All Vaishnavas are members of ISKCON

At a glance
Information and definitions

ISKCON: Abbreviation for International Society for Krishna Consciousness (International Society for Krishna Awareness), the official name of the Hare Krishna movement.

Founded: 1966 in New York by Indian dignitary, monk and Sanskrit scholar His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), Shrila Prabhupada for short.

Statistics: Over 500 temples, cultural centers, farms, restaurants and schools in all five continents. Around 5 million members worldwide, around 5000 in Germany.

Krishna: "the all-attractive"; Name for God in the Sanskrit language.

Philosophical basis: the Vedas, the holy scriptures of India, especially the Bhagavad-gita and the Shrimad-Bhagavatam.

Teaching: All living beings - humans, animals and plants - are souls, i.e. parts of God. Just as the origin (God) is eternal, the soul is also eternal. In the cycle of birth and death (reincarnation) the immortal soul wanders from one body to another according to its actions (karma) until it reaches the highest goal through purification - love for God and return to the eternal kingdom of God.

Appearance of the members

Rishna consciousness does not depend on clothing or other external appearances. In the temple or at public events in particular, people like to wear traditional clothing to identify themselves with them. The mark made of holy clay on the forehead - called tilak - symbolizes the fact that the body is a temple of God.

Why is the Hare Krishna movement sometimes called a sect?

because it is a young movement in the west. On the one hand, it is therefore often lumped into one pot with new religious groups and, on the other hand, it also had initial difficulties itself: immature behavior and missteps by some members. These individual cases are played up by the anti-cult propaganda, whereby the public is informed one-sidedly.

What is a sect?

ekte, from Latin sector/secta ("zealously, fanatically to follow") refers to a religious group that makes a claim to absoluteness and presents its founder, prophet or messiah as the only truth. Such sectarian claims contradict the universal nature of God and divide religions instead of uniting them.

The Krishna Movement and the Other Religions

ott is unlimited, both temporally and geographically. That is, God reveals himself in all ages and in all places. ISKCON does not limit God to a single religion or holy scripture, but accepts them all as a revelation of the same God, whether one calls Him Krishna, Yahweh, Manitu or Allah. The different religions are nothing but different ways of elevating people to higher and highest levels. The highest level, as the Bhagavad-gita teaches, has nothing to do with a denomination, but with a level of consciousness: an inner attitude of pure love and devotion to God. The Hare Krishna movement strives to make people aware of this common goal of all religions.

The diversity of the spiritual life
Krishna Consciousness in Practice

he Vedic scriptures are not tied to any particular religion, but rather show people a universal path to God. There are many stages of progress on this path: starting with reducing and overcoming bad habits, moving on to a vegetarian diet and studying the Vedic scriptures, to mantra meditation and God consciousness (bhakti-yoga). Krishna devotees impart a comprehensive knowledge of Bhakti-yoga to people, and everyone can begin at the level that suits their individual situation. Krishna consciousness or Bhakti-yoga can be practiced in every situation in life, whether at home, in the family circle or in the Hare Krishna center.

Values ​​and principles

Rishna consciousness means an inner attitude of love and devotion to God, which as a consequence also harmonizes the external actions of everyday life. Compassion, control of senses, truthfulness and purity are the four pillars of spiritual life. These four virtues can be promoted by renouncing those habits that are opposed to them. The killing of animals is based on the principle of compassion not compatible. That is why the Vedas recommend a vegetarian diet and food that was previously consecrated to God. These are in Sanskrit prasadam ("The Mercy of God") called. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita that one cannot devote any violent or unclean food to God. Therefore devotees of Krishna avoid meat, fish and eggs. Intoxicants and gambling make people dependent and addictive and promote unnecessary passions that (destroy) the inner balance. They rob people of them Self-control (the power to say no) and the truthfulness (the strength to stand by the truth).

purity refers not only to physical cleanliness, but also to the purity of thought. This includes avoiding extramarital sex relationships. Because unrestrained sex makes it practically impossible to focus on God with pure thoughts. In addition, such sexual relationships cause many social problems. They lead to frustration and jealousy emotionally and bind the consciousness of the eternal soul to the ephemeral body. It is obvious, however, that not everyone is able to consistently follow these guidelines at first. They describe the goal to strive for. If you have the goal in mind, you can also see what the next steps in your own life are to get closer to this ideal.

Temple communities and congregations

he majority of the followers of the Hare Krishna movement live together in communities that naturally form around public places of worship (temples). They support these centers through visits, donations, contributions and practical services. Essentially, a distinction is made between members of the order and members of the community. Religious follow a spiritual discipline, while parishioners of the Hare Krishna movement serve according to their individual possibilities. Some of the members of the order live in temple communities in order to cultivate exemplary spirituality together. As a result, the public places of worship are enlivened and the services are reliably perceived. Religious life, however, is not limited to temple communities. Rather, it is part of the tradition that this can also be practiced at home with the family. One can set up one's home as a temple and practice bhakti-yoga with spouse, children, relatives and guests. Religious life outside of the temple communities is intended to spiritually fertilize society in general and to show that family and professional life as well as the virtuous fulfillment of social duties are in harmony with spiritual theory and practice.


