header (1)
History
CENTERS AROUND THE WORLD
Festivals
Philosophy
F.A.Q

History

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS – ISKCON
Founder Acharya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

5 DECADES
OF SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE
IN SERVING THE HUMANITY
We take this opportunity to introduce ourselves as a part of the worldwide, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) movement, which is a Non profit, Social welfare & Spiritual organization engaged in propagating the teachings & values of the great ancient literatures of our Vedic heritage.

We are a Charitable Trust dedicated to promoting individual and global peace, harmony and prosperity by spreading the message of divine love and fraternity given in the Vedic texts of ancient India. Our Trust was originally started in 1966. Since then the trust has brought spiritual joy, integrity and dignity to the lives of millions of people worldwide through it’s over 600 branches.

ISKCON’S MISSION

Srila Prabhupada gave a clear Mission Statement for ISKCON which is outlined in the following seven points:

 

The Seven Purposes of ISKCON

  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, Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
  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 sankirtanamovement, congregational chanting of the holy name 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, more natural way of life.
  7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

 

ISKCON’S HISTORY

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966. It belongs to the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition, a devotional tradition based on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The precepts and practices of ISKCON were taught and codified by Lord Chaitanya, who is direct incarnation of Lord Krishna in 15th and his principle associates, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, gave a powerful impetus for a massive bhakti (devotional) movement throughout India. Under his direction hundreds of volumes on the philosophy of Krishna consciousness were compiled. Many devotees have followed in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu including, in the 19th century, an outstanding Vaisnava theologian, Bhaktivinoda Thakura who brought Krishna consciousness to a modern audience. Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, who is the Spiritual Master of Srila Prabhupada, instructed him to spread Krishna consciousness in the West.

 

CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE HARE KRISHNA MOVEMENT

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) commonly known in the West as the Hare Krishna Movement comes in a tradition that traces all the way back to Lord Krishna Himself. ISKCON was founded in New York in 1966 by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), referred to as Srila Prabhupada. His spiritual teacher, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, asked him to teach Bhakti to the English-speaking world.

    • At 69 years old, Srila Prabhupada arrived in Boston in 1965. By 1966 he was living in New York City and had developed a following.
    • From 1966 to 1968, temples were established in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first Ratha-yatra outside of India was held in San Francisco and began an annual ISKCON tradition in more than 20 major cities around the world.
    • From 1971 to 1973, temples opened in Europe, Canada, South America, Mexico, London, Africa, and India.
    • In 1970, the Governing Body Commission, ISKCON’s international managerial body, was established to oversee the Society, which had grown to close to one hundred temples, schools, restaurants, and farm communities.
    • From 1970 to 1977, ISKCON built major centers at the pilgrimage sites of Mayapur and Vrindavana, India, and a large temple in Bombay.
    • In 1972, Srila Prabhupada founded the publishing house Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT), now the world’s largest publisher of books on Bhakti yoga. Krishna.com is sponsored and maintained by the BBT.
    • In 1973, the Bhaktivedanta Institute was formed to write books and magazines and to hold conferences to present the teachings of the Vedas in scientific terms.
    • From 1974 to the present, ISKCON Food for Life has run food relief programs in dozens of cities around the world.
    • In November 1977, Srila Prabhupada passed from this world. ISKCON had 108 temples and more than 10,000 followers.
    • In 1989, the Hare Krishna movement come out from underground in the Soviet Union, as glasnost brought an end to persecution.
    • By 1991, more than one million copies of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is had been sold in the former Soviet Union.
  • In the early 1990’s, Krishna.com is launched, as well as ISKCON.com and other Hare Krishna websites.

CENTERS AROUND THE WORLD

CENTERS AROUND THE WORLD

Kindly find attached the copy of ISKCON Centers around the globe.
You can download this copy of PDF and view it using Adobe Acrobat.

