Swami Prabhupada

Biografie şi Bibliografie

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Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Sanskrit: अभयचरणारविन्द भक्तिवेदान्त स्वामीप्रभुपाद, abhaya-caraṇāravinda bhakti-vedānta svāmī prabhupāda, Bangla: অভয়চরণারবিন্দ ভক্তিবেদান্ত স্বামীপ্রভুপাদ) (September 1, 1896 – November 14, 1977) was a Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher and the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the "Hare Krishna Movement". His mission was to propagate the Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a form of Hinduism that had been taught to him by his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, throughout the world. Born Abhay Charan De in Calcutta, he was educated at the prestigious local Scottish Church College. Before adopting the life of a pious renunciant (vanaprastha) in 1950, he was married with children and owned a small pharmaceutical business. In 1959 he took a vow of renunciation (sannyasa) and started writing commentaries on Vaishnava scriptures. A.C.Bhaktivedana Swami Prabhupada is recognized (by Bhaktirakshaka Sridhara Maharaja) to be shaktyavesha-avatara of Nityananda Prabhu. In his later years, as a traveling Vaishnava monk, he became an influential communicator of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology to India and specifically to the West through his leadership of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded in 1966. As the founder of ISKCON, he "emerged as a major figure of the Western counterculture, initiating thousands of young Americans." Despite attacks from anti-cult groups, he received a favorable welcome from many religious scholars, such as J. Stillson Judah, Harvey Cox, Larry Shinn and Thomas Hopkins, who praised Prabhupada's translations and defended the group against distorted media images and misinterpretations. In respect to his achievements, religious leaders from other Gaudiya Vaishnava movements have also given him credit.

He has been described as a charismatic leader, in the sense used by the sociologist Max Weber, as he was successful in acquiring followers in the United States, Europe, India and elsewhere. After his death in 1977, ISKCON, the society he founded based on a type of Hindu Krishnaism using the Bhagavata Purana as a central scripture, continued to grow and is respected in India, though there have been squabbles about leadership among his followers.

Prabhupada is sometimes criticized by philosophers of Neo-Vedanta, mainly due to the uncompromising, sarcastic and 'cruel remarks' against non-dualistic systems, particularly followers of Advaita. This may be taken in the perspective of the general underlying hostility towards the fundamental truth of bhakti by the neo-vedantists.

Early life

Born on September 1, 1896, the day after Janmastami, one of the most important vaishnava holidays, in a humble house in the Tollygunge suburb of Calcutta, he was named Abhay Charan, "one who is fearless, having taken shelter at Lord Krishna's feet." Since he was born on the day of Nandotsava ("the celebration of Nanda," Krishna's father, a traditional festival in honor of Krishna's birth) he was also called Nandulal. His parents, Sriman Gour Mohan De and Srimati Rajani De, were devout Vaishnavas (devotees of Vishnu). In accordance with Bengali tradition, his mother had gone to the home of her parents for the delivery, and only a few days later Abhay returned with parents to his home at 151 Harrison Road in Calcutta, where he was brought up and educated.

He received a European led education in the Scottish Church College, Calcutta. This school was well reputed among Bengalis; many Vaishnava families sent their sons there. The professors, most of whom were Europeans, were known as sober, moral men, and it is believed that the students received a good education. The college was located in north Calcutta, not far from Harrison Road where Abhay's family lived. During his years in the college, Prabhupada was a member of the English Society as well as that of the Sanskrit Society, and it has been suggested that his education provided him a foundation for his future leadership. He graduated in 1920 with majors in English, philosophy and economics. However he refused to accept his diploma, being a devout follower of Gandhi at the time. His refusal to accept the diploma he had earned was in protest of the British. He also wore the homespun cotton cloth the followers of Gandhi wore in protest of British clothes.

Religious career

In 1922, when Prabhupada first met his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he was requested to spread the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the English language. Later in 1932 Prabhupada became a formally initiated disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta. In 1944, (from his front room at Sita Kanta Banerjee, Calcutta), Prabhupada started the publication called Back to Godhead, for which he acted as designer, publisher, editor, copy editor and distributor. He personally designed the logo, an effulgent figure of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the upper left corner, with the motto: "Godhead is Light, Nescience is darkness" greeting the readers. In his first magazine he wrote:
“ Under the circumstances since 1936 up to now, I was simply speculating whether I shall venture this difficult task and that without any means and capacity; but as none have discouraged me, I have now taken courage to take up the work. ”

In 1947, the Gaudiya Vaishnava Society recognised Prabhupada's scholarship with the title Bhaktivedanta, (bhakti-vedānta) meaning "one who has realised that devotional service to the Supreme Lord is the end of all knowledge" (with the words Bhakti, indicating devotion and Vedanta indicating conclusive knowledge). His later well known name, Prabhupāda, is a Sanskrit title, literally meaning "he who has taken the position of the Lord" where prabhu denotes "Lord", and pāda means "position."[28] Also, "at whose feet masters sit". This name was used as a respectful form of address by his disciples from late 1967 early 1968 onwards. Previous to this, as with his early disciples, followers used to call him "Swamiji".

