Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was initially raised as a
spirtual society in New York to Propagate the message of the Bhagwad
Gita. It was founded by Swami Prabhupada.
Swami Prabhupada was born
in Calcutta in 1896 to a family of cloth merchants. In 1932 he moved
with his family to Allahabad where he became a disciple of
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Convinced by his spiritual master to
spread the message of Krishna consciousness, he travelled westwards
and, at the ripe old age of 70 years, arrived in New York in 1965
with a paltry Rs.40/- and over 200 three volume sets of his books for
distribution, sale and teaching. He held discourses on Lord Krishna
and classes in yoga and meditation. He soon started attracting
adventurous American youth into his fold. They were sent all over
the world to propagate Krishna consciousness.
Soon ISKCON became a
worldwide movement. In the words of A.L. Basham, a leading authority
on Indian history and religion: Here for the first time since
the days of the Roman Empire is a new Asian religion that is
to say, an Asian religion new to the Western world being
practised by people of Western race. It arose out of nothing in less
than twenty years and has become known all over the West
important fact in the history of the Western world.
Today there are over 500
Hare Krishna temples in all major cities of the world: New York,
London, Los Angeles, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Washington, Moscow
and Pakistan. In India there are about 40 ISKCON temples.
Upon his return to
Vrindavan in 1977 Prabhupada entered into samadhi Mandir
(memorial) in his honour. It is located within the premises of the
Krishna-Baldev Temple in Vrindavan. Beautiful paintings depicting
the life of Lord Krishna adorn the galleries leading to the main
temple. ISKCON devotees from various parts of the world can be
spotted manning the library or ISKCON book stalls and partaking in
temple rituals with gay abandon.
At Vrindavan the ISKCON
society also runs a boarding school on the lines of a gurukul
with classes being run from I to VII. A gurukul is a holistic kind
of educational system whereby students and teachers live in the same
complex so students may learn by observing the teacher. There are
guest houses for devotees within the premises so they may take part
in the day to day activities of the temple.
incorporates the following seven purposes: