By Lakshman (das) Vrindavan (IN)
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a peaceful fraternal movement incorporated in 1966 in New York by its founder Acharya His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and it is aimed at teaching a simple way of living in harmony with nature and to achieve the ultimate goal of human life. “We shall call our society ISKCON.” Prabhupada playfully coined first the acronym, although many alternative names were proposed by his close associates. The principal place of worship was located at 26 Second Avenue, in the city, county, and state of New York was the sole headquarters of ISKCON then. Yet, Prabhupada was unwilling to live there because his Guru Maharaj moved out from the traditional holy places to preach in cities like Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi, but hardly lived there. Prabhupada often said that his spiritual master always lived in Goloka Vrindavana, the eternal abode of Krishna and absorbed in the lilas of the Supreme Lord.
The seven explicit purposes of the 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 sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya 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.
The way of preaching Srila Prabhupada ordained was glorifying the lilas (pastimes) of the Supreme Lord Krshna and His several appearances in the past. His aim was preaching in groups and propagation of the congregational chanting. With it, he carried out the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a merciful incarnation of Lord Krishna appeared half a millennium ago to call people back to Godhead. It is a mission to bond the people of East and West together and foster the unity of friendship and love in the name of the Supreme Lord, whose infinitesimal fragments are we all Souls. He demonstrated a way of simple living and high morale conducive for the Krishna Conscious movement and emulated the ideals pictured in the wonderful Scriptures of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. He advised all to read these wonderful Scriptures and his interesting purports and encouraged people to write about Krishna and His expansion Caitanya and their glorious pastimes. He insisted to propagate the message of Lord distributing these valuable Scriptures across the globe. This was the special instruction of Srilala Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to Srila Prabhupada. One day in
1932 at Radha-kund in Vriindavan, the glorious Spiritual Master specifically told to his disciple, “If you ever get any money, publish books.”
Srila Prabhupada often said, “Vrindavan is my residence, Bombay is my office, and Mayapur is where I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Bombay (Mumbai) is where he incorporated the main branch of ISKCON and other branches in India are believed to be legally bound to it. Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi is located in Vrindavan besides the beautiful Krishna-Balaram temple he built. As the predecessor Acaryas envisioned, Srila Prabhupada built a wonderful temple at the flushing meadows of Navadvipa, Mayapur to worship Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the glorious presence of Radhakrishna at the birthplace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and later made it as the international headquarters of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupad spread the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya and with his blessings established 108 majestic Temples world-wide and circum-ambulated the world fourteen times praising the glories of Lord.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to preach the sankirtana movement in love of Krishna for the benefit of the entire world. His intentions,
prithivite ache yata nagaradi grama
sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama
In every town and village on this earth the glories of My name will be chanted. (Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya 4.126)
He sent Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis to Vrindavana, Nityanada Prabhu to Bengal, and he personally visited South India to propagate the movement. Srila Prabhupada, perfectly fulfilled His mission before he returned to Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Goloka Vrindavana. Enthused by Srila Prabhupada’s invigorating spirit of success, it is the responsibility of all devotees of ISKCON to take the movement forward to the far reaching corners of the world and to every person seeking the Supreme Destination. In loving memory on the incorporation of ISKCON, let us all chant,
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE