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Transcript of ISKCON
Inside the Temple
Ratha Yatra Festival
A Global Community
Stability of Worship
Who Speaks for Hinduism?
It is believed that one should perform all actions as an offering to Krishna. No action should be performed for ones own gratification.
One of the key practices for all Hare Krishna's is the chanting of the
The result of chanting such a mantra is the attainment of peace of mind, knowledge of the self, liberation from Karma and freedom from reincarnation. It also enables the devotee to " awaken his
love for Krsna
." (Swami Prabhupada, Chant and be happy, p.107)
ISKCON runs the charity 'Food for life' which provides free vegetarian food for the homeless and needy. ISKCON's founder Prabhupada instructed his devotees to not let anyone go hungry within a ten mile radius of their temples. Food is an important part of ISCKON practice as when food is cooked and prepared it is always offered to Krishna, who then in return blesses the food. This practice is called
and means that the food they eat is not only nutritous but also has a spiritual benefit.
Another key ISKCON practice is the propagation of
Krishna consciousness to society
at large. The aim here is to educate civilisation in techniques of the spiritual life, therefore helping to achieve unity and peace in the world. In order to spread their message a major ISKCON practice is the publication and
distribution of magazines, leaflets and books
to the general public.
ISKCON consider themselves to be a distinct religious tradition that is non sectarian, and non denominational. This was reflected by attendees at the Hare Krishna Temple in Manchester. When asked how ISKCON related to the wider Hindu tradition, a follower replied: 'What is Hinduism? There is no such thing.' He then proceeded to explain where the term 'Hindu' originated, and how this term does not reflect one overarching religious tradition. ISKCON was presented as a separate religious tradition of its own.
This is reflected on the ISKCON website. ISKCON is defined as a sanatana dharma: 'the essential and universal principle of all religions, which denotes the natural and eternal activity of all living beings, loving devotional service to the one Supreme Personality of Godhead'.
This view is attributed to the reluctance of the society's founder, Swami Prabhupada, to associate Krishna Consciousness with Hinduism. Yet Kim Knott notes that in Britain, ISKCON has made active efforts to interact with the wider Hindu community, following negative publicity in the mass media, in which ISKCON was presented as a cult due to its tendency to remain separate from the wider Hindu tradition.
One way in which ISKCON has interacted with the wider Hindu community is through the formation of its education programme, ISKCON Educational Services, in 1990, which is a significant resource today for schools in Britain that wish to teach students about Hinduism. This meant that ISKCON had to speak on behalf of 'Hinduism' as a whole, and situate themselves within the wider tradition. This was challenging for ISKCON, as it is highlighted in the article on the website: For Whom Does Hinduism Speak? Yet this was felt to be a necessary action, in order to spread Krishna Consciousness in Britain, raise awareness about ISKCON, and to combat the negative portrayals in the media. This has led to a process that Malory Nye describes as the gradual 'Hinduisation' of ISKCON in Britain.
'The Heart of Hinduism (a learning resource for those interested in Hinduism) ... explains the Hindu traditions in clear terms'. ISKCON have clearly outlined that there is more than one tradition through the use of the plural, yet this website allows us to the see the process of 'Hinduisation' that Nye refers to. ISKCON has identified itself with the broader Hindu tradition, and through the Heart of Hinduism, is becoming a representative voice for how Hinduism, and ISKCON itself, is perceived in Britain.
The day begins by waking up Sri Krishna at 4:30am.
When the adherents enter the Temple, they ring a bell, signalling that they have entered into a sacred space.
They kneel before Sri Krishna, and also to the statue of their founder, and touch their head to the floor, as a sign of respect, and say their own devotional prayer.
Adherents chant and dance as a form of devotional worship to Sri Krishna
While the discussion on Vedic philosophy is taking place, the women are preparing food to offer to Sri Krishna. This is a form of devotional practice, as the women are also listening to a commentary on Vedic philosophy, and thinking about the Lord whilst they are cooking. The food is first offered up to Sri Krishna, and his leftovers are then eaten by the adherents, thus eating food is also seen as a form of devotion, as you are sharing food with Lord Krishna.
There is also a children's room where they are taught the teachings of Sri Krishna, read devotional texts, and perform worship.
As ISKCON is a global, transnational network, it was expressed by one worshipper at the Temple that this made it easier for him to adapt to life in Britain. There are Hare Krishna Temples in many countries around the world, and there is an established sense of connectivity between each centre.
