Iskcon’s four movements
By Bharat Chandra Das
The Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, identified four “movements” to be introduced systematically within society to help alleviate the “harshness and bitterness of the present world”. These were identified even before Srila Prabhupada journeyed to the West and remained his focus of attention right up until his very last breath. The four movements are:
1. The Sankirtana Movement
2. The Temple Worship Movement
3. The Spiritual Initiation Movement
4. The Classless Society Movement
These four “movements” were first referred to by Srila Prabhupada in his letter dated February 28, 1949, to the Hon. Sardar Dr. Vallavbhaajee Patel, Deputy Prime Minister, Government of India, The very same themes were again taken up in 1956 when publishing his Essay on Gita Nagari in the Back to Godhead Magazine. We also see these same four divisions when Srila Prabhupada introduced his ISKCON society in North America. We give here but the gist of these four “movements”. For more information, kindly refer to the book “MAKE VRNDAVANA VILLAGES” (His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Maharaj, Varnasrama Book Trust, 2007).
1. Sankirtana Movement (Letter, 1949)
“In the midst of his multifarious duties, Gandhiji never missed to attend to his randhun kértana meeting. This is one of the soundest methods for the culture of devotion to God. In the opinion of Çrémad-Bhägavatam, one who is imbibed with the devotion of Godhead is also endowed with all the good qualities of the gods. But one who is not a devotee of Godhead has not any value for his good qualities because he utilizes his so called good qualities for ulterior purposes. As such the easy way to raise the moral standard of people in general is to make this saìkértana movement more popular all over the world by philosophical discourses based on reasoning and moral and ethical codes. The Vaiñëava Äcäryas, especially Lord Caitanya and his six Gosvami disciples, give us ample opportunity and scope for this work. Lord Caitanya first inaugurated the saìkértana or randhun movement and the later Gosvamis supported it by scholarly philosophical synthesis. The six sandarbhas by Çréla Jiva Goswami are marvelous in this respect.”
The chanting of the holy name (japa and nama sankirtana) and book distribution (brhat-mrdanga) thus constitute the first division, referred to as the Sankirtana Movement. These were the first to be introduced in ISKCON by Srila Prabhupada.
2. Temple Worship Movement (Letter, 1949)
“The second item is to take up the temple entry or temple worship movement. This is, in the real sense, a theistic cultural movement and the facility or opportunity shall be open to every one whatsoever he may be. All the past Äcäryas accepted everyone who desires to offer his respect to God inspired by transcendental love and devotion. We can support this movement of Gandhiji on the authority of çästras. There are thousands and lakhs of temples all over India but they are not always properly managed. Some of them have become the positive dens for undesirable activities and most of the owners or trustees of such temples do not know how to utilize these sacred buildings. Neither modernized gentlemen have any interest for these neglected theistic institutions. Originally the aim of these temples was to diffuse spiritual culture in every quarter. These temples or theistic institutions should therefore be reorganized as the centre of spiritual culture according to authentic principles as laid down in the scriptures like Bhagavad-gétä.”