Srila Prabhupada’s Legacy
Srila Prabhupada considered publishing books about Krishna his life's mission. Amidst managing an international society, he would rise early and spend several hours each morning translating sacred texts from Sanskrit or Bengali into English with elaborate purports, carefully combining the commentaries of previous masters with his own realizations. To name a few: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the definitive teachings of Lord Krishna. Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), the history of Krishna's incarnations, pastimes and devotees in 18 volumes. Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, the biography and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 9 volumes. Nectar of Devotion, the science of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to Krishna. KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, a summary study of Lord Krishna's pastimes. These books, comprising over 40 volumes, are now published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in 57 languages, with several million copies sold to people all over the world.
In 1966, Srila Prabhupada established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna Movement, with the following purposes:
- To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
- To propagate a consciousness of Krishna (God), as it is revealed in the great scriptures of India, Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
- To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
- To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
- To erect for the members and for society at large holy places of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
- To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
- With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, books and other writings.
From a single storefront temple on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, in 1966, ISKCON has grown to over 500 temples, centers, restaurants, schools and farm communities worldwide serving several hundred thousand members.
An Exemplary Life
Srila Prabhupada taught by example. For the last part of his life, he led the austere life of a sannyasi, a renunciate, and displayed great humility, never taking undue personal credit for his accomplishments. “My only credit,” he said, “is that I have strictly followed the order of my guru.” His spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, had instructed him to preach the message of Lord Krishna in English and “whenever you get money, print books.”
Srila Prabhupada arrived in the West with only $7 and a trunk filled with books about Krishna. He preached the chanting of the holy names of Krishna with full conviction. Gradually, people felt attracted to the chanting and to “Swamiji” and his mission: to spread Krishna consciousness, the original consciousness of the soul. You can get a glimpse into who Srila Prabhupada was and see the life he led on the many hours of film footage available at the Krishna.com Store: Srila Prabhupada Videos.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute
To establish the scientific merits of Krishna Consciousness and to encourage academic study of the soul, Srila Prabhupada established the Bhaktivedanta Institute (BI). Staffed by devotee scholars, the BI has published several books on the nature of consciousness, Vedic Cosmology, and the origins of the human race. The Institute has twice gathered renowned scientists for a World Congress on the Synthesis of Science and Religion.
The Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust
Srila Prabhupada started the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to revive and restore some of the important Gaudiya Vaishnava shrines in India. Several temples in Vrindavan and Mayapur are under the Trust’s care.
Spiritual Food Distribution
Srila Prabhupada taught that food prepared with loving intent as an offering to Krishna becomes sanctified and can uplift the consciousness of spiritually destitute people from the miseries of this world. Distribution of prasadam, sanctified food, is a major outreach activity of the Hare Krishna movement. ISKCON centers hold free Sunday Feasts for the public once a week and at periodic festivals throughout the calendar year. In addition, Srila Prabhupada desired that nobody within a ten-mile radius of a Hare Krishna temple should go hungry. To this end, temples in India and around the world have set up programs for the free distribution of sanctified food to the needy.
Srila Prabhupada introduced the western world to the sublime benefits of chanting the holy names of Krishna in the form of the maha-mantra, or great chant for deliverance:
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
Translation: “Oh Energy of God [Hare], Oh All-Attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead [Krishna], Oh Reservoir of Pleasure [Rama], please engage me in Your service!”
Srila Prabhupada said that this mantra should be chanted just like a child calling for its mother. It can be chanted at any time for relief from the miseries of material existence and to develop our love of God.