General Introduction - What is the Hare Krishna movement?

Discussion in 'Hare Krishna' started by Neemai, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    I thought I'd post this as a general introduction to the topic for anyone who is interested in a quick overview ...


    What is the 'Hare Krishna' movement?

    The 'Hare Krishna' movement is officially known as ISKCON - 'The International Society for Krishna Consciousness', with its purpose being to spread Krishna consciousness around the world.

    What is Krishna consciousness?

    Krishna consciousness is an sublime process of self realisation which has existed for many thousands of years, especially within India. It has become increasing popular around the world since the 1960's when an elderly monk known as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, on the order of his guru (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur) brought the teachings from India and single-handedly took the responsibility of spreading them around the Western world.

    Krishna is a name for God which means 'all-attractive' - God has many names around the world such as Allah or Jehovah, just as the sun is also known by various names in the different languages of the world. Although different people around the world may describe the sun in varying ways with different languages we can easily understand that in truth it is the same sun which rises each morning in all parts of the globe. Similarly although God is given many different titles it is to be understood that as the Supreme Person He is above all sectarian notions of 'Religion' and it is the same God being worshipped by the majority of people around the planet.

    This act of worshipping Krishna or God is identified in the ancient scriptures of India as 'sanatana-dharma', literally meaning 'eternal duty'. Swami Prabupada himself describes it as follows:

    "Sanatana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord... Non-sanatana religious faith may have some beginning in the annals of human history, but there is no beginning to the history of sanatana-dharma because it remains eternally with the living entities."

    The Primary role of the Krishna consciousness movement is to spread the process of mantra meditation (chanting/singing God's holy Names) around the world and to promote the understanding of 'sanatana dharma' as it is described in the ancient Vedic scriptures (such as Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam & the Upanishads).

    Specifically Hare Krishnas promote the use of the following 'Maha-matra' (Great mantra) but other names of God can also be used if one is already following a particular faith:

    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna,
    Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
    Hare Rama Hare Rama,
    Rama Rama Hare Hare.

    This mantra is from an ancient text called the Kali Santaran Upanishad which describes this mantra as being an especially effective prayer/mantra for making spiritual progress in this current age which is known as the 'age of Kali'.

    The word 'Hare' refers to the energy of the Lord, and the words 'Krishna' and 'Rama' refer to the Lord Himself. The Maha-mantra has been well known in India ever since 500 years ago when a person known as 'Chaitanya Mahaprabhu' (also known as Gauranga) spread it publically around the country. This mantra can be spoken sofly to oneself, or can be sung by a group of people, depending on the circumstances. Most practitioners spend some time each morning in meditation, and then meet with others throughout the week.

    Here's Srila Prabhupada's description of the Maha-mantra:

    "Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind; this consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived...This chanting of 'Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare' is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness - namely sensual, mental, and intellectual...as such anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification."

    Hare Krishna,

    ...Neemai
     
  2. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    I thought it was just a feature to gain health in the first of the GTA series... (not many gamers here, that will probally go over most peoples heads...)
     
  3. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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  4. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I thought Gouranga was the name of a bridge construction company ;) till I bought a book off a devotee in town one day.

    Anyway, Neemai you seem like a very fine exponent of humanity (although I'm no linger sure "humanity" is really a compliment) and a general good egg.

    :)

    s.
     
  5. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    i thought gouranga was something to do with potatoes...lol

    some hare krsna's stole my shoes once, and gave me ergot... very trippy... then Prabhupada appeared to me in my hallucination, and told me it would be best to run away when I woke up..lol.. so I did...
     
  6. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Thanks Snoops, you could say that I look a bit like a good egg, but hopefully don't smell like one. ;)

    There is a dish called "Gouranga Potatoes", so you might be onto something there Francis. Not sure what you mean by ergot, is that some kind of fungi, or jsut a typo?


    ... Neemai :)
     
  7. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Fresh eggs are fine, but not old ones perhaps...:p

    What would you say are the key differences & similarities between Hare Krishna and Hinduism? (or is that a truly daft question?). I've Wiki'd a bit but I like to get it from the real deal.:)

    s.
     
  8. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Hi Snoopy,

    It's a bit of a yes and no question.

    Hinduism is basically an umbrella term to describe a conglomerate of diverse religious traditions within India, which span all kinds of beliefs - from monotheism on the one-hand, to polytheism, or even something similar to atheism on the other. What these traditions all have in common is that they share a similar scriptural background (at least in part) in the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas etc... Amongst the various traditions there is one branch known as Vaishnavism (meaning worshipers of Vishnu), from which the Hare Krishna movement traces it's history.

