The Hare Krishna mantra or Maha Mantra (“Great Mantra”) is a sixteen-word mantra. The Chanting of Krishna’s name publicly and the Krishna mantra was popularized by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1533), a prominent Vaishnava saint and founder of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. Vaishnavism means worship of Lord Vishnu and Goudiya refers to the place where this tradition began (Bengal and Orissa province those days was known as “Goud”).
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur, in Nadia District of West Bengal State, in India which is near Calcutta (now Kolkata) city, where the ISKCON HQ is situated today. He was also known as Gouranga and Nimai (as He was born under a ‘Neem’ tree). He began his mission to spread this mantra publicly to ‘every town and village’ in the world, traveling throughout India, but he could not spread it beyond Bengal and Orissa.
After 433 years, in 1966, Srila Prabhupada founded his movement in New York, known as “The International Society for Krishna Consciousness“ (ISKCON) to spread Chaitanya’s teachings throughout the world. This movement was also known as “Hare Krishna” movement those days. The incomplete dream of Mahaprabhu has been fulfilled by Srila Prabhupada through his ISKCON.
When the “mantra” is heard, meditated upon, or sung out loud in the public, it is believed by the preachers to bring about a higher state of consciousness.