His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
Founder-acarya of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupāda
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, 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 Saraswati 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 multi-volume 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 India’s philosophical and religious classics.
In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. After almost a year of great difficulty, he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society has grown 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 primary and secondary education system 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’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth, and clarity, his books are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into eighty-five 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 Indian religion and philosophy.
In the last ten years of his life, despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that have taken him to six continents. Despite such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable Vedic philosophy, religion, literature, and culture library.
His life history from his earliest days to his passing away in 1977 is vividly described in his authorised biography, the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta by Satsvarupa Goswami.
Books by Srila Prabhupada
- Bhagavad-gita As It Is (1972)
- Sri Caitanya-caritamrta – 1975 Edition
- Teachings of Lord Caitanya – 1968 Edition
- The Nectar of Devotion – 1970 Edition
- The Nectar of Instruction
- Easy Journey to Other Planets – 1972 Edition
- Krsna Consciousness The Topmost Yoga System
- KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead – 1970 Edition
- Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers
- Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti
- Teachings of Queen Kunti
- Krsna, the Reservoir of Pleasure
- The Science of Self Realization
- The Path of Perfection
- Life Comes From Life
- The Perfection of Yoga
- Beyond Birth and Death
- On the Way to Krsna
- Raja – Vidya: The King of Knowledge
- Elevation to Krsna Consciousness
- Krsna Consciousness, The Matchless Gift
- Light of the Bhagavata
- Sri Isopanisad – 1974 Edition
- The Journey of Self-Discovery
- Transcendental Teachings of Prahlada Maharaja
- A Second Chance: The Story of a Near-Death Experience
- Mukunda – mala – stotra