Anyone who wants to support the goals of ISKCON can join a Hare Krishna church and thus become a member of this sublime tradition. A spiritual lifestyle does not depend on a baptism or similar rituals. Rather, it is a matter of making the contents of Krishna consciousness your own, especially by studying the books of Srila Prabhupada. Anyone who reads these scriptures regularly will most certainly advance and lead an increasingly rich life. The path of bhakti yoga is auspicious from the very beginning. Whoever chants the Hare Krishna mantra, consumes sacred food and worships Shri Krishna will immediately experience a higher quality of life. Please ask a local ISKCON center for details regarding ISKCON membership (see address list).

Order members (clergy)

he discipline for members of the order essentially involves leading a spiritual lifestyle according to regulatory principles and representing Krishna consciousness in public in accordance with tradition. The order members therefore play an important role in the maintenance of the Hare Krishna movement. Before taking their vows, novices practice meeting the requirements. Most of the time they live in the temple communities during this exam period, where they receive extensive training. However, novices are also accepted who prove themselves as spiritual role models in their environment outside of temple communities.

Diverse courses, seminars and other events offered by ISKCON enable a deepening of Krishna consciousness. A traditional system is enjoying increasing popularity, which offers the novice the opportunity to classify himself on five discipline levels in order to practice Bhakti-Yoga according to the individual possibilities without pressure or time pressure.

Anyone who has qualified as a novice - or can keep the fifth discipline level and would like to keep it - can take the public vow to follow the rules of the order in front of a spiritual master of ISKCON. He or she receives a religious name with the addition "dasi" or "das", which translates as "servant" or "servant". Common names are e.g. B. Krishna dasi or Krishna das. Before this naming ceremony, a novice or novice is referred to as "Bhaktin" or "Bhakta", which means something like "devoted servant" or "devoted servant." The naming ceremony is known as the inauguration. This does not mean that one now belongs to an enlightened elite with privileges, but that one should be an exemplary servant of others. Progress in bhakti yoga is characterized by increasing willingness to serve.

The initiating spiritual masters

Outstanding bhakti yogis who want to devote themselves full-time to pastoral care are commissioned by ISKCON to act as initiating spiritual masters, as special examples of spiritual devotion. You are obliged to the ISKCON founder Shrila Prabhupada to preserve and dynamically spread the legacy according to place, time and circumstances. Since the ISKCON was set up by Srila Prabhupada for the systematic respiritualization of humanity, the spiritual masters should work together in harmony and avoid going it alone. The need to submit to the higher concern of Srila Prabhupada requires a high degree of humility, especially from very qualified people. In the history of ISKCON one can see how this cooperation succeeds to an ever increasing extent, after the first years after the departure of the ISKCON founder there were generally known tussles - especially as a result of arrogance. ISKCON endeavors to systematically address grievances in its own ranks and not to sweep them under the carpet. Everyone has to learn. This approach is very different from some promises of salvation made by dogmatic religious organizations. ISKCON does not ask for blind allegiance. Rather, the members are encouraged to see with their alert mind whether things are going in the right direction, towards more mutual service, love of God and neighbor. Everyone bears their own private responsibility. The ISKCON does not condemn anyone who turns away from it, because it does not claim to be solitary, but a serving instrument in Shri Krishna's plan to elevate humanity.

The Hare Krishna Movement in Germany

There are currently around 10 main public venues in Germany. In addition, many smaller - around 25 - centers have formed as a strong base, where members and friends of the Hare Krishna movement regularly devote themselves to the worship of Krishna in smaller circles.

All members of a community contribute to the common practice of religion according to their respective possibilities. At joint events, such as the traditional Sunday festival, they agree who
the feast cooks, the sanctuary cleans and decorates, whoever receives guests, gives the lecture, arranges the musical contribution and much more. The management of the center coordinates these joint efforts and consults with experienced members. In addition to participating and participating in these public activities, everyone is also encouraged to live Krishna-consciously in the private sphere.

About 5% of the members live in Hare Krishna residential communities. They are often unmarried followers who feel more comfortable in a community of like-minded people than at home alone. Anyone who adheres to the house rules can be accepted into such a shared apartment and move out at any time.

The ISKCON traditionally advocates family exchanges between members, parents, relatives and friends and regularly organizes parents' meetings and other events to promote family relationships.

The daily routine in an ISKCON temple

The following activities take place daily in the larger ISKCON centers. In smaller centers, you limit yourself to a few of the points mentioned:

The members of the temple fellowship usually get up at around 3:30 a.m. At ISKCON, too, the following applies: "The morning hour has gold in its mouth."

This is followed by the mangala-aratika, an auspicious morning devotion. An altar ceremony is held while certain songs are being chanted. The time after that is dedicated to mantra meditation, i.e. the individual chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra on a prayer chain with 108 wooden beads.

Another temple ceremony will take place at 7.15 a.m., followed by a lecture from the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, a holy scripture of the Vaishnavas. After the lecture, everyone is invited to take the morning prasadam (consecrated breakfast) together. The consecrated lunch is at around 2 p.m.

In the evening, at 7 p.m., the evening prayer takes place in front of the altar, followed by a lecture from the Bhagavad-gita. At around 8.30 p.m. there is usually some hot milk and light preparations before the entry
Night rest.