The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the Hare Krishna movement, includes five hundred major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly one hundred affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of namahattas or local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide. Although less than fifty years on the global stage, ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in New York City in 1966.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavat Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These are the historic texts of the devotional bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”.
The aim of ISKCON is to acquaint all people of world with universal principles of self-realization and God consciousness so that they may derive the highest benefit of spiritual understanding, unity and peace. The Vedic literature recommend that in the present age of Kali-yuga the most effective means of achieving self-realization is always hear about, glorify and remember the all-attractive Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. Therefore, it recommends the chanting of the Holy Names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This sublime chanting puts the chanter directly in touch with the Supreme Lord through the sound vibration of His Holy Name.
ISKCON follows the teachings of the Vedas and Vedic scriptures, including the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam which teach Vaishnavism or devotion to God (Krishna) in His Supreme Personal aspect of Sri Sri Radha Krishna.These teachings are received through the preceptorial line known as the Brahma-Madhav-Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. ISKCON is part of the disciplic succession which started with Lord Krishna Himself and continued with Srila Vyasadeva, Srila Madhavacharya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and in the present day His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his followers.
ISKCON devotees chant God’s name in the form of the maha-mantra, or the great prayer for deliverance:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.