Upon arrival in New York on September 1965, Srila Prabhupada was struggling alone for one year to found his God consciousness movement. He was living simple, giving the lectures whenever and wherever he got the opportunity and gradually by his instructions he began to attract attention of the people. Yet on July 1966, while working alone in the unknown storefront in New York Lower East Side, Srila Prabhupada established the spiritual society meant for the people all over the world. He named it the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or abbreviated ISKCON.
At the time of the establishment he didn't have even one devoted follower, but he was not discouraged. Among the small group of regular visitors of his evening lectures he gained the volunteers who would take over the responsibilities of the first trustees of ISKCON. Thus it was then, and today the International Society for Krishna Consciousness includes more than 500 temples, farms, schools and special projects all over the world and takes care of the million-numbered congregation in the whole world.
The purpose of ISKCON
Krishna consciousness is not a sectarian faith, but something more significant. It is a practical science about spiritual values which are fully described in the Vedic literature of ancient India. The goal of Krishna consciousness movement is to inform all people of the world about these universal principles of God realization so they can get the best benefits of spiritual understanding, unity and peace.
Vedas recommend that in the present age the most effective path for attaining the self-realization is to constantly hear about the Supreme Lord, glorify and remember the all-good Supreme Lord who is known by many names. One of them is Krishna, which means One who is all-attractive, another is Rama, which means One who is the reservoir of all pleasure, and Hare refers to the Lord's inconceivable energy. By following this recommendation of the Vedas, the members of ISKCON are always chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This sublime singing, this sound vibration of His Holy Names, directly connects us with the Supreme Lord and helps us to gradually develop our original relationship with God.
The main mission of ISKCON is to encourage all members of human society to dedicate at least some portion of their time and energy to this process of hearing and chanting about God. Thus they will gradually realize that all living beings are spirit souls, who are eternally connected with the Supreme Lord by service and love.
Distribution of spiritual food - prasadam
Apart from teaching Vedic knowledge and propagating the Holy Names of the Lord, ISKCON also distributes spiritual food all over the world. Just like the philosophy and chanting, the vegetarian food which is first offered to the Lord purifies the heart and the mind and helps us in the process of gradual uncovering of our original God consciousness. Therefore the ISKCON's program of distributing spiritualised food, all over the world known by the name Food for Life, is equally beneficial for the soul as well as for the body.