What are the principles in ISKCON

from Bhaktivedanta Commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam, verse 3.20.53

1. A Vaisnava (devotee) lives purely vegetarian, he renounces the consumption of meat, fish and eggs. 2. He avoids intoxicants, in addition to drugs and alcohol also coffee, tea and tobacco. 3. Games of chance and any kind of "frivolous" sports and games are prohibited to him. 4. No unregulated sexual intercourse. Sexual activity within a marriage is limited to having children.

Those who do not keep these principles can hardly be recognized as Vaisnava. These principles are enormously helpful in successfully practicing Krishna consciousness and in continually chanting the Holy Name. They snatch the intern from the clutches of the painful, material life and facilitate and instead open up the auspicious path back to the spiritual realm of the Supreme Lord. They may be viewed as angels who protect you and who also help you make your life successful.

The four regulating principles are not just arbitrary commandments of certain gurus or persons, but behind them there is a spiritual principle, which the actual purpose of the instruction is to approximate. To follow rules just for the sake of the rule is not really useful. These regulating principles are basic requirements for a humane social order, as they teach ethical and moral values.

All yoga principles (not only Bhakti-Yoga) describe the eating of meat, fish and eggs together with the karmic aspects as detrimental to spiritual development, as it counteracts the ability to show mercy in people (cf. Atharva Veda 9.48.5: "Those noble Souls who practice meditation and other types of yoga, who show consideration for all beings, who protect all animals? It is they who take spiritual exercises really seriously. ")

Why is the loss of compassion seen in the consumption of meat and thus an effect that is contrary to the spiritual development of the human being? Because it accepts the killing, the suffering of other beings without necessity. Even Jesus said: "You shall not kill." In this way cruelty becomes a habit that is no longer even perceived as cruel, because one is numb to the feelings of the other (weaker) being (cf. Manu Samhita 5.49: "After having been thoroughly informed about the origin of meat dishes and the cruelty has thought of shackling and killing corporeal beings, man should no longer eat any meat. ")

Why not eat meat?
Because slaughtering innocent animals for the sole purpose of satisfying perverse cravings of the tongue is not what Krishna wants and what Mother Nature intended us to do. Humans are neither carnivores nor omnivores, as various school books might lead us to believe. If humans had been created by nature to hunt animals and eat their meat, then it would be completely natural for us to hunt squirrels, mice, rabbits and deer in the forest, tear them to pieces and eat them raw, without getting sick or locked in a closed institution. As assumed omnivores, we would of course also enjoy spiders, cockroaches, beetles, worms and various other unspeakable things and not run away screaming when we come into contact with them. However, if we find a few berries in the forest, then it is quite natural that we pick them and eat them, raw and completely without artificial aids, because this nourishment is naturally determined by humans. So you really don't have to be an academic to understand that humans are fruit eaters and that meat foods are not intended for them, let alone omnivorous foods.

From a physical point of view, meat gives the body strength (while it is still young) without endurance. That is, it makes him fat and causes disease. Many diseases (especially so-called lifestyle diseases) could easily be prevented if people did not eat meat. The mental and spiritual effects are even worse. A meat eater is unable to understand the subtle spiritual philosophy, and whoever kills a lot of animals deprives himself of his freedom, i.e. he becomes completely unable to lead a spiritual life. How can someone who has no mercy toward animals expect mercy from God? Eating meat makes you "body conscious" instead of "Krishna conscious". That means, instead of being subjected to the grace of Krishna, one is subjected to an inexorable law of nature, the law of karma - "As you are to me, I to you." Because in this world you can't do anything without having to face the consequences. It makes no difference whether you believe in these consequences or not. The law of karma is like fire, it burns everyone without distinction, regardless of whether they know and accept fire or not. Whoever kills will be killed; he who is merciless will not experience mercy. For a better world with fewer murders and war battles, the slaughter of animals must be stopped. As long as man kills helpless creatures without necessity and even maintains horrific slaughterhouses for it, there will be concentration camps and wars and efforts for lasting peace will be in vain. "What you don't want someone to do to you, don't do it to anyone else." Those who adhere to this principle have understood the law of karma.

Indulging in a natural vegetarian diet keeps the human body slim and healthy. It purifies the mind and helps us to understand the spiritual philosophy, whereupon we can lead a good life and finally get out of the cycle of birth and death. The Vedas say that a meat eater forfeits his right to heaven, whereas a mere vegetarian diet produces great spiritual rewards. If you consider the fact that eating meat causes so many problems for people, animals and the environment, you don't even have to believe the statement of the Vedas in order to forego this bloody meal prepared with so much pain and chemistry. There may come a time when our own children will be as stunned as we are today at the horrors of slavery.