Festivals

GAURA PURNIMA
SRI RAMA NAVAMI
CHANDANA YATRA & AKSHAYA TRITIYA
SRI NARASIMHA CHATURDASHI
PANDAVA NIRJALA EKADASI
PANIHATI CHIDA-DAHI UTSAVA
SRI JAGANNATHA SNANA YATRA
GUNDICHA MARJANA
SRI JAGANNATHA RATHA YATRA
JHULAN YATRA
SRI SRI BALARAM JAYANTHI
SRI KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI
SRILA PRABHUPADA APPEARANCE DAY
SRI RADHASHTAMI
SRI VAMANA DVADASI
SRILA BHAKTIVINODA THAKURA’S APPEARANCE
SRI RAMACHANDRA VIJAYOTSAVA (VIJAYA DASAMI)
DAMODARA (KARTIKA) MONTH
DIWALI
GOVARDHANA PUJA
GOPASTAMI & GO-PUJA
SRILA GAURAKISORA’S DISSAPPEARANCE
BHISHMA PANCHAKA
GITA JAYANTHI (ADVENT OF BHAGAVAD GITA)
BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI THAKUR’S DISSAPPEARANCE
VASANTA PANCHAMI
SRI ADVAITA ACHARYA’S APPEARANCE
SRI VARAHA DVADASI
SRI NITYANANDA TRAYODASI

Philosophy

  • Spiritual life begins when one inquires into the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. The Vedic scriptures state that spiritual life begins when one inquires into the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are monotheists and know the personality of Godhead as Krishna, the All-attractive. But it is also recognised that the Supreme has unlimited names such as Rama, Buddha, Vishnu, Jehovah, Allah, etc.
  • The ultimate goal of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is to develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Godhead. The Vedas also tell us that the understanding of the self, as being non-material or spiritual by nature, is the preliminary stage of realisation of the absolute truth. To understand knowledge of self-realisation one must approach a genuine spiritual master, just as one learns the essence of any subject from a perfected practitioner.
  • The congregational chanting of the maha-mantra,
    Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,
    Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,
    as promoted by Sri Caitanya, is accepted by the Vedas as the most effective means of self-purification in this age. The Vedas describe the mantra as a prayer to the Lord, “Please Lord, engage me in Your service”.
  • Devotees may accept formal initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name vowing to abstain from intoxication, gambling, illicit sexual connections and the eating of meat, fish or eggs. ISKCON members believe indulgence in the aforementioned activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society. At the time of initiation devotees also agree to chant a prescribed number of mantras each day.

