A. C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), was born Abhay Charan De, on the 1 September 1896, in Calcutta. In 1922 he met His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakur, Founder of Gaudiya Math, who requested Abhay to broadcast Vedic knowledge in the English medium. In 1933, at Allahabad, Abhay was formally initiated and made it his life ambition to expound the Vedic conclusion that real freedom means liberation from the miseries of material life : birth, death, old age and disease, a state that can be permanently attained by awakening one’s pure love for God, Krishna-prema or Krishna-bhakti.
In the ensuing years Abhay Charanaravinda (his initiated name), wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita. In 1944 he started the Back to Godhead magazine, which to this day is being continued by his disciples.
In recognition of his philosophical knowledge and devotion the Gaudiya Vaishnava Society honored him with the title Bhaktivedanta in 1947. Following his retirement from married life, A.C. Bhaktivedanta traveled to Vrindavan where he lived in the humble surrounding of the Radha Damodar temple. In 1959 he took the sannyasa order of life and, as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, started his work on the multi-volume translation and commentary of the 18,000 verse Srimad Bhagavatam. In 1965, at the age of 69, when ordinary persons are thinking of retirement, he went to the United States to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master and founded ISKCON.
He brought to the West the divine teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu who taught the public glorification of Hare Krishna mantra. Srila Prabhupada, (as he was affectionately called by his followers), taught on a non-sectarian level that every living being is an eternal servant of Lord Krishna with a dormant natural propensity to experience the eternal bliss of pure love of God.
Srila Prabhupada was not ‘just another swamji’ starting ‘just another movement’. The standard of purity and dedication he demanded of his followers testifies to his genuineness, as well as his unwillingness to compromise for the sake of having many admirers.
By 1977 when Srila Prabhupada left this world in Vrindavan he had completed over 70 volumns of authoritative translations and commentaries including the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrita and several Upanishads. These literary contributions are today higly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity. Srila Prabhupada’s works have been translated into all the major languages of world and are used as standard textbooks in college courses. Srila Prabhupada also brought India’s cultural and religious festivals, such as Ratha-yatra to the West.
Srila Prabhupada continues to live up the reputation as a spiritual revolutionist who instilled in many millions Krishna-prema. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is considered as India’s foremost spiritual ambassador. It was through his spiritual dedication and unprecedented achievements that India’s cultural richness was introduced in the West and is now practiced, throughout the world.