A. C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI affectionately known as SRILA PRABHUPADA was born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896 in Kolkata. Srila Prabhupada was the one who had devotion from childhood to serve Lord Krishna and 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. In 1922, a meeting with a prominent scholar and religious leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, proved most influential on Abhay’s future calling. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta was a leader in the Gaudiya Vaishnava denomination, a monotheistic tradition within the broad Hindu culture. He asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Lord Krishna to the English-speaking world. Abhay became a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in 1933.
In 1965, at the age of 69, Srila Prabhupada travelled to New York City aboard a cargo ship. The journey was treacherous,and the elderly spiritual teacher suffered 2 heart attacks aboard ship. Arriving in the United States with just 7 dollars in Indian rupees and his translations of sacred Sanskrit texts, he began to spread the teachings of Krishna consciousness. His spiritual message resonated with many young people, some of whom came forward to become serious students. With the help of these students, Srila Prabhupada rented a small store front on New York’s Lower East Side to use as a temple. On July 11, 1966, he officially registered his organization in the state of New York, formally founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). This marked the only time in history that a Krishna devotee successfully trained non-Indians in the strict disciplines of Vaisnavism. Amazingly, this was achieved during the blossoming of America’s hedonistic counterculture movement.
Srila Prabhupada's Exceptional Achievements
- He sent his followers, chanting the names of Krishna into the streets, towns, everywhere & Hare Krishna became famous in every corner of the globe.
- He sent his disciples to London, where they recorded the single, “Hare Krsna Mantra”, with George Harrison, in 1969. It appeared the fastest selling of all the Apple Corporation’s releases, including those of the Beatles.
- He established 108 Krsna temples on six continents, installed the deity of Krsna in each center and trained his disciples in the process of deity worship.
- He inaugurated the first Rath yatra of Lord Jaganatha outside India on July 9, 1967 in San Francisco.
- He introduced the “Sunday Love Feast” and the world’s first chain of vegetarian restaurants.
- Over 2,200 of Srila Prabhupada’s daily discourse on Krsna Consciousness and formal lectures of were recorded and archived.
- He skillfully managed his ISKCON simply through letters and personal meetings, practically without the use of a telephone.
- He had scores of interviews & philosophical discussions with news reporters, scientists, religious leaders and and notable personalities.
- He published Back to Godhead magazine – the backbone of his movement. Over a million copies per issue were sold in the mid 70s.
- He gave us Vrindavan, introduced Jaganath Puri to us and founded a spiritual city at Mayapur.
- He founded the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) in 1972 & by 1976, over 5.5mil literature’s had been published in 25 languages and distributed in almost every country.
- He completed the entire Caitanya-caritamrta manuscript (seventeen volumes) in eighteen months.
- Srila Prabhupada circled the globe 14 times, visiting 24 countries, preaching, inspiring his followers and making countless public appearances before multitudes of people.
- He initiated around 5000 disciples. These initiated devotees represented a sweeping diversity of nationalities, races & religious backgrounds.