Eckankar means "Co-Worker with God." It is a 20th century, monotheistic religion that posits that every human soul is a fragment of God. Eckankar practices heighten awareness of the ECK, or divine spirit, understood as the light and sound of God. The ECK is a bridge between human souls and God, and awareness of it brings spiritual enlightenment, tranquility, and self-realization.
Paul Twitchell founded Eckankar in 1965, although believers accept that other spiritual masters originally instructed him. ECKists also accept the existence of ECK Masters throughout history and on additional planes of existence.
Leadership and Organization:
Since 1981, Harold Klemp, who holds the title of Mahanta or Living ECK Master, has led Eckankar. He is respected as a prophet but not worshiped. Eckankar headquarters is situated in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
A variety of books, workshops and TV broadcasts are offered by the Temple of Eckankar. Eckankar practices are ultimately personal, bringing the ECKist into closer understanding and awareness of God. These practices have been designed by Living ECK Masters as effective techniques for the self-realization Eckankar seeks. These practices may also bring one into contact with an ECK Master for further spiritual guidance.
For more information on the basic belief statements of Eckankar, including the nature of the ECK, the soul, reincarnation, and the premise beyond their practices, please see Eckankar Basic Beliefs
View of Other Religions:
Eckankar holds itself to be the most direct path toward spiritual enlightenment. However, it accepts that many religions are rooted in the ECK and can bring spiritual enlightenment.
Between Twitchell and Klemp was a third Living ECK Master named Darwin Gross. Gross was the sole Living ECK Master for ten years before recognizing Klemp as a second Living ECK Master. The Eckankar organization found the dual leadership to be problematic, and in 1983 Gross was voted out of the position. Gross went on to form the Ancient Teachings of the Masters, or ATOM.