The Historical Development of Vaisnavism and ISKCON

By editor - 31.8 2017

3102 BCE/BC: the end of Dvapara-yuga/beginning of Kali-yuga; the departure of Lord Krishna; the compilation of Vedic literature by Srila Vyasadeva
6th century BCE/BC: Lord Buddha, rejected the Vedas as an emergency measure to prevent indiscriminate animal slaughter, ostensibly based on concessionary injunctions of the Vedas. (6th century is the mainstream academic date, the traditional date is 12th century BCE, see Buddha)
788-820 CE/AD: Adi Sankaracarya, introduced the doctrine of advaitavada (monism) which largely replaced Buddhism in India and people re-accepted the Vedas. (Again, this is a conventional academic date, traditional date derived from the time of Buddha is 6th century BCE)
1017-1137: Ramanujacarya, visistadvaita (qualified monism), established mostly in South India
1238/9-1317/9: Madhvacarya, suddha-dvaita (pure dualism) - eternal distinction between the soul and God, prominent mainly in the state of Karnataka (Udupi)
1486-1534: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, acintya-bhedabheda tattva (inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference) incorporated elements from all four Vaisnava sampradayas (Madhva, Ramanuja, Nimbarka and Visnuswami). Considered an incarnation of Radha-Krisna (the Supreme Lord and His consort/sakti), He widely popularized the congregational chanting of the Hare Krisna Mantra and opposed the rigid and hereditary caste-system. His followers are known as Gaudiya Vaisnavas (from the word Gauda, the name of Western Bengal).
1534-1600: Six Goswamis of Vrindavan and other Sri Caitanya's closest followers, writing of the core Gaudiya texts
17th century: Narottama dasa Thakura and other members of following generations of Gaudiya Vaisnavas
18th century: Period of decline by widespread misinterpretation of the tradition by apasampradayas (heresies), but also the time of luminaries like Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura
1838-1914: Bhaktivinoda Thakura re-established the integrity of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, founded Nama-hatta preaching, wrote many books and predicted the international success of the movement.
1874-1936: Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, great scholar and renunciate, consolidated and expanded his father's work by establishing 64 centres (mathas) throughout India and abroad (Dhaka, London).
1896-1977: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of ISKCON
1965: After more than 40 years of struggle in India, with little apparent success, Srila Prabhupada arrives in New York at the advanced age of 70 carrying the message of the sampradaya.
1966: Srila Prabhupada founded ISKCON in New York.
1968: Six of Srila Prabhupada's disciples arrived in London.
1969: Devotees with the help of George Harrison (Beatles) recorded the Hare Krisna Mantra, huge success; the first temple in Britain opens in London.
1970s: Fast worldwide expansion of the Movement unprecedented by any other spiritual tradition. Also sporadic visits to the Eastern Bloc countries, including Czech Republic. More regular contacts after 1976.
1973: Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire (near London) became the UK national headquarters.
1977: Srila Prabhupada passes away, leaving:
- more than one hundred ashrams, temples, schools and farming communities worldwide
- more than seventy books on Vedic philosophy, religion and culture
- 10,000 initiated disciples entrusted to further the spiritual lineage
1987: Guru-reform, abolishment of the zonal acarya system, many new gurus appointed
1996: 100th anniversary of the Founder’s birth, worldwide-scale celebrations
2016: 50th anniversary of the founding of ISKCON, whole-year worldwide-scale celebrations
2017: 40th anniversary of the Founder’s departure