A divine life


Prabhupada’s birthplace in Jagannath Puri.

Childhood, 1874 – 1892family-srila-bhaktisiddhanta-sarasvati-thakura-prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur made his appearance in Purusottama Kshetra (Jagannatha Puri) in the state of Orissa, on Friday, February 6, 1874. He was the fourth son of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srimati Bhagavati Devi. He was a beautiful child with all the bodily symptoms of a great personality, as they are described in the scriptures. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur named his son Sri Bimala Prasad, meaning “the mercy of the transcendental potency of Lord Jagannatha, Srimati Bimala Devi.”

Sri Bimala Prasad displayed extraordinary ability in mathematics and astrology. His teachers were always amazed by his mastery of Bengali and Sanskrit. Due to his extraordinary intelligence and memory; his pure, moral and devotional nature; and his scholarship in many different subjects, including the scriptures, his teachers named him Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati “master of scriptural conclusions.”

As a young boy he published books on astrology, such as Surya Siddhanta and Bhakti Bhavan Panjika. Later while still a teenager, he founded the August Assembly. All members of the Assembly had to take a vow of lifelong celibacy. Many educated people, both young and old, took part in the Assembly.


The family of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srimati Bhagavati Devi (Srila Prabhupada is on the top-left).


In 1885 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur founded the Vaishnava Depository, a press located in his own home. He also re-established the “Vishva Vaishnava Raj Sabha” (great assembly of the vaishnavas of the world)

Many well-known personalities attended the society’s meetings and participated in discussions. Srila Sarasvati Thakur used to carry Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu (The Ocean of the Nectar of Devotion) by Srila Rupa Goswami to these meetings, and listen to the discussions with rapt attention.



Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati at a young age.

Sri Siddhanta Sarasvati at a young age.

Sanskrit College and Work, 1892 – 1905

In 1895 Srila Sarasvati Thakur accepted a job with the independent state of Tripura, as a scholar and tutor for the royal family. After King Virchandra passed away in 1896, his son, King Radhakisor Manikya Bahadur, requested Srila Sarasvati Thakur to tutor the princes, and later to supervise the estate in Kolkata. But Srila Sarasvati Thakur soon wished to retire from this job, and the King allowed him to do so in 1905 with full pension. He accepted that pension until 1908.

Bhajan Life and Initiation, 1898-1905

Previously, in 1898, Srila Sarasvati Thakur had visited different places of pilgrimage such as Kasi, Prayag, and Gaya. At Kasi (Benares), he had an extensive discussion with Ram Misra Shastri about the Ramanuja sampradaya. During this period the renunciate nature of his devotional life became very apparent.

Bhajan Kutir at Sri Vrajapattan, 1909

In February 1909, Srila Prabhupada built a small bhajan kutir near the bhavan, or residence, of Sri Chandrasekhara acharya, who was the maternal uncle of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Remembering Mahaprabhu’s Vraja lila performed there, he called this place Sri Vraja-pattan. Srila Prabhupada continued his service at Sri Yoga Pith (the birthplace of Sriman Mahaprabhu), but stayed at Sri Vraja-pattan. At this time his mother, Srimati Bhagavati Devi, was staying at Yoga Pith and assisting him in his service to Sri Mayapur Dhama.

Gaudiya Math sankirtan party.

Gaudiya Math sankirtan party.

 Brahmins and Vaishnavas, 1911

In 1911 the vaishnava devotees were confronted by a great deal of hostile criticism from the orthodox brahmanas of Bengal, known as the Smarta Samaj. These brahmanas, although they had no real scriptural knowledge, were very proud of their own birth and social position. In accordance with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s desire Srila Prabhupada arranged a meeting with the brahmana pandits at the town of Balighai, in Medinipur district.

Srila Prabhupada read there his famous article, “Brahmana and vaishnava,” in which he quoted from many scriptures glorifying brahmanas and vaishnavas. Initially, he glorified the brahmanas in quality and quantity, and towards the end of his exposition he established the superiority of vaishnavas over all other classes of people.

Srila Prabhupada during chaturmasya-vrata.

Srila Prabhupada during chaturmasya-vrata.

