Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Uttara Pradesh State
Vrindavan, Uttara PradeshVrindavan (Hindi: वृन्दावन (alternatively spelled Vrindaban, Brindavan, Brindavana, or Brundavan) also known as Vraj (as it lies in the Braj region) is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the site of an ancient forest which is the region where according to the Mahabharata, a grand Epic of Sanskrit literature dating back to the 3000 BC, the deity Krishna spent his childhood days.
The town is about 10 km away from Mathura, the city of Lord Krishna's birthplace, near the Agra-Delhi highway. The town hosts hundreds of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna and is considered sacred by a number of religious traditions such as Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism, and Hinduism in general.
Vrindavan is depicted in a new non-verbal film entitled Rasa Yatra . The author of the film Param Tomanec, photographed at the sacred side over a period of four years its spiritual beauty as well as Vrindavan's plight for clean environment and holy river Yamuna. Rasa Yatra had its European Premiere at the 10th Prague Indian Film Festival. Its distribution in German speaking territory was acquired by Bush Media Group Gmbh & KG.
HistoryVrindavan has an ancient past, associated with Hindu history, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage site. One of its oldest surviving temples is the Govinda Dev temple, built in 1590, with the town founded earlier in the same century.
It is believed that the essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century, when it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the year 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna's transcendent pastimes. Chaitanya wandered through the different sacred forests of Vrindavana in a spiritual trance of divine love. It was believed that by His divine spiritual power, He was able locate all the important places of Krishna's pastimes in and around Vrindavana.
In the last 250 years, the extensive forests of Vrindavan have been subjected to urbanization, first by local Rajas and in recent decades by apartment developers. The forest cover has been whittled away to only a few remaining spots, and the local wildlife, including peacocks, cows, monkeys and a variety of bird species has been eliminated or are close to it. A few peacocks are left in the city but monkeys and cows can be seen almost everywhere.
Religious heritageVrindavan is considered to be a holy place by all traditions of Hinduism. The major tradition followed in the area is Vaisnavism, and it is a center of learning with many Vrindavan Ashrams operating. Its a center of Krishna worship and the area includes places like Govardhana and Gokul that are associated with Krishna. Many millions of bhaktas or devotees of Radha Krishna visit these places of pilgrimage every year and participate in a number of festivals that relate to the scenes from Krishna's life on Earth.
According to tradition and recorded evidence, Krishna was raised in the cowherding village of Gokul by his foster parents Nanda Maharaj and Yasoda. The Bhagavata Purana describes Krishna's early childhood pastimes in the Vrindavan forest where he, his brother Balarama, and his cowherd friends stole butter, engaged in childhood pranks and fought with demons. Along with these activities, Krishna is also described as meeting and dancing with the local girls of Vrindavan village, especially Radharani, who were known as gopis. These pastimes were the source of inspiration for the famous Sanskrit poem, Gita Govinda, by the Sanskrit poet, Jayadeva (c. 1200 AD).
The most popular temples include:
Madan Mohan Temple located near the Kali Ghat was built by Kapur Ram Das of Multan. This is the oldest temple in Vrindavan. The temple is closely associated with the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu . The original image of Lord Madan Gopal was shifted from the shrine to Karauli in Rajasthan for safe keeping during Aurangzeb's rule. Today, a replica of the image is worshiped at the temple.
Garud Govind Temple is located on the turn of NH-2 to Vrindavan in Chhatikara village. This temple is one of the most ancient temples of the Brij and according to purans, main idol was incarnated by great grandson of lord Krishna, shri Bajranabh ji after the order of his Kulguru shri Gargachary. This is also one of the rarest temples of Garud ji, which is famous for 'Kalsarp Anushthan'.
Banke Bihari Temple, built in 1862 is the most popular shrine at Vrindavan. The image of Banke-Bihari was discovered in Nidhi Vana by Swami Haridas, the great Krishna devotee, belonging to the Nimbarka sampradaya.
Radha Vallabh Temple, set up by the Radha-Vallabh sampradaya, through Sri Hith Harivansh Mahaprabhu, has the crown of Radharani placed next to the Shri Krishna image in the sanctum.
Jaipur Temple which was built by Sawai Madho Singh II, the Maharaja of Jaipur in 1917, is a richly embellished and opulent temple. The fine hand-carved sandstone is of unparalleled workmanship. The temple is dedicated to Shri Radha–Madhava.
