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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) is the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for...
  • His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
  • His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

    A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) is the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and the world’s foremost teacher of Krishna Bhakti in the 20th century.
    Born in India as Abhay Charan De, Abhay received a classical European education from Calcutta’s prestigious Scottish Church College. However, as a political activist and early follower of Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement, he rejected his diploma in protest of British rule in India. Several years later, after a life-changing encounter with Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, a prominent scholar and spiritual teacher who explained that the practice of Krishna Bhakti is too important to wait for political reform, Abhay redirected his attention from politics towards the cultivation of spiritual life and community.
    Bhaktisiddhanta represented the ancient tradition of Krishna Bhakti, the yoga of devotion, based on the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. Upon their first meeting, Bhaktisiddhanta asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and the practice of Krishna Bhakti to the West. Inspired by the depth of Bhaktisiddhanta’s devotional wisdom, Abhay became his lifelong student.
    After four decades of learning and practice, while simultaneously running his own business and supporting his family, Abhay took formal vows of sannyasa, or celibate priesthood. In preparation of his journey to the West, Abhay settled in the holy city of Vrindavan, India and began translating the Sanskrit verses of the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-bhagavatam into English and writing elaborate commentaries explaining each verse. During this time, Abhay was given the title Bhaktivedanta in recognition of his advanced scholarship and spiritual realization.
    In 1965, at the age of 69, Bhaktivedanta departed from India with unremitting determination to fulfill his teacher’s request. After a month-long voyage, having suffered two heart attacks while aboard an Indian cargo ship, Bhaktivedanta arrived at a lonely Brooklyn pier with seven dollars in Indian rupees and a trunk of ancient Sanskrit scriptures translated into English.
    Although faced with many hardships, Bhaktivedanta began giving Bhagavad-gita classes in Bowery lofts and leading kirtan (devotional chanting) in Tompkins Square Park. His sincerity attracted the attention of young seekers, eager to learn more about meditation and Eastern spirituality. With their help, Bhaktivedanta rented a small storefront in New York’s Lower East Side and continued giving daily classes and leading kirtan.
    Inspired by the support of his young American students, Bhaktivedanta established ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) with the hope that his students’ enthusiasm would continue to grow. The following year, Bhaktivedanta was asked to establish ISKCON in San Francisco, where hundreds of more students began regularly attending his classes and kirtans.
    In the following 11 years, Bhaktivedanta (again honored with a new title – Srila Prabhupada) circled the globe 14 times, bringing Krishna Bhakti to tens of thousands of people on six continents. With their help, he established centers and projects throughout the world including temples, ashrams, farm communities, schools, universities, and what would become the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program.
    During this time, Srila Prabhupada continued his translation work and authored an unprecedented number of books, over 70 titles, subsequently translated into 76 languages. His most prominent works include: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the 30-volume Srimad-bhagavatam, and the 17-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrita.
    In 1977, at the age of 81, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada passed away in Vrindavan, surrounded by his loving disciples who continue to preserve his legacy. Although the teachings of Krishna Bhakti had rarely ventured beyond India’s borders, by the extraordinary devotion and determination of Srila Prabhupada, tens of millions of people around the globe now benefit from the timeless practice of Krishna Bhakti.

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  • His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Letter for Shrila Prabhupada Vyasapuja 2016

Dear Shrila Prabhupada, please accept my humble obeisances at Your lotus feet.

Om ajnana-timirandhasya
jnananjana-shalakaya
cakshur unmilitam yena
tasmai shri-gurave namah

 

Nama om vishnu-padaya krishna-preshthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta swamin iti namine
Namaste sarasvati deve gaura-vani-pracharine
nirvishesha-shunyavadi pashchatya-desha-tarine

This year we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of ISKCON and I wish to live it dedicated to Your memory, Your teachings, Your endeavours and in spirit of friendship for Your dearest disciples.
ISKCON was Your organisational masterpiece, the vehicle by which in twelve intese years you brought five continents to know the value of the Bhakti Gudiya Vaishnava religious tradition, with particular reference to its literary masterpieces – like the Shri Caitanya-caritamrita, the books by the Vrindavana Goswamis and the best known Acharyas that succeeded them. In the footsteps of Shrila Jiva Goswami and Your guru Maharaja Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami, You accurately weaved an organic continuity through these books and the greatest Bhakti Vaishnava classics from antiquity - such as Ishopanishad, Bhagavad-gita, Narada-bhakti-sutras and Shrimad-Bhagavatam, which you wisely enhanced and modernised with your enlightening commentaries.
You prepared and completed this social, religious and spiritual project with Your entire life but you made it manifest during the last twelve years of Your glorious existence, at an age when most individuals retire from active life out of weariness and dejection. Just in those last years of Your earthly presence, You manifested your masterpiece: ISKCON.
Your masterpiece contributed to saving hundreds of thousands of young people from the desperation induced by a hedonistic lifestyle – an attitude that is irresponsible in so far as it is unaware of the extraordinary opportunity of having obtaining the rare gift of birth in the human form. As one of the many beneficiaries, I wish to express my immense gratitude and I do so by spreading Your teachings, remembering You on all occasions, public or private – and solemnly today, by celebrating Your sacred Vyasapuja.
This year, the day of your Vyasapuja falls on the fortieth anniversary of our first meeting.
My first darshana of Your Holy person in India, a memorable dialogue that change the substance and form of my life direction – as well as that of many people who, for Yours and Shri Krishna's mercy, and out of their good will, decided to follow me while I followed you as I still do. At the time of that existential turning point I was thirty-one; I was an idealist full of desires and hopes but without certitudes. Looking back on my life now, I identify my meeting with You as the most significant happening in my existence, its effects incessantly forging the centre of gravity of my consciousness.
Recognizing You right away as my guru, following and serving You without any interruption, shaping my life on Your teachings – all this activated a gradual process that transformed me on the inside and on the outside. My trasformation was spiritual and anthropological at the same time. A veritable revolution – entirely peaceful, beneficial and redeeming. Despite my human weaknesses, You inspired, governed and maintained constant the entire transformation process, day and night, during joy and sorrow. I feel for You immense gratitude and the intense desire to serve You every day with more sincerity and devout Love.
You didn't simply give me the Holy Name, You gave me the taste for a life in Bhakti through the example of Your life.
You were, are and will be my constant model of reference, in every time, place and circumstance.
You are my model in Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teachings.
You are my model as scholar of the Shastras You are my model as charismatic preacher in public.
You are my model as deeply compasssionate friend in private.
You are my model as disciple and guru.
You are for me infinitely more than sublime and wonderful ... You are the orthopraxy of Vaishnava Bhakti!
Despite my many imperfections, I ask Your blessings so that I may become Your loving servant and make Your work adequately known to the highest number of people and, through Your teachings, make them happily attain love for God, Bhagavan Shri Krishna.
Your servant disciple,
Matsyavatara dasa


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