Our Inspiration

His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) is widely regarded as the world’s pre-eminent exponent of the teachings and practices of bhakti-yoga to the Western world.

Born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, in Calcutta, as a youth he became involved with Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement. It was, however, a meeting with a prominent scholar and spiritual leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, which proved most influential on young Abhay’s future calling. Upon their first meeting Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who represented the ancient tradition of Bhakti (devotional yoga), asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Krishna to the English-speaking world. From birth, Abhay had been raised in a family devoted to Krishna – meaning the all-attractive, all-loving Supreme Person. Deeply moved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s devotion and wisdom, Abhay became his student and dedicated himself to carrying out his mentor’s request. It was not until 1965, at the age of seventy, that he would set off on his mission to the West.

Having been awarded the honorary title of Bhaktivedanta in recognition of his learning and devotion, and having taken the vows of sannyasa (renunciation), Abhay Charan was now known as Bhaktivedanta Swami. He begged free passage and boarded a cargo ship to New York. The journey proved to be treacherous and the elderly spiritual teacher suffered two heart attacks aboard the ship. After 35 days at sea he finally arrived at a lonely Brooklyn pier with just seven dollars in Indian rupees and a trunk of his translations of sacred Sanskrit texts.

Arriving In New York

In New York he faced even greater hardships without money or a place to live. He began his mission humbly by giving classes on the Bhagavad-gita in a loft on the Bowery, New York’s infamous skid row. He also led kirtan (traditional devotional chanting) in Tompkins Square Park. His message of peace and goodwill resonated with many young people, some of whom came forward to become serious students of the Krishna-bhakti tradition. With the help of these students, Bhaktivedanta Swami rented a small storefront on New York’s Lower East Side to use as a temple. After months of hardship and struggle, in July of 1966, Bhaktivedanta Swami established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Its purpose is to redress the balance of values in society and work for real unity and peace in the world. He taught that each conscious being is eternal and is part and parcel of the quality of the Supreme Absolute Truth. He further taught that one could find true happiness through living a simpler, more natural way of life. The basis of this “simple living, higher thinking” was in selflessly dedicating one’s energy in the loving service of the Supreme (Krishna) and all other living beings. Walking the talk, he himself set the highest example and inspired many others to follow.

Arriving In New York

In New York he faced even greater hardships without money or a place to live. He began his mission humbly by giving classes on the Bhagavad-gita in a loft on the Bowery, New York’s infamous skid row. He also led kirtan (traditional devotional chanting) in Tompkins Square Park. His message of peace and goodwill resonated with many young people, some of whom came forward to become serious students of the Krishna-bhakti tradition. With the help of these students, Bhaktivedanta Swami rented a small storefront on New York’s Lower East Side to use as a temple. After months of hardship and struggle, in July of 1966, Bhaktivedanta Swami established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Its purpose is to redress the balance of values in society and work for real unity and peace in the world. He taught that each conscious being is eternal and is part and parcel of the quality of the Supreme Absolute Truth. He further taught that one could find true happiness through living a simpler, more natural way of life. The basis of this “simple living, higher thinking” was in selflessly dedicating one’s energy in the loving service of the Supreme (Krishna) and all other living beings. Walking the talk, he himself set the highest example and inspired many others to follow.

Summer Of Love

Having begun initiating his American followers into the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage, Bhaktivedanta Swami next traveled to San Francisco. He arrived during 1967’s “Summer of Love” and the height of the hippie culture in the Haight-Ashbury district. He taught that the experience of devotion through kirtan was a spiritual “high” superior to any pleasures derived from material sources such as wealth, fame, or intoxication. In the following months many more students came forward to assist him. Desiring to address him lovingly with the respect due a revered spiritual teacher, his students began to call him Srila Prabhupada, meaning “one at whose feet the masters sit”.

