When your daily woes dissolve on hearing the chanting of Hare Krishna and you can hear the bells ringing, people singing melodiously in glories of Krishna with that beautiful Tilak on the forehead, you should guess that you have entered into the beautiful kingdom of ISKCON.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement or Hare Krishnas is a religious organization that follows the teachings of Vedas and Vedic scriptures, practicing and preaching Vaishnavism – The worship of Krishna or Vishnu. The institution, which came into existence in the year 1966 in New York by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada managed to turn the tables for the Hippie culture in the west, providing them with a sort of higher bliss which in fact left many think seriously about spirituality.
Visit an ISKCON Temple and you will probably realize that this higher bliss is simply attained by chanting the holy names of god, dancing till the world ends and well, when it does, Feast! The Society is striving to become a sort of self sufficient one, giving people a sense of independence through an enveloping positive association, mentors, friends and many others to help one solve their problem’s.
Today, ISKCON is a worldwide confederation of more than 550 centers, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools, and 90 restaurants. With personalities like George Harrison from the Beatles, Alfred Ford, Hema Malini and many others, ISKCON has become a hub of brainy people who have faith in spirituality. The society is full of IIT and IIM who are experienced and believe that ISKCON is a well sorted organization that makes one grow as a human being and understand some simple facts about life. ISKCON is that one road that makes you witness the path of peace through experience, faith and association.
With singing, dancing, worshipping the deities and feasting, the place provides one with a moment of respite, joy and self introspection. ISKCON teachings are non sectarian and non denominational, for they are not limited to any particular historical religion. Vaishnavism inculcates the essential and universal principle of all religion To care and love all, by devotional service to the one who resides within and ISKCON aims at establishing a peaceful God Conscious society.
What is ISKCON?
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is the spiritual institution founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in July 1966 as a continuation of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya. ISKCON was personally directed by its Founder-Acarya Srila Prabhupada until his departure on November 14, 1977. According to Srila Prabhupada’s will, ISKCON continued thereafter under the ultimate managing authority of the Governing Body Commission (GBC
In ISKCON’s incorporating document, Srila Prabhupada imparts the “Seven Purposes of ISKCON”:
To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples 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 as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, and 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).
To teach and encourage the Sankirtan movement of congregational chanting of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya 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 and more natural way of life.
With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
Under Srila Prabhupada’s guidance, ISKCON has grown from a small group of disciples assembling in a New York City store front into an international society with scores of centers. At present, there are more than three-hundred ISKCON centers worldwide.
SRILA PRABHUPADA...THE MILLENIUM ACHARYA
Year 1965, a man named A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, aged 69, fearlessly sails from India to New York, carrying with him a trunk of books and $7 in change, and a miracle happens that leaves the world astounded for years to come. The past is made, the present is the time we are living in, but one can achieve the vision to pave the path of a peaceful future for many, only through constant practice, dedication and faith. Srila Prabhupada, was one such man who clearly showed that if you practice the good that you preach, then you ll leave no stones unturned to prove the validity of your practice and preaching.
Born on 1 September, 1896, Abhay Charan practiced Vaishnavism right from his childhood. After getting involved with the freedom fighters, Abhay understood through his experience and by association of his future spiritual master Bhaktisidhhanth Saraswati Thakur, that devotional service to God is one thing that transgresses all notions of independence, transforming one to the level of transcendence where Love for God fulfills the love for all, ending violence and distress. Abhay Babou later took renunciation and became a sanyaasi, with a mission to the west. His proficiency in myriad languages, belief in his spiritual teacher and the firm faith that the holy name of Krishna would transform the hearts of people, helped him in establishing ISKCON in the year 1966. What followed was a gamut of victories to win the hearts of many through his purity and love for all.
Srila Prabhupada has proved to be a Good Samaritan in his entirety, for he made this world a better place to live in for many. He wrote over forty volumes of translation and commentary on such classics as Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), Chaitanya-charitamrita, and Bhagavad-gita, differing from others of his time by maintaining the real essence of all these texts – giving us an authentic rendition of the Vedic conclusions on such important topics as the purpose of human life, the nature of the soul, consciousness, and God.
From 1966 to 1977, despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. His unprecedented impact on the people has attracted many people to join ISKCON A society that still practices the very same principles established by him. Though everything in this world is in a state of flux, Srila Prabhupada foundation of ISKCON has made Peace and Bliss a constant in the lives of his followers, owing to the strong roots which believes in the concept of Practice what you Preach.
“I went to your country with a mission and you all good souls were sent by Krishna to me.” – Srila Prabhupada.
One of the good souls sent by Krishna to Srila Prabhupada is His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaja who has been serving Srila Prabhupada as a “selfless worker” over the last 4 decades.
Jayapataka Swami was born John Gordan Erdman on April 9, 1949 (the ekadasi after ramanavami) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA to John Hubert and Lorraine Erdman. He was born into opulent surroundings, his father’s father being the founder of a large paint factory, which was a multi-million dollar concern at the time of his birth. Later HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaja was glad to see that his name – Gordan John (Gour Dhan Jan) – already suggested what Srila Prabhuapda confirmed, that he and two other devotees were formerly associates of Lord Caitanya and that they had taken their birth in the west to facilitate spreading Krishna consciousness around the world.
H Jayapataka Swami Maharaja is an all-rounder. When he does book distribution, he does it with the utmost dedication and happiness. When he organizes a festival, or namahatta again it is with the utmost dedication and happiness. There could hardly be any place in the world that he has not traveled and hardly any service that he has not tried his hand at. Accepting any service that is given to him, as the order of guru, Krishna and sadhus, His Holiness does them all with love as an offering to his eternal spiritual master om visnupada paramahamsa parivrajaka acharya 108 sri srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
Nama-hatta is the most traditional of the congregational programs and mirrors the organization of a regular ISKCON temple with the leader and his assistants in the center. There is no membership limit and some groups become quite large. Groups function under the direct supervision of ISKCON preachers responsible for the area. Minimally experienced devotees can serve as group leaders. Training of existing members and recruitment of new ones depend largely on the group leader’s initiative and inspiration by visiting preachers.
