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International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)

Hindu bhakti yoga religious group. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded in 1966 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), who migrated to the United States at the age of 70, soon after the passing of new immigration laws allowing the migration of Asians into America. During his adult life as a businessman, Prabhupada was initiated into Krishna Consciousness as a member of the Guadiya Matha Mission in Calcutta. Krishna Consciousness is a popular term given the revival movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534?), who taught intense devotion to the deity Krishna. Devotional activity was centered upon public dancing and chanting and temple worship before the statues of Krishna. Most characteristic of the movement was the repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra:

   Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
   Hare Hare, Krishna Krishna
   Hare Rama, Hare Rama
   Hare Hare, Rama Rama.

In traditional Hindu teachings, Krishna and Rama are avataras, or incarnations of the god Vishnu, and those who worship Vishnu as their primary deity are called Vaishnavas (one of the three large religious groups in India). Bhakti yoga is the name given to the practice of following a path to God primarily through devotional activity.

Prabhupada was told by his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, to prepare himself to take Krishna devotion to the West. Krishna Consciousness had actually been introduced into the United States soon after the beginning of the twentieth century by another teacher from Bengal, Baba Bharati, but his organization died out soon after he returned to India. Soon after his arrival, Prabhupada began anew the task of introducing Krishna Consciousness to Westerners. He settled in New York City and soon established a following among young people, many of whom had flocked to New York as part of the social upheaval of the sixties. He had already published translations of the first three volumes of the Bhagavad Purana, and soon after he developed a following he published other important books of the tradition, the Bhagavad-gita As-It-Is and the Caitanya-caritamrita.

The groups became well known in the early 1970s. Members adopted Indian garb and attracted attention on the street, dancing, chanting, and distributing literature. As the anticult movement developed in the mid-1970s, they became a major target of deprogrammings.

In the early 1970s Prabhupada appointed a governing body commission (GBC) to manage his growing international society and to oversee ISKCON after his death. The GBC was made up of the initiating gurus who had been installed in the various areas to which the movement had spread, as well as other prominent leaders. Through the 1980s it had to deal with attacks on the movement from outside as well as internal disputes over successorship. Several top leaders of the society, who were serving as gurus after Prabhupada's death, gave up their vows which caused significant turmoil within ISKCON as well as public embarrassment. The guru of a large Krishna community in West Virginia, Kirtananda Swami, was excommunicated from ISKCON for ethical and religious violations in 1986, and was later jailed for federal crimes.

In the early 1990s the community had a multimillion dollar judgment (awarded at the height of the anticult struggles) overturned and then settled out of court. The judgment in the Robin George case had threatened to close several temples in the US and Canada. In the meantime, the movement spread internationally and now has centers in more than eighty countries. In the United States it has three thousand core members, full-time Krishna devotees, but is also supported by many thousands of congregational members, approximately half of whom are within the Indian American community.

Nominal headquarters from what has become a decentralized movement is at the ISKCON International Communications Office, 10310 Oaklyn Dr., Potomac, Maryland, 20854. Its primary magazine, Back to Godhead, can be reached at P.O. Box 430, Alachua, Florida, 32616. Website: http://www.iskcon.com.

Sources:

Gelberg, Steven, ed. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. New York: Grove Press, 1983.

Knott, Kim. My Sweet Lord. Wellingsborough, England: Aquarian Press, 1986.

Prabhupada, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. New York: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1972.

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"International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved November 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/international-society-krishna-consciousness-iskcon

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). A Hindu devotional movement, commonly known as Hare Krishna, founded in the USA in 1965 by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977), a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. It is in the tradition of Caitanya. The movement's principal aim is to lead people, living in this demonic age, the age of Kaliyuga, to attain salvation in the form of permanent Krishna-consciousness by the Way of Bhakti-yoga, the highest of the three Ways of Knowledge, Works, and Devotion. The Mahāmantra is: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna; Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama; Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare. The devotees are vivid and obvious on the streets, in white or saffron robes (for men), and in coloured saris (for women), dancing and singing to traditional instruments.

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"International Society for Krishna Consciousness." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"International Society for Krishna Consciousness." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/international-society-krishna-consciousness

"International Society for Krishna Consciousness." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved November 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/international-society-krishna-consciousness