Founder Acarya

A spiritual giant of the modern age

When the world was looking for spiritual enlightenment, they found it when they met His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who at the age of 69 years travelled to the West in 1965. He traveled this treacherous journey to New York City aboard a cargo ship, suffering two heart attacks en route and miraculously entered the port of New York City on 17 September. He had finally arrived on a mission to introduce the ancient teachings of Vedic India into mainstream America.

Birth and Early Days

Srila Prabhupada was born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896 to a pious Hindu family in Calcutta, 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. It was, however, a meeting with prominent scholar and religious leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati in 1922, which proved most influential on Abhay’s future calling. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a leader in the Gaudiya Vaisnava denomination, a monotheistic tradition within the broad Hindu culture. Abhay became a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in 1933, and was left with an instruction from his master to spread the teachings of Lord Krishna to the English-speaking world. 32 years later he was ready.

Journey to the west

In 1966, Srila Prabhupada began chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra under a tree in New York’s Tompkins Square Park, thereby inaugurating the western world to the glorious Sankirtana movement. He began chanting “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” which is the process used by Lord Caitanya who introduced the movement five hundred years ago in India. By his intense spiritual energy of the public chanting of the holy name, and his extraordinary compassion, Srila Prabhupada was supremely successful, thus earning recognition as a great spiritual figure of the modern age. On July 11, 1966, he officially registered his organization in the state of New York, formally founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Inception of ISKCON as a Global Movement

Within a decade, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) became a worldwide phenomenon and under his inspiration, Krishna devotees established temples, rural communities, educational institutions, and started what would become the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program. With the desire to nourish the roots of Krishna consciousness in its home, Srila Prabhupada returned to India several times, where he sparked a revival in the Vaishnava tradition. In India, he opened dozens of temples, including large centres in the holy towns of Vrindavan and Mayapur.

Main Books

Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contributions, perhaps, are his books. He authored over 70 volumes on the Krishna tradition, 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 Caitanya-caritamrta.

Publications

Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contributions, perhaps, are his books. He authored over 70 volumes on the Krishna tradition, 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 Caitanya-caritamrta.

On Kirtan

In his book Perfection of Yoga, Srila Prabhupada notes that participation in the public chanting of the names and glories of God, is very possible and is actually easy in this age in comparison to the difficult meditational process of yoga. Srila Prabhupada exhorted his disciples to engage in outdoor kirtana, which he considered to be the first and foremost business even at the cost of locking the temples. He believed that sankirtana is “our life and soul” and encouraged chanting on the streets.

In his global sojourn he followed in the footprints of Lord Caitanya promoting the philosophy that the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is the sound incarnation of the Lord, and that chanting and dancing is a simple process to understand Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.