Krishna West teaches the timeless, non-sectarian path of Krishna bhakti, devotion to God, and all souls. Because the practice of Krishna bhakti offers access to a deeply personal and intimate relationship with God and all living beings, the Bhagavad-gita describes it as the highest stage of spiritual yoga and the joyful climax of all forms of religiosity.
The practice of Krishna bhakti was first established in the West by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his dedicated students. Krishna West continues Prabhupada’s legacy by doing everything possible to make Krishna bhakti easy, relevant, effective, and enjoyable for Western people, without in any way compromising, diluting, or diminishing the purity and power of its glorious ancient tradition.
The three core practices of Krishna bhakti are as follows:
There are two types of mantra meditation, japa, and kirtan. Japa is a quiet and personal meditation, whereas kirtan is a group meditation involving singing and dancing. The core practice of Krishna bhakti is the chanting of the names of God in the form of the Hare Krishna mantra:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is one of the most joyful and effective means of meditation for deepening our consciousness and relationship with God, Krishna.
Within the sacred tradition, the three words of Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā-mantra (great mantra) are explained as follows:
1. ‘Hare’ from the Sanskrit root hṛ, can either be a direct address to Hari, ‘the Lord who takes away our suffering,’ or it can be a direct address to Harā, the supreme feminine aspect of the Absolute Truth who takes us to spiritual liberation.
2. The name Kṛṣṇa is analyzed as follows: ‘Kṛṣ’ is a Sanskrit verbal root meaning ‘to attract’ and ‘na’ is an abbreviation of ‘nand’, that which gives pleasure. The well known Sanskrit word ānanda, bliss, comes from this root. Thus Kṛṣṇa is taken to mean ‘God, who is infinitely attractive, and the source of all pleasure.’
3. The name Rāma, from the Sanskrit root ram, also indicates that God is the source of spiritual pleasure.
Cultivation of Transcendental Knowledge
The practice of Krishna bhakti is guided by sacred texts with powerful commentaries from an unbroken chain of realized Teachers. By studying and reflecting upon the unrivaled wisdom found in the Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, and many other texts, we tap into an ocean of transcendental knowledge that propels us on our journey of self-discovery. With a heightened understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, we gain clarity of purpose, contentment in relationships, focus for setting personal and career goals, and the ability and determination to reach our full potential. And we apply all these gifts to our own spiritual progress and that of humanity.
Vegetarian food becomes spiritualized and karma-free when it is offered back to God, the Absolute Provider, with love and devotion. This simple yet sublime practice deeply nourishes both the body and soul by cultivating the qualities of gratitude, compassion, and non-violence in one’s character. When done for someone we love, the simple act of cooking becomes an act of devotion. Similarly, by cooking with devotion to God, and offering the food to the divine before we partake, we free ourselves from karma, advance spiritually, and sanctify our bodies. Moreover, by eating karma-free vegetarian food, we support the spiritual and material health of our families, our communities, and the entire planet.