Sri Radha Raman Mandir, constructed at the request of Gopala Bhatta Goswami around 1542 is one of the most exquisitely crafted and revered temples of Vrindavan, especially by the Goswamis. It still houses the original saligram deity of Krishna as Radha Ramana, alongside Radharani.
Shahji Temple, another popular temple at Vrindavan, was designed and built in 1876 by a wealthy jeweller, Shah Kundan Lal of Lucknow. The deities (images) at the temple are popularly known as the Chhote Radha Raman. Noted for its magnificent architecture and beautiful marble sculpture, the temple has twelve spiral columns each 15 feet high. The 'Basanti Kamra' – the darbar hall is famed for its Belgian glass chandeliers and fine paintings.
Rangaji Temple, built in 1851 is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha or Rangaji depicted as Lord Vishnu in his sheshashayi pose, resting on the coils of the sacred Sesha Naga. The temple built in the Dravidian style (as a replica of Srivilliputhur) has a tall gopuram (gateway), of six storeys and a gold-plated Dhwaja stambha, 50 feet high. A water tank and a picturesque garden lie within the temple enclosure. The annual festival of Jal Vihar of the presiding deity is performed with great pomp and splendour at the tank. The temple is also famous for its 'Brahmotsdav' celebration in March–April, more popularly known as the `Rath ka Mela'. The ten-day-long celebrations are marked by the pulling of the rath (the chariot car) by the devotees from the temple to the adjoining gardens. The prayers within the temple are performed, following in the style of Andal, one of the twelve Vaishnava Saints of South India.
Govind Dev (Govindaji) Temple was once a magnificent seven storeyed structure built in the form of a Greek cross. It is said that the Emperor Akbar donated some of the red sandstone that had been brought for the Red Fort at Agra, for the construction of this temple. Built at the astronomical cost of one crore rupees in 1590 by his general Raja Man Singh, the temple combines western, Hindu and Muslim architectural elements in its structure. It was destroyed by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
Sri Krishna-Balarama Temple built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in a location known as 'Raman-Reti', is one of the most beautiful temples in Vrindavan today. The principal deities of this temple are Krishna and Balaram, with Radha–Shyamasundar and Gaura-Nitai alongside. Adjoining the temple is the samadhi of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, built in pure white marble.
Radha Damodar Mandir Located at Seva Kunj, the Mandir was established in 1542 by Srila Jiva Goswami. The deities Sri Sri Radha–Damodar are here. The bhajan kutir of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is also situated at the Mandir.
Shri Maa Katyayani Mandir, the temple is situated in Radha Bagh, near Rangnath mandir. This is one of suddh Shakti Peetha of Shakti.
Chintaharan Hanuman Mandir, temple of Lord Hanuman is situated near Atalvan.
Shree Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Temple: In Vrindavan, the “Lila Sthan” (the place of the divine passion play) of Lord Krishna, lies the temple that is a must visit destination for devotees completing the 84 kosh Vraj Parikrama Yatra. The temple is centuries old and is the first Indian temple that is dedicated to the divine couple and their Ashta Sakhi’s - the eight “companions” of Radha who were intimately involved in her love play with the Lord Krishna. The Ashta Sakhis are mentioned in the ancient texts of Puranas and the Bhagavata Purana. The temple is called Shree Radha Ras Bihari Ashta Sakhi Mandir and it is home to the divine Rasa Lila of Lord Krishna and Radharani. It is located in close proximity to the Shri Banke Behari Mandir. Legend has it that the Shree Radha Rasa Behari Ashta Sakhi Mandir is one of the two places in Mathura, Vrindavan where the Lord Krishna actually indulges in the Rasa Lila with his beloved Radha and her sakhis. On these nights, devotees have reported hearing the sound of the anklets, beating in tune to a divine melody.
Sri Kathia Baba Ka Sthan at Gurukul Road, the mahanta of which is entitled as "brajobidehi mahanta" and the acharya of Swabhuram Dwara of Nimbarka sect, Sri Swami Rash Behari Das Kathia Babaji Maharaj.
