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Frequently Asked Questions
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As could be expected there are a lot of questions coming in through the Talk To Us page and our feedback address. The FAQ presented here is an attempt to cover common questions that get asked over and over again. For easy reference they are grouped according to a common subject. This FAQ is regularly updated and extended.
Last additions made: July 30, 1997
ISKCON, the movement:
ISKCON (an acronym for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or the Hare Krishna movement), founded in 1966 in New York by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is the contemporary representative of the ancient religion of Krishna consciousness. It is a cultural and religious movement that offers humanity facilities to acquire, study and practice Vedic knowledge.
Devotees of Krishna, there are many. The devotees in ISKCON represent a world wide branch of the ancient Brahma-madhva-gaudiya Sampradaya (disciplic succession) that dates back all the way to Krishna Himself. Since ISKCON is also a cultural movement, devotees dress according to the ancient traditions and follow rules and regulations that may seem odd to people of other cultures. However, devotees feel that in time people will come to appreciate this traditionalism. By dressing and behaving the way they do, devotees may easily be recognized and approached for spiritual knowledge.
Krishna is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the original and primeval person who is simultaneously expanded everywhere throughout existence and yet is still situated in His eternal abode in His original, transcendental form. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-merciful being. He is the chief eternal living entity amongst all eternal living entities who are His parts. He is responsible for fulfilling all the desires of the subordinate living entities since time immemorial.
Krishna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of the living entity. As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krishna conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere.
On hearing the word guru, we tend to envision a caricaturelike image: a bizarre-looking old fellow with a long, stringy beard and flowing robes, meditating on distant, esoteric truths. Or we think of a cosmic con man cashing in on young seekers' spiritual gullibility. But what is a guru really all about?
Although "Hare Krishna" has become a household word, practically nobody knows what it means. Is it merely a repetitious incantation designed to hypnotize its practitioners? Or is it a genuine meditation that can actually summon higher awareness?
The philosophy of Krishna consciousness, being the ultimate conclusion of all Vedic knowledge, is as old as time itself. Yet, it is never stale or boring. Human life is the same no matter what time setting it manifests in, hence its problems remain the same as well: birth, death, old age and disease. The root cause of these problems is our false identification with this material world and forgetfulness of our original position in relationship with the Supreme.
The Vedic scriptures are the spiritual literature of the ancient Indian culture. A huge collection of books written in the Sanskrit language, they include material (mundane), religious (ritualistic), and spiritual (monotheistic) knowledge. The word "Vedic" is derived from the Sanskrit word veda, meaning knowledge or revelation. According to Vedic history, these scriptures were written down about 5000 years ago. This date is not accepted in modern Indology, but the date is in fact not very important, because the knowledge in these scriptures existed long before it was written down.
Behind the carefully draped mass media veil of fantasy and deception lurk the symptoms of a society rotten to the bone. They are the symptoms of a disease rooted in the primeval hunger for lording it over material nature. The ancient Vedic wisdom, with its ageless vision, sheds new light on these problems of so-called modern life. It shows us the symptoms of human degradation from the eternal spiritual perspective. The eternal relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This section contains practical questions that could not be accommodated under any of the other sections.
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