are the largest branch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

. Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

 means 'worship of Vishnu', and Gauḍa
Gauda
*Sanskrit ' :**Gauḍa region is a historical country in eastern India, which included Gaur in Bengal, of its eponymous capital, and of its inhabitants .**The ' , a branch of Panch-Gauda...

 refers to the area where this particular branch of Vaishnavism originated, in the Gauda
Gauda
*Sanskrit ' :**Gauḍa region is a historical country in eastern India, which included Gaur in Bengal, of its eponymous capital, and of its inhabitants .**The ' , a branch of Panch-Gauda...

 region of West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

. Gaudiya Vaishnavism has had a following in India, especially West Bengal
West Bengal
West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India and is the nation's fourth-most populous. It is also the seventh-most populous sub-national entity in the world, with over 91 million inhabitants. A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's GDP...

 and Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, for the past five hundred years. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada disseminated Gaudiya Vaishnava Theology in the Western world through extensive writings and translations, including the Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita As It Is
Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is is a translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita by A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness...

, Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), Chaitanya Charitamrita
Chaitanya Charitamrita
The Chaitanya Charitamrita is one of the primary biographies detailing the life and teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu , a Vaisnava saint and founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. It was written by Krishna Das Kaviraja , primarily in the Bengali language, but also including a great number of...

 and other scriptures. These works are now available in more than seventy languages and serve as the canon of ISKCON. Many are available online from a number of websites.

Early western conversions to monotheistic Krishna Vaisnavism or the Bhagavata
Bhagavata
Bhagavata signifies in the context of Hinduism. In this context bhakti has the primary meaning of 'adoration', while Bhagavat means 'the Adorable One', and Bhagavata is a worshiper of the Adorable One...

 Vaishnava line which forms the basis of the ISKCON philosophy were recorded by the Greeks and are reflected in the archaeological record
Heliodorus pillar
The Heliodorus pillar is a stone column that was erected around 110 BCE in central India in Vidisha near modern Besnagar, by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra...

.

Krishna is described as the source of all the avatars. Thus ISKCON devotees worship Krishna as the highest form of God, svayam bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

, and often refer to Him as "the Supreme Personality of Godhead" in writing, which was a phrase coined by Prabhupada in his books on the subject. To devotees, Radha
Radha
Radha , also called Radhika, Radharani and Radhikarani, is the childhood friend and lover of Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana, and the Gita Govinda of the Vaisnava traditions of Hinduism...

 represents Krishna's divine female counterpart, the original spiritual potency, and the embodiment of divine love. The individual soul is an eternal personal identity which does not ultimately merge into any formless light or void as suggested by the monistic (Advaita) schools of Hinduism; Prabhupada never declared ISKCON to be a Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 organisation, because he considered it to be a 'material designation', not an appropriate name. Prabhupada most frequently offers Sanatana-dharma and Varnashrama dharma
Varnashrama dharma
Varna refers to the categorization of the Hindu society by four castes, hypothesized by the Brahmins and their sacred texts.This quadruple division is not to be confused with Jāti or even the much finer division of the contemporary caste system in India....

 as more accurate names for the religious system which accepts Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 authority. It is a monotheistic
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 tradition which has its roots in the theistic Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 traditions.

Hare Krishna mantra

The popular nickname of "Hare Krishnas" for devotees of this movement comes from the mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

 that devotees sing aloud (kirtan
Kirtan
Kirtan or Kirtana is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed...

) or chant quietly (japa
Japa
Japa is a spiritual discipline involving the meditative repetition of a mantra or name of a divine power. The mantra or name may be spoken softly, enough for the practitioner to hear it, or it may be spoken purely within the recitor's mind...

) on tulsi
Tulsi
Ocimum tenuiflorum Ocimum tenuiflorum Ocimum tenuiflorum (also tulsi, tulasī, or Holy Basil is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native throughout the Old World tropics and widespread as a cultivated plant and an escaped weed. It is an erect, much branched subshrub 30–60 cm...

 mala
Japa mala
A Japa mala or mala is a set of beads commonly used by Hindus and Buddhists, usually made from 108 beads, though other numbers, usually divisible by 9, are also used. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity...

