Krishna Consciousness (Bhakti-yoga)
Krishna consciousness means an awareness of and affection for the Supreme Person, Krishna. It is the culmination of all forms of yoga, knowledge, meditation, and religion.
Krishna consciousness is the natural, original, and blissful condition of every individual's consciousness. Only when we're covered by maya, illusion, do we forget who we are and who God is. Then we think our body is the same as our self. Sometimes we don't believe or even care if God exists at all. In such ignorance of spiritual reality, we live in a more or less constant state of bewilderment and anxiety, briefly interrupted by temporary bodily and mental pleasures.
We want happiness, but without Krishna consciousness, we don't know who we are or what we're supposed to do. We think we're the body—or mind—and we try to enjoy life through the body and mind, but the pleasure we get is temporary at best. When we're ignorant of our identity and the purpose of life, we regularly make mistakes that have far-reaching, upsetting consequences. We fear death; because we think when the body dies we also stop existing. This idea completely goes against our eternal nature, so we try to avoid thinking about it. We distract ourselves by intellectual, emotional, sensual, chemical, or electronic methods, which only cause us more anxiety. The death of loved ones also causes us pain, and so do the conditions of old age and disease that precede the death of our own body.
The practices of Krishna consciousness, or bhakti-yoga, are meant to free us from the root cause of all anxiety by reawakening our normal, eternal spiritual awareness. The process is simple—meditation on the name, form, activities, and qualities of Krishna, whom the Vedas name as the ultimate, Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, the source of our existence and the source of all pleasure. Of course, the Supreme Person may be known by different names in different religious cultures, but all genuine spiritual traditions agree that there's only one Supreme God. The goal of bhakti-yoga is to regain our natural sense of connectedness (yoga) with that one supreme God by practicing serving Him with love (bhakti).
(Painting at top depicts a fruit vendor in Vrindavan giving Krishna some fruit. In exchange, Krishna gave her countless precious gems.— from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.11.11. Lower painting—visible in "Read More"—shows Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (center) along with His associates.)