The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was established in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada). ISKCON has since developed into a worldwide confederation of more than 10,000 temple devotees and 250,000 congregational devotees. Better known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON is comprised of more than 350 centers, 60 rural communities, 50 schools and 60 restaurants worldwide. The mission of this nonsectarian, monotheistic movement is to promote the well being of society by teaching the science of Krishna consciousness according to Bhagavad-gita and other ancient scriptures. Indeed, ISKCON is a movement aiming at the spiritual reorientation of mankind through the simple process of chanting the holy names of God. The human life is meant for ending the miseries of material existence. Our present-day society is trying to do so by material progress. However, in spite of the extensive material progress, the human society is not in peaceful condition. The reason is that a human being is essentially a spirit soul and belongs to the spiritual world where he has an eternal and sweet relationship with the Supreme Lord. The Krishna Consciousness movement aims at awakening love of God within the heart of everyone and reviving their eternal relationship with God.
The Krsna consciousness movement is also known as the sankirtana movement, the movement for spreading the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Superficially, this chanting may appear to be the repetition of some ordinary words, but it is not. It requires a little practice to experience its effect. The effect of chanting Hare Krsna is stated by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu: ceto-darpana-majanam. “It will cleanse your heart.” If we go on chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, gradually the dirty things accumulated within our heart will be cleansed away.
The Krsna consciousness movement is genuine, historically authorized, natural and transcendental due to its being based on Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The knowledge of Krsna Consciousness has been transmitted through an unbroken chain of teachers and students stemming from the Lord Himself, and has been presented in its original unadulterated form by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It is gradually becoming the most popular movement in the entire world, with more than 600 worldwide centers and literature in as many as 70 languages.
Srila Prabhupada gave a clear mission statement for ISKCON which is outlined in the following seven points.
The Seven Objectives of ISKCON
- 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 sankirtana movement, 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.