. This mantra, known also as the Maha Mantra
Maha Mantra
Maha Mantra may refer to the following:*Any mantra thought to be particularly "great" or important*A common name for the Hare Krishna mantra in Bengali Vaishnavism*a name of the Aum Namah Shivaya mantra*the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra...

, contains the names of God Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 and Rama.

The Maha Mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare


Seven purposes of ISKCON

When Srila Prabhupada first incorporated ISKCON in 1966, he gave it seven purposes:
  1. 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.
  2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
  3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus to develop the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
  4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
  5. To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
  6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
  7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

Four regulative principles

Srila Prabhupada prescribed four regulative principles, in relation to the four legs of dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

, as the basis of the spiritual life:
  • No eating of meat (including fish) or eggs (lacto-vegetarianism)
  • No illicit sex
  • No gambling
  • No intoxication (including alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and other recreational drugs).


The four legs of Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

 are:
  • Daya
    Daya
    Daya or Compassion is a fundamental teaching of the Sikh religion and teachings can be found on DAYA. The other four qualities in the arsenal are: Truth , Contentment , Humility and Love...

    : Mercy
  • Tapas
    Tapas (Sanskrit)
    Tapasya in Sanskrit means "heat". In Vedic religion and Hinduism, it is used figuratively, denoting spiritual suffering, mortification or austerity, and also the spiritual ecstasy of a yogin or tāpasá . In the Rigveda, the word is connected with the Soma cult...

    : Self-Control or Austerity
  • Satya
    Satya
    Satya is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates into English as "truth" or "correct". It is a term of power due to its purity and meaning and has become the emblem of many peaceful social movements, particularly those centered on social justice, environmentalism and vegetarianism.Sathya is also...

    m: Truthfulness
  • Śaucam
    Śaucam
    Śaucam is a Sanskrit word that translates into English as "cleanliness" or "purity" of the body and mind. It is a core principle of Hinduism, particularly within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. It is considered to be one of the primary pillars of dharma, repeatedly stressed as essential or...

    : Cleanliness of body and mind

Preaching activities

ISKCON is known for their energetic active preaching. Members try to spread Krishna consciousness, primarily by singing the Hare Krishna mantra in public places and by selling books written by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Both of these activities are known within the movement as Sankirtan. A study conducted by E. Burke Rochford Jr. at the University of California
University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...

 found that there are four types of contact between those in ISKCON and prospective members. Those include: individually motivated contact, contact made with members in public arenas, contact made through personal connections, and contact with sympathizers of the movement who strongly sway people to join. According to the doctrine of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Vaishnava saint and social reformer in eastern India in the 16th century, believed by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishna...

, one does not need to be born in a Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 family to take up the practice of Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

. There are ISKCON communities around the world with schools, restaurants and farms. In general, funds collected by ISKCON are treated as communal property and used to support the community as a whole and to promote the preaching mission. Many temples also have programs (like Food for Life
Food for Life
Hare Krishna Food for Life is the world's largest vegan and vegetarian non-profit food relief organization with projects in over 60 countries. Volunteers serve more than 1,500,000 free meals daily in a variety of ways, including: food vans serving to the homeless within major cities around the...

) to provide meals for the needy. Also, ISKCON has recently brought the academic study of Krishna into western academia as Krishnology.

Food for Life

ISKCON has inspired, and sometimes sponsored, a project called Food for Life. The goal of the project is to "liberally distribute pure vegetarian meals (prasadam) throughout the world", as inspired by Prabhupada's instruction, given to his disciples in 1973, "No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry . . . I want you to immediately begin serving food". A global charity, directed by Paul Turner and Mukunda Goswami
Mukunda Goswami
Mukunda Goswami is a spiritual leader within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness ....

, coordinates the project. Food for Life is currently active in over sixty countries and serves over 700,000 meals every day. Its welfare achievements have been noted by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 and other media worldwide.

Management structure

Srila Prabhupada spent much of the last decade of his life setting up the institution of ISKCON. As a charismatic leader, Srila Prabhupada's personality and management had been responsible for much of the growth of ISKCON and the reach of his mission.