F.A.Q

Is it possible for a person living an ordinary everyday life to develop Krishna consciousness even without these external signs?
Saffron robes and shaven head with tilak are not the most important things, even though they create supportive mental disposition, just as well-dressed soldier has a good feeling that he is a real warrior. Does it mean that he cannot fight without the uniform? No. Also God consciousness knows no obstacles – it can be revived under any conditions – but certain conditions are beneficial in this regard. Therefore certain lifestyle, dress, diet and so on are prescribed. These things help in developing Krishna consciousness but they are not entirely necessary. Thus even person living an ordinary life can study and develop Krishna consciousness.
Devotee, Krishna conscious person, does not sit idle. He knows that philosophy of Krishna consciousness is so important that it should be spread. Therefore members of this Krishna consciousness movement appear in public and sing Hare Krishna mantra, preach and distribute this first-class literature about Krishna consciousness. This is the mission of Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Krishna consciousness movement devotees serve without being paid, out of love for Krishna. They could work elsewhere and earn thousands a month, but his service is an expression of their love of God. Devotees serve in many ways – they garden, write, cook, clean etc. All their activities relate to Krishna and therefore they are Krishna conscious twenty four hours a day.
How are people recruited into your movement?
We sell books, people read them and when they are convinced by their contents, they usually visit the temple. If they like it, they decide to join us. Or they see the public program, become interested, and then they visit us and decide to stay. Usually it is one of these cases.
I feel that my belief in god is very shallow. How do I find out there is god?
We can learn about existence of God in the same way as we know about the existence of an artist when we see a picture or about the existence of parents when we see a child. Therefore when we observe nature, her workings and laws – which means there must be a lawgiver – we know that the intelligence of her creator, God, surpasses our concepts and that this God must be a person because only a person has intelligence.
If God is so wonderful, why was I sent here to suffer? If He can do anything, can’t He get me out of here?
Yes, it is true that God can do anything. But He will not interfere with our minute independence; He will not impose Himself on the living being. Our suffering in this world is due to the misuse of our own independence. We are going to have to face our own responsibilities in this regard and stop blaming God. The sufferings we are currently undergoing are like the suffering of the dreamer in a nightmare. Ultimately they have no reality nor do they affect the soul who is simply undergoing the dreamlike conditions of material life due to his misidentification of the self with the material body. One might still say that while the dreamer dreams his sufferings are very real to him. True. But there is another purpose to our sufferings. They are meant to gradually move us in the direction of inquiring into the problems of life and into our relationship with God. The ultimate suffering of the living being is the feeling of incompleteness and dissatisfaction that the part must feel unless it is in proper relation to the whole. We are all suffering in this world due to the fact that we have voluntarily separated ourselves from God and thus we will always feel unfulfilled, incomplete and unsatisfied, no matter how much we attempt to enjoy this world, because we are functioning artificially outside of our loving relationship with God.
Is Lord Krishna personal or impersonal?
The impersonal brahman effulgence is one aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, but it is only a partial representation of the Lord and is ultimately a subordinate emanation from His personal feature. Thus if one stops at the impersonal understanding of the Absolute Truth, his or her knowledge of God remains incomplete.
The Lord has two other features known as Paramatma and Bhagavan. In His Paramatma feature the Supreme Lord exists within each and every atom of His creation and also within the hearts of every living being In this way he pervades and supports the entire universe. This feature of the Lord is also a subordinate emanation from His eternal, original personal form.
The word Bhagavan indicates the personal form of the Lord, which is the ultimate source of all other existences and energies, and all other aspects and manifestations of Godhead. That is why Krishna is described as the “Supreme Personality” of Godhead. This personal feature of the Lord is most sublime and therefore the Lord is known as Krishna, or He who is “all-attractive”.
To deny the Lord His beautiful personal feature, by which He reciprocates in loving exchange with all living beings who desire His association, is insulting because it denies the Lord all of the most attractive and appealing aspects of personal existence. With our tiny brains and limited understanding, we may not be able to comprehend how it is that the Supreme Lord can maintain His eternal, individual form and personality, while simultaneously expanding into everything else. But this poor fund of knowledge is no reason to deny the Lord’s unlimited, transcendental form.
It seems that to develop Krishna consciousness, among other things, means to shave one’s head and wear saffron robes. Is it true?
