An Ancient Faith for a New Age
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, has had a presence in the Chicago area since the early 1970s. The first temple was established in Evanston. but moved 1716 West Lunt in Rogers Park in 1979. Previously, this Classical Revival structure housed the second Masonic Temple in Rogers Park. The building was designed by architects Brydges & Somers and construction began on July 1, 1917.
The Hare Krishna movement traces its roots back 5000 years and is centered on the worship of and connection with Lord Krishna as the supreme spiritual personality. Its core beliefs are based on select Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana.
Modern Krishna Consciousness has its roots in the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, a religious leader who lived in Bengal during the fifteenth century and aimed to remind the world of Krishna’s supremacy over all other deities. While Krishna worship is also common amongst Vaisnav Hindus, Krishna Consciousness teaches that Krishna is superior to all other gods, while Vaisnav Hindus generally believe Vishnu to be supreme.
In 1965, His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada introduced Krishna Consciousness to the western world and began to popularize the chanting of “Hare Krishna”—from which a common name for the Krishna Consciousness movement derives. In July 1966, he formally established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he established 108 temples, including locations in most major US cities.
Practice in the Hare Krishna movement includes mantra meditation (japa), music (kirtan), food (prasadam), philosophy and festivals, all as part of the process of connecting one’s daily life with the supreme deity Krishna. This connection of the soul with the supreme is known as Bhakti Yoga. The ISKCON Chicago family is a multicultural group, with over 40 nationalities represented. Each week, the congregation hosts a Sunday Feast featuring chanting, dancing, music, meditation, and a vegetarian meal. ISKCON Chicago also convenes frequent study groups, distributes food and books, hosts festivals and workshops, and holds regular worship services.