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The Hare Krishna Movement is a worldwide community of devotees practicing bhakti-yoga, the eternal science of loving service to God. The movement was founded in the western world in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a pure devotee of God representing an unbroken chain of spiritual masters originating with Lord Krishna Himself.

Bhakti means love of God or, as Srila Prabhupada would often translate the word, pure devotional service to God. (The Sanskrit root of the word bhakti is bhaj, which means "loving service.") Bhakti is the essence of the eternal relationship we souls have with Krishna. In material existence, our Bhakti is covered by our material consciousness and misdirected away from Krishna and toward the temporary things of this world. Therefore we are never fully satisfied. We can awaken our natural Bhakti by practicing Bhakti. In other words, we can awaken our love for Krishna by performing acts of love for Him. Since yoga means "connection,” the process by which we connect with Krishna through acts of love is called Bhakti yoga.

There's much more to loving God than just saying, "I love God.” We attain pure love for Krishna through a gradual process that takes us through progressively higher realms of Bhakti. Fortunately, we can begin the process at any point in life or wherever we are in our spiritual journey.

The Bhakti process is systematic and is laid out in detail by the followers of Sri Chaitanya in books such as Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (presented by Srila Prabhupada as The Nectar of Devotion). These books provide not only instructions but also guideposts by which the student of Bhakti can evaluate his or her progress.

The awakening of Bhakti takes place in three progressive stages: (1) regulated practice, (2) attachment, and finally (3) pure love.

The Vedic scriptures state that spiritual life begins when one inquires into the nature of the absolute truth, the Supreme Godhead. Gaudiya Vaisnavas are monotheists and know the personality of Godhead as Krishna, the All-attractive. But it is also recognized that the Supreme has unlimited names such as Rama, Buddha, Vishnu, Jehovah, Allah, etc. The ultimate goal of Gaudiya Vaisnavism is to develop a loving relationship with the Supreme Godhead.

The Vedas also tell us that the understanding of the self, as being non-material or spiritual by nature, is the preliminary stage of realization of the absolute truth. To understand knowledge of self-realization one must approach a genuine spiritual master, just as one learns the essence of any subject from a perfected practitioner.

The congregational chanting of the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, as promoted by Sri Caitanya, is accepted by the Vedas as the most effective means of self-purification in this age. The Vedas describe the mantra as a prayer to the Lord, "Please Lord, engage me in Your service". Devotees may accept formal initiation into the chanting of the Holy Name vowing to abstain from intoxication, gambling, illicit sexual connections and the eating of meat, fish or eggs. ISKCON members believe indulgence in the aforementioned activities disrupts physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and increases anxiety and conflict in society. At the time of initiation devotees also agree to chant a prescribed number of mantras each day.

HH Navayogendra
Swamiji Maharaj
Srila Prabhupada Lord Chaitanya Lord Krishna
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