His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, in Calcutta in 1922. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent devotional scholar and the founder of sixty-four branches of Gaudiya Math (Vedic institute), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teach Vedic knowledge in the western world. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad, he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and in 1944, without assistance, started an English fortnightly magazine.
Recognizing Srila Prabhupada’s philosophical learning and devotion, the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title “Bhaktivedanta.” In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, and four years later he adopted the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. Srila Prabhupada travelled to the holy city of Vrindavan, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple of Radha-Damodara. There he engaged himself in deep study and writing for several years. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began to work on his life’s masterpiece: a multi-volume translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote "Easy Journey to Other Planets".
After publishing three volumes of Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Since then, His Divine Grace has written over sixty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
In 1965, when he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July, 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society has grown within a decade to a worldwide confederation of almost one hundred ashrams (monasteries), schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrindavan, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrindavan, then a thriving farm community of more than one thousand acres, his students founded several similar communities in the United States and abroad. In 1972, His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West by founding the Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. The school began with three children in 1972, and by the beginning of 1975 the enrollment had grown to one hundred fifty.
Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of a large international center at Sridham Mayapur in West Bengal, India, which is also the site for a planned Institute of Vedic Studies. A similar project is the magnificent Krishna-Balarama Temple and International Guest House in Vrindavan, India. These are centers where Westerners can live to gain firsthand experience of Vedic culture.
During the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that have took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada passed away on November 14, 1977, in the holy town of Vrindavana, surrounded by his loving disciples who still carry on his mission today.