Sri Sri Radha Govinda Temple - was built by Mahamandaleshwar Mahant Sri Krsna Balaram Swamiji from Vrindavan. This newly constructed Radha Govinda Temple, completed in 2004 is based on a famous historic temple built about 500 years ago by Srila Rupa Goswami, a direct Sanyasi disciple of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Vrindavan-Chandra Mandir (HKM Vrindavan), located some ninety miles southeast of Delhi, is a replica of that supreme Goloka Vrindavana in the spiritual sky. It was inaugurated in 2006 on the most auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami day. The temple is housed in an ultra-modern geodesic structure with a traditional gopuram based on khajuraho style of architecture, greeting pilgrims at the entrance. The major festivals of the temple are Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Sri Radhashtami, Kartik Fest (7 day festival during Govardhan Puja time) and Gaura Purnima. Grand abhishekas are performed for Sri Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra during festivals such as Radhashtami and Janmashtami.
Other sacred sitesther places of interest include Seva Kunj, Kesi Ghat, Sriji Temple, Jugal Kishore Temple, Lal Babu Temple, Raj Ghat, Kusuma Sarovar, Meera-Bai Temple, Imli Tal, Kaliya Ghat, Raman Reti, Varaha Ghat and Chira Ghat, and across the river, a short boat-ride away is the samadhi shrine of Devraha Baba, a revered saint of the last century.
The Seva Kunj is where Lord Krishna once performed the Raaslila with Radha-Rani and the gopis and Nidhi Van where the divine couple rested. The samadhi of Swami Haridas, the guru of Tansen, is situated here. Every year, in his honour, Swami Haridas Sammelan is organized, in which all renowned musicians of India take part. After hundreds of year a historic effort to restore the ancient Seva Kunj is being carried out by The Braj Foundation, a NGO committed for the all-round development of Braj.
Six Goswamis of Vrindavana
The Six Goswamis of Vrindavan were a group of devotional teachers (gurus) from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Vedic Religion who lived in India during the 15th and 16th C. They are closely associated with the land of Vrindavan where they spent much time in service of the Bengali saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is considered as Krishna's yuga-avatar by the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage, who highly regard them for their extreme renunciation of physical comforts and pleasures in the practice of Bhakti Yoga, and for their philosophical presentations of the teachings of their guru, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
VrindavanAs well as producing a prolific amount of writings regarding Vaishnava philosophy and practices, the Six Goswamis also dedicated a significant amount of their time to uncovering many purportedly ancient and sacred areas of land in Vrindavan associated with Radha, Krishna and the Gopis. These sections of land are believed to be the sites wherein Radha and Krishna performed specific lilas during the previous yuga in accordance to the events recorded in the Bhagavata Purana. Although having little in the way of financial possessions themselves, the Goswamis managed to inspire the building of a number of large and ornate temples on or around these sites (dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna) which play a role in Vrindavan society to this day.
MembersThe six members of the group were:
- The brothers Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami
- Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami
- Jiva Goswami (nephew of Rupa and Sanatana)
- Gopala Bhatta Goswami
- Raghunatha dasa Goswami.
The Gaudiya Math (pronounced matt, IAST: Gauḍīya Maṭha) was formed on 6 September 1920, about 30 months after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. On 7 March 1918, the same day he took sannyasa, he established the Sri Chaitanya Math in Mayapura, later recognised as the parent body of all the Gaudiya Math branches. Its purpose was to spread Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the philosophy of the medieval Vaisnava saint Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, through preaching and publishing.
From the beginning of Sri Caitanya's bhakti movement in Bengal, devotees, including Haridasa Thakur and others, whether Muslim or Hindu by birth, have been participants. This openness and disregard for the traditional caste system received a boost from the "broad-minded vision" of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a nineteenth-century magistrate and prolific writer on bhakti topics, and was institutionalized by his son and successor Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in the twentieth-century Gaudiya Math.
By the time of the founder's death (1 January 1937), the Gaudiya Math had established 64 branches Most were in India, but preaching centres were maintained for a time in Burma, England and Germany.
Later other disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura established many different branches of Gaudiya Maths.
Bhakti Dayita Madhav Maharaj, a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, was the founder of the Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, was the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), which also became known as the Hare Krishna movement.
