Well known by millions all over the world, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (born Abhay Charan De; 1 September 1896 – 14 November 1977) was an Indian spiritual teacher and the founder-preceptor of the (ISKCON), commonly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement”.He is popularly known as Srila Prabhupada. He was an extraordinary author, teacher, and saint.
Srila Prabhupada was born in Calcutta in 1896, the day after Janmastami, the appearance anniversary of Lord Krsna. His life history, from his earliest days, to his last, in 1977, is described in the vivid biography “Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta”, by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami.https://wisdombooksofindia.com/product-category/english/biographies/
Srila Prabhupada met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, his spiritual master, in 1922 in Calcutta. Although this was the first time they had met, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta at once told him, “You are an educated young man. Why don’t you preach the message of Lord Caitanya in English?” This request became the driving force in Srila Prabhupada’s life.
At that time, Srila Prabhupada accepted Srila Bhaktisiddhanta within his heart as his spiritual master, and in 1932 became an initiated disciple. To support his wife and family, he maintained a successful pharmaceutical business.
In 1936, Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter to his spiritual master who at that time was passing his last days on earth. Srila Prabhupada inquired, “How can I serve you?” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta wrote back, “Preach this Krsna consciousness movement in English”. Srila Prabbhupada recognized this as the same instruction he had received at their first meeting and thus knew this to be his life’s mission. He began preparing himself for this great effort.
In 1944, during the Second World War, when the paper was scarce and people had little money to spend. Srila Prabhupada began a magazine called Back to Godhead, which is still published today. He would write, edit, oversee the layout, proofread and sell the copies himself.
He retired from his home and family life in 1950 and dedicated the next ten years to studying and preaching. In 1959, he accepted the order of sannyasa, renunciation, and within a few years wrote three volumes of English translation and commentary for the first canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He bought the paper, gathered donations to print the books, got the books printed, and sold them himself and through agents in the larger Indian cities.
Srila Prabhupada presents a copy of Srimad-Bhagavatam to India’s Prime Minister in 1964.
Now that he had taken sannyasa and prepared three volumes in English, he felt ready to carry out the heavy order of his spiritual master to bring the holy names of Krsna to every town and village in the world. Srila Prabhupada decided to go to America, convinced that if America took to Krsna consciousness, other countries would follow.
He begged free passage from a pious shipping magnate who had sponsored the printing of his books, and he sailed for America on the Jaladuta, a ship of the Scindia Steamship Company. Traveling for thirty-seven days across the ocean, he suffered two painful heart attacks. Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York City in September 1965. As he related later on, “I didn’t know whether to turn left or right.”
After he spent a difficult half year living here and there, his followers rented him a small storefront and apartment at 26 Second Avenue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was here that sincere searchers for knowledge had gathered, and gradually they found shelter with Srila Prabhupada, who they called “Swamiji.”
One day Srila Prabhupada brought his followers to Tompkins Square Park to chant Hare Krsna in public. Soon there were regular public chanting parties, as his followers became more serious. They eventually began taking initiation from Srila Prabhupada, promising to follow regulative principles and chant the Hare Krsna mantra a prescribed minimum of times daily.
In July 1966, Srila Prabhupada officially incorporated ISKCON, the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, and then he began to strongly develop it as an instrument for spreading the message of Krsna throughout the world. Srila Prabhupada also revived Back to Godhead magazine, which the new devotees distributed on the streets. He regularly chanted and gave lectures before eager groups of people at his storefront. And he distributed prasadam, spiritualized food; at programs, he called the Sunday love feast. In early 1967, Srila Prabhupada visited San Francisco to start ISKCON on the West Coast. Many hippies joined and spread the mission throughout their community.
Srila Prabhupada then sent his disciples to other parts of the world to open centers: Montreal, Boston, London, Berlin, and the other cities in North America, India, and Europe.
By the time Srila Prabhupada left this world, after preaching for twelve years, he had established 108 centers, written more than sixty volumes of transcendental literature, traveled around the world fourteen times, initiated five thousand disciples, founded the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust – the world’s largest publisher of Vedic literature – and began a scientific academy (The Bhaktivedanta Institute) and the other trusts related to ISKCON.
Srila Prabhupada wrote more than sixty books. He translated the original text from Sanskrit to Bengali, word by word, and gave a complete commentary. In clear, lucid language, he exposed the foolishness of modern materialistic society and presented an alternative in the vast science of spiritual knowledge called Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada works include Bhagavad- Gita As It Is, Srimad Bhagavatam, the multi-volume Caitanya Caritamrita, the Nectar of Devotion, the Krsna book, the Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Teachings of Lord Kapila, Teachings of Queen Kunti, Sri Isopanisad, the Nectar of Instruction, and dozens of small books.
After his first three books, Srila Prabhupada produced all the rest within eleven years. He would write almost daily between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m. He dictated his texts, which his disciples then typed and edited. Srila Prabhupada minimized sleep and spent the early morning hours writing. His days were filled with teaching both his followers and the public, and with guiding his growing society.
Until his last few days on earth, he continued his work of translating and commenting on spiritual texts. He was an extraordinary author, teacher, and saint.
His Books :
Highlight the Importance of the Human Form of Life
Reveal the Perfect Knowledge of the Vedas
Present a Universal Science of God Realization
Explain the Difference between the Self and the Body
RE-INCARNATION – AN EXPLANATION BY SRILA PRABHUPADA
“Human life is simply awarded to a living entity so that he can realize his spiritual identity and his permanent source of happiness.”
Of all his various contributions, Srila Prabhupada considered his books most important. In fact, he would often describe his work of translating and explaining the ancient Vedic texts as his very life and soul. In 1970, Srila Prabhupada founded the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, now the World’s largest publisher of Vedic literature. Through its work over the last quarter-century, millions of people have read at least one of Srila Prabhupada’s books and have felt their lives genuinely enriched. Here is a brief introduction to the spiritual knowledge you will find within those books.