Legacy

In the eleven years that followed, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times, bringing the teachings of Bhakti to thousands of people on six continents. Men and women from all backgrounds came forward to accept his message. With their help, Srila Prabhupada established centers and projects throughout the world including temples, rural communities, educational institutions, and what would become the world’s largest plant-based food relief program. With the desire to nourish the roots of Krishna Bhakti in its home, Srila Prabhupada returned to India several times. There he sparked a revival in the Bhakti tradition. He opened dozens of temples, schools and community centers in the holy towns of Vrindavana and Mayapur.

Perhaps Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution is in his books. He authored over seventy volumes on Bhakti-yoga, which are highly respected for their authority, depth, clarity, and fidelity to the tradition. His writings have been translated into seventy-six languages. His most prominent works include: Bhagavad-gitaAs It Is, the thirty-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the seventeen-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrita.

For millennia the teachings of Bhakti-yoga had been concealed within Sanskrit and the Indian vernacular languages, hiding the rich culture of Bhakti in India. Today, millions around the globe express their gratitude to Srila Prabhupada for revealing the timeless wisdom of Bhakti to a world so afflicted by the materialistic and self-destructive paradigm.

Although he never personally visited Wales, he made a number of visits to the UK, which he considered to be one of the most influential countries in the world. His first visit to the UK was in 1969 and his last visit was in 1977. This was the last visit he made to any country in the world, before returning to India for the remaining months of his life. During these visits, he established a strong relationship with the world famous Beatles musician George Harrison, who helped the movement in various ways. George eventually donated a large estate in Watford. Today that estate is known as Bhaktivedanta Manor. It is considered to be the headquarters of the movement in the UK, having even been visited by Her Majesty The Queen. Srila Prabhupada also established a centre with a plant-based restaurant in central London called the Radha Krishna Temple. This remains a thriving centre well known throughout the world. The Ty Krishna Cymru project is based on and inspired by the spirit and teachings of Prabhupada and we hope to preserve and share his legacy to inspire countless others in the future.

Legacy

In the eleven years that followed, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times, bringing the teachings of Bhakti to thousands of people on six continents. Men and women from all backgrounds came forward to accept his message. With their help, Srila Prabhupada established centers and projects throughout the world including temples, rural communities, educational institutions, and what would become the world’s largest plant-based food relief program. With the desire to nourish the roots of Krishna Bhakti in its home, Srila Prabhupada returned to India several times. There he sparked a revival in the Bhakti tradition. He opened dozens of temples, schools and community centers in the holy towns of Vrindavana and Mayapur.

Perhaps Srila Prabhupada’s most significant contribution is in his books. He authored over seventy volumes on Bhakti-yoga, which are highly respected for their authority, depth, clarity, and fidelity to the tradition. His writings have been translated into seventy-six languages. His most prominent works include: Bhagavad-gitaAs It Is, the thirty-volume Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the seventeen-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrita.

For millennia the teachings of Bhakti-yoga had been concealed within Sanskrit and the Indian vernacular languages, hiding the rich culture of Bhakti in India. Today, millions around the globe express their gratitude to Srila Prabhupada for revealing the timeless wisdom of Bhakti to a world so afflicted by the materialistic and self-destructive paradigm.

Although he never personally visited Wales, he made a number of visits to the UK, which he considered to be one of the most influential countries in the world. His first visit to the UK was in 1969 and his last visit was in 1977. This was the last visit he made to any country in the world, before returning to India for the remaining months of his life. During these visits, he established a strong relationship with the world famous Beatles musician George Harrison, who helped the movement in various ways. George eventually donated a large estate in Watford. Today that estate is known as Bhaktivedanta Manor. It is considered to be the headquarters of the movement in the UK, having even been visited by Her Majesty The Queen. Srila Prabhupada also established a centre with a plant-based restaurant in central London called the Radha Krishna Temple. This remains a thriving centre well known throughout the world. The Ty Krishna Cymru project is based on and inspired by the spirit and teachings of Prabhupada and we hope to preserve and share his legacy to inspire countless others in the future.