By the inspirations of Srila Prabhupada
“Srila Prabhupada lived with the spirit of the Lord’s compassion shining through his heart. Through his example he showed how to live as a true well wisher and friend of every living being. The genuine essence of all spiritual teachings can be understood by observing his qualities, hearing his words and reading his books.” – Radhanath Swami
His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) is widely regarded as the worlds pre-eminent exponent of the teachings and practices of Bhakti-yoga to the Western world.
Born Abhay Charan De on September 1, 1896, in Calcutta, as a youth he became involved with Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement. It was, however, a meeting with a prominent scholar and spiritual leader, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, which proved most influential on young Abhay’s future calling. Upon their first meeting Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, who represented an ancient tradition of Bhakti (devotional yoga), asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Krishna to the English-speaking world. From birth, Abhay had been raised in a family devoted to Krishna – the name meaning the all-attactive, all-loving Lord. Deeply moved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s devotion and wisdom, Abhay became his disciple and dedicated himself to carrying out his mentor’s request. But it wasn’t until 1965, at the age of seventy, that he would set off on his mission to the West.
Having since been awarded the honorary title of Bhaktivedanta in recognition of his learning and devotion, and having taken the vows of sannyasa (renunciation), Abhay Charan, now known as Bhaktivedanta Swami, begged free passage and boarded a cargo ship to New York. The journey proved to be treacherous, and the elderly spiritual teacher suffered two heart attacks aboard ship. After 35 days at sea he finally arrived at a lonely Brooklyn pier with just seven dollars in Indian rupees and a crate of his translations of sacred Sanskrit texts.
By the Blessings of Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami is a Vaishnava sanyassin (a monk in a Krishna-bhakti lineage) and teacher of the devotional path of Bhakti-yoga. He is author of The Journey Home, a memoir of his search for spiritual truth, and the New York Times bestseller The Journey Within. His teachings draw from the sacred texts of India such as The Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and Ramayana, and aim to reveal the practical application of the sacred traditions, while focusing on the shared essence which unites apparently disparate religious or spiritual paths.
Born Richard Slavin, on December 7, 1950, in his teens he came to confront a deep sense of alienation from suburban Chicago life and the civil injustices of mid-century America. At the age of nineteen, while on a summer trip to Europe, his internal struggles culminated in a commitment to search for God wherever it might lead him. Meditating on the Isle of Crete, he felt a supernatural calling and the next morning set off alone to find spiritual India. The Journey Home documents his odyssey as a penniless hitch-hiker though Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally India. There he lived as a wandering ascetic, first amongst the forest dwelling Himalayan yogis and later amongst a wide variety of gurus and spiritual practitioners throughout India and Nepal. Ultimately, he was led to the holy town of Vrindavan, where he found his path amongst the Bhakti-yogis.
In Vrindavan he found the teacher he was searching for in A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and representative of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, (the Krishna-bhakti tradition stemming from the 16th century mystic avatar Sri Chaitanya). In choosing Bhaktivedanta Swami, as his guru, Radhanath Swami felt compelled to shear his matted locks and reenter Western society with a mission to share the sacred wisdom he had received. This return exemplifies the form of devotional yoga which is at the heart of Radhanath Swami’s teachings, a spiritual practice expressed as tangible action meant to bring about personal fulfillment and benefit the world.
At the the age of 31 he took the monastic vows of a Vaishnava sanyassin and became known as Radhanath Swami.
Today Radhanath Swami travels regularly throughout India, Europe and North America, sharing the teachings of Bhakti-yoga. He resides much of the year at the Radha Gopinath Ashram in Chowpatty, Mumbai. For the past twenty-five years he has guided the community’s development and has directed a number of acclaimed social action projects including Midday Meals, which daily serves more than 260,000 plates of sanctified vegetarian food to the children of the slums of Mumbai. He has also worked to establish missionary hospitals and eye camps, eco-friendly farms, schools and ashrams, an orphanage, and a number of emergency relief programs throughout India.