Hare Krishna (mantra)
The Hare Krishna mantra, also referred to reverentially as the Maha Mantra ("Great Mantra"), is a 16-word Vaishnava mantra which first appeared in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad, and which from the 15th century rose to importance in the Bhakti movement following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
According to Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, one's original consciousness and goal of life is pure love of God (Krishna). Since the 1960s, the mantra has been made well known outside of India by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as "the Hare Krishnas")
MantraThe Hare Krishna mantra is composed of Sanskrit names in the vocative case: Hare, Krishna, and Rama (in Anglicized spelling, the transliteration of the three vocatives is hare, kṛṣṇa and rāma, . It is an anustubh poetry stanza:
Hare Krishna Hare KrishnaKrishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare"Hare" can be interpreted as either the vocative of Hari, another name of Vishnu meaning "he who removes illusion", or as the vocative of Harā, a name of Rādhā, Krishna's eternal consort or Shakti. According to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Harā refers to "the energy of God" while Krishna and Rama refer to God himself, meaning "He who is All-Attractive" and "He who is the Source of All Pleasure". Rama can refer to Ramachandra or to Krishna as Radha-Raman, another name of Krishna meaning beloved of Radha. In the hymn Vishnu Sahasranama spoken by Bhishma in praise of Krishna after the Kurukshetra War, Krishna is also called Rama. Rama can also be a shortened form of Balarama, Krishna's first expansion.
The mantra is repeated, either out loud (kirtan), softly to oneself (japa), or internally within the mind. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami describes the process of chanting the Maha Mantra as follows:
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.
HistoryThe mantra is first attested in the kalisaṇṭāraṇopaniṣad (Kali Santarana Upanishad), a Vaishnava Upanishad associated with the Krishna Yajurveda. In this Upanishad, Narada is instructed by Brahma (in the translation of K. N. Aiyar):
Hearken to that which all Shrutis (the Vedas) keep secret and hidden, through which one may cross the Samsara (mundane existence) of Kali. He shakes off (the evil effects of) Kali through the mere uttering of the name of Lord Narayana, who is the primeval Purusha.Narada asks to be told this name of Narayana, and Brahma replies Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; These sixteen names are destructive of the evil effects of Kali. No better means than this is to be seen in all the Vedas.
The mantra was popularized by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu roughly around 1500 CE when he began his mission to spread this mantra publicly to "every town and village" in the world, travelling throughout India, and especially within the areas of Bengal and Odisha. Some versions of the Kali Santarana Upanishad give the mantra with Hare Rama preceding Hare Krishna(as quoted above), and others with Hare Krishna preceding Hare Rama. as in Navadvipa version of the manuscript. The latter format is by far the more common within the Vaishnava traditions. It is a common belief that the mantra is equally potent when spoken in either order.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a devotee of Krishna in disciplic succession, on the order of his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, brought the teachings of Sri Chaitanya from Bharat (India) and single-handedly took the responsibility of spreading them around the Western world. Beginning in New York 1965, he encircled the globe fourteen times in the final eleven years of his life, thus making 'Hare Krishna' a well-known phrase in many parts of the world.
Hippie cultureIn the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Hare Krishnas became confused with the hippie subculture. This was an erroneous association, as the ideals of these groups are quite different. Although Prabhupada was open to anyone becoming a member of the Hare Krishnas, they had to follow the four regulative principles, one of which is strict abstention from intoxicants, including marijuana. Elevation and joy were to be derived from chanting God's holy names.
The hippie Broadway musical "Hair" has a song, "Hare Krishna" with the mantra in it, along with some additional lyrics.
Popular cultureThe Hare Krishna mantra appears in a number of famous songs, notably those sung by The Beatles (in the lyrics of George Harrison and John Lennon), and has been at the number 1 spot in the UK singles charts on more than one occasion within songs such as Harrison's "My Sweet Lord". George put a Hare Krishna sticker on the back of the headstock of Eric Clapton's 1964 Gibson ES-335; the sticker also appears on Gibson's 2005 reproduction of the guitar.
The Radha Krsna Temple's recording "Hare Krishna Mantra" was released as a single on The Beatles' Apple label in 1969, and reached number 12 in the UK and appeared on the music show Top of the Pops. It also made the number 1 slot on both the German and Czechoslovakian music charts.
The mantra also appears in The Pretenders' Boots of Chinese Plastic.
