HH Siddharth Swami Maharaj
 

Srila Prabhupad

nama om vishnu-paadaya krishna-preshthaaya bhutale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesha-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine

His Divine Grace Abhaya Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami, later known as Srila Prabhupad is the founder Acharya of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Srila Prabhupad was Abhay Charan De before becoming a Sanyasi. Abhay Charan De was born on September 1, 1896 in Calcutta, India. His was a traditional vaishnava family. His father Gour Mohan De had his own textile business. Being a pure vaishnava, he groomed his son in Krishna consciousness. Abhay’s mother Rajani also came from long established Gaudiya Vaishnava family. At the very young age, Abhay Charan arranged a Jagannath rathyathra with the help of friends and neighbours. During college years, Abhay was interested in Indian independence movement and in Mohandas K. Gandhi. In support of Gandhi’s appeal to students to forsake their studies, Abhay refused to accept the degree even though he passed the final year examination. To divert Abhay from Independence movement, Abhay’s father arranged him a job in a laboratory as the department manager. However, his first meeting with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in 1922, totally changed his views on independence movement. He was convinced by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati that only Krishna consciousness was eternal reality and real self was the spirit soul. No man-made political system could help humanity. Abhay Charan started associating with Gaudiya Math and started reading various books on vaishnavism by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura and other acharyas. Abhay had fresh realizations of the scope of Lord Chaitanya’s mission and the chanting of the holy name, although he was having all these knowledge earlier. In 1932, at Allahabad, Abhay received initiation from Srila Bhaktisiddhantha Saraswati. His spiritual name was Abhay charanavinda. With difficulty, Abhay managed to carry on with his pharmaceutical business and preaching in parallel. Whenever he had business trips to Calcutta, he managed to see his spiritual master and in this way, Abhay could meet his guru about a dozen times. In December 1936, Srila Bhaktisiddhantha Saraswati departed from the mortal world. Abhay already had instruction from his guru to spread the Krishna consciousness in English all over the world. Abhay started writing his magazine “ Back to Godhead” though he could not publish it in a regular way. He had many downs in the business and had financial loss. Meanwhile, in Jhansi, he registered a spiritual movement named League of Devotees. In 1936, he was awarded ‘Bhaktivednata’ title in recognition of his scholarly and devotional activities. The wife and other family members in Calcutta were not all supportive in his spiritual missions and wanted him to be involved more in family and business affairs. In 1950, Abhay left his family and business and returned to Jhansi. But he had to close down the League of Devotees office in Jhansi when the building was converted to a ladies club by the governor’s wife. Then, Abhay moved to Delhi, stayed with some of his god brothers for a while, then lived in temples and in the homes of wealthy pious people in week to week basis. Whatever money he got as donation, he spent in printing and distributing Back to Godhead magazine. He decided to take up residence in Vrindavan where he continued to write magazine. But the life was difficult and there was no much money available for printing magazine and for personal needs. One night, Abhay had a dream of his spiritual master advising him to take sannyasa and same was recommended by one of his godbrothers in Mathura. So, Abhay became Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami started writing translation and commentary of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Same time, he managed to publish Back to Godhead magazine as well. He stayed alternatively in Vrindavan and Delhi.

Bhaktivedanta Swami was presenting Srimad-Bhagavatam unchanged, with great respect to Srila Vyasadeva and strictly based in paramapra. In Vrindavan, he moved to a free room in Radha Damodara temple. With lot of struggle for arranging finance, by mid of 1964, Bhaktivedanta Swami could print three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He sent copies of Srimad-Bhagavatam to leading politicians and had favourable reviews. He managed to meet US embassy officials and get an order for 18 copies of first volume of Srimad Bhagavatam to be distributed in America through a Library of Congress. Bhaktivedanta Swami felt it was time for him to visit the west. Through one Mr. Agarwal in Vrindavan, he managed to get a sponsor in America and to get necessary documentation. He approached Mrs. Sumati Morarji, the head of Scindia Steamship Line and secured travel ticket to go to America in one of her ships. On August 13, 1965 at the age of 69, he boarded the ship namely Jaladuta which would travel from Calcutta to New York. He just carried a suitcase, an umbrella, some dry cereal and forty rupees. His main baggage containing two hundred 3 volume set of Srimad-Bhagavatam was separately handled by Scindia Cargo. During the travel, he had several health difficulties including two heart attacks which he could survive. On September 19, 1965 he landed in New York. For about a month, he stayed with Mr. Gopal Agarwal & family at Butler, Pennsylvania. During this period, he could get some exposure about American life and gave lectures at some places in front of small groups. A local newspaper presented a small article about him. Bhaktivedanta swami then moved to New York and Dr. Mishra, an impersonalist who was running a yoga society , arranged for his stay for a few months. During this period, he met many people and he distributed his books to some of them. Paradox restaurant was a meeting place of young people, generally called as ‘hippies’ who had cultural and spiritual interests. Most of them were into music, drugs, women and spiritual mediation. Bhaktivedanta swami became a topic of discussion at Paradox. Bhaktivendanta Swami later moved to Bowery where he stayed with a young man named David Allen. He took Srimad Bhagavatam classes to three four young men including David and held evening meeting whoever visited him. When David who was under drugs became unbearable to Bhaktivednata swami, with the help of some usual visitors, he moved to a small apartment in Bowery with a storefront near that apartment. He started having the classes and meetings and classes in the storefront. The struggle went on. Please read the book “ Prabhupada” by Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami to know how Srila Prabhupad transcendentally established Krishna consciousness movement in America and other parts of the world. Also, there are numerous websites providing lot of information about Srila Prabupada and we can find there lot of lectures (audio/video) by Srila Prabhupada.