The Governing Body Commission
Governing Body Commission
The Governing Body Commission is the managerial authority of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . ISKCON's founder, A.C...

 (or GBC) was created by Prabhupada in 1970. In a document Direction of Management written on 28 July 1970 Prabhupada appointed the following members to the commission, all of them non sannyasi:
  1. Sriman Rupanuga Das Adhikary
  2. Sriman Bhagavan Das Adhikary
  3. Sriman Syamsundar Das Adhikary
  4. Sriman Satsvarupa Das Adhikary
    Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
    Satsvarupa das Goswami is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness , better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement...

  5. Sriman Karandhar Das Adhikary
  6. Sriman Hansadutta Das Adhikary
  7. Sriman Tamala Krsna Das Adhikary
    Tamala Krishna Goswami
    Tamal Krishna Goswami , born as Thomas G. Herzig in New York City, NY United States served on International Society for Krishna Consciousness's Governing Body Commission since its inception in 1970. In January 1972, he accepted the renounced order of life sannyasa in Jaipur...

  8. Sriman Sudama Das Adhikary
  9. Sriman Bali Mardan Das Brahmacary
  10. Sriman Jagadisa Das Adhikary
  11. Sriman Hayagriva Das Adhikary
  12. Sriman Kṛṣṇadas Adhikary


The letter outlined the following purposes of the commission: 1) improving the standard of temple management, 2) the spread of Krishna consciousness, 3) the distribution of books and literature, 4) the opening of new centers, 5) the education of the devotees. GBC has since grown in size to include 48 senior members from the movement who make decisions based on consensus of opinion rather than any one person having ultimate authority. It has continued to manage affairs since Prabhupada's passing in 1977 although it is currently a self-elected organization and does not follow the provision where Srila Prabhupada instructs that members be elected by temple presidents.

Influential leaders since 1977

See also: Principle disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

Before his death, Prabhupada "deputed" or appointed the following eleven of his disciples to serve as gurus or to continue to direct the organization: Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa das Goswami is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness , better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement...

, Jayapataka Swami
Jayapataka Swami
Jayapataka Swami is a Vaishnava swami and a religious leader for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . He is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada...

, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
Hridayananda Dasa Goswami is a senior religious leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and one of the most prominent disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Hridayananda Goswami is an initiating guru within ISKCON and has served as a member of the Governing Body...

, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Bhavananda Goswami, Hansadutta Swami, Ramesvara Swami
Ramesvara Swami
Ramesvara Swami was one of the leading disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and formerly a guru within the International Society of Krishna Consciousness....

, Harikesa Swami, Bhagavan Dasa, Kirtanananda Swami
Kirtanananda Swami
Kirtanananda Swami, also known as Swami Bhaktipada was the highly-controversial charismatic Hare Krishna guru and co-founder of the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna community in Marshall County, West Virginia, where he served as spiritual leader for 26 years .-Early life:Kirtanananda was born Keith...

, and Jayatirtha Dasa. These eleven "Western Gurus were selected as spiritual heads" of the ISKCON after 1977, however "many problems followed from their appointment and the movement had since veered away from investing absolute authority in a few, fallible, human teachers", however of these eleven, the first three have remained prominent leaders within the movement, as was Tamal Krishna Goswami until his death in a car accident in March 2002. Bhavananda no longer holds the post of an initiating guru. Ramesvara, Bhagavan and Harikesa resigned as spiritual leaders in 1985, 1987 and 1999 respectively and the remaining three were all expelled from the movement by the Governing Body Commission during the 1980s. Of Prabhupada's disciples, who number 4,734 in total, approximately 70 are now acting as diksha
Diksha
Diksa also spelled deeksha or deeksa in common usage, translated as a "preparation or consecration for a religious ceremony", is giving of a mantra or an initiation by the guru in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism...

 gurus within ISKCON. As of April 2011, ISKCON had a total of 100 sannyasis, most of whom were acting as gurus (see List of International Society for Krishna Consciousness sannyasis).