Less well-known but equally relevant to fans of pop music culture are recordings of the Hare Krishna mantra by The Fugs on their 1968 album Tenderness Junction (featuring poet Allen Ginsberg), by Nina Hagen, and by Hüsker Dü on their 1984 album Zen Arcade.
Kula Shaker, Boy George, and members of The Rubettes have recorded music tracks about Krishna Consciousness.
At the 2008 and 2009 VMA Awards, the host, English comedian Russell Brand ended the ceremony by saying Hare Krishna, as he does at all his shows.
The Washington D.C. Production duo Thievery Corporation released a track on the 2008 album entitled, "Hare Krishna".
In The Muppet Movie a running gag entailed one character saying they were lost and the other saying "maybe you should try Hare Krishna."
In the Seinfeld episode The Subway, a patron in Monk's restaurant yells, "Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!" when he sees George walk in wearing only a bedsheet. A similar scenario occurs in Scrubs when J.D. shaves his head in support for a chemo patient, and in the movie Stripes when John Candy's character leaves the army barber.
The Hare Krishnas are featured in the popular video game series Grand Theft Auto originally as pedestrians, and in later installments as a gang.
The band Shelter features themes and lyrics of Hare Krishna culture. Also in the Hip Hop genre, the band Govinda Sky has several songs about Krishna Consciousness.
In the film 'Osmosis Jones' (2001), Jones pushes past two cells in Franks stomach who are singing 'Hare Krishna' whilst playing a drum and jiggling a tambourine.
In episode ten, season five, of Mad Men, Paul Kinsey reappears not as a bearded, pipe smoking copywriter, but as a follower of Hare Krishna.
While addressing Stanford graduates in 2005, Apple founder Steve Jobs mentions “…I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.”
Scriptural referencesThe practice of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is recommended in the Puranas, the Pañcaratra, and throughout Vaishnava literature in general.[ For example:
All the grievous sins are removed for one who worships Lord Sri Hari, the Lord of all lords, and chants the holy name, the Maha-mantra. (Padma Purana, 3.50.6)
When the sixteen names and thirty-two syllables of the Hare Krishna mantra are loudly vibrated, Krishna dances on one's tongue. (Stava-mala-vidyabhusana-bhasya, Baladeva Vidyabhusana in Bhaktisiddhanta's Gaudiya Kanthahara 17:30)
[Anyone] can immediately become eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices if he once utters the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or chants about Him, hears about His pastimes, offers Him obeisances or even remembers Him.” ( Srimad Bhagavatam, 3:33 6)
International Society for Krishna ConsciousnessThe International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement or Hare Krishnas, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organisation. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Its core beliefs are based on traditional Indian scriptures, such as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and the Bhagavad-gītā, both of which, according to the traditional Hindu view, date back more than 5,000 years. The distinctive appearance of the movement and its culture come from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which has had adherents in India since the late 15th century and Western converts since the early 1900s in America, and in England in the 1930s
ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of bhakti yoga, in which aspirant devotees (bhaktas) dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing the Supreme Lord, Krishna. ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 400 centres, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools and 90 restaurants. In recent decades the movement's most rapid expansions in terms of numbers of membership have been within Eastern Europe (especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union) and India.
Beliefs and history
ISKCON devotees follow a disciplic line of Gaudiya Bhagavata Vaishnavas and are the largest branch of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Vaishnavism means 'worship of Vishnu', and Gauḍa refers to the area where this particular branch of Vaishnavism originated, in the Gauda region of West Bengal. Gaudiya Vaishnavism has had a following in India, especially West Bengal and Odisha, for the past five hundred years. Bhaktivedanta Swami disseminated Gaudiya Vaishnava Theology in the Western world through extensive writings and translations, including the Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), Chaitanya Charitamrita, and other scriptures. These works are now available in more than seventy languages and serve as the canon of ISKCON. Many are available online from a number of websites.
Early Western conversions to monotheistic Krishna Vaisnavism or the Bhagavata Vaisnava line which forms the basis of the ISKCON philosophy were recorded by the Greeks and are reflected in the archaeological record.
