International Society of Divine Love

(est. 1975)
   Swami H. D. Prakashanand Saraswati (b. 1929) was born into a BRAHMIN family in AYODHYA, India. His early life was fraught with intense religious feelings, and as a youth he became a reclusive mystic so that he might find God in the silence. He took the vows of SANNYAS (renunciation) at age 20 from his guru, Jagadguru Krupalu Swami of Pratapgarh. He spent the next 20 years as a wandering mendicant in the Himalayas and in the forests of central India, ending in Braj, the reputed earthly home of Lord KRISHNA. In 1975, emerging from his solitary life, he established the Interna-tional Society of Divine Love. Later on he traveled to America and founded a home for devotees and disciples. By 1981 Swami Prakashanand, who had begun to be thought of as a distinguished sage and a saint, conceived of creating a global mission movement.
   Swami Prakashanand is of the lineage of the great Vaishnavite sage of West Bengal Sri Krishna CHAITANYA (1485–1553). Followers of VAISH-NAVISM, as well as other schools of Hinduism, understand that a great GURU can teach disciples even after the guru is no longer in a physical body. Communication between the visible and invisible is taken for granted and is an essential factor in many types of Hindu devotion. Chai-tanya is assumed to be in charge of his lineage even today.
   Devotees of the society believe Krishna to be the ultimate and highest God. Krishna is written about in the Mahabharata and, especially, in the BHAGAVAD GITA. According to the Gita, Krishna has the divine ability to disguise himself and give teaching and counsel while appearing to be someone else. His teaching to ARJUNA in the Gita has become one of the sacred texts of the path of BHAKTI YOGA, which emphasizes his loving activ-ity; dedication to Krishna is considered a devo-tional pathway to enlightenment. This devotional approach is expressed in Prakashanand’s writings based on the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavata Purana. Among the significant practices of this approach is chanting the name of God while offering oneself to Krishna as a devotee.
   The society has members in India, England, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia. During the 1990s the Society of Divine Love constructed its main Western temple and ashram complex in Austin, Texas, which was dedicated on October 8, 1995.
   Further reading: The Deity Establishment of Shree Rase-hwari Radha Rani of Barsana Dham, October 7–8 (Aus-tin Tex.: International Society of Divine Love, 1995); H. D. Prakashanand Saraswati, The Path to God (Austin Tex.: International Society of Divine Love, 1995); ———, The Philosophy of Divine Love (Auckland, New Zealand: International Society of Divine Love, 1982); ———, The Shikchashtek (Philadelphia: International Society of Divine Love, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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