September 01, 1896 – a day after Janmashtami or the day celebrated for the appearance of Sri Krishna, in a small house in Tollygunge of Kolkata (then Calcutta) - a male child was born. His parents - named him Abhay Charan – or the fearless one. A birth chart was made for the new born as was the tradition and the charts revealed that when the child reached the age 70, he would cross the seas, become a religious teacher and establish 108 Krishna temples.
Quite true to the charts, he set out for the USA in 1965 and established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at age 69. On July 11, 1966, he registered the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as an organisation in New York and formally founded the society. In the 11 years that followed, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe 14 times and established over 100 Krishna temples.
Thousands of devotees joined the Krishna consciousness movement under his influence. He spread the message of devotion and opened the gates of practice for all. An enlightened spiritual leader, he realised the value of spiritual freedom. He spread the love for Kirshna with tenacity and dedication. His speeches and writing attracted devotees and he soon set out to reform the Gaudiya Math – a movement for change started by his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and the father of his guru, Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The essential reform was that he lifted the barrier of lineage and birth to allow one and all to join the bhakti movement.
Indian Prime Minister @narendramodi speaks about #Janmashtami, #prabhupada125 and shares a spiritually vibrant discussion with Jadurani Dasi Ji, whose passion is Bhakti Art. #MannKiBaat @PMOIndiahttps://t.co/gdyOHUtyfD— ISKCON Bangalore (@ISKCONBangalore) August 29, 2021
Much before he set out for the western shores, Prabhupada started working on deepening his spiritual practice and perfecting his manner to deliver a message in the simplest manner. His journey with Bhakti started in 1922 – after a chance meeting with scholar and religious leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta belonged to the Gaudiya Vaishnava denomination, a monotheistic Hindu tradition and he asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Lord Krishna to the English-speaking world. Abhay became Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s disciple in 1933. He resolved to carry out his mentor’s request.
Abhay later came to be widely known as Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He published and distributed millions of books carrying the message of Krishna consciousness. He authored over 70 volumes on the Krishna tradition, highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, fidelity to the tradition, and clarity. His writings have been translated into 76 languages: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the 30-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the 17-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrta are among his more prominent works. He was also the one who took kirtan to the world and collaborated with the Beatles. An expert at playing the mridanga, Srila Prabhupada used to play the instrument while singing kirtans. Srila Prabhupada groomed some of his disciples as leading singers and mridanga players for performing sankirtana which attracted many people to the Krishna consciousness movement.
Srila Prabhupada was 81 on November 14, 1977 when he left for his heavenly abode. His message on Bhakti today is alive all over the world through the ISKCON movement, its temples, ashrams and cultural centres. This year, September 1 will be celebrated as Srila Prabhupada’s 125th birth anniversary. To mark the occasion, the Government of India will release a commemorative coin of the value Rs 125 in the honour of the founding Acarya of ISKCON. A booklet on the contributions and achievements of Srila Prabhupada will be featured with each coin in a commemorative box. The coin will be composed of silver and copper.