Frequently Asked Questions
Below you can find our FAQ sections. For further discussion please visit the Fan The Spark Forum Page.
Q1. What is Krishna Consciousness?
A: Krishna is a name of God describing His supreme beauty and all attractive nature. The words “Krishna consciousness” refer to the true nature of the self, which is to always be absorbed in loving service to the all attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. Krishna conscious is the constitutional position of the self. It is our original pure state of consciousness which has been forgotten due to being conditioned by our existence here in the material world. As one becomes more in line with one’s constitutional position and moves away from material sense gratification, then true happiness and self realization begins to take place.
Q2. Where and from what time period did it come?
A: The Krishna consciousness movement is a religious tradition with roots going back many thousands of years to the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in the world. Although the Hare Krishna movement in its modern form was started by Caitanya Mahaprabhu five hundred years ago in Bengal India. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada introduced Krishna consciousness to the Western world in 1965 when he arrived in the United States. Shortly after arriving in America Srila Prabhupada incorporated the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and in a few short years the Hare Krishna movement was an international society with temples, communities and farms on every continent of the world.
Q3. What are the Vedas?
A: The Vedas are the oldest books in the world and are the original scriptures of the various religious traditions of India. The word Veda itself means knowledge. The Vedas are written in the ancient Sanskrit language. The Vedas include the four original vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Srimad Bhagavatam, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavad-gita, as well corollary Vedic texts dealing with yoga, astronomy, and health (ayurveda). Although the Vedas are a vast literary collection on a wide variety of subjects, the most important knowledge contained in the Vedas is knowledge of God and our eternal relationship with God.
Q4. How is this different than other Vedic philosophies such as Buddhism?
A: India has a very rich religious history and most of the traditions share basic beliefs about karma and reincarnation, however Krishna consciousness is different from Buddhism in that it is based on devotion to a personal God, whereas Buddhism and other sects of Hinduism are non-personal religions where the Ultimate Reality is conceived of as devoid of form and personality. Krishna consciousness acknowledges that God has both impersonal and personal aspects but emphasizes devotion to the personal form of God as the deepest and most fulfilling form of relationship with God.
Q5. What is Vedic Culture?
A: Vedic culture is the original spiritual culture of India. In ancient time the Vedic culture was the most materially advanced culture on the planet in terms of science, language, math, astronomy etc. However, the most important aspect of Vedic culture is that it contained a working model of how an entire civilization can be organized around the central idea of spiritual advancement. Society was organized not primarily with the goal of economic production but with primary goal of self realization and all other aspects of social, political, and economic life were dovetailed with the imperative of self realization.
Q6. What does it mean to practice Krishna Consciousness?
A: Practicing Krishna consciousness means to live a life dedicated to serving God. Specifically members of the Iskcon chant the name of God on japa (prayer) beads everyday. Chanting the names of God are a very simple method of spiritual practice that can easily put one in direct contact with God. Chanting the name of God is a spiritual practice recommended in all scriptures. Members of the Hare Krishna movement also follow the four regulative principles of no eating meat, fish or eggs, no intoxication, no gambling, and no illicit sex.
Q7. Can you explain the four regulative principles?
A: According to the Vedic scriptures these are considered to be the basic principles of a healthy moral and spiritual lifestyle. In the Srimad Bhagavatam religion is compared to a bull that stands on four legs: mercy, truthfulness, cleanliness and austerity. The killing of animals destroys mercy, gambling destroys truthfulness, illicit sex destroys cleanliness and intoxication destroys austerity. All of these bad habits are actually vices and so by ridding of them in our lives, we are creating freedom. It is commonly perceived that it is a limitation to stop eating meat, gambling, engaging in illicit sex and intoxication. In fact, because these are all addictions, ridding of them is actually a liberating experience.
Q8. Can you explain chanting?
A: The primary way in which we worship God is by chanting His name, both quietly in personal prayer and loudly together. This simple method of worshiping God is considered to be the best method for awakening our dormant love of God. All the scriptures of the world recognize the sanctity of God’s name and the importance of chanting the name of God. The Vedic scriptures describe that Krishna is non-different from His name and when we chant the name of God we can have a direct experience of God. By chanting the names of God we can purify our consciousness, re-awaken our dormant love of God, and return home to the Kingdom of God at the end of this life. This is the goal of Krishna consciousness.
Q9. What does it mean to be a devotee?
A: Being a devotee, as the name implies, means being devoted to God. However, the way in which one expresses that devotion will be unique to every individual because we all have different duties based on the situation we find ourselves in and our own individual natures. For instance, a husband has many duties that differ from that of a renunciate and therefore their day to day practice and service to God may look different in action, but in essence it is the same. Being a devotee is about having God-centered intentions. By connecting all aspects of our life to God and by offering activities to God for His pleasure one can be a devotee in any circumstance. And in any circumstance a devotee will glorify the Lord and dedicate his life to serving God. Some devotees live a monastic lifestyle in a temple or ashrama however most live seemingly ordinary lives working and raising a family, but the consciousness of a devotee is what is extraordinary.
Q10. How can I learn more about Krishna Consciousness?
A: The best way to learn more about Krishna consciousness is by reading the books of the Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada the Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and by visiting an Iskcon temple near you. You can find also find more information online at Krishna.com and there also you can find a directory of ISKCON temples around the world. I suggest you visit one. Devotees are well known for their hospitality, a great meal and ecstatic dancing!!!