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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.

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

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth (In the Guadiya Vaishnava Tradition)

First, its meaning lies in seeking a happy life on Earth, based on dharma and oriented towards Heaven. May marriage shine for its steadiness. May the union of marriage not be a comet that suddenly illuminates the sky but shortly after disappears into nothingness forever.
According to the Rig-Veda, the groom and the bride should retreat to their home once the fire ceremony has ended and remain silent until evening, waiting for the stars to come out. And when the stars are shining, they should look for one in particular - the polar star- the one that is recognizable for the way it shines steadfastly. At that moment, the two spouses offer prayers together in order to become as stable in their vows as that star in the sky.
The union of marriage is based on such stability and this virtue is one of the main values that makes it truly sacred. To get married, according to the tradition, means to build a relationship founded on religious principles. This relationship’s value persists beyond time, regulates and harmonizes the entire emotional sphere through an eternal promise of fidelity, esteem, respect and cooperation in serving God. Marriage is in its essence a samskara.
This Sanskrit term has two main meanings: in one sense it indicates the impressions or psychic events that have a positive or negative influence on consciousness, depending on their nature; and in another sense, it means 'sacrament'. Marriage is a samskara; one of the ten sacraments that serve to elevate a person's consciousness from the human level to the spiritual experience. Such elevation and transformation of consciousness is the purpose of human life. Samskaras trace and orient the path of a person in the world, from birth to death.
The first samskara, garbhodana samskara, is celebrated before the child is even conceived, as it takes place when parents plan the act of procreation. From this first samskara to the last (that hopefully marks the great departure from the earthly dimension to a superior one) a major step in the path of the human being is the one that coincides with the samskara of marriage, vivaha samskara, when a person becomes two through the encounter with another soul, and together they form an indissoluble unity, while each maintains one's own autonomy and individuality.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases today, people marry without any true awareness of the spiritual significance of marriage. Far too much attention is paid to external aspects and too little to the inner and the fundamental ones. Without building a relationship on a solid and value-driven basis, the relationship cannot withstand the storms of life.
Traditionally, marriage is conceived as a union between two persons having the higher purpose to help each other live fully and joyfully their humanity in order to accomplish their spiritual fulfillment.
Spiritual awareness is the greatest wish and the most precious gift we can offer to those who undertake the way to married life.
Only through spiritual awareness is it possible to face the Odessey of incarnated life and make the story of one's own existence a real success.
Spiritual awareness and the mutual affection that comes from it, helps us to face the trials and crises that are essential to overcome if we want to transcend our human limitations.
In order to avoid our wishes remaining vain, they should be based on spiritual Good because marriage does not only strive for the union of two bodies but for a particular relationship between two souls.
Two spiritual beings become bound in a transcendent union that will give sense to their relationship and give meaning, strength and vigor as they face the difficulties that we all inevitably encounter in life. People will be able to overcome obstacles so long as the spiritual purpose of the matrimonial relationship is kept alive and renewed consciously.
The purpose of religious marriage is the domain of the senses and the mind, and ultimately, of spiritual evolution. It teaches one to act in harmony with the divine-cosmic-ethical order.
Since all of what we do on Earth has an impact in Heaven, the Good we want to build into the dimension of immortality should be carried out here, in this world and through the passage of time. May marriage be made sacred by respecting the principles of dharma, and may it always be enlivened by the awareness and joy of its spiritual dimension.
We can only forever possess what we offer as a sacrifice. On the other hand, we lose what we withhold selfishly. In reality, it was never truly ours to begin with.
Only what we love remains stable with and within us.
To love something, we have to care for it with the utmost attention, esteem and respect because even the smallest offense reduces our capacity to love.
If we want to keep the treasure that is a relationship over time and make it always greater, satisfactory and beneficial to us and to others, we must invest in this treasure every day.
Even relationships, if they are not constantly nurtured day after day, become worn out and it becomes difficult to maintain them.
Bhakti implies a constant commitment and care otherwise even God disappears from our consciousness. And what to say about a groom or a bride, parents, children or relatives. Only those relationships we have been able to cultivate and keep alive with the right motivations will remain: the ones with depth, stability, immortal values and which transcend time and space. These values ??abide by the divine spiritual matrix, which is the essence of each person and that a bride and groom should cultivate it in one another.
Marriage is a pact of mutual help, where one promises mutual fidelity on the basis of spiritual commitments that have been deliberately taken on. In its cosmetic-ethical value, more than a union between two persons, marriage is in fact the connection between Earth and Heaven, as Vedic Revelation states. It is a pact between the Son of the Sun and the Daughter of the Moon.
In fact, what is celebrated on the human level has only a subordinated value to what happens on the cosmic level. Marriage, in its essence of sacred union offered to God, invokes divine energies. It is anchored to eternal spiritual values ??and in this respect, it is an anthropo-cosmic event. Because of its spiritual value, it will exist eternally. No human act can exist without a divine association. 
Religious marriage connects Earth to Heaven and is a tool of spiritual elevation and authentic Good for everyone.
Marriage implies the voluntary renunciation of a part of one's own personal freedom, making it available to the benefit of the couple that has been created, in view of attaining a superior freedom and evolution.
To that end, we should learn to distinguish between authentic freedom and the vagaries of the mind.
An important criterion of distinction is the following: freedom does not hurt anybody, while the vagaries of the mind cause suffering to ourselves and to others. Solidarity and collaboration in the name of dharma as well as pursuing the principles of virtue and the highest spirituality, allow us to gradually get rid of the whims of the mind and to overcome all forms of egoism. Such a high achievement can only be the result of work on oneself over a long period of time. For this reason, an accurate preparation is indispensable for the most important choices in life, like marriage, in the Tradition. Preparation times may naturally vary from individual to individual.
Here are some selected passages from the Vedic Samhites:
"The earth is supported by the truth, the cosmic order is supported by the sun and all that exists.
I am poem, you are verse; I am heaven, you are earth.
May all devas join us.
May only one spirit dwell in us."
We must always look over the clouds, raise our eyes and look at the sky; in the sky we have to seek the light and in the light we have to look for the sun. It is the sun of consciousness, God who shines in the world and in the hearts. He is Life itself, infinite source of authentic Love.
By virtue of religious marriage, may spouses live a full and happy life on Earth, earning Heaven.

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