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International Society for Krishna Consciousness

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is the best-known organization of the religious movement popularly known as Hare Krishna. It is a sect of Vaishnava Hinduism which practices bhakti yoga in the worship of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and, according to ISKCON beliefs, his highest form ("the supreme personality of Godhead").

The practice of bhakti yoga (literally, "path of devotion") dates back to the teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in present-day West Bengal in the 1500s. It was revived in the 20th century in India, and introduced to the Western world by Prabhupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta, who incorporated ISKCON in New York in 1966 and subsequently published translations of the Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures in English and other Western languages.

The nickname "Hare Krishnas" for devotees of this movement comes from the maha-mantra (great chant) they recite, which begins with those words. They are more appropriately referred to as Krishna devotees. Krishna devotees wearing saffron robes are celibate monks.

ISKCON has absorbed many western influences and maintains mandirs (temples) in more countries of the world than any other Hindu sect. Unlike other branches of Hinduism, it is actively evangelical, seeking converts throughout the world.

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