The adherents stated that there have been no changes made from the original practices of Swami Prabhupada, and that worship takes the same form in every Hare Krishna centre around the world. Each follows the patters of worship outlined previously.
Devotees expressed that they immediately sought out a Hare Krishna Temple upon arrival in Manchester, and felt comforted in the knowledge that there would be a community with the same values and practices, readily willing to accept them into their folds. While they had to adapt to many other things in a new country, the spiritual dimension within their lives did not have to adapt.
Each centre has the same routine of worship, providing its devotees with a familiar setting, even whilst they are in a different country.
International Society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
A ISKCON devotee talking about what inspires her to carry out book distribution.
This video explains how ISKCON's 'food for life' charity was formed and what it entails
Food for life
ISKCON members who live in Greater Manchester all congregate at this ISKCON temple seen in the picture above. It is located on a typical residential British street in Whalley Range.
Radha Mohan Das, A member of the ISKCON temple in Manchester stated that the present building was acquired in 1987 and that previous to this date they were located in Salford and Stockport.
This is ISKCON Manchester's weekly programme
Here is a list of the festivals they celebrate
Here are the eight main beliefs that characterizes ISKCON philosophy. They are referred to by ISKCON devotees world wide and are the main tenants of their faith.
We are not separate entities we are all one with Krishna.
The Bhagavad Gita is a 700 verse scripture that is aprt of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. It is set in a narrative between Prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna. It discusses topics such as the Brahmanical concept of Dharma, theistic Bhakti and the yogic ideals of liberation.
Diet is very important within ISKCON. Their 'yoga of eating' is based around Krishna's commandment that "All that you do, all that you eat, and all that you offer...should be done as an offering unto Me." (Higher Taste, p.45) Krishna also describes the types of offering He will accept: "if one offers Me...a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it." Krishna does not include meat, fish or eggs on this list; therefore a devotee does not offer them to him and avoid their consumption.
Gosvāmī, Satsvarūpa Dāsa (1983). Let There Be a Temple: India Around the World, 1971-1975. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ISBN 0-89213-119-5. OL 8622579W. Ch. 6, p. 161
Accessed April 14, 2014, http://www.iskconmanchester.com/
ISKCON. "Philosophy." Accessed April 14 2014, http://iskcon.org/philosophy#.U0v34vldXRw.
Nye, Malory, ‘Multiculturalism and Minority Religions in Britain: Krishna Consciousness, Religious Freedom and the Politics of Location’, Psychology Press, 2001
Prabhupada, Swami. Chant and be Happy, Watford, The Bahtivedanta Book Trust, 1982.
Prabhupada, Swami. The Higher Taste, Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2006.
Originates in Jagannatha Puri on the east coast of India and dates back over 2,000 years.
It is ISKCON’s biggest street festival. It features three large, wooden chariots pulled by hand in a grand procession featuring the happy figures of Lord Jagannatha, Lady Subhadra and Lord Balarama.
All the way through there is singing, chanting and dancing to rhythmical drums and involves everyone, those associated with ISKCON and passers by. People join in with their chants on the streets, people love them and are welcoming and as the leader of the ISKCON explains ‘we just want to distribute happiness’.
Here is a video from the Manchester Ratha Yatra Festival last year.
The procession ends with a stage show, a festival and free delicious vegetarian food.
‘Ratha-yatra signifies the Lord’s love for His devotees. He personally comes to visit His devotees and the public who welcome Him in the streets’. (http://rathayatra.co.uk/)
As you can see from the images below, one is of the festival in London, England and the other is of the festival in Puri, India. As you can see they are extremely similar! This highlights the connectivity between the ISKCON communities around the world.
Throughout the world the local ISKCON temples and communities have a lot of choice in terms of how they run their temples.
While the actual service, texts, and doctrines are shared across all the 700 ISKCON communities globally, vast diversity does exist in terms of the mood and social functions of the temples.
Principles are still the same as in India but little things have changed/ westernised, for example the
food is more colonial, a lot less spicy and, as a speaker at ISKCON Manchester explains,
‘they try to apply the universal principles to the modern situations we find ourselves in, for example climate change.’
ISKCON represents the future of the movement as diasporic South Asians become the majority of the movement and ISKCON increasingly associates itself with the Indian diaspora and more normative Hinduism.
Vande Berg, Travis and Fred Kniss. (2008). ISKCON AND IMMIGRANTS: The Rise, Decline, and Rise Again of a New Religious Movement. The Sociological Quarterly. 49 (1), 79-104.