Internal problems and controversy

In the years following Prabhupada's death in November 1977, a number of theological controversies arose:

Origin of the soul

Srila Prabhupada explains that the soul falls from the spiritual world to this material world and that the supreme objective of the human life is to become Krishna conscious to be able to return "Back to Godhead" (also the title of the official ISKCON magazine
Back to Godhead
Back to Godhead, also known as BTG, is the main magazine of the Hare Krishna Movement. It was originally published by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and later by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami and Jayadvaita Swami.-External links:**...

). However when translations of important Vaishnava texts began to appear that seemed at variance with these teachings, controversy arose.

Rasika-bhakti

The elder sannyasi Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami was a disciple of Prabhupada's sannyasa
Sannyasa
Sannyasa is the order of life of the renouncer within the Hindu scheme of āśramas, or life stages. It is considered the topmost and final stage of the ashram systems and is traditionally taken by men or women at or beyond the age of fifty years old or by young monks who wish to renounce worldly...

 guru and was long a well-wisher of ISKCON. A small group of prominent ISKCON leaders were closer to his association and Bhaktivedanta Narayana made no effort to conceal his relationship with them, which as time went on became increasingly intimate. His emphasis on gopi-bhava, the mood of Krishna's cowherd lovers, particularly disturbed his ISKCON audiences since Prabhupada had stressed that the path of spontaneous devotion was only for liberated souls. At the annual GBC
Governing Body Commission
The Governing Body Commission is the managerial authority of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . ISKCON's founder, A.C...

 meeting in 1993, members questioned their affiliation with Bhaktivedanta Narayana. Those involved minimised the seriousness of the relationship, though for some it had been going on for as long as five years. By the next annual meeting, the GBC forced the involved members to promise to greatly restrict further association with their new teacher. Though adhering externally, their sympathies for Bhaktivedanta Narayana's teachings were unabated. In 1995 GBC position was firm and the controversy was first on the 1995 annual meeting's agenda. A week of thorough investigation brought the implicated members in line. Asked to suggest what they might do to make amends, the leaders involved with the controversy tendered their resignations, which the GBC promptly refused. They further volunteered to refrain from initiating new disciples or visiting Vrindavana until their case could be reassessed the following year and at the March 1996 meeting GBC insisted on maintaining most of the restrictions.

While the capitulation of the GBC members previously following Bhaktivedanta Narayana has certainly demonstrated GBC solidarity it was insufficient to prevent a continued exodus of devotees who feel unable to repose full faith in the ISKCON Governing Body Commission authority.

The Guru and the Parampara

ISKCON adheres to the traditional system of paramparā
Parampara
Parampara denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture and Indian religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism...

, or disciplic succession, in which teachings upheld by scriptures are handed down from master to disciple, generation after generation. A minority of people who express faith in Srila Prabhupada's teachings say that Srila Prabhupada, in contrast to the tradition, intended that after his physical demise he would continue to initiate disciples through ceremonial priests, called ritviks. One version of this idea is espoused by a group calling itself the ISKCON Revival Movement. ISKCON's Governing Body Commission
Governing Body Commission
The Governing Body Commission is the managerial authority of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . ISKCON's founder, A.C...

 has rejected all such ideas.

Issues within the society

ISKCON also experienced a number of significant internal problems, the majority of which occurred from the late seventies onwards, and especially within the decade following Prabhupada's death.

In 1976 a case involving allegations of "brainwashing" involving a minor named Robin George and her parents went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

. In 1983, a California jury awarded the family more than $32 million in damages for false imprisonment and other charges, which was reduced to $485,000 in 1993.

Also ISKCON has been subject matter of discussion in some anti-cult movement
Anti-cult movement
The anti-cult movement is a term used by academics and others to refer to groups and individuals who oppose cults and new religious movements. Sociologists David G...

s. The ISKCON was described by academics as "the most genuinely Hindu of all the many Indian movements in the West", and as to its fortieth anniversary in America, as "having being successful on the basis of longevity", having "undergone changes to its goals and identity".

