“He was a genuine holy person with enormous integrity and compassion, and he had a powerful impact on those who met him. He never claimed authority and respect for himself; what he said and did was always in the name of Krishna”– Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins
His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is the founder acharya of ISKCON. On 17th September 1965, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada entered the port of the New York City. His visit aimed to introduce a very old religion, which originated in India. Srila Prabhupada passed away on 14th November 1977, but his mission garnered a huge success. Srila Prabhupada was the founder of the ISKCON or International Society for Krishna Consciousness. He also established around 108 ISKCON temples, ashrams, and cultural centers around the world.
Abhay Charan Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada was born in a Hindu family on September 1, 1896. He was growing up in the British-ruled India. After a few years, he joined the civil non-cooperation movement started by Mahatma Gandhi for the freedom. After that, he met a well-known religious leader and scholar, Shri Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in 1922. The influence of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s philosophy proved to be a milestone in Abhay Charan’s life. He told Abhay Charan to introduce the philosophies of Lord Krishna in the west. In 1933, he became a follower of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Later, he spent 32 years of his life in the preparation of his journey to the western countries to obey his guru’s wish.
At the age of 69, he started his journey to New York City with only 40 Rs in his pocket and a trunk full of books and some of his personal belongings on a cargo ship,Jalduta. The journey proved to be treacherous, and he suffered two heart attacks while on the ship. After 35 days at sea he finally arrived at a lonely Brooklyn port.
In New York he faced great hardships, and was regularly without money and a steady place to live. He began his mission humbly, giving classes on the Bhagavad-gita in lofts in the Bowery (New York’s infamous skid row), and leading kirtan (traditional devotional chants) in Tompkins Square Park. His message of peace and goodwill resonated strongly with the hippie community and younger generation, some of whom came forward to become serious students of the Bhakti-yoga (loving devotion to God) tradition. With the help of these people, he rented a small piece of land and registered his organization officially. On 11th July 1966, he established the ISKCON or International Society for Krishna Consciousness formally.
In the next 11 years, he circled the entire world around 14 times. He conveyed the teaching of Lord Krishna to countless people in 6 different continents. A huge number of men and women from different backgrounds moved to him. With the help of his followers, he established several centers and projects of ISKCON in the different corners of the world. Under the shadow of his motivation, followers of Lord Krishna established various rural communities, temples, educational institutes and started the biggest relief program on vegetarian food. With the wish to cultivate better roots of Lord Krishna in India, Srila Prabhupada came back to India. Here, he opened numerous temples. He opened the largest centers of ISKCON in the holy towns of Mayapur and Vrindavana.
The most imperative contribution of Srila Prabhupada is conceivably his books. He wrote more than 70 volumes on the tradition of Krishna. All the volumes are highly appreciated by the scholars because of their depth, clarity, and faithfulness towards the tradition. His work has been used by several colleges in the form of textbooks as well. His books have been already translated into 76 different languages. His most appreciated and famous works include ‘Bhagavad Gita As It Is’, 30-volumes of ‘Srimad Bhagavatam’, and 17-volumes of ‘Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita’.
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