Warrier, Maya. ‘Krishna Consciousness, Hinduism and Religious Education in Britain’ in John Zavos (eds.)
(London, 2012) pp.463-487
Benjamin E. Zeller. (2013). THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS (ISKCON). Available: http://www.has.vcu.edu/wrs/SPECIAL%20PROJECTS/SPIRITUAL%20AND%20VISIONARY%20GROUPS/ISKCON.htm. Last accessed 14th Apr 2014.
ISKCON, popularly known as the
Hare Krishna movement,
is a worldwide association of devotees of Krishna.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya, a monotheistic tradition within the
Vedic and Hindu
It is based on the Bhagavad-gita, the spiritual teachings spoken by
The text teaches that the goal of life is to develop
love of God
, or Krishna. Love of God is realized through the practice of bhakti-yoga, the science of
The ‘Seven Purposes of ISKCON’
(1) To systematically
propagate spiritual knowledge to society
at large and to
all peoples 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.
propagate a consciousness of Krishna
as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
bring the members of the Society together
with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, and thus to develop the idea, within the members, and humanity, at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
teach and encourage
the Sankirtan movement of
of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
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 and more natural way of life.
(7) With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to
publish and distribute
periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
MayaPura Vrindavana Trust, Accessed April 14, 2014, http://www.mvtindia.com/
and creation of ISKCON
, the ISKCON founder
Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada
born in Calcutta
, India. He became a
disciple of Krishna
, charged with
spreading Krishna consciousness in the West.
travelled to New York
from India, with the purpose of introducing the teachings and devotional practices of the Gaudiya Math – fulfilling his duty to take the message of Chaitanya to the West. On arriving in America, he worked hard to
to all the people he met. He soon
gathered a group
of young men and women,
ISKCON in 1966.
to other major North American cities, and then
It succeeded in attracting thousands of devotees, mostly from white Western background, and often considered a part of hippie counterculture.
Chanting at the ISKCON temple in Manchester
...to New York...
"I have started this Krishna Conscious Movement among the Indians and Americans and for the next ten thousand years it will increase"
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
...to all over the world
'Hindu derived community spanning a number of Western countries, with high levels of orthodoxy and practice'
Malory Nye, 2012
Prabhupada sent six of his disciples to London
to set up a mission, and eventually a temple of Krishna Consciousness.
These devotees made contact with the famous pop group,
George Harrison helped them record the
Hare Krishna mahamantra
popularity and chart success
The establishment of
in central London was not only the first temple
dedicated to Krishna
in the UK, but also, the
first Hindu temple built in Britain.
1970s, Krishna Consciousness grew
in Britain partly because of its association with and support from the Beatles.
ISKCON members took their message to the
streets of London
– spreading Krishna consciousness by
chanting and book selling.
Bhaktivedanta Manor serves as the UK headquarters for ISKCON
‘In 1973 George Harrison donated a country house in the village of Letchmore Heath, Hertfordshire to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. At that time ISKCON was a small but growing ‘new’ religious movement, already well known for their public chanting and dancing in public places. The house was renamed Bhaktivedanta Manor, and was converted into a place to educate people into the complex theology and practice that was integral to the Hare Krishna’s. As part of this conversion, a large room was turned into a temple and regular worship became a central feature of the activities at the Manor’
Malory Nye, 2012
George Harrison with devotees
Instead of targeting young, disenchanted Western seekers, the movement now focuses its attention on Indians. This represents a shift in conversion practice on the part of ISKCON, shaped by the micro-level transnationalism existing within the temple.
( Vande Berg and Kniss, 2008: 90)
Traditions taken from India are reflected in almost every part of what ISKCON entails, ‘They wear Indian dhotis and saris. They eat Indian vegetarian food. They study Indian religious texts and they learn to read and recite the ancient Indian language and Sanskrit… and with the chanting, incense, decorations and Indian food, they sound, smell, look and taste like temples throughout India.’
( Vande Berg and Kniss, 2008: 89)
Connectivity and use of modern technology at the ISKCON Manchester temple
As you can see, ISKCON use facebook as a way of connecting globally.
On the ISKCON Manchester website they provide a electronic map
They also provide bus routes to confirm the easiet means of transportation to the temple.
ISKCON in Manchester
His chart hit 'My Sweet Lord' (playing now) was written in praise of Krishna
A discussion on Vedic philosophy also takes place, in which devotees discuss sections of the Bhagavad-Gita, the central text for ISKCON worshippers.