Men have shaven head in a traditional way, with sikha (tuft of hair on the top of one’s head). It is pure and practical and it expresses a submission to the Lord and detachment from material world. Women usually wear long hair in braids. This shows their chastity because in the Vedic culture women untie their hair only in privacy in front of their husbands. Dot between eyebrows (bindi) means that the woman is engaged. Married women aside from bindi also color their parting by red kumkum powder. Devotees in ISKCON dress in various ways, sometimes traditionally and sometimes in a modern way. Because ISKCON is also a cultural movement, devotees usually dress according to the traditional Vaisnava culture which is the main spiritual stream of Vedic culture in India. Sometimes people think that it is not practical in the West, but devotees feel that in time this traditional position will be appreciated. When you see for example a policeman in uniform, you immediately know that he is the person who protects you. Devotee dressed in dhoti (saffron robe) and with shaven head is such a transcendental policeman whom you can approach with spiritual problems. Thank to this way of dressing devotees can be easily recognized and people can come to them for spiritual knowledge. In Orient people dress in dhoti and sari (a Hindi word, from Sanskrit sati / zaaTii – SB 9.9.7) for thousands of years. Saffron, or orange male dress, means the man took a vow of celibacy. White male dress means he is in the householder order (grhastha) or he prepares himself to become a full-time temple member. Women usually wear colorful saris and jewels.
What do the sign on your forehead and beads on your neck mean?
This is a so-called tilak, made from clay from sacred Indian rivers, Ganges and Yamuna. In India you see people with many kinds of these signs according to the specific tradition they are part of. According to the tilak can be distinguished also various Vaisnava sampradayas (philosophical schools). We, Gaudiya Vaisnavas from Brahma-sampradaya, wear tilak made of two thin lines which converge at the root of the nose and a spot in the form of an almond on the nose. Those who have Visnu tilak on their forehead are devotees of Lord Visnu or Krishna. Neckbeads (kanti-mala) mean that the person took a vow to follow orders of genuine spiritual master, who is a direct representative of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are made of wood of the sacred tulasi plant just as the rosary used for chanting the mantra (japa-mala).
Where do you get money to support your movement?
The Lord takes care of all living beings in the whole universe, so He will certainly take care of His devotees. Please, don’t forget that we are a world-wide spiritual and cultural movement with more than 450 centers in 76 countries, and not just a bunch of strange cult members from your neighborhood. Most of the money we get from the sale of Srila Prabhupada’s books (over ten million copies a year) published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, then from our famous restaurants and boutiques Govinda, from congregational members’ gifts, life members and from the general public. Aside from this many of our projects like charitable programs and establishing cultural centers are sponsored by many governments all over the world.
Why Are We Chanting Hare Krishna?
Hare Krishna, this name, was chanted by Lord Caitanya, who introduced this movement five hundred years ago in India. We are following the footprints of Lord Caitanya. Because He chanted Hare Krishna, therefore we are chanting Hare Krishna. But Lord Caitanya has recommended that God has innumerable names, and any one of them can be chanted.
What is a devotee?
Hare Krishna, this name, was chanted by Lord Caitanya, who introduced this movement five hundred years ago in India. We are following the footprints of Lord Caitanya. Because He chanted Hare Krishna, therefore we are chanting Hare Krishna. But Lord Caitanya has recommended that God has innumerable names, and any one of them can be chanted.
Are you Hindus?
Because the teachings of Bhakti are rooted in the Vedas, Bhakti falls under the banner of Hinduism. Unlike most other Hindu philosophies and branches, for those practicing Bhakti believe in a personal relationship with the Lord who is considered to be the Supreme Person and source of all personal and impersonal energies. Just like a sun globe has form yet emanates heat and light that does not hold a form, the Supreme also has a personal form that emanates all varieties of energies.
Strictly speaking, the word “Hindu” is not found in the Vedas – the spiritual scriptures of India. It was first used by Moghuls to refer to the people living east of the Sindhu River, in what is now India. When “Hindu” entered the English language in the seventeenth century, it was used to denote any native of Hindustan (India), but gradually came to mean someone who retained the indigenous religion (based on the Vedas) and had not converted to Islam.
Are you Buddhists?
The philosophy of Bhakti is quite different from what Buddha taught. Simply put, Buddhism teaches that the ultimate truth is void or nothingness and the goal of meditation is to lose our individual identity.
Bhakti teaches that God and all other living beings are unique, individual, spiritual persons eternally. God is the supreme person, and each of us has an eternal relationship with Him.
Why do you accept the idea of reincarnation?
The Vedic literature tells us that we souls can inhabit any of millions of forms of life, including aquatics, plants, insects, reptiles, birds, animals, and human beings. At the time of death, we leave one body and enter a new one. That is called reincarnation.
The concept of reincarnation is not as foreign as it might seem. We can observe that we change from one body to another in our own lifetime. Your body at birth is completely different from your adult body. Yet throughout these changes, you-the conscious self-remain the same. Similarly, the conscious self remains from one body to the next in the cycle of reincarnation.
