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His Divine Grace, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the Hare Krishna Movement

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Srila Prabhupada - Founder Acarya of the Hare Krishna Movement




Srila PrabhupadaA. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement was born on September 1, 1896, in Calcutta India. His father Gour Mohan and mother Rajani were both devotees, (dedicated followers) of Lord Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada studied under the British colonial rule in Scottish Churches' College and finally went to university to learn chemistry. At the university, he became a supporter of Gandhi's movement to gain independence for India. In support of this, he would only dress in white handloom cloth woven in India. Furthermore, to show solidarity for his country, he declined to accept his degree from the university under the British rule.   

Srila Prabhupada first met his spiritual master (teacher) in Calcutta in 1922. His spiritual master, a prominent religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four Hare Krishna Temples in India, liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge. Srila Prabhupada became his student and, in 1933, his formally initiated disciple.

At their first meeting Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master requested him to teach Vedic knowledge in English. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the ancient Indian spiritual classic Bhagavad-gita.  Srila Prabhupada also assisted with his spiritual master’s temples, and in 1944, started Back to Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine. Single-handedly, Srila Prabhupada edited, typed the manuscripts, checked the galley proofs, and even distributed the individual copies.

In 1936, Srila Prabhupada wrote to his spiritual master requesting for any particular service that he could render. In response he received a reply containing the same instruction that he had received in 1922: “Teach Vedic knowledge (Krishna consciousness) in English to the English speaking world.” Two weeks after receiving this letter Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master passed away from this world, leaving these final instructions engraved in Srila Prabhupada's heart. These instructions were to form the focus of Srila Prabhupada's life.

In 1950 Srila Prabhupada retired, thus devoting all his time to his spiritual studies. He traveled to Vrindavana, the most scared place in India where he lived very humbly at the Radha-Damodara temple. He spent several years there studying the scriptures and writing. It was during this time that he started writing his masterpiece: the translation and commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam in English. Within a span of few years Srila Prabhupada he had written three volumes of English translation and a commentary for the first volumes of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Once again, single handedly, he bought paper and gathered funds to print his books. He sold the books himself and this time also got the help of agents in the larger Indian cities.

He now felt ready to carry out his spiritual master's instructions. He decided to start by taking the message of Krishna consciousness to America, convinced that other countries would follow suit. Obtaining free passage on a freight ship, he finally set out for New York in 1965. He was sixty nine years old and practically penniless. All he possessed were a few copies of the Srimad Bhagavatam and forty Indian rupees.

Traveling by freight ship was slow and tedious, taking three months. Srila Prabhupada had a very difficult voyage, suffering two heart attacks. In New York he stayed with an Indian family who had offered to sponsor. After a difficult six months, teaching here and there, Srila Prabhupada attracted a few followers who rented a storefront and apartment in Manhattan where he regularly gave lectures, introducing knowledge of Lord Krishna. People from all walks of life, including hippies, were drawn to hear Srila Prabhupada speak.

Srila Prabhupada worked tirelessly, teaching his young followers all aspects of Vedic culture as it had been practiced in India for thousands of years. Srila Prabhupada, although now seventy years old, worked to established his spiritual movement with the vigor of a young man. Understanding the importance of Vedic authority, and seeing the magnitude of this great task Srila Prabhupada reduced his sleep to a few hours a night, utilizing the extra time for writing his books.                                                                           

Gradually Srila Prabhupada’s followers began to hold regular Hare Krishna chanting in the parks attracting many new people. In just twelve years, despite his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times teaching Krishna Consciousness.

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