    In olden times foreign invaders in India began describing the peoples other than themselves as "Indu's" or "Hindus" because they lived near the river Sindhu but couldn't pronounce 'S's' very well (sounds funny, but is apparently true). Over time the peoples of India themselves began to use the term "Hindu" also, and it eventually became an accepted religious/cultural identity for the peoples of the country.

    When Prabhupada brought the 'Hare Krishna' style of Vaishnavism (Gaudiya Vaishnavism) to the western countries his aim was simply to promote "love of Krishna (God)" as a non-sectarian religous practice, especially through the singing of God's names:

    "The attempt to understand God and His laws, that is religion. So it doesn't matter whether it is executed through a system called Hindu religion or a system called Muslim religion or a system called Christian religion. If the objective is the same, Adhoksaja [to know God], then that process is first-class religion."

    - (Bombay, January 12, 1975)

    So yes, in some ways Krsna Consciousness is part of Hinduism, and no, in other ways it is not.


    ... Neemai :)
     
  9. Francis king

    Francis king New Member

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    ergot, its a fungus that grows on wheat, corn, rye, etc... its a powerful hallucinogen, too...
     
  10. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    The barley harvest is a really big deal in biblical judaism. :D And the last day of the counting of the sheaves of barley came to be associated with the revelation at mount sinai. Shavuot.

    edit: The sighting of the barley, I think at the point that it was ready to harvest, used to determine the new year. Karaites still use that to determine the new year.
     
  11. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Seriously though, hallucinogenic fungi are off-limits to anyone wanting to follow the process correctly:

    "So therefore this Krsna consciousness movement is prohibiting the four pillars of sinful life. What is that? Illicit sex life... Meat-eating. [Meats, fish & egg] ... intoxication. All kinds of intoxication. Not only liquor or LSD but also tea, coffee, cigarette, everything... and gambling. These are the four pillars of sinful life. So we are advocating: "Please give up these four principles of sinful life and chant Hare Krsna mantra."

    - From a lecture by Srila Prabhupada, Ahmedabad 1972


    ... Neemai :)
     
  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Namaste Neemai,

    So part of Hinduism but not...I'm still not quite following at first you indicate something similar to various denominations of Christianity or sects of Islam, but are you indicating that Krishna Consciousness has its roots in Hinduism yet stems beyond it now? This seems akin to me to some forms of Christianity which or Islam which have their base in tradition and grown out of the same yet have expanded beyond conventional borders (New Thought/trancendentalists and some Sufi)...

    You mention Hinduism mono/poly/atheistic....where does Krishna Consciousness fall in?

    I have a friend who has moved to an Ashram in WV haven't spoken to him in a couple of years...he spends his time between the Ashram and India last we talked. He is a retired Navy officer, quite content with ISCKON ways.

    I've run into Krishna's at the airports in the past...used to be frequently in the 70's and 80's this seems to not go on anymore....has the methods of spreading the word changed or did airport security force a change?

    I've always found my way to the Krishna's at gatherings to listen to the shruti (sp?) and participate in the wonderful food, discussions and chanting.

    I concur with snoopy....I've found your posts and thought enjoyable and believe you to be a good egg (with a little handful of hair I suppose...)
     
  13. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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  14. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi Neemai,

    Thanks for that. :)

    Is there any significance in Krishna being changed to Krsna?

    Is it correct that both Krishna and Buddha are (in some Hindu religions?) considered as incarnations of Vishnu? How is Krishna a name for God when Lord Vishnu is the name for the Supreme Being (God?)

    As you may gather, I'm in the cheap seats here.:D

    s.
     
  15. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Namaste to All :)

    Q: are you indicating that Krishna Consciousness has its roots in Hinduism yet stems beyond it now?

    I wouldn't describe it like that, although the comparison to Sufism and Islam soundssomewhat appropriate. It depends on the point of view someone comes from:

    A scholar studying Hinduism would classify Krishna Consciousness as Gaudiya Vaishnavism, which as a branch of Vaishnavism is clearly part of the 'Hinduism' tree. But practitioners of Krishna Consciousness would not give 'Hinduism' as thier identity - nor would they classify themselves as 'Hindu', because neither of those words appear in scripture and neither of them accurately describe what it means to be Krishna Consciousness. It's a geographical identity as much as it is a religious one.

    When asked the question, Srila Prabhupada replied:

    "Yes, you can call it Hinduism, but actually it does not belong to any "ism." It is a science of understanding God. But it appears like Hindu religion."