Stories of child abuse
Child abuse
Child abuse is the physical, sexual, emotional mistreatment, or neglect of a child. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Children And Families define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or...

 at the society's boarding schools in India and America began to emerge in the 1980s, with cases dating back from the mid-1970s onwards. Some of these cases later appeared in print, such as in John Hubner and Lindsay Gruson's 1988 book Monkey on a Stick. In 1998 an official publication produced by ISKCON detailed the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children at the society's boarding schools in both India and the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. Later ISKCON was sued by 95 people who had attended the schools. Facing the fiscal drain likely to ensue from this legal action, the ISKCON centers involved declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This allowed them to work out a settlement of US$9.5 million, meant to compensate not only the former students who had brought the suit but also any others who had undergone abuse but had not sued.

To guard against further abuses, ISKCON has established a child protection office with teams worldwide, meant to screen out actual or potential abusers, educate children and adults on child abuse, and encourage due vigilance. A petition circulating (as of July 2006) among ISKCON members calls for "zero tolerance" for past offenders.

In response to the need to establish transparency and accountability among its members, ISKCON encouraged the establishment of an ombudsman
Ombudsman
An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests...

 organization, ISKCON Resolve.

There have been also allegations in relation to murders and fraud linked to the ISKCON movement, with ex-member and guru Kirtanananda Swami
Kirtanananda Swami
Kirtanananda Swami, also known as Swami Bhaktipada was the highly-controversial charismatic Hare Krishna guru and co-founder of the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna community in Marshall County, West Virginia, where he served as spiritual leader for 26 years .-Early life:Kirtanananda was born Keith...

 convicted.

Rath Yatra controversy

ISKCON organises Rath Yatra
Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, India during the months of June or July. Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area...

 festivals in different countries around the world, including India. Although held once annually in each location, these festivals occur on different dates throughout the summertime, which is marked difference from the Rath Yatra as held at the Jagannatha temple in Puri
Jagannath Temple (Puri)
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Orissa, India. The name Jagannath is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat and Nath...

 (where the festival originates). At this temple, the Rath Yatra festival is held once each year on a specific date in July, and complaints have recently been made regarding ISKCON's having their international festivals at significantly different times to this.

On December 20, 2007 the Puri priests held a demonstration alleging "a number of non-Hindus foreigners under the cover of ISKCON were trying to enter the temple", which is not allowed by that temple's tradition (only Hindus, whether Indian or foreigners are traditionally allowed in that temple). In two incidents, the priests drove out nine Indonesian men who were allegedly tourists with no link to Hindu beliefs. The validity of this temple policy has been questioned in the media on a number of occasions, especially since this ban was imposed by a British collector in 1805.

In popular culture

The Hare Krishna mantra appears in a number of famous songs, notably those sung by The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 (and solo works of John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

, George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

, notably on his hit "My Sweet Lord
My Sweet Lord
"My Sweet Lord" is a song by former Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison from his UK number one hit triple album All Things Must Pass. The song was written in praise of the Hindu god Krishna...

", and Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr
Richard Starkey, MBE better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in...

). There is a reference to singing kirtan
Kirtan
Kirtan or Kirtana is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions. A person performing kirtan is known as a kirtankar. Kirtan practice involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments such as the harmonium, tablas, the two-headed...

 of Hare Krishna mantra in The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus
I Am the Walrus
"I Am the Walrus" is a 1967 song by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon claimed he wrote the first two lines on separate acid trips. The song was in the Beatles' 1967 television film and album Magical Mystery Tour, and was the B-side to the #1 hit "Hello,...

" (the line "Elementary penguins singing Hare Krishna"). Ringo Starr's song "It Don't Come Easy
It Don't Come Easy
"It Don't Come Easy" is a song by Ringo Starr released as an Apple Records single in April 1971, reaching number four in both the U.S. and UK singles charts. It was Starr's first solo single in the UK, but his second in the US , following the breakup of the Beatles...

" contains the words "Hare Krishna!" and was written with the help of George Harrison. Later Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

 produced a single with a picture of Krishna riding on a swan on the cover, although there was not any chanting of Krishna's names inside. Of the four Beatles members, only Harrison was actually a member of ISKCON, and after he posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California...

 in 2009, his son Dhani Harrison
Dhani Harrison
Dhani Harrison is an English musician and the son of George Harrison of The Beatles and Olivia Harrison. Harrison debuted as a professional musician when completing his father's final album Brainwashed after George Harrison's death in November 2001...

 uttered the phrase "Hare Krishna" during the ceremony.

