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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

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Letter to Shrila Prabhupada for Vyasapuja 2020

Dearest Shrila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most respectful obeisances at Your lotus feet.

Nama om vishnu padaya krishna preshthaya bhu-tale, shrimate bhaktivedanta swami iti namine.
Namaste sarasvate deve gaura vani pracharine, nirvishesha shunyavadi pashchatya desha tarine.
Om ajnana timirandhasya jnananjana shalakaya, chakshur unmiltam yena tasmai shri gurave namaha.

Delhi, 44 years ago, that blessed day on which I met You for the first time and, by the Grace of God, You provided me with Your first darshan; the first conversation You had with me and that I still vividly recall. You said:

“People are unhappy. They suffer because they have waged a war on Nature.”

After a short pause, with a serious gaze, You asked me: “do you believe in God?”.

Absorbed in reflection following that statement You had just made, I was startled by Your question and responded with a nod.

You proceeded and, with a solemn expression, you calmly explained that this cruel attack on Nature would give way to a global catastrophe, one whose consequences would mainly impact the human race that had provoked it.

Your facial expression, Your voice and Your gaze were full of intense compassion. I welcomed Your teachings as a unique, immeasurable gift. I cherished and cultivated them within my memory and they have illuminated my life in every way.

I am writing You as the coronavirus-covid 19 pandemic unfolds and people, confined to their homes since a month now, live in anguish and fear for themselves and their loved ones. After more than seventy years, Italy, a country that thought it had achieved solid levels of development and wellbeing in a permanent way, is unexpectedly forced to face the precarious state of its achievements in various areas such as civil rights, healthcare, social services and independence in regard to food security. It only took a virus to shake this fragile socioeconomic foundation built upon a distorted vision of reality. This distortion is essentially due to having adopted an egotistical way of being, one that is materialistic and nihilistic towards life: a vision similar to a predator in relation to its prey. Modern man, in the name of science and economic progress, treats Nature and all of its beings with predatory violence.
In the name of science, for the purpose of scientism, he has created a greedy economic system with no consideration for life and all of its beings, acting with the arrogance of a mad demiurge (Asura), placing himself in the position of God with a sense of superiority towards everyone and everything. He is dragging humanity towards its most disastrous demise: its dehumanization and the progressive destruction of biodiversity on the planet.

All that You spoke to me about that day, did indeed happen, and now the human race is suffering the terrible consequences.

You also said and wrote more than once: without religion, science becomes inhumane, without science, religion becomes sentimentalism.

You then continued discoursing and asked me to be part of the solution. You asked me to become a Krishna devotee, to chant His Sacred Name, to study the Bhagava-gita and to serve Him by speaking of Him to everyone I would meet.

Within my power and with enthusiasm and faith, I accepted Your invitation. From that blessed day on which I met You, through Yours and Krishna’s mercy, I was able to transform my life thanks to your teachings.

Miraculously and with immense gratitude, until today, I hold in my heart the immeasurable spiritual gift You’ve given me and strive to share it with as many people as possible even amidst the tragic circumstances in which we all find ourselves now.

Deeply aware of how much I am in Your debt and wanting to demonstrate my immense gratitude, I ask You to please continue to illuminate me, inspire me and always grant me new opportunities to serve You, Shri Krishna, the world and all of its beings.

Without your blessings, I could but only cry without any hope of truly Living.

With my heart, brimming with devotion,

Your grateful servant,

Matsya Avatar das

 


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