OUR HISTORY, TEACHINGS AND FOUNDER
SKCON was founded in 1966 in New York by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, affectionately known as Srila Prabhupada by his followers. With great effort and determination, at the age of 69 (when most people are retired), he journeyed from Kolkata to New York by cargo ship hoping to help the people of the Western world to reconnect with their spiritual essence. He sought to pass on the ancient teachings of bhakti-yoga and demonstrated how to practically apply this knowledge to live a happy and fulfilling life. Srila Prabhupada has unlocked the secrets and sacred spiritual knowledge in the Vedic tradition and made them accessible to everyone. His "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is" is the largest selling edition of the Bhagavad-Gita in the Western world and translated in over 76 languages.
WHO ARE WE
Popularly known as the “Hare Krishna’s”, we are a worldwide organisation officially called ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness). ISKCON is a bhakti-yoga tradition sitting on the Gaudiya Vaishnava “branch” of the Vedic “tree”. Today, ISKCON comprises of 500 major centres, temples and rural communities, hundreds of vegetarian restaurants, thousands of local meeting groups and community food relief programmes, and millions of members on every continent and in every major city in the world.
WHAT WE PRACTICE
We are open every day of the year, with daily activities running from early morning until late evening. Join us for colourful worship ceremonies, healthy “karma-free” cuisine, daily meditation, talks and seminars; or pop into our boutique for spiritual books, health and well-being products, music and more.
Yoga is more than just a physical exercise. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root, Yuj, which means to link up with or combine. The word “bhakti” is derived from the Sanskrit word, bhaj, which means loving service. Bhakti-yoga means to connect to the Supreme by means of loving devotional service.
And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.
Today, some yoga practitioners consider the physical benefits of yoga to be the end in themselves. But according to the traditional yoga systems, physical exercises are just one step on the path of God realisation. The Bhagavad-Gita (the core spiritual text of the Hare Krishna movement) explains bhakti-yoga (the path of dedication and love) as the culmination of other yoga practices. Bhakti-yoga focuses on developing our dedication, service and love for the divine Lord Krishna.
The lifestyle of a bhakti-yogi is one of intentional actions and choices that are in favour of becoming conscious of the Supreme. Through a variety of activities, a bhakti-yogi aims to become a devotee of the Lord, training the mind along with our actions towards selfless service to all living beings and ultimately to Lord Krishna. Living in this way, we reduce our karmic reaction because our daily activities are intentionally devoted to the divine who is the controller of karma.
Some of the activities we do daily are: meditate, sing mantra music, study and live by the sacred Vedic wisdom, have daily philosophy discourses, eat only karma-free vegetarian food, and try in all spheres of our life to live in a way that upholds the principles of truthfulness, mercy, austerity, and cleanliness.
Meditation is a spiritual practice found in practically all religious and spiritual traditions, although the methods differ.
The Vaishnava tradition recommends the chanting of the names of God to be a particularly effective method of spiritual awakening, simultaneously opening us to an incredibly empowering experience. Bhakti-yogis use mantra meditation both on an individual level and collectively through mantra music and singing called “kirtan”.
We believe that the sourcing, preparation and eating of food should be based on principles of compassion, non-violence and balanced living. Thus, bhakti-yogis advocate a strict vegetarian diet, avoiding any animal products. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna tells His friend and disciple, Arjuna, to offer everything to Him and in this way everything he does, thinks, and eats becomes freed from sinful reactions, or karma. In Sanskrit, this is called “prasadam”, which means mercy. This is sanctified food that has been offered to Krishna with love and devotion.