To educate, care for and engage everyone in devotional service to Lord Krishna; authentic, relevant, expertly done and guided by the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the Hare Krishna Movement, includes over five hundred major centres, temples and rural communities worldwide, as well as nearly one hundred affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of home meeting groups, a wide variety of community outreach and charity projects, and millions of international congregation members. Although founded only fifty years ago, ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda in New York City in 1966.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within Vedic culture, originating in the Indian subcontinent over five thousand years ago. The Hare Krishna philosophy is based on authoritative Sanskrit texts known as Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavata Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These historic texts outline the devotional path of serving and loving God, known as Bhakti yoga.
Bhakti means devotion, and the Bhakti-yoga texts teach that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their original love and devotion for God.
It is our understanding that the all-attractive, all-knowing personality of God is known by many names, depending on the region and dialect of the worshiper - Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Krishna etc. The sanskrit word Krishna translates into English to mean the “all-attractive one”. Hare Krishna devotees cultivate their devotion by the practice of mantra meditation, through chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This chanting is a call to re-unite one in a devotional relationship with the Supreme and to engage in devotional service to Him.
There are two types of mantra meditation, Japa and Kirtan. Japa is a quiet, personal meditation, whereas Kirtan is a call and response singing of mantras with others, often with musical instruments.
Japa is counted on a japa mala, the sanskrit word for prayer beads. These beads are used to count the number of mantras chanted. One chants the Hare Krishna mantra on each of the 108 beads of the mala to complete ‘a round’. The focus while chanting is to hear the sound of the mantra. If the mind wanders to other thoughts, one is to gently bring it back to the mantra. Though one can chant japa at any time of the day, the morning hours around dawn are recommended as the stillness and peace at that time compliment focused and contemplative chanting.
Kirtan is another way to practice mantra meditation in a musical setting. Kirtan may be quiet and soothing or upbeat and energetic.
The Hare Krishna mantra is made up of three words – Hare, Krishna, and Rama:
Hare = the beauty energy of the Lord
Krishna = the all attractive one
Rama = the one who gives happiness to all
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Srila Prabhupada is the founding spiritual master (Acharya) of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). His books (translated from the original Sanskrit) and teachings serve as ISKCON’s guiding principles.
He set out from India to teach Bhakti Yoga in the western world. From a small store front in New York City in 1966, a movement blossomed all over the world. Temples, schools, farms, and restaurants developed under his guidance and direction. In eleven years he circled the globe fourteen times, met scholars and statesmen, and inspired men and women from all walks of life to take to Krishna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada left this world in 1977. He touched the hearts of those he met and left a legacy of spiritual teachings that continue to inspire dedication and devotion throughout the world.
The Hare Krishna movement was brought to New Zealand by disciples of His Divine Grace Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the early 1970’s. The first devotees arrived in Christchurch around 1972, with the first temple being opened at a house in Waltham Road in 1973. Shortly after, the temple was moved to a house in Worcester Street, Linwood, before moving to a larger property at 30 Latimer Square in 1979. In 1983, an opportunity arose to purchase a large manor house at 83 Bealey Avenue for a modest price. After extensive renovations, the Hare Krishna Cultural Centre was officially opened on January 6th 1986, along with the installation of the deity forms of Sri Sri Nitai Gaurachandra.
Soon after the opening of the temple, Christchurch’s first Hare Krishna Restaurant, Gopal’s, was opened at 143 Worcester Street in the Central City. In 1988 a farm was also purchased near Tai Tapu , and this provided vegetables to both the temple and the restaurant for many years. During the 1990s, the devotees held festivals around the South Island, and the the Christchurch Hare Krishna temple community continued to grow.
Hare Krishna Food for Life came to Christchurch in 1991, and began providing low cost meals to the community and people in need. During the early 2000’s ‘The Loft’ was established at 91 Bealey Avenue. This contemporary yoga centre provided hatha yoga classes, vegetarian dinners, and evening classes on spirituality. In 2009, this programme was transferred to the first floor of the temple with the opening of the Govinda Yoga Studio, where guests enjoyed ashtanga and hatha yoga classes, along with bhakti yoga evenings at the popular “Krishnafest” gatherings.
On September 4th 2010, a large magnitude 7.1 earthquake was felt across Christchurch. Much of the temple was damaged however engineers determined that the building could be repaired. Unfortunately, before repairs could commence, Christchurch’s major magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck on February 22nd 2011. This earthquake completely destroyed the building and everything inside. With an uncertain future, the Christchurch Hare Krishna devotees relocated their Sunday community gathering to a rented hall in Ferrymead, and this has continued since then.
After various delays, the temple is now well under construction and we plan to re-open at the same site at 83 Bealey Avenue in March 2017.