“Srila Prabhupada lived with the spirit of the Lord’s compassion
shining through his heart. Through his example he showed how to
live as a true well wisher and friend of every living being.
His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977)
is widely regarded as the worlds pre-eminent exponent of the
teachings and practices of Bhakti-yoga to the Western world.
Born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, in Calcutta, as a youth
he became involved with Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience
movement. It was, however, a meeting with a prominent scholar and
spiritual leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, which proved most
influential on young Abhay’s future calling. Upon their first meeting
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who represented an ancient tradition of Bhakti
(devotional yoga), asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Krishna to
the English-speaking world.
From birth, Abhay had been raised in a family devoted to Krishna – the name meaning the
all-attactive, all-loving Lord. Deeply moved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s devotion and wisdom,
Abhay became his disciple and dedicated himself to carrying out his mentor’s request. But it
wasn’t until 1965, at the age of seventy, that he would set off on his mission to the West.
Having since been awarded the honorary title of Bhaktivedanta in recognition of his learning and
devotion, and having taken the vows of sannyasa (renunciation), Abhay Charan, now known as
Bhaktivedanta Swami, begged free passage and boarded a cargoship to New York. The journey
proved to be treacherous, and the elderly spiritual teacher suffered two heart attacks aboard ship.
After 35 days at sea he finally arrived at a lonely Brooklyn pier with just seven dollars in Indian
rupees and a crate of his translations of sacred Sanskrit texts.