His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.
Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta.” In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, and four years later he adopted the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of Radha-Damodara.
There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multivolume translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three volumes of Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Since that time, His Divine Grace has written over sixty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society grew within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrndavana, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrndavana, then a thriving farm community of more than one thousand acres, his students founded several similar communities in the United States and abroad.
In 1972, His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West by founding the Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. The school began with three children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975 the enrollment had grown to one hundred fifty.
Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of a large international center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned Institute of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and International Guest House in Vrndavana, India. These are centers where Westerners can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.
Srila Prabhupada at the inauguration of the Krsna Balarama Temple:
In the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.
Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into eleven languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.
Srila Prabhupada left us a veritable library of Vedic philosophy and culture. Highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, and clarity, his books are used at colleges and universities around the world.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust publishes his works in over 80 languages.
Find out more about the kind and compassionate person that Srila Prabhupada was, and how he was able to change so many lives and accomplish so much in such a short time.
From 1966 until his passing in 1977, Srila Prabhupada’s life was one of almost constant intercontinental travel: meeting world leaders, perpetually giving lectures and interviews, providing spiritual guidance for thousands of young disciples, and overseeing almost all aspects of managing a global spiritual movement. Yet he considered book publishing his life’s mission.
Wherever in the world he was, he would rise many hours before dawn each day and devote his full attention to translating and composing commentaries on the Vedas’ most sacred texts. Some of his major literary works include:
- The 18,000 verse, twelve volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, an epic Sanskrit history of Krishna’s incarnations, pastimes and devotees.
- The Bhagavad-gita, Krishna’s foundational instructions to humankind regarding the purpose of life and how to achieve ultimate success in this world and the next.
- The Chaitanya Charitamrita, a nine volume Bengali biography of the life and teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the divine avatar who began the mission to spread Krishna consciousness.
- The Nectar of Devotion, a summary study of Rupa Goswami‘s classic Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, an detailed look at the science of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to the Supreme Person.
- Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Srila Prabhupada’s complete commentary on the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, describing the specific pastimes of Krishna Himself when He visited the earth.
When composing his own purports, Srila Prabhupada routinely consulted and included insights from other important authorities’ commentaries, including the work of Baladeva Vidyabhushana, Rupa Goswami, Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, Sridhara Swami, and others.
His books, now published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in 80 languages, now comprise over 80 volumes, with over a billion copies sold.
In 1966, Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna Movement, with the following purposes:
- To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
- To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
- To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
- To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
- To erect for the members and for society at large holy places of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
- To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
- With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
From a single storefront temple on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, in 1966, ISKCON has grown to over 500 temples, centers, restaurants, schools and farm communities worldwide serving several hundred thousand members.
An Exemplary Life
Srila Prabhupada taught by example. For the last part of his life, he led the austere life of a sannyasi, a renunciate, and displayed great humility, never taking undue personal credit for his accomplishments. “My only credit,” he said, “is that I have strictly followed the order of my guru.” His spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, had instructed him to preach the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in English and “whenever you get money, print books.”
Srila Prabhupada arrived in the West with only $7 and a trunk filled with books about Krishna. He preached the chanting of the holy names of Krishna with full conviction. Gradually, people felt attracted to the chanting and to “Swamiji” and his mission: to spread Krishna consciousness, the original consciousness of the soul.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute
To establish the scientific merits of Krishna Consciousness and to encourage academic study of the soul, Srila Prabhupada established the Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI). Staffed by devotee scholars, the BI has published several books on the nature of consciousness, Vedic Cosmology, and the origins of the human race. The Institute has twice gathered renowned scientists for a World Congress on the Synthesis of Science and Religion.
The Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust
Srila Prabhupada started the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to revive and restore some of the important Gaudiya Vaishnava shrines in India. Several temples in Vrindavan and Mayapur are under the Trust’s care.
Spiritual Food Distribution
Srila Prabhupada taught that food prepared with loving intent as an offering to Krishna becomes sanctified and can uplift the consciousness of spiritually destitute people from the miseries of this world. Distribution of prasadam, sanctified food, is a major outreach activity of the Hare Krishna movement. ISKCON centers hold free Sunday Feasts for the public once a week and at periodic festivals throughout the calendar year. In addition, Srila Prabhupada desired that nobody within a ten-mile radius of a Hare Krishna temple should go hungry. To this end, temples in India and around the world have set up programs for the free distribution of sanctified food to the needy.
Srila Prabhupada introduced the western world to the sublime benefits of chanting the holy names of Krishna in the form of the maha-mantra, or great chant for deliverance.
Translation: “O Energy of God [Hare], O All-Attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead [Krishna], O Reservoir of Pleasure [Rama], please engage me in Your service!”
Srila Prabhupada said that this mantra should be chanted just like a child calling for its mother. It can be chanted at any time for relief from the miseries of material existence and to develop our love of God.
Watch the MOVIE:
Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It.
The accomplishments of Srila Prabhupada (Founder Acharya of Iskcon)
His Divine Grace Srila Abhay Caran Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Evangelic Angel.
Between 1968- 1977 He dictated total of 22,000 pages of text
He translated and wrote purports to 18,000 verses of Srimad Bhagavatam.
Reading one verse with purport daily would take the reader 49.31 years to complete
He translated and wrote the purports to the 700 verses of Bhagavad Gita Coaching
Reading one verse with purport daily would take two years to complete
He translated and wrote the purports to the 17 volumes of Chaitanya Caritamrita – in total 2,170 pages or 11,555 verses!!
Reading one verse with purport daily would take the reader 31.6 years to complete. Reading one page daily would take 5.9 years to complete
He also wrote Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Nectar of devotion, Teachings of Lord Kapiladeva, Sri Isopanisad.
He created Back to Godhead magazine which was monthly distributed in 1 million copies
He wrote 7000 letters to His disciples which was published in 5 volumes of books
Only Srimad Bhagavatam lectures He gave are compiled in 11 volumes of books
Bhagavad Gita lectures are compiled in 7 volumes of books
His conversations have been compiled in 42 volumes of books
He produced innumerable recordings
He established 108 temples
He published 147 books. Reading one book monthly would take 13 years
If one started to read one book monthly now, in 2014, he would not finish till 2031
He traveled around the world 14 times
Beside this He changed lives of at least 10000 people who become His initiating disciples
And all of this Srila Prabhupada did in ONLY 11 years!! In the age between 70-80!!!
READ More about all these accomplishments in the 7 volume biography: Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta. (Contact us to purchase a full set – free shipping in USA):
The way to Krishna’s heart is through a devotee, and Srila Prabhupada is such a merciful devotee who gives us access to Krsna and his pastimes.
Hear all of Srila Prabhupada’s audio recordings:
Prabhupadavani.org is a website totally dedicated to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The site contains audio recordings and transcriptions of his lectures, conferences, conversations, morning walks, interviews etc.