Krishna is described as the source of all the avatars. Thus ISKCON devotees worship Krishna as the highest form of God, svayam bhagavan, and often refer to Him as "the Supreme Personality of Godhead" in writing, which was a phrase coined by Prabhupada in his books on the subject. To devotees, Radha represents Krishna's divine female counterpart, the original spiritual potency, and the embodiment of divine love. The individual soul is an eternal personal identity which does not ultimately merge into any formless light or void as suggested by the monistic (Advaita) schools of Hinduism. Prabhupada most frequently offers Sanatana-dharma and Varnashrama dharma as more accurate names for the religious system which accepts Vedic authority. It is a monotheistic tradition which has its roots in the theistic Vedanta traditions.
Hare Krishna mantra
The popular nickname of "Hare Krishnas" for devotees of this movement comes from the mantra that devotees sing aloud (kirtan) or chant quietly (japa) on tulsi mala. This mantra, known also as the Maha Mantra, contains the names of God Krishna and Rama.
The Maha Mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
ISKCON volunteers at Melbourne
Seven purposes of ISKCON
1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus to develop the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
5. To erect for the members, and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
Four regulative principlesBhaktivedanta Swami prescribed four regulative principles, in relation to the four legs of dharma, as the basis of the spiritual life:
- No eating of meat (including fish) or eggs.
- No illicit sex. Sex allowed only if married and only to produce children to be raised Krishna conscious.
- No gambling.
- No intoxication (including alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and other recreational drugs. ).
Preaching activitiesISKCON is known for their energetic active preaching. Members try to spread Krishna consciousness, primarily by singing the Hare Krishna mantra in public places and by selling books written by Bhaktivedanta Swami. ] Both of these activities are known within the movement as Sankirtan. A study conducted by E. Burke Rochford Jr. at the University of California found that there are four types of contact between those in ISKCON and prospective members. Those include: individually motivated contact, contact made with members in public arenas, contact made through personal connections, and contact with sympathizers of the movement who strongly sway people to join. According to the doctrine of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, one does not need to be born in a Hindu family to take up the practice of Vaishnavism. There are ISKCON communities around the world with schools, restaurants and farms. In general, funds collected by ISKCON are treated as communal property and used to support the community as a whole and to promote the preaching mission. Many temples also have programs (like Food for Life) to provide meals for the needy. Also, ISKCON has recently brought the academic study of Krishna into western academia as Krishnology.
Educational activitiesThe ISKCON Ministry of Education regulates educational activities within ISKCON, and oversees the operation of primary, secondary, tertiary, and seminary schools and centres of education.
The Ministry of Education also oversees education for religious and sastric study, developed and monitored by the UK-based Vaisnava Training and Education organisation.
Bhaktivedanta InstituteThe Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI) is the scientific research branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Founded in 1976 by Bhaktivedanta Swami and Bhaktivedanta Swaroop Dahmodar, it advances the study of the nature and origin of life, utilising Vedic insights into consciousness, the self, and the origin of the universe. BI motto in Sanskrit language: "Athato brahma jijnasa" "One should inquire into the Supreme." BI has established the world's first graduate degree program (M.S./Ph.D) in consciousness studies at Mumbai in collaboration with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, one of India's top technical schools. Subjects include Life Sciences, Artificial Intelligence, Mathematics and Philosophy of Science. Currently Ravi Gomatam is the Director of Bhaktivedanta Institute.
Food for Life
ISKCON has inspired, and sometimes sponsored, a project called Food for Life. The goal of the project is to "liberally distribute pure vegetarian meals (prasadam) throughout the world", as inspired by Bhaktivedanta Swami's instruction, given to his disciples in 1974, "No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry . . . I want you to immediately begin serving food". The international headquarters known as Food for Life Global site, established by Paul Rodney Turner (ref) and Mukunda Goswami, coordinates the project. Food for Life is currently active in over sixty countries and serves up to 2 million free meals every day. Its welfare achievements have been noted by The New York Times and other media worldwide
Influential leaders since 1977
Before his death, Prabhupada "deputed" or appointed the following eleven of his disciples to serve as gurus or to continue to direct the organisation: Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami, Jayapataka Swami, Hridayananda Dasa Goswami, Tamal Krishna Goswami, ] Bhavananda Goswami, Hansadutta Swami, Ramesvara Swami, Harikesa Swami, Bhagavan Dasa, Kirtanananda Swami, and Jayatirtha Dasa. These eleven "Western Gurus were selected as spiritual heads" of the ISKCON after 1977, however "many problems followed from their appointment and the movement had since veered away from investing absolute authority in a few, fallible, human teachers", however of these eleven, the first three have remained prominent leaders within the movement, as was Tamal Krishna Goswami until his death in a car accident in March 2002. Bhavananda no longer holds the post of an initiating guru. Ramesvara, Bhagavan and Harikesa resigned as spiritual leaders in 1985, 1987 and 1999 respectively and the remaining three were all expelled from the movement by the Governing Body Commission during the 1980s. Of Prabhupada's disciples, who number 4,734 in total, approximately 70 are now acting as diksha gurus within ISKCON. As of April 2011, ISKCON had a total of 100 sannyasis, most of whom were acting as gurus (see List of International Society for Krishna Consciousness sannyasis).
