The International Society of Krishna Consciousness, better known as the Hare Krishna Movement, turned 50, last month. The Rising Sun has therefore decided to take a closer look at its achievements and the impact they have on society.
Residents have all seen devotees along the streets wearing a doti, sari, tilaka and chanting Hare Krishna with an assortment of instruments including the mrdanga and kartalas.
ISCKON has a sister organisation called Food For Life Global, which over a period of 50 years has distributed over three billion plates of vegetarian food. The food is said to be spiritual or karma-free, nourishing both the body and soul because it is first offered to Krishna (God). This is how the movement makes its contribution to curbing the poverty of the stomach, mind and the soul globally. In Durban alone, more than 10, 000 plates of food are distributed a day in schools, rural communities and to the homeless.
The main mission of the Hare Krishna is sharing for the betterment of society. Sharing their happiness with others via eatables, taking to the streets and chanting holy names of Krishna, which is always accompanied by dancing, this is activity called ‘Harinama Sankirtan’ or congregational chanting of the holy names. Fundamentally, the mission of the Hare Krishnas is to bring people closer to God.
Distribution of spiritual books is another critical element of ISKCON and in the 50 years that it has been around, the movement has distributed over 516 million books worldwide.
Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, Swami Prabhupada in this connection has said, “Books are the basis; purity is the force; preaching is the essence; utility is the principle.” Book distribution happens mostly on a one-on-one basis, where devotees take to the streets, malls, airports, people’s homes and concerts to share books with people for a small donation, to help print more books.
You can also find their books in book stores, online and in a ‘Smart-Box’. A Smart-Box is a portable book shelf with a donation slot usually kept in doctor’s offices and shops. These books carry the entire philosophy of the movement.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness which combats issues of physical, mental and spiritual starvation was legally founded on July 13 1966 by 70-year-old A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
In the spirit of service to God and all living entities and to celebrate the golden jubilee the movement has pledged to distribute 500, 000 books, 50 million plates of vegetarian sanctified food or ‘Krishna prasadam’ adding to the three billion already distributed since 1966, temples all over the world are also hosting Hari-Kirtan (chanting of the holy names) events such as the 50 hour Kirtan.