Membership, Community, Diversity

Are the Hare Krishna people Hindus?

Members of an organization known officially as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are Vaishnavites and devotees of Krishna and his consort Radha. They are followers of the teaching of the Bengali saint Chaitanya. A former pharmaceutical salesman named A. C. Bhaktivedanta (1896-1977) was initiated by a Vaishnava guru and eventually became a sannyasi in 1959. He founded the organization in 1965 in the United States, establishing a number of temples. Membership includes both married householders and celibate members of monastic communities attached to the temples. Bhaktivedanta instilled in the organization a sense of missionary zeal, and in 1970 decided to take the movement back to India. There he established denominational temples in Vrindavan and Mayapur, the birthplaces of Krishna and Chaitanya respectively. ISKCON maintains a number of temples across North America, some supporting themselves through vegetarian restaurants attached to them. Devotees in the United States came to be popularly known as the “Hare Krishna” people because they often gathered in public to celebrate their joyous praise of God by chanting “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Hare.”

Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are Vaishnavites—popularly known in the United States as Hare Krishnas—follow the teachings of the Hindu saint Chaitanya. (joyfull /


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