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The Vedic scriptures are not bound to any particular religion but offer humanity a universal path to God. Along this path, there are many stages of progress: starting from reducing and overcoming bad habits, progressing to adopting a vegetarian diet and studying the Vedic scriptures, and advancing to mantra meditation and God-consciousness (Bhakti-Yoga). The Krishna devotees impart comprehensive knowledge of Bhakti-Yoga to people, and everyone can start at a level that suits their individual situation.

"On this path, there is neither loss nor diminution, and even a little progress can protect one from the greatest danger."

Bhagavad-gita, Chapter 2, Verse 40


Krishna consciousness means an inner attitude of love and devotion to God, which consequently harmonizes one's external actions in everyday life. Mercy, self-control, truthfulness, and purity are the four pillars of spiritual life. These four virtues can be cultivated by distancing oneself from habits that oppose them.





Killing animals is incompatible with the principle of mercy, and that is why the Vedas recommend a vegetarian lifestyle to humans.

Those who practice bhakti yoga eat only food that is dedicated to God. Such dedicated food is called prasadam (“the mercy of God”) in Sanskrit. The Bhagavad-gita explains that one cannot dedicate violent or impure foods to God, and so devotees of Krishna avoid meat, fish and eggs. (For more information on this subject, see the booklet Vegetarian Living.)



Intoxicants and gambling make people dependent and addicted, fostering unnecessary passions that disrupt inner balance. They rob individuals of self-control (the ability to say no) and integrity (the strength to stand for truth).



Purity refers to physical cleanliness as well as purity of thoughts. This includes avoiding extramarital sexual relationships, as an uncontrolled sexual life makes it practically impossible to concentrate on God with pure thoughts. In addition, such sexual relationships cause many social problems and lead to psychological frustration and jealousy, binding the consciousness of the eternal soul to the perishable body.

However, it is evident that not everyone is capable of following these guidelines. They describe the ideal to strive for, and having this ideal in mind helps one recognize the next steps in their own life to move closer to this ideal.



ISKCON is a broad community with all kinds of members, friends and supporters. There are the initiated, full-time members: men and women who live in a temple or farm community and perform the functions of priests and priestesses or monks and nuns. There are also numerous friends and sympathizers who follow the ideals of Krishna consciousness to a certain extent at home or simply appreciate the Krishna devotees and support them financially or in other ways. In the early days of ISKCON - in the 1960s and 1970s - there were not so many Krishna devotees, and they lived practically only in temple communities.

Over the years, however, a large circle of sympathizers has formed who regularly visit the temple. This development corresponds to the model of Vedic society, in which the number of priests and monks also only makes up a small percentage.

Krishna consciousness is therefore not only limited to life in a temple community, but can be practiced everywhere and by everyone: regardless of gender, age, profession or religion.



Anyone, whether male or female, can join the Krishna Consciousness movement. Those who wish to live in the temple and be initiated into the Vedic disciplic succession first undergo a novice period of one to two years. Only after this period of careful consideration and training do they receive initiation with the corresponding vows (abstaining from intoxicants, gambling, extramarital relationships, and eating meat, fish, and eggs).

The Krishna devotees are free to decide whether and for how long they want to live in celibacy, because in Vedic culture, priests are also allowed to marry.

Like life in a school, life in the temple is a way station for many. Some eventually marry and start families. Likewise, each member can leave the community at any time.

Joining the Hare Krishna movement and living in the temple community does not entail any financial obligations. There are no entry fees or membership fees, because it is part of the Vedic tradition that no fee is charged for spiritual training, which should be accessible to everyone.


Since the Krishna devotees lead a simple life in the temples and on the farms, they can keep their financial demands low. They cover their expenses through the sale of organic products, art articles and books on Vedic philosophy, as well as through voluntary donations from their circle of friends. What's left over after living expenses (which include food, personal purchases, and living expenses as well as social security contributions such as taxes, health insurance, and old-age insurance) is used for public festivals, giving out free food, and printing new books. Each ISKCON center is financially and administratively independent.

‍The frequent accusation that collected money is used by some "guru" for dubious purposes has been proven not to apply to ISKCON.


The ISKCON temple communities are places where one has the opportunity to focus on the practice of bhakti yoga and the study of the Vedic scriptures. They are organized along the lines of the Indian monasteries (Ashramas). First and foremost, this includes a regular daily routine. Early morning is the best time for meditation. Traditionally, the first temple ceremony begins at 4:15 am. The time after that is dedicated to mantra meditation, i.e. the individual chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra on a prayer chain with 108 wooden beads. At 7.15 am there is a short temple ceremony followed by a recitation from the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Guests often attend these lectures, as well as the breakfast that follows, because the public is invited to all these temple programs. During the day the Krishna devotees engage in various individual activities according to their inclinations.


Pleasing Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the common goal of the Krishna consciousness movement. This leads to unity in diversity and diversity in unity. The temple itself already offers a large field of activity. Many are engaged in the worship of the Deities on the altar; in the kitchen one learns the secrets of Vedic recipes and spices, and every Sunday there are open houses (with lectures, slide shows, meditation music and vegetarian feast). Also important is the concern to bring the Vedic knowledge closer to the public, for example through seminars, cultural events and the sale of books.

Vedic culture is also promoted and cultivated in the field of music. Both traditional Indian instruments in bhajan and raga style as well as modern instruments are used. Talented musicians know how to combine texts from Indian philosophy with contemporary musical styles. These aspects of art and culture also enrich painting, architecture, poetry and theatre.

Another field of activity of the Krishna devotees is the self-sufficient life in the country - according to the model of Vedic agriculture.



The life motto of the Krishna devotees is "Live simply - think high". The best way to do this is on a farm. Because of this, members of the Krishna Consciousness Movement operate organic farms in many countries around the world. Nowadays, people have gotten used to the comforts of modern industrial society without realizing that the price they have to pay for these comforts is far too high (overexploitation of nature, pollution, civilization diseases, mental impoverishment, crime , wars, etc.). More and more people are now realizing the magnitude of these threats. A more natural lifestyle, a certain renunciation of machines, a lower demand for consumption and above all the development of one's own God consciousness would be the first steps necessary to overcome these problems.

The Krishna devotees start with these points. On their farms, they specifically strive for goals such as organic farming, self-sufficiency on the basis of a vegetarian diet, work with oxen and the development of resistant seeds and an on-farm fertilizer cycle.

The central understanding is that everything belongs to God and that man has no right to exploit nature. Therefore, on every Krishna conscious farm there is a temple room where the fruits of labor are first offered to Krishna. In this way it is possible to lead a natural and sublime life in accordance with the laws of God.


After founding the Krishna consciousness movement in the West, Shrila Prabhupada also initiated many projects in India. In Vrindavan, Krishna's place of appearance, an impressive temple in modern Vedic style was built, connected with a school for 200 students. A marble temple with a culture and congress center was built in Bombay, and a city based on the Vedic model is being built in Mayapur (West Bengal). There are also about a hundred other ISKCON temples and thousands of Namahatta congregations (local Krishna associations).

In India, ISKCON has 10,000 active members and 1,500,000 parishioners who are committed in this way to the revival of their own heritage, Vedic culture.

‍Shrila Prabhupada also founded the Food for Life charity in 1971 because the distribution of prasadam food is an important aspect of the Krishna religion. In India, in the third world countries and increasingly also in the industrialized nations, the large-scale distribution of free prasadam is one of the most important activities of ISKCON. To date, over 900 million servings have been distributed worldwide.

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