Srila Prabhupada’s seven purposes of ISKCON in reference to congregational development

By His Holiness Romapada Swami

 When incorporating his worldwide mission dedicated to spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world, Srila Prabhupada outlined seven purposes which capsulized the essence of his mission. By analyzing these seven purposes, one can see how congregation development is aimed at fulfilling all of these seven purposes, when the congregation is properly organized and directed.

1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.

• In general, persons very involved in the worldly aspects of modern society can identify more readily with grihastha devotees who are showing by example how one can follow Krishna consciousness seriously while simultaneously fulfilling their family and career duties and responsibilities. Outreach programs like Bhakti-vriksha, Nama-hatta and other study programs give the members of society at large an opportunity to associate openly and closely with such grihastha devotees. Thus, it becomes easy for them to practice Krishna consciousness in their lives, too. This is both a natural and a very effective way to systematically educate society at large in the techniques of spiritual life.

2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.

• In these congregation outreach programs, the philosophy of Bhagavadgita is discussed systematically from the very basic level, and gradually elevated studies of Srimad-Bhagavatam and other scriptures.

3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).

• Through Congregational Development programs, participants establish a close bond of friendship via rendering service together, either at the temple or at the local preaching center. During various festivals, members of these groups offer their services whole-heartedly in cooperation with the local authorities. There are many centers which are successfully managed by the congregation. Congregation development is not complete without grooming the children of the congregation devotees, who are the future of our movement. Initiatives like Sunday School and youth clubs are very much integral to the congregational development programs. Through the medium of service to Krishna only can Krishna's identity be known. Through devotional service to Krishna, our eternal relationship will be revealed.

4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

• By encouraging congregation development, the members are not only encouraged to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra regularly themselves, but also to share this knowledge within their circle of influence. Thus, from the very beginning the members are engaged in the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya.

5. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.

• The congregation members help in various projects of ISKCON by contributing and organizing fund-raising for temple construction etc.

6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.

• Once the congregation members become close friends and develop spiritual bonding, they naturally try to create a community amongst themselves to fulfill each other’s spiritual and material needs based on Srila Prabhupada’s teachings of simple living and high thinking. Simplicity of life-style follows naturally from strong connections to Krishna and His service, established over time.

7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.

• Congregation members, once trained and properly guided, both directly and indirectly in many ways, enthusiastically distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books and other Krishna conscious literatures.

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