September 1, 1896 to November 14, 1977
Chicago IL: On 7th September, Hare Krishna temples and centers worldwide celebrated the 127th birth anniversary of their founder-Acharya, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. More popularly known as ‘Srila Prabhupada’ or ‘Swamiji’ by his early followers, he made “Hare Krishna” a household word across the globe.
At the ripe age of sixty nine, he arrived at Boston on a cargo ship. The thirty five day journey by ship from Kolkata was treacherous on his old body and he had two heart attacks while crossing the ocean. However, he was on a mission to fulfill the order of his spiritual master to give the message of Lord Krishna to the English speaking parts of the world. Over the next 11 years, he circled the globe 14 times, translated 70 volumes of Sanskrit and Bengali vaisnava texts into English and established 108 temples across six continents.
During the celebration at the ISKCON temple in Chicago, His Holiness Romapada Swami said, “reflecting on your gifts given so liberally to this dark world” and spoke about the gift of chanting, his translation of Srimad Bhagavatam and Srila Prabhupada’s faith in order of his spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada belonged to a lineage of Gaudiya Vaisnava teachers who are followers of Lord Krishna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The history of these teachings can be traced back to over 5000 years. When he arrived at Boston, he had 40 rupees (an equivalent of 7 dollars) and a volume of the sacred text, Srimad Bhagavatam which he had recently translated into English.
He began chanting the maha mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and gathered a few young followers while living at the lower east side of New York City. Arriving in America during the counterculture era where youth were rebelling about the Vietnam War, social norms, and ‘drugs were a norm’, he risked his life on a few occasions while trying to share the message of God. He firmly believed that chanting and a Vedic life style have the power to transform the consciousness and character of a person and sure it did as he later recounted the transformation of “the hippies into happies.”
Ever since, millions of people across the globe have accepted this ancient wisdom and teachings presented by him. The ISKCON Chicago temple has a representation from over 40 nationalities. Devotees from Russia, India, Ukraine, Poland, Nepal and America joined in the celebration and shared how their lives were transformed by studying the teachings of Srila Prabhupada. The program culminated with a sumptuous vegetarian meal.
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