International Society for Krishna Consciousness

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Initially a proselytizing and fundraising organization, founded in New York in 1966 by Bhaktivedānta Swāmi, ISKCON is the principal form in which the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition has been carried to the West. With its headquarters at ‘New Vrindaban’ in West Virginia, USA, it has devotees (including diaspora Hindus) across the world, and has established itself in this Westernized form in India as well, notably at Vṛndāvana. Although conservative and orthodox in most of its practices, ISKCON is radical in its acceptance of those born outside the Hindu caste system. Once initiated, either as celibate students or married householders, members are given Hindu names and adopt traditional dress. In public, they are instantly recognisable in the West through their saffron robes and their continuous chanting (japa) of the sixteen names of Viṣṇu in the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, although this is now not so central to their activities as it was in the 60s and 70s. ISKCON's principal scripture is a multi-volume English devotional version of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, known as the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Since the death of Bhaktivedānta Swāmi, there have been a number of theological and organizational disputes, resulting in the establishment of splinter groups, such as the ISKCON Revival Movement.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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