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The Krishna consciousness movement is relatively young in the West, but its roots reach far back into ancient Indian civilization, which culminated five thousand years ago with the appearance of Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita, Krishna's message to mankind, is the most important scripture in India. The deep, universal meaning of the Bhagavad-gita is being made known throughout the world today through the Krishna consciousness movement.



The traces of the oldest civilizations in the world lead to India. There are still many historical sites to be found there, which point to the great culture that once flourished in this part of the world.

The most important testimonies of that epoch are the Sanskrit writings. Sanskrit is the oldest written language in the world and has influenced many later developed languages such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chinese. The original texts of Sanskrit are called Vedas (from the Sanskrit word veda, "knowledge", "divine revelation"). These writings are very voluminous, and they contain amazing knowledge of history, astronomy, medicine, architecture, esotericism, psychology, and every other aspect of human life.

However, the most important Vedic scriptures are those devoted to philosophy and religion. The crowning jewel among them is the Bhagavad-gita ('The Song of God'), often referred to as the 'Bible of India'. The Vedic religion was originally monotheistic and taught people to worship the one supreme god (whom in Sanskrit is called Krishna). It was this God-conscious lifestyle to which Vedic culture owed its enduring bloom.



Under the influence of time, everything in the world undergoes a cyclical change of rise and fall. Thus began five thousand years ago the Kali-yuga, the "iron age of strife and hypocrisy," during which Vedic culture gradually disintegrated. The kings, priests and teachers, and with them the other classes of the population, increasingly lost their purity and devotion to God, and with them the basis of their spiritual society. Nevertheless, India remained an incredibly rich country for a long time even in the Kali-yuga, which is why there have always been powers in the course of history who have tried to exploit India's treasures. All those who invaded the Indian subcontinent - from Alexander the Great in 327 B.C. to the Mohammedans and English - were amazed at the sight of this country with its imposing temples and palaces. But what these conquerors saw (and in many cases destroyed) was only the remnants of an earlier, much more sophisticated culture.



The great sages and saints of the Vedic tradition, concerned about the future of mankind, foresaw that in Kali-yuga materialism and superficial religion would prevail. So they decided to write down the Vedic knowledge that had been passed down orally to prevent it from being lost through the influence of Kali-yuga. This is how the Vedic scriptures came into being five thousand years ago; but the knowledge they contain has been known by divine revelation since time immemorial.

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