ISKCON also known as the Hare Krishna movement was founded in 1966 in New York City by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion), devotion to God in the supreme personal aspect of Radha and Krishna. ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 400 centers, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools and 90 restaurants.
ISKCON receives these teachings through the preceptorial line known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya (tradition), which is part of a larger tradition called as Vaishnavism. The roots of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition lie several millenia in the past of India. The four Vedas, Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, the Purana-epics illustrating the precepts of the Vedas, Bhagavad-gita and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, both of which date back more than 5,000 years, form the ancient basis of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.
This well established traditional line descends through the respected teacher Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (AD 1486–1534), the full incarnation of Sri Krishna, whose philosophy and practices unify the teachings of all four major Vaishnava teachers: Sri Madhvacharya, Sri Ramanujacharya, Sri Vishnuswami, and Sri Nimbarkacharya.
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a non-sectarian tradition that accepts existence of one Supreme God. According to Vaishnava philosophy different bona-fide religions approach one Supreme God. There may be differences in practice across different religions; however the goal is the same - to awaken lost our relationship with God. God, being Supreme has unlimited names – Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu etc., however Gaudiya Vaishnava's consider the name Krishna meaning “All attractive one” as the name which best describes God. In the words of ex Beatle, George Harrison“Krishna is God, the source of all that exists, the Cause of all that is, was, or ever will be. As God is unlimited, He has many Names. Allah-Buddha - Jehova-Rama: all are Krishna, all are one”.
While ISKCON faithfully continues the core traditions of the Hindu faith, its teachings are non sectarian and non denominational, for they are not limited to any particular historical religion. Vaishnavism inculcates the essential and universal principle of all religion. That principle, called ‘sanatana dharma’, denotes the natural and eternal activity of all living beings, loving devotional service (bhakti yoga) to the one Supreme Personality of Godhead. ISKCON embraces bhakti yoga and singing the Hare Krishna mantra or chanting the holy names of Krishna, Radha (Krishna's divine female counterpart, the original spiritual potency, and the embodiment of divine love) and Rama (meaning reservoir of all pleasure) as a primary practice.