Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam[1.1.22], the sages of Naimisaranya headed by Saunaka rishi addresses Srila Suta Goswami,
tvaṁ naḥ sandarśito dhātrā dustaraṁ nistitīrṣatām
kaliṁ sattva-haraṁ puṁsāṁ karṇa-dhāra ivārṇavam
We think that we have met Your Goodness by the will of providence, just so that we may accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the difficult ocean of Kali, which deteriorates all the good qualities of a human being.
On the order of his spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda began translating and writing Vedic literature in the English language to bring the message of Lord Kṛṣṇa to the Western countries. After four decades of struggle and preparation in India, he came to the West and started the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Later on he created the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, to publish his writings and recordings of his lectures, conversations, etc.
The BhaktivedantaVidyapitha has been created so that SrilaPrabhupada’s books are systematically studied and the teachings are assimilated by the students for further propagation of Krishna consciousness in the world. The efforts aim also at facilitating this facility for others by creating supporting study materials and other research work [that includes thematic compilations] on the teachings of Srimad Bhagvatam, Sri Caitanya Caritamrita and the Bhaktivedanta purports on these books.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda appeared in this world in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, a prominent religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four Gauḍīya Maṭhas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge. Śrīla Prabhupāda became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura requested Śrīla Prabhupāda to broadcast Vedic knowledge in the English language. In the years that followed, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā, assisted the Gauḍīya Maṭha in its work and, in 1944, started Back to Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine. Maintaining the publication was a struggle. Single-handedly, Śrīla Prabhupāda edited it, typed the manuscripts, checked the galley proofs, and even distributed the individual copies. Once begun, the magazine never stopped; it is now being continued by his followers and is published in over thirty languages allover the world.
Recognizing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Society honored him in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta.” In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Śrīla Prabhupāda retired from married life, adopting the vānaprastha order to devote more time to his studies and writing. Śrīla Prabhupāda traveled to the holy city of Vṛndāvana, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of Rādhā-Dāmodara. There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyāsa) in 1959. At Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, Śrīla Prabhupāda began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multi volume annotated translation of the eighteen-thousand-verse Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa). He also wrote ‘Easy Journey to Other Planets.’
After publishing three volumes of the Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Prabhupāda came to the United States of America, in September 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Subsequently, His Divine Grace wrote more than sixty volumes of authoritative annotated translations and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
When he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Śrīla Prabhupāda was practically penniless. Only after almost a year of great difficulty did he establish the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in July of 1966. Before his passing away on November 14, 1977, he guided the Society and saw it grow to a worldwide confederation of more than one hundred branches that included āśramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
One of the most significant contributions of Śrīla Prabhupāda,is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authority, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into over fifty languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.
In just twelve years, in spite of his advanced age, Śrīla Prabhupāda circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Śrīla Prabhupāda continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.
Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo yasyāprasādān nagatiḥ kuto ‘pi
Dhyāyans tu vaṁstasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ vandeguroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master.
(Adapted from the Foreword in Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Archives www.vedabase.net)