What is ISKCON’s Purpose?
When Srila Prabhupada began ISKCON, he established eight principles that are the basis of the Krishna consciousness movement.
1. By sincerely cultivating a genuine spiritual science, we can be free from anxiety and come to a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness in this lifetime.
2. We are not our bodies but eternal spirit souls, parts and parcels of God (Krishna). As such, we are all brothers, and Krishna is ultimately our common father.
3. Krishna is the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-attractive Personality of Godhead. He is the seed-giving father of all living beings, and He is the sustaining energy of the entire cosmic creation.
4. The Absolute Truth is contained in all the great scriptures of the world. However, the oldest known revealed scriptures in existence are the Vedic literatures, most notably the Bhagavad-gitä, which is the literal record of God’s actual words.
5. We should learn the Vedic knowledge from a genuine spiritual master–one who has no selfish motives and whose mind is firmly fixed on Krishna.
6. Before we eat, we should offer to the Lord the food that sustains us. Then Krishna becomes the offering and purifies us.
7. We should perform all our actions as offerings to Krishna and do nothing for our own sense gratification.
8. The recommended means for achieving the mature stage of love of God in this age of Kali, or quarrel, is to chant the holy names of the Lord. The easiest method for most people is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra.
Only five hundred years ago, Lord Krishna descended as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach the most sublime and effective means for spiritual development and enlightenment for the present day. This is the chanting of the names of God, which has been recommended for thousands of years in the Vedic tradition, and used by many other spiritual paths throughout the world. The most important chant is the mantra of: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“Krishna” is one of many Sanskrit names of God, which means “all attractive”, and Rama is another name which means “reservoir of pleasure”. The divine energy of God is addressed as Hare. Vedic knowledge teaches that since we are all constitutionally servants of the God, chanting the names of God is not an artificial imposition on the mind but is as natural as a child calling for its mother. Thus, the Hare Krishna Movement teaches two ways to chant, which is either on beads to chant the mantra a certain number of times each day in the case of mantra meditation (japa), and in congregational chanting or singing (kirtan). In either method, there are no hard and fast rules, and anyone can chant.