A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, more affectionately known as Shrila Prabhupada, is the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON, or more popularly known as the Hare Krishna Movement. The movement was inaugurated in India by Lord Chaitanya almost five hundred years ago. The age that we currently live in is full of quarrel and dissent and the only means of self-realization is through the constant chanting of the holy name of God. The Hare Krishna mantra, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, is found in the ancient scriptures of India, and is the most powerful of mantras in this age since it directly addresses God and His energy in a loving way. Lord Chaitanya freely distributed this mantra to all of India through congregational chanting. Shrila Prabhupada, a spiritual master in the disciplic succession descending from Lord Chaitanya, preached this same movement in the mid 1960s beginning in America and eventually spreading throughout the world.
Born into a pious Indian family in 1896, Shrila Prabhupada was imbibed with love for Lord Krishna right from his birth. In 1922, he met his spiritual master, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada, and would take formal initiation from him in 1933. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta’s dying wish was for Shrila Prabhupada to translate the great Vedic texts of India into English and to preach Lord Chaitanya’s message to the Western World. After retiring from family life in 1950, Shrila Prabhupada tried forming his own preaching organization in India. This attempt was met with great difficulty, so the swami decided to try preaching in America. His preaching efforts really gained in popularity in New York in 1965 and very quickly the movement expanded throughout America and the world. During the last 12 years of his life, the swami circled the globe fourteen times giving lectures, translating books and opening temples. He initiated many disciples during that period and through them his movement continues to this very day.
Shrila Prabhupada was a devotee in the mold of Lord Hanuman, in that he only had one goal in his life, to serve Lord Krishna. He met many obstacles along the way, but since he was a completely surrendered soul, he never deviated from his beliefs or his mission. Being a true saint, he wanted more for others than he wanted for himself. He wanted others to love Krishna even more than he did.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that one should approach a spiritual master if one is serious about understanding the self.
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita
In today’s world, there is ample opportunity for sense gratification. Technology has provided us with increased time for leisure. Shrila Prabhupada taught us to make
the most of this opportunity by utilizing every second of every day in the service of God. One hasn’t got to give up his occupation or activities, but that one simply has to dovetail his activities with the service of Krishna. Shrila Prabhupada provided a step by step guide on how to reawaken love of God and how to increase that love day by day. In this way, Shrila Prabhupada is THE spiritual master for this age. Though he left his physical body in 1977, he continues to live through his massive collection of published books and recorded lectures. His most popular book, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, is printed in millions of copies and scores of languages throughout the world. He was the perfect acharya in that he led by example. He was completely devoted to Lord Krishna and spent all his time trying to get others to be just as devoted. He craved not the fame and fortune that came with his success, for his only desire was to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “one who teaches this most confidential knowledge to others will be very dear to Me.” Through his translations of Vedic texts such as the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad Bhagavatam, and the Shri Chaitanya-Charitamrita. Shrila Prabhupada taught others the instructions of Lord Krishna in a way that was understandable to all. We are forever indebted to him. Shrila Prabhupada’s most sincere wish was for as many of his books to be distributed and printed as possible. Krishna’s Mercy is dedicated to honoring that wish through our various projects. Shrila Prabhupada ki jai!