Srila Prabhupada – a Brief Introduction to His Life
Srila Prabhupada (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) lived an extraordinary life. At the age of 69, he left his whole life behind on instructions from his Guru to spread the word of Bhagavan Krishna to the West. With nothing but the equivalent of around 8 dollars, he departed on a freight ship called the Jaladutta, headed to America. Despite suffering 2 heart attacks on his 37-day journey as the sole passenger of the ship, he finally arrived on those unfamiliar lands that he would then go on to revolutionise. In the next 10 years of his life, he went on to build 108 temples around the world and established the movement now known as ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). Some of his most famous works include the translation of ancient Eastern texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam to English, once again bringing these lost treasures back to the surface.
What did he mean to me?
In the 56th year of Srila Prabhupada’s legacy, I would like to highlight just how big of an impact he has had on Hinduism internationally. Not only has he institutionalised an ancient, Vedic Dharma and made it accessible to everyone, but he has also created and united a huge community of Hindus across the world. To me personally, he is the embodiment of a good leader – his charisma, his compassion, and his acceptance of everyone is something we can all strive towards. One of the secrets to his explosive success was his non-judgemental attitude and willingness to love anyone regardless of race, socio-economic background, and status. A huge problem today in modern society is racism, and other prejudices based on what you look like and what you believe in, and I truly believe that learning about the teachings of Srila Prabhupada has given me inspiration to become kinder to everyone around me, to tackle issues of prejudice that I see.
What made me a Hindu student leader on campus?
Hearing about how Srila Prabhupada gave everything up aged 69, with a failing body, travelling half-way across the world, I thought to myself , ‘If he can set up 108 temples, the least I can do to add to his on-going mission is set up one university society’.
And so I did, with the help of an amazing team who went on to become some of my best friends, all of us united by our shared hunger to learn more about ourselves and our Dharma. We went on to set up KCSoc, (Krishna Consciousness Society), where people came every week to delve deeper into higher thinking, through discussions, debates and socials. People slowly began to reciprocate more with Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings and began to visit ISKCON centres and temples near them in their own time, and it was the most exhilarating feeling – to see spirituality helping people through their trials and tribulations and become integrated into their daily lives.
I hope in the future, some of you reading this right now will go on to further spread the flames of Hindu Dharma and keep the fire ignited in your own individual ways!
by Krish Shah, Tanvi Mungale
(University of Nottingham)
NHSF (UK) continues to work with various Sampradaya and non-Sampradaya Hindu organisations, celebrating their contributions to the flourishing our Samaj in the UK, and their role in shaping our youth.