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Introduction Pujya BhaishriRameshbhai Oza, popularly known as Bhaishri, is the modern age spiritual leader who is based in Gujarat and has dedicated his life for…
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.
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 and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.
Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta.” In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, and four years later he adopted 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 medieval 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 translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three volumes of Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Since that time, His Divine Grace has written over sixty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society grew within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrndavana, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrndavana, then a thriving farm community of more than one thousand acres, his students 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. The school began with three children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975 the enrollment had grown to one hundred fifty.
Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of a large international center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned Institute of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and International Guest House in Vrndavana, India. These are centers where Westerners can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.
Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into eleven languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively 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.
Sri Roop Gaudiya Matha Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh was the place where Bhaktivedanta used to live, he had written and studied in the library of this building, here he edited the Gauḍīya Patrikā magazine and this is the place where he donated the murti of Lord Chaitanya who stands on the altar beside the Deities of Radha Krishna (named Śrī Śrī Rādhā Vinodavihārījī). During his visit in September 1959 he entered the doors of this matha dressed in white, as Abhoy Babu, but would be leaving dressed in saffron, a sannyasi. He received the sannyasa name Swami (स्वामी Svāmi), not to be confused with the title Swami. In this matha, in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Abhoy Charan Bhaktivedanta took Vaishnava renunciate vows,sannyasa, from his friend and godbrother Bhakti Prajnana Keshava, and following this he single-handedly published the first three volumes covering seventeen chapters of the first book of Bhagavata Purana, filling three volumes of four hundred pages each with a detailed commentary. Introduction to the first volume was a biographical sketch of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He then left India, obtaining free passage on a freight ship called the Jaladuta, with the aim and a hope of fulfilling his spiritual master’s instruction to spread the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu around the world. In his possession were a suitcase, an umbrella, a supply of dry cereal, about eight dollars worth of Indian currency, and several boxes of books.
In 1966, Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna Movement, with the following purposes:
1. 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.
2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
3. 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).
4. 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.
5. To erect for the members and for society at large holy places of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
7. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
From a single storefront temple on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, in 1966, ISKCON has grown to over 500 temples, centers, restaurants, schools and farm communities worldwide serving several hundred thousand members.
Srila Prabhupada introduced the western world to the sublime benefits of chanting the holy names of Krishna in the form of the maha-mantra, or great chant for deliverance:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Translation: “O Energy of God [Hare], O All-Attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead [Krishna], O Reservoir of Pleasure [Rama], please engage me in Your service!”
Srila Prabhupada said that this mantra should be chanted just like a child calling for its mother. It can be chanted at any time for relief from the miseries of material existence and to develop our love of God.
Bhaktivedanta Swami died on 14 November 1977 in Vrindavan, India; his burial remains in Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan India.
Circumstances of his death have been source of allegations for poisoning: Eugene V. Gallagher mentions in his work Introduction to new and alternative religions in America: “Supporters of the ritvik movement have also produced evidence suggesting that Bhaktivedanta’s death was not the result of natural causes but rather of poisoning. They suspect several ISKCON leaders, most notably one of ISKCON’s successor gurus. Both sides produced elaborate studies and position papers meant to counter the other side.” The GBC produced a paper titled “Not that I am poisoned in order to defuse growing concerns about poisoning allegations. A group of individuals named “Bhaktivedanta Investigation Force” produced a paper “Judge for yourself” mentioned in above cited book with counter evidence and testimonies.
Credit – Prabhupada.Krishna
Credit – Wikipedia