Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila Prabhupada)
is the initiating spiritual master of Amal Bhakta. He appeared in
this world in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual
master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in
1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent religious scholar and
the founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked
this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to
teaching Vedic knowledge. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and
eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad he became his formally initiated
At their first meeting,
in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila
Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language.
In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary
on the Bhagavad-gita, assisted the Gaudiya Matha in its work and,
in 1944, started Back to Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine.
Maintaining the publication was a struggle. Single-handedly, Srila
Prabhupada 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 disciples
in the West and is published in over thirty languages.
Recognizing Srila Prabhupada's
philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Society honored
him in 1947 with the title "Bhaktivedanta." In 1950, at
the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life,
adopting the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to
his studies and writing. Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city
of Vrndavana, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the
historic medireview temple of Radha-Damodara. There he engaged for
several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced
order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada
began work on his life's masterpiece: a multivolume annotated translation
of the eighteen-thousand-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana).
He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three
volumes of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada 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, Srila Prabhupada 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
äsramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada
created New Vrindaban, an experimental Vedic community in the hills
of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrindaban, which
became a thriving farm community of more than two thousand acres,
his students have since founded several similar communities in the
United States and abroad.
In 1972, His Divine Grace
introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in
the West by founding the Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. Since
then, under his supervision, his disciples have established children's
schools throughout the United States and the rest of the world,
with the principal educational center now located in Vrndavana,
Srila Prabhupada also inspired
the construction of several large international cultural centers
in India. The center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal is the site
for a planned spiritual city, an ambitious project for which construction
will extend over many years to come. In Vrndavana, India, are the
magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and International Guesthouse,
and Srila Prabhupada Memorial and Museum. There is also a major
cultural and educational center in Bombay. Other centers are planned
in a dozen important locations on the Indian subcontinent.
Srila Prabhupada's most
significant contribution, however, 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, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen
times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. In spite
of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write
prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic
philosophy, religion, literature and culture.