Why not gamble?
Gambling carries the risk of becoming addicted to it. An addicted gambler gets into enormous financial trouble, owes everyone money, and eventually even starts stealing. He can barely sleep, often falls victim to drugs such as alcohol, is likely to commit suicide, and neglects his social responsibilities. In his delusional delusion that there is a cheat (back door) for the laws of nature, where he could enrich himself unjustly or cheaply, he causes a lot of harm for himself and others. Gambling is not just a weak will, but an all-consuming passion that is tantamount to elemental violence. Those who succumb to it are in some ways worse off than a drug addict. It is certainly not by chance that gambling has always been interwoven with mafia-like structures and shady characters.

Why not get drunk?
Intoxication means supplying the body with substances that do not serve to maintain the body, but cause intoxication that can be addictive. That is why intoxication does not only refer to alcohol and drugs, but in a broader sense also to tea (black tea and green tea), nicotine, cocoa and caffeine. Nowadays many people are addicted to such stimulators and drugs because they try to escape from their pointless or boring life or to suppress fears and feelings of guilt. However, this escape is only temporary and is bitterly paid for. In addition to often high costs and crime, premature aging and loss of mental and physical health are the result. With the use of more and more powerful intoxicants, the purity is lost. Those who ruin their minds with drugs, that is, who (ugly to put it), have fallen into idiocy and madness, are no longer able to concentrate or effectively solve a problem, which is a major handicap in the spiritual life ( and not only there). Drugs, intoxicants and narcotics can be found in all walks of life today. Probably every police officer and criminologist can confirm that there is a direct relationship between drugs, especially alcohol, and crime. A great many crimes are committed or made possible under the influence of alcohol or drugs, although small amounts are sufficient.

For those who have made intoxication a part of their everyday life, drugs seem like another part of reality. But apparently real doesn't mean really real. Before we start dealing with reality, we should first stop stuffing our brains with unreality. By abstaining from intoxicants, one becomes able to understand real reality - and the highest reality is God, Krishna. One who is established in Krishna consciousness stays high forever.

Why not unregulated sexual intercourse?
We seem to have freed ourselves from the supposedly stupid and primitive shackles of sexual restraint. And yet, our march towards increasingly disconcerting sexual practices accompanies an increasing number of problems. A plague of sexually transmitted diseases claims more and more victims. The most prominent is AIDS, which claims an increasing number of millions of victims every year, especially in countries where, based on supposed religion and tradition, one does not want to know anything about sexual restraint and abstinence. Obnoxious sexual perversions become "socially acceptable," including child abuse and rape, which are followed by even worse aberrations. Contraceptives cause disease. Since unregulated sexual intercourse leads to impotence, dubious sexual enhancers enjoy great success at the expense of the health of those who use them. Millions of abortions reduce the term "parenthood" and "humanity" to absurdity; unwanted children who have escaped the clutches of birth control populate the streets of cities and prisons. Never before has the profane act of reproduction caused such a nightmare as it has since the "sexual liberation" of modernity. All of these things can never be justified by pleasure in intercourse ("because I enjoy it").

Sexual intercourse is inherently meant to have children. Those who can properly house, feed and raise their children can have as many children as they like. If intercourse is not for procreation, then it becomes a cause of bondage, disease, infertility, and unwanted children. Through the process of Krishna consciousness the eternal nature and the natural love of God of the living being is awakened and the desire for unregulated sexual intercourse is suppressed, because lust is nothing other than a perverted reflection of the natural devotion of the living being to the Supreme Lord.

And if I cannot adhere to these principles?
Good things take time. Patience and determination are necessary to adhere to the regulatory principles. One must understand that the regulating principles are not harassment, but on the contrary serve to lead a carefree, healthy, successful and, above all, spiritual life. The most important thing is not to give up; one should sharpen one's intelligence (read Srila Prabhupada's books!), seek the fellowship of advanced Vaisnavas, and simply try to engage in devotional service in some way. This is the most important of all. Devotional service can be performed under any circumstances and is not dependent on regulatory principles. Srila Prabhupada says: Svami and gosvami are called those people who are able to restrain their senses. We don't have to believe that we cannot. Anyone can do it. Chanting gives us the strength to do so. Chanting "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare" will help us. We must not despair because we think we have no strength. The strength becomes us We just have to move on. Kirtanam sravanam means chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare and hearing some of the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We must use these two possibilities and we will be given the necessary strength to be able to lead a spiritual life. We must then become fully settled at the level at which we are able to control our senses. (from: The Source of Absolute Knowledge)

Why should one adhere to these regulating principles at all?

