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Iskcon’s four movements

Friday, 23 May 2008 / Published in Articles / 4,157 views

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.”

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3 Responses to “Iskcon’s four movements”

  1. satyahit2 says :

    what is classless society ? mean signify
    does iskcon exemplify this ?
    make vrindaban means to make self sufficient villages as Srila Prabhupada desired for our & everyone elses benefit
    certainly was not for his benefit that He desired this
    satyahit das

  2. satyahit2 says :

    hari nam sankirtan is so simple & easy to do anywhere practically , just good to have some people around & or houses, then go strolling by slowly and singing hare krsna with drums & cymbols, someone should have some books or phamplets , invitations,
    Lord Chatanya did this sankirtan
    He likes and appreciates when we chant His Holy Names in public places
    no requirement for huge endeavour
    just go out anywhere you arte with freinds & do it / take a 1/ 2 hour walk singing hare krsna
    sundays in Santo Domingo we used to go thru neighborhoods single story homes very quite quite, sucesful, always did books & colected Laksmi. just aproach doors & windows that people come to. no need to knock . the chanting is the knocking
    satyahit das

  3. Bharat Chandra Das says :

    What is Classless Society mean?

    Srila Prabhupada’s presentation of “Classless Society” or in other words “Varnasrama Society” is as follows:

    “The fourth item is to organize the much discussed caste system as a solution of natural division of the human beings all over the world. Nationalistic division of human races is artificial but scientific division of the caste system as envisaged in the Bhagavad-gétä is natural. We shall have to pick up brähmaëas and others not only from the Indian people but from the peoples of all over the world. The vitiated caste system of present India is never sanctioned by the scriptures. But the caste system is made by God according to quality and work of the subject and it was never designed for the benefit of accidental birthright. Thus whatever is made by God cannot be destroyed by man. Destruction of the caste system, as contemplated by some exponents, is therefore out of question. By the modes of nature different persons are imbued with different qualities and the scientific way of division of human society, from the qualitative aspect, by the caste system is quite natural. But the basic principle of such caste system is to serve the plan of Godhead and by doing so the four orders of caste system make headway by the co-operative method. When such spiritual progress is definitely made, the materialistic progress is automatically effected as a matter of course. That makes a real classless society.”

    While the first three “movements” or phases within ISKCON remain active and developed with (1) regular book printing and distribution promoted all over the world, with (2) continued new temple construction in major cities on different continents and with (3) on-going congregational preaching such as MIHET, BI, Bhaktivedanta College, BYS, IYF, etc., as well as Nam Hatta programs and Bhakti-Vriksa programs, the fourth area (4) Varnasrama communities, or more specifically establishing the ideal social model of Village Organization receives but little attention, promotion and commitment. There seems to be an increased concern, interest and commitment on the part of some in regards to cow protection, which is an essential component for developing varnasrama communities. However, the need for establishing self-sufficient communities, specifically the order given by Srila Prabhupada must be taken up more seriously to succeed in firmly establishing Lord Chaitanya’s mission.

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