How can I become an ISKCON devotee?

By Sunil Kumar

ISKCON is Srila Prabhupada’s gift to the modern world. Based on the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, it is open to all regardless of caste, nationality, gender or religion. Reading Prabhupada’s life, you are struck by the unmatched devotion and hard work that went into establishing a worldwide movement at an age when most people are comfortably retired- 70 years. Believing in the ideology is a personal choice, the sheer determination is admirable.

Even chanting the ‘Hare Krishna’ Mahamantra 16 times daily makes you a grihastha(householder) ISKCON devotee. However if you want to become an initiate, contact ISKCON people running programs near you or their temple in whichever city you reside in. I have seen Prabhus(initiated devotees) in Bhagavatam lectures, sankirtans and other associated activities gradually becoming fully renounced. So, if you think that’s the path, approach a suitable person. Intelligence always counts in discerning whether the individual is genuine or not.

Prabhupada always said that he would live on in his books. Reading his colossal works is in itself a great introduction to Krishna consciousness. To end, I would quote Madhavendra Puri, preceptor and predecessor of Chaitanya explaining their path of devotion more than 500 years back.

‘Let the sharp moralists accuse me of being illusioned; I do not mind. Experts in Vedic activities may slander me as being misled, friends and relatives may call me frustrated, my brothers may call me a fool, the wealthy mammonites may point me out as mad, and the learned philosophers may assert that I am much too proud; still my mind does not budge an inch from the determination to serve the lotus feet of Govinda, though I may be unable to do it.’

Prabhupada established ISKCON primarily to spread Krishna and Chaitanya’s message to every corner of the world, offering solutions to complex crises of war, hunger, immorality, crime- all of which were considered as symptoms of godlessness.

ISKCON’s main purpose is the matchless spiritual experience of Krishna consciousness, but they have been actively involved in ‘charitable’(normal material sense) activities since inception in temples around the world. Examples include- The Akshay Patra foundation and ‘Food for Life’ etc in India apart from similar generous initiatives around the globe. If you think contribution to a larger extent with full-scale involvement is better, local ISKCON prabhus will surely help.

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