What is “devotional service”?
“Devotional service” is the English rendering of the Sanskrit term “Bhakti yoga.” “Yoga” means to link with God. “Bhakti” means “love,” “worship,” or “devotion.” Another translation of “Bhakti yoga” is “Krishna consciousness.”
Who is Krishna?
Krishna is the speaker of the Bhagavad-Gita, recognized throughout the world as one of mankind’s greatest books of wisdom. In the Gita, as it is also known, Krishna says repeatedly that He is God Himself, the source of everything.
Arjuna, to whom Krishna is speaking, accepts Krishna’s words as true, adding that the greatest spiritual authorities of that time also confirm that Krishna is God. Traditions that follow in the line of these authorities have carried Krishna’s teachings down to the present day.
Who is that girl with Krishna?
She is Radha, Krishna’s eternal consort, the original goddess. Together, Radha and Krishna form the complete conception of the Absolute Truth, encompassing both male and female aspects of divinity.
Who is Srila Prabhupada?
Srila Prabhupada is the founder / acharya (acharya means “exemplar”) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement. He was born in India in 1896 and received his spiritual training there. He started ISKCON in New York City in 1966. He opened more than 100 centers and translated and published over 40 volumes of spiritual books. He passed from this world in 1977.
What is the Hare Krishna Movement?
500 years ago Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most recent incarnation of Krishna, taught by His own example that one can live the essence of Bhagavad-Gita by chanting Krishna ‘s holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Sri Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu both taught Bhakti-yoga, the spiritual practice of connecting with God through devotional service to Him. Based on Their teachings, in 1966 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, referred to as Srila Prabhupada, founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York City.
Srila Prabhupada and his disciples popularized the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra in the 1960s and 1970s, and it spread to countries around the globe. Though ISKCON is the legal name for the movement Prabhupada started, most people know it as the Hare Krishna movement because of the popular term “Hare Krishna.”
Why do you consider cows sacred?
The Vedas teach that the cow is a mother to human society because she provides nourishment in the form of milk. Like a mother, she should be cared for and honoured.
What does “Hare Krishna” mean?
“Hare Krishna” refers to the Sanskrit prayer we sing (the maha-mantra, or “great chant for deliverance”) and to our Society. Since we are often seen chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, we are referred to as the “Hare Krishnas.”
The Hare Krishna mantra is composed of three Sanskrit words: Krishna, Rama and Hare. Krishna and Rama are both names for God. Krishna means “the all-attractive,” and Rama means “the supreme pleasure.” We can approach the all-attractive Supreme Lord, and experience the supreme pleasure of His Company, through the help of His devotional or pleasure energy, Hare.
The maha-mantra is a petition: “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engages me in your loving service.” By chanting Hare Krishna we become purified of material conditioning and become reinstated in our natural, eternal position as God’s servants.
Are there restrictions based on race, sex, or other considerations?
No. We are all spiritual souls, parts of Krishna, and have an intrinsic right to be re-instated in our original spiritual position. Everyone is encouraged to take up the practices of Bhakti yoga for true success in life.
Why do some people consider Hare Krishna a cult?
People sometimes fear the unfamiliar. Trying to make sense out of things they don’t understand, they conveniently label them and put them into boxes. Because people are uninformed or misinformed, the Krishna consciousness movement sometimes erroneously ends up in the “cult” box.
Hare Krishna, or the Krishna consciousness movement, is a spiritual path coming from one of the oldest, most respected religious traditions in India. Far from being a dangerous cult, Krishna consciousness teaches people how to live a life of high morals and ethics and to respect the integrity of all beings. We practice a process of self-realization that cleans the mind of unwanted things, such as greed and hate. Through Krishna consciousness, or Bhakti yoga, people develop their individuality and realize their highest potential.
How are devotees who dedicate their lives to Krishna consciousness supported?
Devotees living and serving in temples are usually supported by the temples, and temple income generally comes mostly from donations from the congregation and from book sales. Devotees living outside the temples support themselves through any number of occupations and professions.
What is the role of women in ISKCON?
Women in the Hare Krishna movement do practically all of the same services as the men.
From the spiritual point of view, there is no difference between men and women, because everyone is a spirit soul. Srila Prabhupada taught that anyone who chants Hare Krishna (or any other name of God) while refraining from sinful acts can become pure and return to the kingdom of God.
What are you singing on the street?
We mostly sing the Hare Krishna mantra, composed of names of God: Hare (pronounced “ha-ray”) Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama (rhymes with “drama”), Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Because God and His names are spiritually identical, by singing His names we associate with Him and gradually become purified. Anyone who hears this glorification of God also gets spiritual benefit.
