One of the most wonderful ambassadors and proponents of GaudiyaVaisnavism, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami SrilaPrabhupada, widely known as SrilaPrabhupada, was born Abhay Charan De, into a pious Hindu family in Calcutta, in 1896. As a young man growing up in British-ruled India, he was highly influenced by the Civil Disobedience Movement, under Mahatma Gandhi, to achieve independence for his country.
However, a meeting with a famous scholar, a prominent Guru and a spiritual reformer, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhant Saraswati Thakur, in 1922, transformed Abhay’s thinking completely. Srila Bhakti Siddhant Saraswati Thakur asked Abhay to take the teachings of Vedic scriptures to the Western world. Abhay formally accepted Srila Bhakti SiddhantaSaraswati Thakur as his spiritual master in 1933 and resolutely committed to carrying out his Guru’s instruction.
In recognition of Abhay’s philosophical erudition and exceptional devotion, the Visva-Vaisnava-Raj-Sabha (World Vaisnava Association) bestowed upon him the honorific title of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada , in 1947.
SrilaPrabhupada, at the age of 69, in 1965, embarked upon his journey to the USA, onboard a small cargo ship called “Jaladuta”, to fulfill the mission of his Guru. After undertaking a long and hazardous journey for thirty five days, he reached Boston in September, 1965 on his way to New York. Carrying the equivalent of just seven dollars in Indian rupees, SrilaPrabhupada arrived in the US and started propagating the ageless wisdom of India’s Vedic knowledge. After almost a year of very hard work, he was able to get the International Society for Krishna Consciousness incorporated in New York in July 1966.
In the ensuing eleven years, SrilaPrabhupada went around the world fourteen times on preaching missions, built 108 Temples and authored more than 70 volumes on the philosophy of Bhakti Yoga – most remarkable of them being the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” and “Srimad Bhagavatam”. His writings have been translated into nearly 80 languages. Under his guidance, devotees established ISKCON Centers, rural communities, hospitals, educational institutions and set up, what is now the World’s largest vegetarian food relief program, “Food for Life”.
In addition to possessing a profound strength of character, great piety, humility and righteousness, he was truly detached as well. Unlike many of the Gurus he was contemporary with, SrilaPrabhupada was willing and content to live a life of simplicity exactly as his disciples did.
In the world of pervasive pretensions, suspicions and mistrust, SrilaPrabhupada was an epitome of genuineness, a paragon of sincerity and an embodiment of virtue.
He gave up his material body in November, 1977 , but not before he had reinvigorated people’s belief in Vedic teachings and Bhakti Yoga.
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