Description of Srila Prabhupada's Appearance
(excerpt from "A Lifetime in Preparation - Srila Prabhupada Lilamrita" BBT)
It was Janmastami, the annual celebration of the advent of Lord Krsna some five thousand years before. Residents of Calcutta, mostly Bengalis and other Indians, but also many Muslims and even some British, were observing the festive day, moving here and there through the city's streets to visit the temples of Lord Krsna. Devout Vaisnavas, fasting until midnight, chanted Hare Krsna and heard about the birth and activities of Lord Krsna from Srimad-Bhagavatam. They continued fasting, chanting, and worshiping throughout the night.
The next day (September 1, 1896), in a little house in the Tollygunge suburb of Calcutta, a male child was born. Since he was born on Nandotsava, the day Krsna's father, Nanda Maharaja, had observed a festival in honor of Krsna's birth, the boy's uncle called him Nandulal. But his father, Gour Mohan De, and his mother, Rajani, named him Abhay Charan, "one who is fearless, having taken shelter at Lord Krsna's lotus feet." In accordance with Bengali tradition, the mother had gone to the home of her parents for the delivery, and so it was that on the bank of the Ädi Ganga, a few miles from his father's home, in a small two-room, mud-walled house with a tiled roof, underneath a jackfruit tree, Abhay Charan was born. A few days later, Abhay returned with his parents to their home at 151 Harrison Road.
An astrologer did a horoscope for the child, and the family was made jubilant by the auspicious reading. The astrologer made a specific prediction: When this child reached the age of seventy, he would cross the ocean, become a great exponent of religion, and open 108 temples.
Srila Prabhupada's Legacy
We can list the quantity of Srila Prabhupada’s achievements in numbers and facts, but can never fully measure the quality of his devotion to Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada established the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, which is identical with the Supreme Lord Himself, for people of all cultures, in all countries.
Srila Prabhupada founded farm projects, schools, and 108 temples, 3 of which he constructed in Vrindavana, Mayapur, and Bombay, India.
He initiated nearly 5,000 disciples into the Gaudiya-Vaishnava disciplic succession, while thousands more joined ISKCON’s general congregation.
489,671,698 copies of his 51 volumes of books in 31 languages sold since 1965.
960 recorded conversations, 1,662 recorded lectures, and thousands of letters indicate Prabhupada’s eagerness to have everyone hear about Krishna.
Scholars and leaders in many fields highly praise Prabhupada - his saintly character, knowledge, and accomplishments.
He began ISKCON, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, the Bhaktivedanta Institute for science, and the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust for reviving India’s ancient holy places.
Srila Prabhupada traveled to 96 cities in 24 countries during twelve years, circling the globe fourteen times, in order to enlighten people of every continent.
Srila Prabhupada’s main contribution was translating and publishing books on Krishna consciousness in English. In ten years, he wrote more than forty books. These are now published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in over fifty languages.
In 1966, Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna Movement. It has the following purposes:
- To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
- To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
- To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
- To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
- To erect for the members and for society at large holy places of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
- To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
- With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
An Exemplary and Perfect Disciple
Srila Prabhupada taught by example. For the last part of his life, he led the austere life of a sannyasi, a renunciate, and displayed great humility, never taking undue personal credit for his accomplishments. “My only credit,” he said, “is that I have strictly followed the order of my guru maharaja.” His spiritual master advised him: “whenever you get money, print books”. And he did that. You can glimpse at who Srila Prabhupada was and see the life he led on the 36 hours of film footage available at our Krishna.com Store: Srila Prabhupada Video DVD Set.
A Pure Devotee Dependent on Krishna
Srila Prabhupada arrived in the West almost penniless, but he preached with full conviction the chanting of the holy names of Krishna [see Maha-mantra towards the bottom of this page.] Gradually, young people felt attracted to the chanting and to “Swamiji” and his mission: to spread Krishna Consciousness worldwide. Krishna Consciousness is the original consciousness of the soul. Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of accepting a bona fide guru. Such a bona fide teacher leaves the message of Krishna intact. Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by Srila Prabhupada, remains the best-selling and most potent English edition of this classic.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute
To establish the scientific merits of Krishna Consciousness and to encourage academic study of the soul, Srila Prabhupada established the Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI). Staffed by devotee scholars, the BI has published several books on the nature of consciousness, Vedic Cosmology, and the origins of the human race. The Institute has twice gathered renowned scientists for a World Congress on the Synthesis of Science and Religion. For more information, check out the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust website.
The Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust
Srila Prabhupada started the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to revive and restore some of the important Gaudiya-Vaishnava shrines in India. Several temples in Vrindavan and Mayapur are under the Trust’s care.
In addition, Srila Prabhupada desired that nobody within a ten-mile radius of a Hare Krishna temple should go hungry. With that aim in mind, ISKCON temples in India and around the world have set up programs for the free distribution of sanctified food to the needy.
Srila Prabhupada introduced the Western world to the sublime benefits of chanting the Holy Names of Krishna. In the form of the mantra known in Vedic writings as the Maha-mantra, or Great Chant for Deliverance, the chanting goes:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Translation: “Oh Energy of God [Hare], Oh All-Attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead [Krishna], Oh Supreme enjoyer[Rama], please engage me in Your service!”
Srila Prabhupada said that this mantra should be chanted “just like the call of a child for its mother,” There are no hard and fast rules for chanting this mantra, and it can be chanted at any time for relief from the miseries of material existence and to develop our innate love of God.