Who is Srila Prabhupada?
May 9, 2019
The Founder Acharya of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
His Divine Grace Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, founder acharya of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was born on September 1, 1896, in Calcutta, India. His father, Gour Mohan De and mother Rajani De, named him Abhay Charan (one who is fearless having taken shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna.) Growing up as a Vaishnava, he performed rathyatra along with his sister and began serving his own set of Radha-Krishna deities at a very young age. Receiving his European education from Scottish Churches College, he rejected his diploma in response to Gandhi’s Independence Movement.
Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title Bhaktivedanta.In 1950, he retired from family life, took vanaprastha, and settled into very humble quarters of the medieval Radha-Damodara temple in Vrindavan, India. The next years were spent in intense study and in 1959, Srila Prabhupada accepted the renounced order of life, Sannyasa. It was there that Srila Prabhupada began his life’s masterpiece, the commentary and translation of the multivolume book, Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) and wrote his first book Easy Journey to Other Planets.
In 1965, after completing three volumes of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States to fulfill the order of his spiritual master, to spread the glories of Krishna to the western world. At the ripe age of 70, he completed this arduous 3 week journey upon a cargo ship, Jaladuta, suffering two heart attacks along the way, and arrived to New York City with merely the equivalent of $7 on hands and not knowing a single person.
With great difficulty, Srila Prabhupada established the International Society of Krishna Consciousness in 1966. In the next 10 years of his life, Srila Prabhupada established over 108 temples (now over 500 centers throughout the world) and travelled around the globe 14 times to 6 continents on lecture tours, all the while publishing over 80 volumes of spiritual literature, now translated into over 60 languages. Srila Prabhupada established big festivals in all major cities throughout the world such as Jagannatha Ratha Yatra. He initiated over 10,000 disciples and introduced gurukula education in the west. Prabhupada wanted no person to go hungry within a 10 mile radius of each of his temples. Today, over 2 million meals are distributed throughout the world to the poor for free through the Food For Life Program. Over 1 million children in the slums get a pure healthy meal each day in Mumbai. Bhaktivedanta Hospital with 150 beds serves thousands of people each day with holistic health care for body, mind, and soul featuring world class standards for a reasonable price, and for the deserving, completely free.
Srila Prabhupada’s greatest contribution to this world are his books. They are well renowned in the world of academia for their credibility, depth, and clarity and are used as standard textbooks in many colleges. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) was established in 1972 to exclusively publish Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is now the largest publishing house for Indian religion and philosophy. On November 14, 1977, Srila Prabhupada left his body in Vrindavan, India.