In one of Aerosmith
Aerosmith
Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many...

's songs off of their 1997 album, Nine Lives
Nine Lives (Aerosmith album)
-Bonus track :-Bonus tracks :-Bonus tracks :-Bonus tracks :-Artwork:...

, whose original cover caused some controversy with Hindus, a line in the song, 'The Farm', says, "I wanna be a Hare Krishna, tattoo a dot right on my head, and the prozac is my fixer, I am the living dead". The mantra also appears in The Pretenders
The Pretenders
The Pretenders are an English rock band formed in Hereford, England in March 1978. The original band consisted of initiator and main songwriter Chrissie Hynde , James Honeyman-Scott , Pete Farndon , and Martin Chambers...

' Boots of Chinese Plastic. One song from 1969 by the Radha Krsna Temple
Radha Krsna Temple
The Radha Krishna Temple was the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in London from the late 1960s. The temple came to prominence when The Beatles and especially George Harrison started to publicly express their interest in Eastern philosophy and Krishna consciousness...

, simply entitled Hare Krsna Mantra reached no. 12 in the UK music chart and appeared on the music show Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, is a British music chart television programme, made by the BBC and originally broadcast weekly from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006. After 25 December 2006 it became a radio program, now hosted by Tony Blackburn...

. It also made the no.1 slot in both German and Czechoslovakian music charts. Less well-known but equally relevant to fans of pop music culture are recordings of the Hare Krishna mantra by The Fugs
The Fugs
The Fugs are a band formed in New York in late 1964 by poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, with Ken Weaver on drums. Soon afterward, they were joined by Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber of the Holy Modal Rounders...

 on their 1968 album Tenderness Junction
Tenderness Junction
Tenderness Junction is a 1968 studio album by The Fugs, a band formed in 1964 by anti-war musician/poets Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg and Ken Weaver. It was released in the U.S. by record company Reprise...

 (featuring poet Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. He vigorously opposed militarism, materialism and sexual repression...

) and by Nina Hagen
Nina Hagen
Nina Hagen is a German singer and actress.-Early years:Hagen was born as Catharina Hagen in the former East Berlin, East Germany, the daughter of Hans Hagen , a scriptwriter, and Eva-Maria Hagen, an actress and singer...

.

The 1980 film Airplane!
Airplane!
Airplane! is a 1980 American satirical comedy film directed and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker and released by Paramount Pictures...

 features several Hare Krishnas, led by the infamous actor David Leisure
David Leisure
David Russell Leisure is an American actor best known for his role as Charley Dietz in the sitcom Empty Nest from 1988 to 1995 and fictional automotive "pitch man" Joe Isuzu in a series of North American television commercials for Isuzu from 1986 to 1990, and again from 1999 to 2001.Additional...

 (Joe Isuzu). In the 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead, a Hare Krishna zombie can be seen. In the 1981 movie Stripes
Stripes (film)
Stripes is a 1981 American comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, P. J. Soles, and John Candy. It also featured several actors in their first significant film roles, including John Larroquette, Sean Young, John Diehl, and Judge Reinhold. It was one...

, the character of Russell Ziskey played by Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis
Harold Allen Ramis is an American actor, director, and writer, specializing in comedy. His best-known film acting roles are as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters and Russell Ziskey in Stripes , both of which he also co-wrote...

 is seen dancing around and chanting 'Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!' after having his head shaved upon entering basic training for the U.S. Army. Also, in the 2001 television series Scrubs
Scrubs (TV series)
Scrubs is an American medical comedy-drama television series created in 2001 by Bill Lawrence and produced by ABC Studios. The show follows the lives of several employees of the fictional Sacred Heart, a teaching hospital. It features fast-paced screenplay, slapstick, and surreal vignettes...

, the character JD is seen dancing, chanting and playing the tambourine with a group of Hare Krishnas after having his head shaved to support a patient with Leukaemia.

Dev Anand in 1971 directed movie "Hare Rama Hare Krishna". Although the movie talked about the hippie culture, the movie has a famous song based on the words "Hare Rama Hare Krishna".

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK