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His Divine Grace, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the Hare Krishna Movement

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What is the Hare Krishna movement?

Posted 5/21/2016

What is the Hare Krishna Movement?

For many, the words ‘Hare Krishna’ conjure up images of shaven-headed, robed monks dancing and chanting on the streets, bells and drums, sweet-smelling incense, or tasty and well-priced vegetarian food. A little background on the Hare Krishna’s will give one appreciation for these unusual, but ancient practices.

The Krsna consciousness movement is a genuine, historically authorised, natural and transcendental movement. Practitioners  are not hippies, new-agers or sentimentalists. It is not a new ‘fad’ or cult created in recent years by some charismatic guru. In fact, there is no such beginning to the Krishna consciousness movement. The movement is based on the principles of transcendental knowledge.

Transcendental knowledge is absolute and is never relative to time, place and circumstance; it is always factual. It is knowledge that is application to all persons, at all times. It is not a matter of belief or faith. You can believe or not believe, but the truth will remain the same. This essential point, called ‘Sanatana-dharma’,  is the eternal never changing truth about our real identity. Our real identity is of spiritual soul, part and parcel of the Supreme whole. The Supreme whole is known as the greatest personality, ‘Krsna’ in the Vedic Scriptures. When we act in cooperation with the Supreme Soul, we act in our original transcendental state. This knowledge is understood and fully realised whilst practicing the process of Krishna Consciousness. And so, the Krishna Consciousness movement is that establishment where one can learn and practice this science of the Supreme Absolute Truth.

Although there is no beginning to knowledge or truth, there have been many advocates and teachers of this knowledge since the beginning of recorded history. Lord Sri Krishna himself advented both 5000 years ago, and again 500 years ago as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. These are both factual historical personalities that propounded the Krishna Consciousness movement. Krishna spoke transcendental knowledge to His friend and disciple Arjuna at Kuruksetra, which was later compiled by Srila Vyasadeva into the Bhagavad-Gita (part of the Mahabharata). The well-known and accepted Bhagavad-Gita is known to contain the topmost transcendental teachings of all the Vedic literatures, because it describes the topmost subject matters in detail:

  • īśvara, the supreme controller,
  • the jīvas, the controlled living entities. 
  • Prakti (material nature)
  • Kala, or time (the duration of existence of the whole universe or the manifestation of material nature)
  • karma (activity)

“The cosmic manifestation is full of different activities. All living entities are engaged in different activities. From Bhagavad-gītā we must learn what God is, what the living entities are, what prakrti is, what the cosmic manifestation is and how it is controlled by time, and what the activities of the living entities are.” (Bhagavad Gita, Introduction)

Lord Krishna spoke of these subjects in great detail to Arjuna, knowing that it would benefit not only Arjuna, but all that would hear it in the future.

To maintain absolute integrity, transcendental knowledge is handed down perfectly intact via a chain of bona fide teachers and disciples.  This chain has reached the modern age with the teachings coming from His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada started the Hare Krishna movement as we recognise it today: These iconic practices of the Hare Krishna movement such as sankirtan (congregational chanting of the name of Lord Krishna) are the means of coming to full realisation of transcendental knowledge, the highest perfection of life.

The Krishna Consciousness movement offers a process for one to achieve the highest perfection of life: to understand and learn to love the Supreme Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. Because of our conditioned state, we have forgotten the art of loving the Supreme. To have a loving relationship with the Supreme is the natural state of every living being; it is not artificial or imposed. However, this original relationship which is full of bliss, knowledge and eternality, is covered and lost in a materially conditioned state. Although we still hanker for this relationship, we will never be able to fulfill that hankering to our full satisfaction whilst in a state of materialistic consciousness.

The most fundamental practice is the chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra —Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Chanting this mantra gradually elevates the consciousness of the chanter, until one becomes aware of their original spiritual position in relation to Krishna. This process was given by Krishna himself as Lord Caitanya to make it simple for the people of this fast-paced, materially focused modern age to achieve spiritual perfection. Other methods of yoga, whilst aiming at a similar perfection, are impractical and impossible for most people to perform because of the extreme physical and mental austerities required. However, the Hare Krishna mantra is available to people of all ages, races, religions and beliefs. 

 This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore distributing sublime information to the entire human society to the effect that by simply chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra one can become perfect in this life and return to their original blissful position.

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