He was a genuine holy person with enormous integrity and compassion, and he had a powerful impact on those who met him. He never claimed authority and respect for himself; what he said and did was always in the name of Krishna…
– Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is the extraordinary person who dedicated his life to teaching the world about Krishna consciousness, ancient India’s most noble message of spiritual wisdom.
In 1965, at the age of 69, on the order of his spiritual master Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, representing a line of teachers dating back to Lord Krishna Himself, Srila Prabhupada sailed from India to New York to share Lord Krishna’s message. He brought with him a trunk of books, $7 in change, and the firm faith that the holy name of Krishna would transform the hearts of people he would meet. In the years that followed, he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), traveled and taught throughout the world, opened more than 100 temples and inspired thousands of devotees.
Srila Prabhupada was born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, to a pious Hindu family in Calcutta. As a youth growing up in British-controlled India, Abhay became involved with Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement to secure independence for his nation. It was, however, a 1922 meeting with a prominent scholar and religious leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, which proved most influential on Abhay’s future calling. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a leader in the Gaudiya Vaishnava denomination, a monotheistic tradition within the broad Hindu culture, and asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Lord Krishna to the English-speaking world. Abhay became a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in 1933, and resolved to carry out his mentor’s request. Abhay, later known by the honorific A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spent the next 32 years preparing for his journey west.
In 1965, at the age of sixty-nine, Srila Prabhupada traveled to New York City aboard a cargo ship. The journey was treacherous, and the elderly spiritual teacher suffered two heart attacks aboard ship. Arriving in the United States with just seven dollars in Indian rupees and his translations of sacred Sanskrit texts, Srila Prabhupada began to share the timeless wisdom of Krishna consciousness. His message of peace and goodwill resonated with many young people, some of whom came forward to become serious students of the Krishna tradition. With the help of these students, Srila Prabhupada rented a small storefront on New York’s Lower East Side to use as a temple. On July 11, 1966, he officially registered his organisation in the state of New York, formally founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
From 1966 to 1977, despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. He wrote over seventy volumes of translation and commentary on such classics as Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), Chaitanya-charitamrita, and Bhagavad-gita. He wrote not only as a scholar but as a consummate practitioner, teaching by the example of his life. Throughout his works, Srila Prabhupada’s mood was to convey the natural meaning of the scriptures without far-fetched interpretations, giving us an authentic rendition of the Vedic conclusions on such important topics as the purpose of human life, the nature of the soul, consciousness, and God.
which are highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, fidelity to the tradition, and clarity. Several of his works are used as textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into 76 languages. His most prominent works include: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the 30-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the 17-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrita.