The Vedas also tell us that the understanding of the self, as being non-material or spiritual by nature, is the preliminary stage of realization of the absolute truth. To understand knowledge of self-realization one must approach a genuine spiritual master, just as one learns the essence of any subject from a perfected practitioner.
The congregational chanting of the Maha mantra,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
as promoted by Sri Caitanya, is accepted by the Vedas as the most effective means of self-purification in this age. The Vedas describe the mantra as a prayer to the Lord, "Please Lord, engage me in Your service".
Devotees may accept formal initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name vowing to abstain from intoxication, gambling, illicit sexual connections and the eating of meat, fish and eggs. ISKCON members believe indulgence in the aforementioned activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society. At the time of initiation devotees also agree to chant a prescribed number of mantras each day.
ISKCON Guru Parampara
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966. It belongs to the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition, a devotional tradition based on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The precepts and practices of ISKCON were taught and codified by the 15th century saint and religious reformer Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his principle associates, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana.
Sri Caitanya, whom devotees revere 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 Krishnaconsciousness were compiled. Many devotees have followed in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu including, in the 19th century, an outstanding Vaisnava theologian, Bhaktivinoda Thakura who brought Krishna consciousness to a modern audience.
Bhaktivinoda's son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, became the guru of Srila Prabhupada and instructed him to spread Krishna consciousness in the West.
Disciplic Succession - The Guru Parampara
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness draws its legitimacy from its place in a long succession of spiritual teachers and disciples (parampara). There are four major disciplic successions (sampradayas), ISKCON belongs to the Brahma Sampradaya, founded by Lord Krishna Himself.
There are many branches to this sampradaya. Our society belongs to the branch founded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th century.
The principle is that Vaisnava teachings should be passed on, unchanged, from guru to disciple. The most prominent devotees in this lineage are accepted as acaryas: those who teach by example, who carry the line forward. Listed below are the acaryas since, and including, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, The Six Goswamis of Vrindavana
(Srila Rupa Goswami
· Srila Sanatana Goswami
· Gopal Bhatta Goswami
· Ragunatha dasa Goswami
· Ragunatha Batta Goswami
· Jiva Goswami), Krsnadasa Kaviraj Goswami, Narottama Dasa Thakura, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Jagannatha Dasa Babaji, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Srila Prabhupada in Nellore
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Karma Free Diet
We reap what we sow, in this life and the next, for nature has its own justice. No one can escape the law of karma, except those who understand how it works.
Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that “if one offers me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” Krishna does not accept meat, fish or eggs. Onions, garlic and caffeine are also not offered because they cause disturbance to the mind and are therefore not beneficial for meditation and spiritual life. One should use fresh, natural ingredients as far as possible.