ISKCON stands for International Society for Krishna Consciousness. ISKCON is kind of a movement which focuses on religion. It is based on the holy book of the Hindus, the Bhagavad Geeta. This book is about the preaching of the Hindu God – Lord Krishna and is in the form of a conversation between Lord Krishna and his disciple who is also a close friend – Arjuna. The group of followers of ISKCON believes that the only meaningful goal in a person’s life must to develop love for Lord Krishna or just Love of God. It is based on the core beliefs and culture of Guadiya Vaishnava which was intiated in India during the 15th century. According to them, this Love for God can be felt only by practicing Bhakti-Yoga. Bhakti Yoga means that devotees, known as Bhaktas, focus and dedicate all their thoughts, work, actions, etc. towards the Supreme Lord Krishna. This society was formed by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, also known as, Srila Prabhupada, who went to New York to introduce the Hindu religion originated in India. He went to New York on 17th September, 1965 and completed his mission of founding the society of Lord Krishna Devotees called ISKCON which grew worldwide by building of over 100 temples, ashrams and centers. ISKCON movement is also called ‘the Hare Krishna Movement’. In the present day, there are more than 400 centres of ISKCON temples, 60 communities, and 50 schools and over 90 restaurants. The movement has grown in the past few years in the regions of Europe and India in terms of memberships. In India, there are around 50 temples of ISKCON Society and many other service centres.
The main temple is in Vrindavan, district Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. This is because this city is the land where Supreme Lord Krishna was bought up and spent many years of his life more than five thousand years ago. The story says that the Lord Krishna would herd cows in this city near the river Yamuna. This temple was personally constructed and established by the founder of the society – His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The ISKCON Temple of Vrindavan was opened in 1975 on the day of Ram Navami. There are three altars in this temple. The first one is of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai which is said to be most merciful incarnations of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu along with Nityanada Prabhu. The second altar, which is in the centre of the temple, is of the divine brothers and their brotherhood: Lord Krishna and Lord Balaram. The third altar is of Sri Sri Radha Shyamasunadara (Lord Krishna with Goddess Radha) together with the other confidential gopis – Lalita and Vishakha. The temple is very beautiful and is a white stoned temple. You will find diverse kind of persons, all the locals, Indians and foreign tourists. They celebrate all the Hindu festivals in the temple and decorate it very beautifully.
Another major centre of ISKCON in India is in Juhu – Mumbai, Maharashtra. The temple occupies a land of 4 acres and is located a few meters from the Juhu Beach of Mumbai. The temple was established by the founder of this society himself and in one of the best ISKCON structures from all over the world. The altars of the temple resides many deities including Sri Sri Guara Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari and Sri Sri Ram Laxman Hanuman the statues of which were personally installed by Shri Prabhupada.
The ISKCON of Bangalore is a very beautifully built temple and has the perfect décor that must be present in a temple. This temple was inaugurated by Mr. Shankar Dayal Sharma in the year 1997. The temple has a gold-plated flag post with a height of 17 meter and also an 8.5 meter high gold plated Shikara. It has 6 shrines where the main central shrine is of Goddess Radha- Lord Krishna. Other shrines include those of Lord Krishna – Lord Balram, Nitai Gauranga, Venkateshwar, Narasimha – Prahlada and a shrine for the founder of ISKCON – Srila Prabhupada.
The ISKCON of New Delhi is called Sri Sri Radha Parthasarathi Mandir which was opened in 1998. The standards of worship are as high as in any other ISKCON temple and have numerous space and rooms for the priests and followers. In total, 24 brahman pujaris, well trained to maintain the purity and auspicious environment for a complete worship rituals. They worship the main deity of Lord Krishna along with goddess Radha.
Another very recently build temple is in Chennai which was inaugurated on April 26, 2012. This ISKCON Temple is the largest temple in Tamil Nadu for Radha Krishna. It occupies 1.5 acres of land and has three main altars. The deities include Goddess Radha – Lord Krishna with Lalita and Vishakha, Lord Chaitanya – Lord Nityananda and Lord Baldev – Jagannath – Subhadra. The sources of these deities are known to be Jaipur and Orissa. The entrance of the temple represents universe on the marble floor and looks very distinctively beautiful.
ISKCON temples are a lot in number and are literally spread all over the world. They have pure Hindu rituals even if they are not located in India and somewhere in foreign. If you have not been to any before, now is the time. you will even love the way they distribute ‘Prasadam’ which even includes cakes and pastries sometimes and you will definably get impressed by their dancing style during the ‘aarti’ and ‘puja’.