“I very much welcome events such as this, which will help us all to celebrate the values and benefits of diversity, but also shows the positive expression of belief that is characteristic of the Krishna consciousness movement” said Tony Blair, the former PM of the United Kingdom about ISKCON.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, includes five hundred major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly one hundred affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide. Though it has just been less than 50 years since ISKCON has gone global, it has expanded widely since its founding by his divine grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in New York City in 1966. On the Birth anniversary of Shri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, here’s an overview of some interesting things you should know about the divine society.

1. Founded in 1966 in New York City, ISKCON is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organisation that claims it is a direct descendant of Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya.

2. ISKCON devotees follow a disciplic succession line of Gaudiya Bhagavata Vaishnavas and are the largest branch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Vaishnavism means ‘Worship of Lord Vishnu’, and Gauḍa refers to the area where this branch of Vaishnavism originated, in the Gauda region of West Bengal.

3. The name ‘Hare Krishna’ for devotees the comes from The Maha Mantra that devotees sing aloud or chant quietly. The Mantra:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

4. The regulative principles for the devotees include No meat-eating, no illicit sex, no gambling, no intoxicants in relation to the four legs of dharma that are Daya (Mercy), Tapas (Self-Control), Satyam (Truthfulness) and Saucam (Cleanliness of body and mind).

5. ISKCON does the preaching and spread the Krishna consciousness primarily by singing the Maha Mantra in public places and by selling books. Street preaching is also pretty much visible. There are also ISKCON communities around the world with schools, restaurants and farms.

6. The Bhaktivedanta Institute is the scientific research branch of ISKCON. The motto of this institute in the Sanskrit language, is “Athato brahma jijnasa,” which means “One should inquire into the Supreme.” There are a number of branches of BI, with one of the main branches in Mumbai.

7. ISKCON has often encouraged a project called Food for Life. The goal of the project is to “liberally distribute pure vegetarian meals (prasadam) throughout the world”. This project is currently active in over sixty countries and serves up to 2 million free meals every day with its welfare achievements often noted by The New York Times and other media houses worldwide.

8. The Governing Body Commission created by Bhaktivedanta Swami in 1970, appointed 12 members to the commission, all of them non sanyasi.

9. ISKCON strictly adheres to the traditional system of The Guru and parampara. It is a disciplic succession in which teachings are handed down from master to disciple, for generations together.

10. ISKCON has 40 temples in the United States of America, 27 in India, 5 in the United Kingdom and many more around the world.

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