Nityananda (Bengali: শ্রী নিত্যানন্দ, b 1474 CE), was a Vaishnava saint, famous as a primary religious figure within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Bengal, is an expansion of Balarama. Nityananda was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's friend and disciple. They are often mentioned together as Gaura-Nitai (Gaura, "golden one", referring to Chaitanya, Nitai being a shortened form of Nityananda) or Nimai-Nitai (Nimai being another name of Chaitanya). Followers often refer to Nityananda as 'Sri Nityananda', 'Prabhu Nityananda' or 'Nityananda Rama'.
According to Gaudiya-Vaishnava tradition Nityananda is an incarnation of Balarama, with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu being his eternal brother and friend, Krishna. He is considered the 'most merciful' incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Nityananda Prabhu was born to a religious Sandilya Bandyaghati Brahmin, Mukunda Bandyopadhyay (also known as Hadai Pandit) and Padmavati in Ekachakra. (a small village in Birbhum district of present West Bengal) around the year 1474. His devotion and great talent for singing Vaishnava hymns (bhajan) were apparent from a very early age. In his youth, he would generally play the part of Lakshman, Rama's younger brother, in dramatic re-enactments of Lord Rama's pastimes, along with the other boys of Ekachakra
At the age of thirteen, Nityananda left home with a travelling renunciate (sannyasi) known as Lakshmipati Tirtha. Nityananda's father, Hadai Pandit, had offered the travelling sannyasi anything he wished as a gift. To this Lakshmipati Tirtha replied that he was in need of someone to assist him in his travels to the holy places (he was about to begin a pilgrimage) and that Nityananda would be perfect for the job. As he had given his word Hadai Pandit reluctantly agreed and Nityananda joined him in his travels. This started Nityananda's long physical and spiritual journey through India which would get him in contact with important Gurus of the Vaishnava tradition. Apart from Lakshmipati Tirtha, who at some point initiated him, he was also associated with Lakshmipati Tirtha's famous other disciples: Madhavendra Puri, Advaita Acharya, and Ishvara Puri, the spiritual master of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu .]
Once while chanting the name of Krishna in the streets, Nityananda was attacked by Jagai and Madhai, two irreverent drunk brothers. Madhai threw an earthen pot which cut his forehead. At this point Nityananda is said to have uttered the now famous sentence, "Merechhish kolshir kana, tai bole ki prem debona" (Shall I stop giving you love because you have hit me with an earthen pot?). Chaitanya heard of the episode, flew to a rage, and wanted to kill the brothers with his divine Chakra. Nityananda begged him to pardon them and they became Chaitanya's disciples, converted by Nityananda's compassion
Marriage and the descendantsNityananda married two daughters of Suryadasa Sarakhela, Vasudha and Jahnava. After marriage, he settled in Khardaha. He had a son, Virachandra or Virabhadra, and a daughter, Ganga, by his first wife Vasudha. Virabhadra was later initiated to vaishnava rites by his stepmother Jahnava.
