What is Eckankar? - Beliefs, History & Symbol

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn a bit about something known as Eckankar. Namely, a bit about its history, terminology, and some of its major beliefs.

What is Eckankar?

Most people have never heard of Eckankar. Is it a new species of animal? The name of a city in some exotic location? Perhaps it's the name of a distant alien civilization from some movie.

However, it's none of the above. Eckankar (ECK) is a religious movement started in the 20th century. You're about to learn a bit more about its history, beliefs, and more.


Eckankar, a religious movement partly based on yogic elements, was founded in 1965 by Paul Twitchell. Twitchell was born around 1908 and passed away in 1971. Twitchell was at one time a pupil of a yoga master by the name of Kirpal Singh. Singh believed that the universe was created by sound waves, and so the style of yoga he practiced was known as Sound Current yoga.

But Twitchell didn't see Singh as his teacher, per se. Instead, Twitchell believed that his knowledge of Sound Current yoga, whose principles (and that of ECK) he thought have existed for millennia, came from the 'fact' that he was part of a direct and ancient lineage of ECK masters. He was, apparently, the 971st such master and had received his education from two deceased masters. As a result, Twitchell believe he had the authority to be his own rightful master and spiritual teacher. Based on that, Twitchell heavily modified the teachings of Sound Current yoga into his own spiritual movement of sorts that became ECK.

Twitchell passed away in 1971, and was succeeded by Darwin Gross as the head of the movement. In 1981, Harold Klemp became the movement's leader. A lot of Twitchell's claims, of course, were later disproven and this was admitted as much by Klemp. That being said, Klemp didn't believe any of this affected the belief system's essential truths in any case.

Today, there are hundreds of ECK centers around the world with tens of thousands of members.

Beliefs & Symbol

Members of ECK believe that every person is a particle of God found on Earth with the purpose of attaining spiritual experience. Such a particle is called Soul. People who identify with ECK believe in the concepts of karma and reincarnation and believe the goal of life is spiritual freedom and to become a co-worker with God as opposed to 'one' with God.

Temple of Eck
Temple of Eck

In fact, the movement's name, Eckankar, means Co-Worker with God. However, ECK can also mean Life Force or Holy Spirit. The latter is personally experienced as Light and Sound, or the Audible Life Stream, and it is a key component of the spiritual movement.

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