Srila Prabhupada was born in 1896 in Calcutta, India. His birth name was Abhay Charan, and as a family man, he ran a pharmaceutical business in the city.
In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, he retired from married life, and devoted much time to his studies and writing. He travelled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in very humble circumstances in the historic medieval temple called the Radha-Damodara Mandir. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959 and was awarded the name Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. At Radha-Damodara Temple, he began work on his life’s masterpiece: a multivolume translation and commentary on the 18,000-verse Srimad-Bhagavatam.
In 1965 Srila Prabhupada sailed to the United States in a cargo ship to spread Krishna Consciousness. When he first arrived by freighter in New York City, he was practically penniless. After a year of great difficulty, he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance the Society has grown within a decade to a worldwide confederation of over one hundred temples, schools, institutes and farm communities. In the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. He made over 5,000 disciples around the world from a variety of backgrounds and established the ancient Rathayatra street festival in most of the major cities of the world.
Srila Prabhupada also wrote over eighty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into 87 languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively to publish his books, has become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy. Thus today Srila Prabhupada is recognised as one of India’s greatest spiritual ambassadors of the 20th Century.