The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna Movement, is the contemporary branch of the millennia-old Krishna religion. ISKCON is a cultural and religious movement that offers people the opportunity to learn, study and practically apply Vedic knowledge.
In 1965, at the age of 70, Srila Prabhupada traveled to America on a cargo ship to fulfill the commission of discipleship. He started out as a penniless monk, alone and without any support; but gradually young people came to him - attracted by his spiritual maturity and charisma.
Despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada traveled tirelessly. He founded 108 centers in 49 countries, accepted thousands of disciples and brought the message of Krishna Consciousness to millions of people. At the same time, he authored over sixty books of translations and explanations of the Vedic scriptures, which he himself described as "ISKCON's greatest gift to mankind."
To systematically spread spiritual knowledge in human society and to instruct all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to correct the imbalance of values in life and achieve real unity and peace in the world.
To spread Krishna consciousness as revealed in the Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
To bring the members of the Society closer to each other and to Krishna, the Supreme Being, thus cultivating in the members as well as in all humanity the view that every soul is a part of God with the same qualities.
The Sankirtan movement, that is what it means to teach and encourage collective chanting of the holy names of God as revealed in the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
To establish for the members and human society a sacred site of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
To bring members closer together with the aim of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
To publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings with the above objectives in mind.
These statutes were laid down by Srila Prabhupada in ISKCON's Charter of Incorporation in 1966.
The term 'Governing Body Commission' (GBC for short) translates as 'Governing Commission Body', originally comes from the Indian railways of the nineteenth century. The British, then India's colonial rule, established such a governing body to manage the ever-expanding line network.
Srila Prabhupada then used this term when entrusting the management of ISKCON to his disciples in 1970. He did this in accordance with the instructions of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, who recognized early on that a larger movement would overwhelm the capacity of a single leader and therefore a collective governing body should be established.
Furthermore, the GBC appoints from among Srila Prabhupada's disciples the new generation of spiritual masters (currently around 70) who have the responsible task of upholding the purity of the Krishna conscious tradition and of initiating new disciples. The Hare Krishna movement is thus an authentic continuation of Vedic disciplic succession.