Nama-hatta groups are found throughout the world. Devotees come together at least once a week for kirtan, arati, and lecture from Srila Prabhupada’s books. Nama-hattas vary in size. Nama-hatta devotees follow the precedence set by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura by chanting songs about the glorious activities of Lord Nityananda’s marketplace and hold festivals to attract people to the Krishna Consciousness movement.
Interactive Nama-hatta bhajan groups give new devotees an opportunity to hear and chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in the association of senior Vaisnavas. Any member of the group may lead the kirtana. Also house programs have become a very popular feature of the Nama-hatta. Temple devotees visit the homes of congregational members, lead kirtana, offer classes on Vaisnava scripture and arrange prasada.
Nama-hatta, the market place of the holy name, was founded by Lord Nityananda in Navadwipa dham and elaborately described by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura in Sri Godruma Kalpatavi. The Nama-hattaprogram brings Srila Prabhupada’s teachings into areas where no regular temples are available or in hostile environments such as countries that do not allow ISKCON to establish centers. Groups can cater to specific member-groups like children, students, or professionals. Nama-hatta devotees are generally established in their social, familial, and economic situations, and therefore offer a stable environment for people to cultivate Krishna Consciousness.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Nama-hatta Program
Interviewer: How did the Nama-hatta start in ISKCON Mayapur?
H.H. Jayapataka Swami: In 1977, there was a change in government and the new government was the Left Front government. Somehow or other our temple was attacked. That is another story but that was the cause for us to organize a response. So we organized about 3000 persons in a procession to all the main roads of West Bengal, a shanti procession- that they shouldn’t attack devotees, we want peace. There were 168 kirtan groups and Radha Dyuti Prabhu came and said to me that this is amazing that every group is doing the same kirtan, but each one is singing in a different tune, a different melody. It is so ecstatic. So I thought we could organize all these kirtan groups and we will have a kirtan type organization. So my first idea was ISO- ISKCON Sankirtan Organization.
I went to Srila Prabhupada and took his blessings. He said this is very good. But you should sometime bring them to the ISKCON temple, have them stay for about 3 days, see how we do the worship and they should do the same thing in their villages. So we encouraged and they started to organize like this. Bhakti Charu Maharaj gave me a book called Gaudiya Patrika and Srila Prabhupada was the President of that issue. In that issue there was a reprint of 5 articles of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s articles on Nama-hatta. That was called the Godruma Kalpatavi, special desire tree in the gardens of Godruma. Then I said why should we call it a different name like ISKCON Sankirtan Organization when our previous acaryas have already given the name Nama-hatta. So instead of calling ISKCON Sankirtan Organization, we called it the Nama-hatta – the Hare Krishna Nama-hatta. So like that we have Raghava Pandit who was active in organizing the Nama-hatta. That time I went to Orissa and with the help of Goura Govinda Maharaj, I brought a book called rules, aims, methods, administration of Nama-hatta. So we thought that it was important to put down rules so that we had some organization otherwise there would be a lot of speculation on how things should be done. This was not fully implemented but to a large degree it was followed. We took the inspiration from Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s description of Nama-hatta. Also where some details were missing, we saw how other organizations ran and we took some lines from Rotary Club rules and regulations to fill in the details. So we started to enroll Nama-hatta groups. First we had about 45 groups, then 150, then 250, 350, eventually we had 2,000 groups. In West Bengal, Orissa, Assam but some of these groups were not very active so then we had to boil it down, I think we now have between 500-1000 groups now. I don’t know the exact number now. That’s how it started in Mayapur. So we had the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktivinoda Thakura and the previous acaryas, the gurus and GBCs of ISKCON.
The Hon'ble Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lady Cosgrove
Admin 13 march 2018
The Governor General was appreciative of ISKCON's various social and spiritual efforts in Australia and the role ISKCON plays in fostering cultural ties between the two countries.
Iskcon udupi welcomes SRI PALIMARU MUTT SWAMI as the next pariyaya swami for 2018-20.
Admin 18 january 2018
ISKCON Udupi also contributed to the ceremony known as Warah(literally meaning carrying on head) Kannike( gifts)..wherein Gifts in " kind " are offered to Lord Sri Krishna as part of the Parayay celebrations this year on 18th January 2018. Devotees and many organisations and people from all walks of life donate in kind, etc for this festival.
TOVP Sudarshan Chakra Installation
Admin 14 november 2017
After more than ten years of planning, fundraising and execution, a major milestone has now been achieved for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. On Feb 7th, Sudarshan Chakra was...
Udupi Paryaya – 2018
Admin 14 november 2017
The Paryaya festival, which the marks the transfer of power of management and worship of Lord Krishna at the 800-year-old Sri Krishna Mutt/Temple from one seer to another seer of the Ashta Mutts...
Admin 14 november 2017
OM SHIVAYA NAMAHA Obeisances to the Auspicious One Sri Sivastakam (Eight prayers glorifying Lord Shiva, spoken by Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Recorded in Murari Gupta’s “Sri Caitanya Carita Mahakavya”) 1) namo namaste...
Our centers are like the oasis in a vast desert. In the desert there is no water, but occasionally if one is fortunate he may come in contact with an oasis and he is saved. Similarly in this material world we are drying up due to lack of spiritual knowledge. Our ISKCON centres are meant to give relief to the dried up conditioned souls who are searching after the nectar of joyful life.