A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). With a mission of introducing the ancient Vedic teachings into mainstream America, Srila Prabhupada stepped his foot in the port of New York City on September 17, 1965. Only a few Americans notice his arrival, but he was utterly successful in his mission when he left his body on November 14, 1977, at the age of 81.
Early Life of Srila Prabhupada
Born as Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, to an aristocratic Kayastha family in Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada received a European style education at the Scottish Church College affiliated with the University of Calcutta. The university was well regarded among the Bengalis.
Srila Prabhupada was born to a pious Hindu family a day after Krishna Janmasthami, which is deemed as Nandotsava, and he was named Nandulal. His parents, Sriman Gour Mohan De and Srimati Rajani De, were devout Vaishnavas.
Nandulal graduated in 1920 with majors in English, Economics, and Philosophy. During his student life, Abhaya Charan De was a member of the English society and the Sanskrit Society. It was his education that gave him the basis for his future leadership. He got married to Radharani Devi when he was 22 years old; she was 11 years old then. At 14, she gave birth to their first son.
When Nandulal had once gone to sermonize about Vaishnism and Lord Krishna, his wife sold his manuscript to a bookseller in exchange for tea, this caused a dispute between them. She told him that she preferred tea over him in anger. Though Prabhupada tried hard to convince his wife to get along and support his mission she refused to do so.
Dispute with Radharani Devi led him to renunciate his household life and devote his life to humanity, it was his life goal to fulfill his spiritual master’s instructions of giving this wonderful gift of God-consciousness, Krishna Consciousness so that every person could get relief out of these pains and sufferings.
Spiritual Journey of Srila Prabhupada
His meeting with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent scholar, and religious leader paved the way for his future of what he was meant to be. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a leader in the Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta suggested Srila Prabhupada convey the teachings of Lord Krishna to the Western world. Thus, to undertake his Guru’s request he became a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in 1933. He prepared to carry out the mission bestowed upon him by his master for the next 32 years and by then he was known by the honorific A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
It was in 1965 when Srila Prabhupada voyaged to the city of New York at the age of 69 with just seven dollars. His translations of sacred Sanskrit text via a treacherous journey where he was agonized by two heart attacks aboard the ship. Immediately after his arrival in New York, he started to share the timeless prudence of Krishna Consciousness.
The message of peace and goodwill touched many young people in America, and some opted to become Prabhupada’s serious devotees. His devotees then helped him to rent a small storefront on New York’s Lower East Side.
Prabhupada used the store as a temple and thus on July 11, 1966, he officially registered his organization in the state of New York, formally founding the International Society for Krishna’s Consciousness (ISKON) which is commonly identified as the “Hare Krishna Movement”.
He got the title of Srila from his students. Srila Prabhupada circled the globe 14 times on lecture tours in a period of 11 years. During this time, he spread the didactic offerings of Lord Krishna to thousands of people on six continents. He influenced people of every age and sex across the world who helped him establish ISKCON centers in different corners of the world.
Krishna’s devotees established temples, rural communities, educational institutions, and a movement that later became the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program, and this was all happening under his influence.
Furthermore, he always desired to extend the roots of Krishna Consciousness in its home, and in turn, he returned to India several times during his rise. He ignited a resurgence in the Vaishnava tradition. Dozens of temples, including large centers in the holy towns of Vrindavan and Mayapur, were built in India.
Books by Srila Prabhupada
Talking about all his contributions, the most significant was the perchance of his books. He authored over 70 volumes on the Krishna tradition, which are revered by the scholars for their authority, profundity, devotion to the tradition, and lucidness.
His works have been translated into 76 languages as well as they are used as coursebooks in several colleges all over the world. The most prominent works of Srila Prabhupada include “Bhagavad Gita as It Is“, the 30 volume Srimad Bhagavatam, and the 17- volume Sri Caitanyacaritamrita (Chaitanya Charitamrita).
Teachings of Srila Prabhupada
- “You should not be carried away by the dictation of the mind, but the mind should be carried away by your dictation.”
- “Failure is the pillar of success. Then try. Again, you shall try.”
- “Think of Krishna always and try to work sincerely, and everything will come automatically.”
- “One whose happiness is within, who is active within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.”
- “Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.”
- “For man, the mind is the cause of bondage and mind is the cause of liberation. Mind absorbed in sense objects is the cause of bondage, and mind detached from the sense objects is the cause of liberation.”
- “Such deluded persons, symptomatically, dwell in dualities of dishonor and honor, misery and happiness, woman and man, good and bad, pleasure and pain, etc., thinking, “This is my wife; this is my house; I am the master of this house; I am the husband of this wife.” These are the dualities of delusion. Those who are so deluded by dualities are completely foolish and therefore cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
- “A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist, and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi.”