Why do you bow down, with your heads to the floor?
Bowing down is a sign of submission and humility before God. Krishna devotees bow to the Lord as a gesture of giving themselves to Him in service and love.
Why don’t you eat meat?
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna says that everything we eat should first be offered to Him, and He eats only vegetarian food. Besides that, a vegetarian diet has numerous benefits, not the least of which is compassion for other creatures.
Why don’t you smoke, or drink coffee, tea, or alcohol?
Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol-to varying degrees these are all intoxicants. That is, they all have a toxic effect on the body. Devotees of Krishna eat and drink only things that can first be offered to Him, and in the scriptures He requests pure, nutritious food and beverages. By avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and similar substances devotees keep their minds clear for concentrating on spiritual goals.
Why do Hare Krishna men shave their heads?
Hare Krishna men shave their heads to symbolize renunciation of the material way of life and dedication to spiritual pursuits. The small tuft of hair at the back signifies that they are devotees of Krishna, distinguishing them from other renunciants who shave their heads, such as Buddhists.
Shaving one’s head is not a strict rule for Krishna devotees, and is done mostly by men living in a monastic environment, or ashram. Most Hare Krishna men live and work outside Krishna communities and don’t shave their heads.
Why do you worship idols?
God is spirit, but as Krishna reveals in the Bhagavad-gita, matter is His energy. Because we cannot perceive spirit in our present condition, Krishna allows us to see Him in His Deity form made of material elements. He tells us that the Deity installed according to the directions of the scriptures is identical to Him. As such we don’t worship idols. Idolatry is the worship of an imagined form of God. Deity worship is not idol worship, but is worship of the Lord according to His instructions.
What’s that mark on your forehead?
It’s called tilak, and it’s a traditional mark to identify devotees of Krishna. Tilak is made with sacred clay from a holy place in India, and it marks the body as a temple. It is worn to remind the wearer, and everyone else, that within the body resides the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, Krishna. The body is holy and should be used to serve God’s purpose.
Why do you dress like you do?
We dress in the way of the Vedic tradition, men in dhotis (robes) and kurtas (shirts) and women in saris and cholis (blouses). These clothes remind us that we are servants of Krishna.
One can be a devotee of Krishna without wearing these clothes. But dressing in this way identifies us as Krishna’s devotees, encourages us to act accordingly, and reminds others of Krishna when they see us.
What are those beads around your neck?
The neck beads that Krishna devotees wear are meant to symbolize submission to God. They serve to remind the person wearing them and those who see them that we are all servants of God, or Krishna.
The beads are made from Tulasi wood. Although Tulasi appears in the material world as a plant, she is a great devotee of Krishna. So by wearing Tulasi beads, we please Krishna.
Why do you have unusual names?
Our names are in Sanskrit, the language of the Vedic tradition spoken by Krishna, and are given by the spiritual master at the time of initiation, which is considered one’s second birth. They are names of God, or of something or someone related to Him, so they’re purifying to hear and remember. Each name includes the Sanskrit word for “servant” ( dasa for men, dasi for women), acknowledging that we are all part of one big family of God’s servants.
What is that little bag you carry?
The bag holds our prayer beads. It keeps our beads clean and allows us to carry them wherever we go, reminding us that we can always chant the Hare Krishna mantra and thus stay in spiritual consciousness.
What do you do in your temples?
We congregate to worship the Deity form of the Lord, chant Hare Krishna and other devotional songs, hear discourses on the Vedic scriptures, and enjoy the company of likeminded souls.
Our temples are open to the public. At larger temples services are held throughout the day and most visitors come for the special Sunday program, the “Sunday Feast.” At the ISKCON Columbus, programs are held Thursdays, Sundays and days when there are special events or festivals.
A typical Sunday Feast program consists of a formal ceremony called arati in which Deities of Krishna are worshiped to the accompaniment of sacred songs sung by the congregation. This is followed by a lecture on the Vedic scriptures. At some temples there might be a play or more singing. The festival always includes a delicious vegetarian feast, for everyone in attendance that has been prepared for and offered to the Lord.
What language are you singing in?
The language we primarily use for our formal prayers and songs is Sanskrit, sometimes called “the mother of all languages.” It’s the language of the Vedic scriptures. Though we can praise God in any language, Sanskrit is unique: Krishna designed it for spiritual topics. So it’s very potent for purifying our consciousness.
Another language used in some of our scriptures and songs is Bengali, because Sri Chaitanya, the principal incarnation of God for this age, appeared in Bengal, as have many saints in our tradition, and they composed hymns in their native tongue.
Can I perform Bhakti yoga at home?
Yes, Bhakti is a matter of consciousness, or of the heart. So you can practice Bhakti yoga in a temple, at home, on the road-anywhere, any time.

ISKCON Centers Around World

Someone somewhere lives because of your donation