No matter where you travel in India, you always find foreigners dressed in saffron and chanting ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’. Who are these people? How are they related to Lord Krishna? Most of the foreigners — Americans or Europeans — have started worshipping Lord Krishna because of Swami Prabhupada that is Abhay Charanaravinda Swami Prabhupada and September 1 is his birth anniversary. He is known for two things in the world — for his devotion to Krishna and for spreading Krishna’s message.
ISKCON, which is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, was started by Swami Prabhupada in 1966 in New York, the United States. This organisation has around 850 temples and several schools and restaurants across the globe. As the name suggests, ISKCON only promotes Krishna. Swami Prabhupada was born in Calcutta as Abhay Charan De on September 1 1896. His meeting with a prominent scholar and spiritual leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, in 1922 influenced him a lot. In the first meeting itself, he asked Abhay to bring Lord Krishna’s teachings to the English-speaking world. Impressed by his wisdom, Abhay became his disciple in 1933 and worked on his mentor’s request.
In 1944, Shri Prabhupada started an English Magazine without any help named ‘Back to Godhead’. He was honoured with the title of ‘Bhaktivedant’ in the year 1947 by the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society in recognition of his devotion and philosophical knowledge. He took Sanyas in 1959 and translated the Shrimad Bhagwat Puran of 18000 ‘Shloka Sankhya’ into English. He went to America in 1965 on a cargo ship where nobody knew him nor did he have money. Some books and clothes were all he possessed.
In 1966, he established ISKCON and spent the last decade of his life in this organisation. He travelled around the world, spreading the teachings of Lord Krishna and came to India on several occasions to nourish the roots of Krishna consciousness. Swami opened a lot of temples and large centres in Vrindavana and Mayapura. He passed away in 1977 on November 14, in Vrindavana surrounded by his disciples.