Because it dhira (Peace) there. No more stress, you no longer have to run around like a madman to somehow appease the insatiable, burning desires of the senses. The mind becomes peaceful, you are the master of your senses instead of their slave. So many people pay their anti-stress therapists a lot of money. But in fact they just have to follow the regulating principles. It's even free. Even if you pay a psychiatrist to tell you that the regulating principles are the cause of your stress and that you have to "break free" now, that won't help you either. It will only help your psychiatrist make even more money off of you because your condition will only get worse and worse if you follow such bad advice. Medicine may taste terrible, and it will likely be a tough battle with many defeats until those unwanted desires or illnesses are overcome with the help of medicine, but eventually medicine will cure you of the illness. So-called sensual pleasure is degrading, pathetic and disgusting when viewed soberly. It is not a joy, but a disease that blocks our path to real joy.

Srila Prabhupada: "Mental Balance (sama) can only be reached by one who is convinced that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the origin of all things and who can control his senses. When one is willing to take on any inconvenience imaginable in order to control the senses and keep the mind in balance, this is called "titiksa"or" Tolerance ". And if one can control the urge of the tongue and the genitals, this becomes"dhiti"called. Did you dhiti Level reached, one becomes dhira, peaceful. A peaceful person is no longer troubled by the urge of the tongue and the genitals. "(From: The teachings of Sri Krishna Caitanya, chapter 1)

Spiritual Discipline

In the Shrimad-Bhagavatam there are extensive explanations about spiritually advanced societies and their decline. According to the Vedas, virtuous societies are based on the understanding of the government and the people that dispensation (simplicity or renunciation), truthfulness, purity, and compassion are priceless goods to be sought. Contrary to these four principles of true religion, people are inclined to indulge in gambling, intoxication, unrestrained sexuality, and indiscriminate eating regardless of loss. In order to promote civilization, the rulers should therefore enforce regulations that on the one hand take into account the need for sense gratification, but do not ignore the dangers of unrestricted egocentricity. Keeping the right balance is an essential element of statecraft. The clergy in a society in particular are obliged to live by example as role models. Shri Krishna expects His devotees to be reliable partners for people, according to whom they can orient themselves. Those who want to progress in bhakti-yoga should therefore endeavor to approach the goal worth striving for, a life full of natural joy and free from abuse. Some things may be easier and some things more difficult. In most cases, you cannot change your entire lifestyle overnight. However, every serious seeker - even if he cannot (yet) follow the standard - will have to admit that the principles make sense.


A general tendency of people is to want to enrich themselves through skillful manipulative behaviors. They are not aware that everyone only gets what fate foresees anyway. From a classic point of view, gambling is representative of all methods of acquiring more in one way or another. Today there are many speculating in money of all kinds. The result of such activities is an increase in material attachment; this includes increased greed and greed. Other consequences are the loss of mental equilibrium due to fear and the increase in dishonesty and deceit, which destroy the sublime quality of truthfulness.


Intoxication refers to the ingestion of various substances that are not necessary for the maintenance of the body and that have stimulatory or depressive effects on the mind and body. These habits often cause illness, premature aging, and lack of focus. One should therefore refrain from using drugs. Progress in bhakti yoga leads to increased spiritual joy so that the need to get intoxicated diminishes.

Nonviolent and pure nutrition

Eating meat involves slaughtering or torturing animal forms in order to eat their bodies. When no other food is available, humans may be entitled to eat animals. Otherwise, the slaughter of animals for the sole purpose of feeding on meat is condemned. Animals should not be killed out of compassion and compassion.

There are several reasons not to eat meat. Anyone who eats the victim's meat must share the butcher's bad karma. Eating meat is also unhealthy. The saturated fat in meat can lead to heart disease and cancer, while toxins in the decomposing meat can also attack the nervous system and lead to senility. There are ethical-religious, health, physiological and ecological reasons why humans should not eat meat. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) Shri Krishna says:

If someone offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or some water with love and devotion, I will accept it.

When we eat such vegetarian sacrificial foods, we purify our existence. You can find more about vegetarianism here.


Nature has arranged that offspring are produced through sexuality. Regulating sexuality is a natural necessity. Sexuality is natural - so are children. Only humans oppose the laws of nature and try to circumvent these laws by using contraceptives, chemicals or even abortion. Sex is not evil, as various moralists proclaim. The experiences of desired sexuality are even divine, as Sri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita. People have a tendency to get lost in these activities without realizing the higher sense that lies in transcending egocentric sexuality in order to become more and more a servant of original love games. Those who indulge in sexuality find it difficult to understand what treasures await them beyond it.