The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada in 1966.
ISKCON’s history includes a disciplic succession a.k.a. sampradaya or guru parampara, of which there are 4 major parampara that is:-
- Brahma-Sampradaya headed by Lord Brahma
- Sri-Sampradaya headed by Goddess Laksmi
- Rudra-Sampradaya headed by Lord Shiva
- Kumara-Sampradaya headed by the 4 Kumaras (Celibate Sages)
CHANTING OF THE MAHA MANTRA
God is known across the world by many names and Krisha or ISKCON devotees chant God’s names in the form of the maha-mantra. The word mantra comes from the ancient Sanskrit language. Man means "mind," and tra means "release." So a mantra is a combination of transcendental sounds meant to release the mind from all the anxieties of material life. The Hare Krishna mantra is known as the maha-mantra, or great mantra.
There are three Holy Names that make up the Maha-Mantra, Hare, Krishna, and Rama. 'Hare' is a powerful word that directly addresses the energy of the Lord ; 'Krishna' is the Name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna is the Possessor of every quality in and out of the universe. He also possesses these qualities in an unlimited quantity ; 'Rama' means the reservoir of pleasure.
Lord Caitanya once said, "It cleans the heart of all the dirt accumulated for many lifetimes and puts out the fire of material life, of repeated birth and death." Chanting Hare Krsna is therefore not an artificial imposition on the mind. Rather, it clears the dust from the mirror of the mind so that we can see our original consciousness—our identity as eternal parts of the Supreme.
By chanting this Maha-Mantra and doing service to Krishna, anyone can be linked to this reservoir and get unlimited happiness.
ISKCON belongs to the Brahma-Gaudiya-Madhva-Sampradaya lineage founded by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century based on the teachings of Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The Bhagavad-Gita was first put into writing about 5000 years ago. The Gita is the principal scripture of ISKCON also known as the Hare Krishna Movement™.
Sri Chaitanya also fondly known as Gauranga Mahaprabhu, whom devotees recognize as a direct incarnation of Krishna, gave a powerful impetus for a massive bhakti (devotional) movement throughout India. Under his direction hundreds of volumes on the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness were compiled.
Many devotees followed in the preceptorial line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu including, in the 19th century an outstanding Vaishnava theologian, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura(1838-1914) who brought Krishna Consciousness to a modern audience.
His son, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Goswami (1874-1937), became the guru of Srila Prabhupada (1896-1977) and instructed him to spread Krishna Consciousness in the West, and within 11 years later, Hare Krishna became a household word all over the world.