Founder and Spiritual Master of ISKCON

When His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada entered the port of New York City on September 17, 1965, few Americans took notice — but he was not merely another immigrant. He was on a mission to introduce an ancient religion, which originated in India, into mainstream America. Before Srila Prabhupada passed away on November 14, 1977, at the age of 81, his mission proved successful. He had founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and saw it grow into a worldwide confederation of more than 100 temples, ashrams and cultural centers.

Srila Prabhupada was born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, to a pious Hindu family in Kolkata, India. As a youth growing up in British-controlled India, Abhay became involved with Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement to secure independence for his nation. It was, however, a 1922 meeting with a prominent scholar and religious leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, which 

proved most influential on Abhay’s future calling. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a leader in the Gaudiya Vaishnava denomination, a monotheistic tradition within the broad Hindu culture, and asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Lord Krishna to the English-speaking world. Abhay became a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta in 1933, and resolved to carry out his mentor’s request. Abhay, later known by the honorific A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spent the next 32 years preparing for his journey west.

In 1965, at the age of sixty-nine, Srila Prabhupada traveled to New York City aboard a cargo ship. The journey was treacherous, and the elderly spiritual teacher suffered two heart attacks aboard ship. Arriving in the United States with just seven dollars in Indian rupees and his translations of sacred Sanskrit texts, Srila Prabhupada began to share the timeless wisdom of Krishna consciousness. His message of peace and goodwill resonated with many young people, some of whom came forward to become serious students of the Krishna tradition. With the help of these students, Srila Prabhupada rented a small storefront on New York’s Lower East Side to use as a temple. On July 11, 1966, he officially registered his organization in the state of New York, formally founding the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

In the eleven years that followed, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe 14 times on lecture tours, bringing the teachings of Lord Krishna to thousands of people on six continents. Men and women from all backgrounds and walks of life came forward to accept his message, and with their help, Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON centers and projects throughout the world. Under his inspiration, Krishna devotees established temples, rural communities, educational institutions, and started what would become the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program. With the desire to nourish the roots of Krishna consciousness in its home, Srila Prabhupada returned to India several times, where he sparked a revival in the Vaishnava tradition. In India, he opened dozens of temples, including large centers in the holy towns of Vrindavana and Mayapur.

Srila Prabhupada's most significant contributions, perhaps, are his books. He authored over 70 volumes on the Krishna tradition, which are highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth, fidelity to the tradition, and clarity. Several of his works are used as textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into 76 languages. His most prominent works include: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the 30-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the 17-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrita.

Srila Prabhupada in UK

In 1968 a group of Prabhupada’s American disciples left for London, the centre of the 1960’s music and pop culture. They gained national attention by chanting Hare Krishna in public and befriending the Beatles. In 1969 Prabhupada arrived in England and was hosted by John Lennon at Tittenhurst Park, where he personally mentored George Harrison. Soon after, George and the young followers of Prabhupada recorded the hit single, “Hare Krishna mantra” on the Apple label and topped the UK pop charts.The first Hare Krishna temple emerged in Bloomsbury, London. Later a beautiful country retreat named Bhaktivedanta Manor was established in Hertfordshire due to George’s generosity.

Srila Prabhupada in Scotland

Srila Prabhupada had a special interest in Scotland. He was educated at the Scottish Churches College in Kolkata in eastern India, established by Reverend Alexander Duff, a Scotsman. The College was run mainly by Scottish and English missionaries. He has said to have admired their moral uprightness, their gentlemanly, courteous behavior and their kind heartedness.

Prabhupada visited Scotland in July, 1972. 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Scotland. In his visit, he held successful programmes in Edinburgh and Glasgow. About his visit he wrote to one of his disciples in Edinburgh saying, “I liked that place Scotland very much”. A number of people who came in contact with him have gone on to say that he spoke English with a Scottish accent!

ISKCON Scotland, Karuna Bhavan, Bankhouse Road, Lesmahagow, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, ML11 0HQ 

Registered Charity No. SC001127

General Enquiries: info@iskconscotland.org

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