The Seven Purposes of ISKCON

The Seven Purposes of ISKCON

( – The Seven Purposes of ISKCON

An article on the “Seven Purposes of ISKCON” to celebrate the Incorporation of ISKCON for the month of July.

by Payal Shah

(Adapted from talks given by His Grace Vijaya Dasa and His Grace Chaitanya Charan Dasa)

In August 1965, Srila Prabhupada, under the instruction of his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, traveled with a mission to share the timeless wisdom of Krishna consciousness with the Western world. Srila Prabhupada sailed from Calcutta, India to New York city aboard a cargo ship, with a mere seven dollars in Indian rupees and his translations of sacred Vedic texts. Upon reaching America, Srila Prabhupada introduced to the West the teachings of Lord Krishna. His message on Krishna consciousness resonated with many young Americans and with their help, Srila Prabhupada rented a small storefront on New York’s Lower East Side to use as a temple. Hundreds of people came forward to accept the message of the Vedic literatures, and Srila Prabhupada’s mission to distribute spiritual wisdom for the benefit of the world soon began to unfold. On July 11, 1966, Srila Prabhupada, later known by the honorific His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, incorporated the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) with seven explicit purposes.

In ISKCON’s incorporating document, Srila Prabhupada imparts the “Seven Purposes of ISKCON” as follows:

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.

The purpose is to educate people from all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities on the importance of spiritual life and how to practise spiritual life. The aim is to give people genuine spiritual knowledge that we are all spirit souls and that there is a spiritual world beyond this material world. Examples of how this can be achieved are by distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books which present the most scientific and the most authentic understanding of spiritual reality in a very simple way; and inviting people to talks/seminars by spiritual teachers to understand the purpose of spiritual life. Hearing about the purpose and the goal of spiritual life will enable people to become more peaceful, content, and self-satisfied from within.

2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

The purpose is to present the specifics of who God is as revealed in the scriptures. Srila Prabhupada has presented knowledge about Krishna, the Supreme Being, by translating the great scriptures such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Krishna (God) knows everything. He is the Supreme controller; He controls everything. He is smaller than the smallest, and greater than the greatest; and He is maintaining everyone. Thus, learning about Him and our relationship with Him will allow us to move forward with our spiritual life.

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).

The purpose is for people to come close together to become part of an institution whose focus is centred on Krishna. It is the nature of the soul to want knowledge of the Supreme Being and to learn about our relationship with Him. Feeling a sense of belonging in a community further fosters and solidifies our connection with Krishna. The focus is to get on the spiritual path and to help others onto the path back to Godhead too. This movement is not a static movement. The word ‘movement’ means that we are moving along the path of bhakti, and giving knowledge of Krishna consciousness to others.

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.

The purpose is for everyone to come together to glorify Krishna and to chant the holy name, the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. The aim is to distribute the holy name to everyone, everywhere; and to help spirit souls reawaken love for God through congregational chanting of the holy name.

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