The Hare Krishna Movement™ Organization is historically very significant, for now for the first time since the days of the Roman Empire, an Asian religion is being openly practiced by people of western origin in the streets of western cities.
- Dr. A.L. Basham; A Cultural History of India
What is the Hare Krishna Philosophy?
The term "Hare Krishna", or The Hare Krishna Movement' Organization, formally The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), is the orthodox core of Hinduism. It was registered in the West (in New York) in July 1966, but dates back over 5000 years. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1532) popularized the movement all over India. Hinduism is the world's third largest religion with over 900 million adherents, second to Christianity and Islam (according to various leading encyclopedias, websites and almanacs). The principal scriptures are The Bhagavad-gita (The Song of God), and the Shrimad Bhagavatam (the story of the Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna Bhagavan). Krishnas believe in one God.
The basic Hare Krishna beliefs can be summarized as follows:
1. By sincerely cultivating true spiritual science, we can be free from anxiety and come to a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness in this lifetime.
2. We are not our bodies but eternal, spirit souls, parts and parcels of God (Krishna). As such, we are all brothers, and Krishna is ultimately our common father. We accept the process of transmigration of the soul (reincarnation).
3. Krishna is eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-attractive. He is the seed-giving father of all living beings, and He is the sustaining energy of the entire cosmic creation. He is the same God as The Father Allah, Buddha and Jehovah.
4. The Absolute Truth is contained in the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in the world. The essence of the Vedas is found in the Bhagavad-gita, a literal record of Krishna's words.
5. One can learn the Vedic knowledge from a genuine spiritual master -- one who has no selfish motives and whose mind is firmly fixed on Krishna.
6. Before one eats, one offers to the Lord (Krishna) the food that sustains all humans; then Krishna becomes the offering and purifies the offered.
7. One performs all actions as offerings to Krishna and does nothing for one's own sense gratification.
8. The recommended means for achieving the mature stage of love of God in this age of Kali, or quarrel, is to chant the holy names of the Lord. The easiest method for most people is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Kolkata-born A.C. Bhakitivedanta Swami (1896-1977), also known as Shrila Prabhupada, who founded The Hare Krishna Movement' in New York in 1966, wrote a statement that was used in the religion's initial incorporation. This statement is still relevant for ISKCON, and sometimes serves as a Mission Statement.
It reads as follows:
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 (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, especially Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. We accept the principle of transmigration of the soul (reincarnation).
3. 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).
4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya 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, more natural way of life.
7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings and to
* Located in Mayapura, West Bengal India.