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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

Lo splendore della Isha Upanishad

Tra qualche giorno, in occasione del nostro seminario estivo, proseguiremo lo studio della Shri Isha Upanishad.
Ho scelto di cominciare il ciclo di seminari sulle Upanishad proprio con questa grande opera della Rivelazione Vedica, pensando al ruolo determinante che Shrila Prabhupada ha conferito a questo testo nella sua opera di divulgazione della Coscienza di Krishna. 

All’inizio degli anni sessanta, prima ancora di aver formalmente fondato la ISKCON, Shrila Prabhupada aveva infatti pubblicato a puntate il suo manoscritto della Shri Ishopanisad sulla rivista "Back to Godhead", e la Isha Upanishad fu uno dei primi libri che volle pubblicare dopo esser venuto in Occidente. 
Come introduzione a questa opera volle utilizzare una sua storica lezione del 1969 dal titolo "Cosa sono i Veda?”, che aveva tenuto alla Conway Hall a Londra.   Qui Shrila Prabhupada aveva spiegato l’importanza della Shruti, il sapere rivelato che paragona ad una madre.
“Se un bambino vuole sapere chi è suo padre, deve rivolgersi a sua madre. […] Analogamente, per conoscere ciò che è al di là della nostra comprensione e facoltà di percezione, dobbiamo rifarci ai Veda” (Introduzione alla Isha Upanishad tradotta da Sua Divina Grazia A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupada, pag.3).
Attraverso la madre possiamo conoscere chi è nostro padre, così attraverso la conoscenza vedica possiamo conoscere chi è il Brahman, lo Spirito universale, il Padre originario, il Signore dei mondi e di tutte le creature, Param Purusha o Parameshvara.
Isha o Ishvara significa appunto “Signore”, e la Shri Isha Upanishad racchiude gli insegnamenti per realizzare la meravigliosa forma di Dio che colma il cuore di dolcezza e Amore.  
La Shri Isha Upanisad rappresenta il quarto ed ultimo capitolo dello Shukla Yajur Veda ed è composta di 18 mantra in lingua sanscrita.  Gradualmente il vate di questa Upanishad ci svela la grandezza della relazione personale con il Signore, nel sentimento della Bhakti o amor devoto.  
Il Mantra quindici afferma infatti: 
“O mio Signore, sostegno della vita, il Tuo fulgore mi abbaglia e nasconde il Tuo vero volto. Togli, Ti prego, questo velo e rivelaTi al Tuo devoto [letter.:“a colui che segue puramente il Dharma”].
La luce abbagliante è il fulgore della natura impersonale del Divino, oltre al quale occorre andare per scoprire il volto meraviglioso del Signore, la Sua natura più intima e personale, che si rivela a chi Lo ricerca in puro sentimento d’Amore.


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