From 1950 onwards, Prabhupada lived at the medieval Radha-Damodar mandir in the holy town of Vrindavan, where he began his commentary and translation work of the Sanskrit work Bhagavata Purana. Of all notable Vrindavana's temples, the Radha-Damodara mandir had at the time the largest collection of various copies of the original writings of the Six Gosvamis and their followers - more than two thousand separate manuscripts, many of them three hundred, some even four hundred years old. His guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, had always encouraged Prabhupada that "If you ever get money, print books", referring to the need of literary presentation of the Vaishnava culture.

Renunciation

Keshavaji Gaudiya Matha was the place where Prabhupada used to live, he had written and studied in the library of this building, here he edited the Gauḍīya Patrikā magazine and this is the place where he donated the murti of Lord Chaitanya who stands on the altar beside the Deities of Radha Krishna (named Śrī Śrī Rādhā Vinodavihārījī). During his visit in September 1959 he entered the doors of this matha dressed in white, as Abhay Babu, but would be leaving dressed in saffron, a swami. In this matha, in Mathura Vrindavana, Prabhupada took Vaishnava renunciate vows,sannyasa, from his friend and godbrother Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Maharaja , and following this he singlehandedly published the first three volumes covering seventeen chapters of the first book of Bhagavata Purana, filling three volumes of four hundred pages each with a detailed commentary. Introduction to the first volume was a biographical sketch of Chaitanya Mahāprabhu. He then left India, obtaining free passage on a freight ship called the Jaladuta, with the aim and a hope of fulfilling his spiritual master's instruction to spread the message of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu around the world. In his possession were a suitcase, an umbrella, a supply of dry cereal, about eight dollars worth of Indian currency, and several boxes of books.

Selected bibliography

Translations with commentary

Prabhupada's Palace of Gold in 1982

    * Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is (1968)
    * Śrī Īśopanishad (1969)
    * Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1972–77) (Vols.)
    * Caitanya-caritāmrta (1974) (Vols.)
    * The Nectar of Instruction (1975) [23]

Summary studies

Prabhupada's Samadhi in Vrindavana

    * Teachings of Lord Caitanya (1969)
    * Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (1970)
    * The Nectar of Devotion (1970) [23]

Other works published within Prabhupada's lifetime

    * Beyond Illusion and Doubt (1967)
    * Search for Liberation (1969)
    * Easy Journey to Other Planets (1970)
    * Krishņa Consciousness: The Topmost Yoga System (1970)
    * Beyond Birth and Death (1972)
    * The Perfection of Yoga (1972)
    * On The Way to Krishņa (1973)
    * Rāja-vidyā: The King of Knowledge (1973)
    * Elevation to Krishņa Consciousness (1973)
    * Krishņa Consciousness: The Matchless Gift (1974)
    * Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers (1977)
    * Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahūtī (1977)
    * The Science of Self-Realization (1977)
    * Back to Godhead magazine (founder)

Bengali writings

    * Geetār-gan
    * Vairāgya-vidyā
    * Buddhi-yoga
    * Bhakti-ratna-boli

Published posthumously

    * Light of the Bhāgavata (1978)
    * Teachings of Queen Kuntī (1978)
    * Life Comes From Life (1978)
    * Krishņa, The Reservoir of Pleasure (1972)
    * Chant and Be Happy (1982)
    * Coming Back (1983?)
    * Path of Perfection (1989)
    * Nārada bhakti sūtra (1991)
    * Mukunda-mālā-stotra (1989)
    * A Second Chance (1991)
    * Journey of Self Discovery (1991)
    * Laws of Nature: An Infallible Justice (1991)
    * Renunciation Through Wisdom (1992)
    * Quest for Enlightenment (1993)
    * The Path of Yoga (1995)
    * Message of Godhead (1996?)
    * Civilization and Transcendence (1998)
    * Dharma: The Way of Transcendence (1998)
    * Introduction to Bhagavad-gītā (2005)

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