    The focus is towards re-establishing our eternal relationship with God, with the understanding that God cannot be owned by any religion - being universally open to all who to approach Him. So Prabhupada's aim was to teach a particular process of becoming more God Consciousness - Krishna Consciousness, not in creating a particular theology or faith based religion. Now I can hear the scholar in my head saying that this is a 'very Hindu' viewpoint, which in some ways is true, but essentially Prabhupada was not concerned with promoting an identity - but in giving process whereby one could approach the Ultimate truth.

    Q: You mention Hinduism mono/poly/atheistic....where does Krishna Consciousness fall in?

    Krishna Conscious philosophy is that there is one Supreme God, who is a Personality - but who takes various forms and incarnations (as He is all powerful and able to practically anything), and it is this same God who is experienced through the majority of religious paths around the world. But as Krishna states Himself in the Bhagavad-Gita, it is not that all forms that people worship are accepted as "God":

    "Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way." (BG 9.23)

    For example, the God of the Abrahmic religions - Jehovah or Allah, is taken to be the Supreme Lord, but many of the other 'devas' (gods) of Hinduism are understood as angelic beings rather than them all being incarnations or
    that we can just make up any form we like and worship it as the Supreme being.

    Q: I've run into Krishna's at the airports in the past...used to be frequently in the 70's and 80's this seems to not go on anymore....has the methods of spreading the word changed or did airport security force a change?

    Airport security is firmer these days, but other social changes within ISKCON has also led to a 'decrease in street prescence'. In the 60's and 70's most members lived in temples as monks and nuns on a full-time basis whereas
    nowadays the majority of members live outside temples, go to work and look after families, which means they have less time to spend on the street selling books or performing public chanting. Also numbers of members have
    changed - in Eastern Europe for example, membership has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, whereas in England I suspect overall numbers of committed members to have fallen, or stayed roughly the same? But it's hard to tell.

    Q: Is there any significance in Krishna being changed to Krsna?

    It's simply a variation of spelling which originates in the IAST form of Kṛṣṇa. It's a kind of hybrid form of writing, between English and classical Sanskrit. 'R' with a dot underneath = Ri, S' with a dot =Sh, etc...

    Q: Is it correct that both Krishna and Buddha are (in some Hindu religions?) considered as incarnations of Vishnu?

    In the Puranans there are a number of lists describing various incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu. A number of these include Buddha, for example in the Srimad Bhagavatam (1.3.24) "Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha." Within Hinduism generally, Krishna is regarded as a avatar of Vishnu, but within Gaudiya Vaishnavism Krishna is
    regarded as the source of all incarnations. This is based on statements made in texts such as Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Brahma-Samhita. For example in the Srimad Bhagavatam, at the end of the list of
    avatars, Krishna is mentioned specifically:

    "All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead." (1.3.28)

    Q: How is Krishna a name for God when Lord Vishnu is the name for the Supreme Being (God?)

    Both Krishna and Vishnu are understood to be names of God - but for Hare Krishna's, Krishna is the original.

    Hope that make sense,


    ... Neemai :)
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Namaste,

    You composed some informative answers yet created another question....expound on the geographical region please.

    The comment regarding all worshiping the same G!d resonates...but they are doing it wrong...is also familiar.
     
  17. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    Thanks Wil :)

    In terms of geographic region I meant with Hinduism commonly being taken to mean "India-ism". A number of people I've met claim that "you are just born Hindu" or that "it's a thing for India only", and I think overall it has grown into a kind of national identity? Sanatana-dharm - the eternal dharma, on the other hand I see as a much clearer definition of a religious belief.

    From your posts I pick up some insight of both Eastern and Western flavours, do you follow any particular schools of thought, or are your beliefs more universal?


    ... Neemai
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I'm a Christian that accepts other thought and honors others beliefs.
     
  19. Neemai

    Neemai that's my Boss in the pic

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    I appreciate your perspective. Very welcoming. :)

    Thanks to everyone for the questions, and for the record, here's the recipe for Gouranga Potatoes should you ever wish to try em:

    Gouranga Potatoes


    ... Neemai ;)
     
  20. Matsya Avatar

    Matsya Avatar New Member

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    A question..

    Can I have a list of Hare Krishna eating?

    For example:

    No eat meat, fish, eggs.
    No eat garlic and onions
    No drink alchool
    No gambling
    No drink tea and coffee
    No eat white sugar
    No use wine's vinegar
    No eat mushrooms
    No drink sheep and aries milk
    No drink coke?
    No eat chocolate?

    Thank you hare krishna

    Matsya Avatar
     
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