Half a millennium ago, Lord Sri Krsna, the supreme cause, manifested as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, proclaiming that the chanting of His holy names—Hare Krsna, Hare Rama—would resonate across every town and village globally. The anticipation of this bold prophecy lingered for centuries among Lord Caitanya’s devoted followers, until a pivotal moment unfolded in 1965.
The Journey to America: Srila Prabhupada’s Mission Takes Flight
In 1965, at the age of 69, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada embarked on a transformative journey from Mumbai to the United States aboard the ‘Jaladuta’ steamship. Against conventional expectations of retirement, Srila Prabhupada embraced this challenging mission to fulfill Lord Caitanya’s vision and honor the directive of his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada.
After arriving in New York City in September 1965, Srila Prabhupada struggled alone for the first year to establish his Krishna conscious movement. He lived simply, lectured whenever and wherever he got the opportunity and gradually began to attract some small interest in his teaching. In July of 1966, while still working from an obscure storefront on New York City’s Lower East Side, Srila Prabhupada nonetheless founded a spiritual society intended for worldwide participation. He called it International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON for short and thus began the Hare Krishna movement in America.
At the time of incorporation, Srila Prabhupada had not attracted even one committed follower. Undeterred, he enlisted volunteers from among the small group of regular attendees at his evening lectures to act as ISKCON’s first trustees.
The Essence of Chanting
The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the sublime method of reviving our transcendental consciousness. Krsna means the all-attractive person, Rama means the highest pleasure, and Hare refers to Krsnas internal pleasure potency known as Srimati Radharani.
By chanting of this transcendental vibration we can cleanse our hearts of all impurities.
Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original natural energy of the living entity.
Devotees in the Hare Krsna movement perform the traditional method of congregational chanting called kirtana. During kirtana, whether in the temple or outside, devotees usually stand or dance. One person leads the singing, and everyone else responds. Devotees hold kirtanas in the public places (so-called harinamas) so that others may benefit by hearing the Lords holy names. Krsna considers such unintentional hearing devotional service, and it entitles one to render more service in the future.