ISKCON is a religious movement that also identifies itself as The Hare Krishna Movement. ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic and Hindu cultural traditions.
It is based on the Bhagavad-gita, the spiritual teachings spoken by Lord Krishna. According to many writings, this sacred text is over 5,000 years old and documents the conversation between Lord Krishna and his close friend and disciple Arjuna.
ISKCON traces its spiritual lineage directly to the speaker of this sacred book, Lord Krishna, who is revered as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. 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 devotional service.
In the latter part of the 15th century, a saint named Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revitalized the bhakti-yoga tradition by introducing an expansive spiritual movement that swept India. Central to this renaissance was Chaitanya’s emphasis on the chanting of Krishna’s name. Underlying this simple practice was a profound, rational, and intellectually comprehensive theology. Hare Krishna devotees worship Lord Chaitanya as an incarnation of Krishna for this age, and ISKCON is a vibrant continuation of the movement Chaitanya revitalized.
The Seven Purposes of 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.