THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF ISKCON

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3000 B.C. The end of Dvarapa-yuga, (the copper age), and beginning of Kali-yuga (the iron age, the age of quarrel); the advent of Lord Krishna; the compilation of Vedic literature by Vyasadeva. These writings include the Bhagavad Gita, spoken originally by Lord Krishna and the Bhagavat Purana, describing His pastimes. Both are canonical texts for ISKCON.

600 B.C. The appearance of Lord Buddha, who taught the doctrine of Sunya-vada* (“voidism”). He rejected the Vedas as an emergency measure to save the populace from the effects of indiscriminate animal slaughter, ostensibly based on concessionary injunctions within the Vedas.

788 – 820 A.D. The life of Shankaracharya who introduced the doctrine of Advaita-vada (monism). By his teachings, the influence of Buddhism waned within India, as people re-accepted the Vedas.

1017 – 1137 The life of Ramanuja who taught the philosophy of Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism), as the conclusion of the Vedas.

1239 – 1319 The life of Madhva who preached Shuddha-Dvaita-vada (pure dualism). He emphasised the eternal distinction between the soul and God.

1486 – 1534 The life of Sri Chaitanya who taught the philosophy the Achintya bedabeda tattva (inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference). Although he took initiation into the line of Madhva, he drew elements of his teachings from all four Vaishnava disciplic successions and their leading proponents (i.e. Madhva, Ramanuja, Nimbarka and Vishnuswami). He is considered an incarnation of Radha-Krishna, the Supreme Lord and His consort. He widely popularised the congregational chanting of the “Hare Krishna Mantra” and opposed the rigid and hereditary caste-system. His followers are known as Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

1534-1600 A period of consolidation under the direction of Chaitanya’s closest followers particularly Krishnadas Goswami and the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan (headed by Rupa and Sanatana).

17th Century The poetic flourishing of the movement (especially under Narottama Das Thakur)

18th Century A serious decline in which many branches of the tradition misinterpreted the philosophy taught by Chaitanya.

1838-1914 The life of Bhaktivinoda Thakur who re-established the integrity of Gaudiya-Vaishnavism and who predicted the international success of the movement.

1874-1936 The life of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, the son of Bhaktivinoda, who consolidated and expanded his father’s work by establishing 64 centres throughout India.

1965 After more than 40 years of struggle in India, with little apparent success, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) arrives in New York at the advanced age of 70 carrying the message of the preceptoral succession.

1966 Shrila Prabhupada officially incorporates ISKCON in New York.

1968 Six of Shrila Prabhupada’s disciples arrive in London.

1969 “The Hare Krishna Mantra” reaches the “Top Twenty”; the first temple in Britain opens in London.

1973 Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire is established as the national headquarters.

1977 Shrila Prabhupada passes away, leaving:
(1) more than one hundred ashrams, temples, schools and farming communities throughout the world.
(2) more than seventy books on Vedic philosophy, religion and culture.
(3) 10,000 initiated disciples with whom he entrusted the responsibility of furthering the spiritual lineage.