A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896-1977), commonly known as Srila Prabhupada, is a world-renowned ​​teacher of Bhakti yoga and the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Inspired by his deep compassion for others and instruction from his spiritual teacher, he left India to come to America at the​​ advanced age of 70. His mission was to teach the science of Krishna consciousness, bhakti yoga, all over the world. His accomplishments are unheard of before in history, and his powerful legacy continues to inspire millions of people all around the globe.

Srila Prabhupada in New YorkIn 1965, Srila Prabhupada left India to make his way to New York City, deemed the most important city in the world. He was given a free ticket to travel to America, and he was the only passenger on board a weathered cargo ship named Jaladuta. On his journey, his possessions  included: a suitcase, an umbrella, a supply of dry cereal, about seven dollars’ worth of Indian currency, several boxes of spiritual books, and fixed determination to spread Krishna’s message. Although he underwent great physical challenges, i.e. two heart-attacks; he was not deterred from his mission despite his old age and almost catastrophic health tribulations.

When he arrived in New York City in 1965, he had no connections, what to speak of​​ a place to stay, but he was determined and deeply motivated by his compassion for others. After some time, he began to give classes and acquired a storefront in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It was a hub for the counterculture (hippie movement), thus eastern philosophy and yoga were very attractive there. Many people started coming to his classes on the Vedic philosophy.

After gaining a steady following, he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in 1966. Despite having few dedicated followers and only a small storefront, his vision for spreading Krishna consciousness was worldwide. As time progressed dedicated followers increased, and the movement soon spread to other cities like Montreal and San Francisco. In addition, the movement quickly spread​​ to other countries like England and Germany, and it attracted the attention of many popular celebrities such as George Harrison, Allen Ginsberg, and members of the Grateful Dead, who all contributed to the movement in great ways.

Srila Prabhupada in Boston AirportEven though Srila Prabhupada was at an advanced age and experiencing health problems, he nonetheless continued to travel around the world and write books. He only slept around two hours a night to maximize his time writing books. In about 11 years, he traveled around the world 12 times and wrote/translated 84 books on the science of Bhakti yoga. He also gave hundreds of classes and met thousands of people, personally instructing everyone he met how to become devoted to Lord Krishna.

He physically left this world in 1977, leaving behind a legacy that has changed the course of history forever. He encouraged everyone in the​​ world to take advantage of this Krishna Consciousness movement to become happy and after this lifetime to go​​ back to spiritual world.

ISKCON’s Influence today:

Since 1966 ISKCON is responsible for: distributing 548,897,985 literatures worldwide, three billion meals distributed, and 6,000 festivals celebrated annually. There are around 650 Hare Krishna centers world-wide, 65 farm and eco-villages, 110 pure vegetarian restaurants, and the movement is growing each year by Srila Prabhupada’s influence.