His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, in Calcutta in 1922.
Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gauḍīya Maṭhas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge in the Western world. Śrīla Prabhupāda became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Thākura requested Śrīla Prabhupāda to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.
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, and four years later he adopted the vānaprastha (retired) 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 Radhā-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, Śrīla Prabhupāda began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multivolume translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three volumes of Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Prabhupāda 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, Śrīla Prabhupāda 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 has grown within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred āśramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Śrīla Prabhupāda created New Vṛndāvana, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vṛndāvana, now a thriving farm community of more than one 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. The school began with three children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975 the enrollment had grown to one hundred fifty.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has also inspired the construction of a large international center at Śrīdhāma Māyāpur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned Institute of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma Temple and International Guest House in Vṛndāvana, India. These are centers where Westerners can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.
“One need only chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra. Everyone engaged in the practice of chanting the Hare Krishna mahamantra will be completely cleansed, from the core of his heart, and be saved from the cycle of birth and death”Srila Prabhupada
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. Its latest project is the publishing of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s most recent work: a seventeen-volume translation and commentary-completed by Śrīla Prabhupāda in only eighteen months-on the Bengali religious classic Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
In the past ten years, in spite of his advanced age, Śrīla Prabhupāda has circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that have taken him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Śrīla Prabhupāda continues to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.