LegacyThe exploits of Chaitanya and Nityananda have had deep religious and cultural implications in Bengal. They are credited with the revival of Hinduism in Eastern India, plagued mainly by the caste system, which they denounced. Much of Vaishnava literature, regarded as one the finest literary heritage of medieval Bengal, came from them or their disciples. Even in secular literature, their brotherly love towards each other has been celebrated
- Nityananda -- He Who embodies eternal bliss
- Avadhutendu -- The Moon of divine madmen
- Vasudha-prana-vallabha -- The beloved of the life-breath of Vasudha
- Jahnavi-jivita-pati -- The eternal divine husband of Shrimati Jahnavi-devi and the maintainer and sustainer of Her life and soul
- Krsna-prema-prada -- He Who bestows ecstatic love for Krishna
- Prabhu -- The Lord and Master of the devotees
- Padmavati-suta -- The dear son of Padmavati
- Sriman -- He of splendorous transcendental majesty
- Saci-nandana-purvaja -- The older brother of mother Saci's son
- Bhavonmatta -- He Who is maddened in overwhelming ecstatic emotions
- Jagat-trata -- The savior of the universe
- Rakta-gaura-kalevara - He Whose complexion is golden tinged with red
Pancha Tattva (Vaishnavism)Pancha Tattva (Devanagari: पञ्चतत्त्व; IAST: pañca-tattva, from Sanskrit pañca meaning "five" and tattva "truth" or "reality") in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition refers specifically to the Five aspects of God or Absolute Truth.
BackgroundIn Gaudiya Vaishnavism these five features of God (Krishna) are believed to have incarnated on Earth as five people in the late 15th century, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara Pandita and Srivasa Thakura. They famously spread the Hare Krishna mantra, and the practice of devotion (bhakti) to Krishna throughout India.
The Five Features
- Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is said to be Krishna Himself, The Supreme Person (Svayam Bhagavan).
- Nityananda is Krishna's first personal expansion with a combined power of Balarama
- Advaita Acharya is a combined incarnation of Lord Vishnu & Lord Shiva (Harihara).
- Gadadhara is a combined incarnation of Radha, Lalita (gopi) and Krishna's internal energy.
- Srivasa is Krishna's pure devotee and symbolizes devotion.
Pancha Tattva mantraWithin the Gaudiya tradition a mantra formed from the names of the five members of the Pancha Tattva is often spoken or sung as a means of devotional worship or meditation (japa). Often this mantra is sung or chanted prior to the Hare Krishna mantra. It is believed by followers to be the most merciful mantra available in this age of Kali.
jaya śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda,
śrī-advaita gadādhara śrīvāsādi-gaura-bhakta-vṛnda
Govardhan hill, VrindavanGovardhana (Sanskrit: गोवर्धन) is a hill located near the town of Vrindavana, in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, India. It considered as sacred especially in the Vaishnava traditions within Hinduism.
Known as Govardhan or Giriraj it is the sacred center of Braj and is identified as a natural form of Krishna
EtymologyThe name 'Govardhana' has two primary translations. In the literal meaning, 'Go' translates to 'cows', and 'vardhana' translates to 'nourishment'. Another meaning of 'Go' is 'the senses' and 'vardhana' can also mean 'to increase' - thus the name is also translated by devotees of Krishna as 'that which increases the senses' in their attraction to Krishna. In this connection, it is believed that the personality of Govardhan blesses the devotee by increasing his devotion (bhakti). Thus, by residing in the foothills of Govardhan Hill, all the senses and the respective duties of a soul attain divinity and are more inclined to perform service to Krishna
The lifting of Govardhan
Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'karma', to the best of their ability and not pray or conduct sacrifices for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna's life is mostly glossed over - but it actually set up on the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavad Gita
It also represents the downfall of Indra, and a new beginning in Hindu philosophy, from a more sacrificial/ appeasement oriented worship, to a more spiritual plane of thought. This evolution of thought in Hinduism was brought about by Krishna, and therefore he has been the most important Hindu deity since then - considered an 'avatar' of the supreme. The more we look at his life story - we find him to be a great reformer of his time ]
According to ancient Vaishnava legends the Vedic Deva (demigod a kin to guardian angel), Indra (god of rain & lightning) was feared by human beings because he would either give the people no rain or flood them if he was not satisfied with their worship. When Krishna found out, he opposed the performance of sacrificial worship for Indra. He emphasized the importance of karma and doing ones duty. This supposedly made Indra angry at the boy Krishna (an incarnation of the Supreme God according to the Bhagavata Purana
Indra thus invoked many clouds to appear in the sky and schemed to flood the region with rains lasting for seven days and seven nights. Krishna in reply then lifted Govardhan hill, under which all the animals and people of the region took shelter, safe from the rains of Indra's fury. Ultimately, Indra accepted defeat baffled in determanation.He offered his prayers and left to his heavenly kingdom.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )