What is the Hare Krishna movement?
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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) or the Hare Krishna movement is a branch of Hinduism, formally known as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The name is taken from its chant — Hare Krishna — which devotees say repeatedly. This movement began in the 16th century by Sri Chaitanya of Bengal (1486-1533) and was later introduced to the United States in 1966 by Abhay Charan De Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is worshiped by followers as Guru and spiritual master.
The movement’s major beliefs are based on the traditional Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. ISKCON devotees worship Krishna as the highest form of god, svayam bhagavan, and often refer to him as “the supreme personality of godhead.” To devotees, Radha represents Krishna’s divine female counterpart, the original spiritual potency, and the embodiment of divine love.
ISKCON beliefs basically teach pantheism – god is all and in all and that man can achieve relational unity with god and ultimately become identical to god. The goal of the Hare Krishna is to reach “Krishna consciousness,” a state of enlightenment.
Hare Krishna promotes the concept of salvation by works. These works include bhakti-yoga, meditation, chanting, dancing, and soliciting funds. Salvation, according to ISKCON, is united with the Hindu concept of karma (retributive justice). One’s works, good and bad, are measured and judged after death. If one’s deeds are good, he continues to be reincarnated into higher life forms; if his deeds are bad, he will become a lower life form. When a person’s good deeds exceed the bad, he can escape from the cycle of rebirth and realize his oneness with Krishna. Thus, ISKCON promotes the belief in reincarnation and/or the transmigration of the soul.
In contrast, Christianity teaches that God is transcendent—He is above all His creation and is a loving and merciful God who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is the greatest love story ever told, that the Creator would condescend to save His creation from eternal death and the consequences of their own rebellion.
The Bible teaches that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Good works can never buy salvation for anyone because our good works are as “filthy rages” in comparison to our Holy God. But when the believer submits his will to the Father, the Lord gives him power to overcome sin.
The Bible also teaches that man is a created soul whereas God is a Spirit. Therefore, man can never become a god. This falsehood of becoming gods was introduced from the very beginning at the garden of Eden when the devil told Eve,: “You will be as God” (Genesis 3:5).
The devil has invented many false roads that lead to destruction in order to deceive the masses. But Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6), and “there is salvation in no other one; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In His service,