With its roots in ancient Indian and Vaishnava culture, devotees find expression in vibrant colors, striking melodies and enlivening dramatic presentations. In order to recognise and nurture artistic talent, ISKCON has created a community for artists called VANDE ( Vaisnava Arts for a New Devotional Era), The aim to attract the public and patrons of arts through quality presentations. Members sometimes convey their devotion Fine Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cinema, Literature and Architecture.
ISKCON devotees have shared dynamic musical expression with the world, and many have gone on to become accomplished singers and musicians. Srila Prabhupada’s disciple, Havi das aka Ilan Chester won an award at the Latin Grammys for “best folk or traditional album of the year” for his collection “Tesoros de la música Venezolana” ( Treasures of Venezuelan Music). Hare Krishna temples also regularly host stage performances and teach classes, highlighting classical Indian dance forms, such as Bharata Natyam, Kathak, and Odissi. For instance, Bhakti Kalalayam (Devotional Arts Refuge) Academy in Alachua Florida presents and trains students in several dance forms as a cultured, highly skilled, and beautiful medium to express devotion to the Lord.
Artists within the Hare Krishna movement have created hundreds of original paintings depicting Lord Krishna and His spiritual abode. With their characteristic blend of Eastern and Western styles, these works of art illustrate multiple volumes of books, decorate ISKCON temples, and help to visually present the Krishna tradition.
With innumerable stories from the scriptures, theatre is a powerful medium to exhibit and narrate the deep Vaishnava philosophy. At most of the festivals includes presentations on Ramayana and Krishna Lila with larger than life puppets, martial arts.
Devotees hold the Festival of India tours in Poland, Brazil and India. ISKCON Monk, Bhaktimarga Swami, has built up a steady core group of young actors. For the past fourteen years, he has performed dramas at the Durban Rathayatra festival in South Africa, to an audience of over 3,000. He has also performed annually at Buenos Aires Rathayatra in Argentina, at the Festival of Inspiration in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, and at the Gaura Purnima festival in Mayapur, West Bengal, for many years.
Many ISKCON temples throughout the world are splendid examples of traditional and neo-Vedic architecture. In Spanish Fork, Utah, the ISKCON temple is modeled after a 15th Century North Indian palace, and boasts elaborately designed arches, columns, verandahs, and waterfalls. In West Virginia, Krishna devotees built a gold-domed temple that was penned “America’s Taj Mahal” by the New York Times. ISKCON has also erected dozens of temples in India which employ classic architectural styles, in major cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, as well as in sacred pilgrimage towns such as Vrindavana and Mayapur.
With an aim to shed light on the profound philosophy underlying these cultural expressions, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT), ISKCON’s affiliated publishing house, has printed and distributed more than 400 million books and magazines. These publications often contain translations from Sanskrit or Bengali, reproductions of rare commentaries, and attractive original illustrations and photographs. Said to be the world’s largest publisher of classic Vaishnava texts, the BBT is renowned as an excellent resource for the study of Indian culture and philosophy.