The Printing Press and the Anubhasya, 1913-1915

In 1913, Srila Prabhupada established a press called Bhagavat Yantralayain Kalighat in Kolkata. He began publishing and printing books such as Sri Chaitanya charitamrita with his commentaries called Anubhasya, Srimad Bhagavad Gita with the commentaries of Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, the Gaurakrishnodaya by the Oriyan poet Govinda Dasa, and so forth.

Sri Kshetra-mandal Parikrama, 1918

To celebrate the fourth disappearance anniversary of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Srila Prabhupada set forth for Puri Dhama on June 2, 1918, along with twenty-three other devotees conducting extensive preaching and sankirtan. Many distinguished government officers and citizens came to listen to his lectures, and some of them invited him to lecture at their homes. During August and September of 1918, a representative of a group of opponents of vaishnavism presented Srila Prabhupada with twenty-nine questions. He answered all of them on the basis of scripture and logic and thus silenced his opponents. These questions and answers were subsequently published in an article called “The Answers to the Questions of the Critics.”



Sri Sri Vraja Mandala parikrama.

Gaudiya Math in East Bengal, 1921

In October, Srila Prabhupada established the Sri Madhva Gaudiya Math in Dacca and installed deities there. On his return from Dacca, Srila Prabhupada restored some ruined temples and places of pilgrimage from the time of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, and reestablished regular worship there. Among them were the famous Gaura Gadadhara temple in Champahati, the birth site of Sri Vrindavan Dasa Thakur, the guesthouse in Modadrumadvipa, etc.



Publication of the Gaudiya Magazine, 1922

On August 19, 1922, Srila Prabhupada began publishing a magazine called Gaudiya from the Krishna Nagar Bhagavat Press, which would become the most famous and widely distributed spiritual Bengali magazine and one of the chief instruments of Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission.


“Nadiya Prakash”, published in 1926 which later become a daily, in both Bengali and English.

“Sajjana Toshani” published in 1879 by  Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur which  after became “The Harmonist”.

“Sajjana Toshani” published in 1879 by
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur which
after became “The Harmonist”.


“Gaudiya”, published in 1922 which would become the most famous and widely distributed spiritual Bengali














Devotees Attacked: Gaura-mandal Parikrama, 1925

On January 29, 1925, Prabhupada took many
devotees and went on Gaura-mandala parikrama to visit and preach at the various places where the pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu and his associates took place. That year, in Navadvipa, the imitators of Gaudiya Vaishnavism (the sahajiyas) and the commercial exploiters of the vaishnava concept attacked the devotees that were assembled at Paramatalat with carriages which had been filled with broken bricks draped with cloth.

Many of the devotees were wounded; all of them tried to look for shelter in the nearby homes, especially for Srila Prabhupada. Amidst the shock and confusion, somehow Sripad Vinoda Vihari Brahmachari managed to take Srila Prabhupada inside a house, there he exchanged his white clothes with Srila Prabhupada’s saffron clothes so Srila Prabhupada wouldn’t be recognized, then he very quickly took Srila Prabhupada away to a safer place. Thus, Sripad Vinoda Vihari Prabhu managed to protect his spiritual master by his extraordinary dexterity and presence of mind.


On the day Prabhupada accepted sannyas, 1918.

The Mayapur Exhibition, 1930

On February 3, 1930, Srila Prabhupada arranged a spectacular spiritual exhibition at Mayapur. Thousands came to see the exhibition, which contained many stalls depicting stories and lessons from the Srimad Bhagavatam through dioramas and paintings. Sri Jagabandhu Datta, a rich businessman from Kolkata, had the good fortune of associating with Srila Prabhupada. He was extremely impressed by Srila Prabhupada’s Hari-katha and began to have a clear concept of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s message of pure devotion.

Preaching Mission expands to the West, 1933

Srila Prabhupada sent his preachers all over India, Burma, England, France, Germany, and the United States. He wanted to spread Mahaprabhu’s message all over the world so he used to tell his disciples: “We’ll go on our preaching mission riding horses, elephants, trains, boats, and airplanes.” His dream of preaching all over the World was later greatly fulfilled by his disciple Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami who took initiation from Srila Prabhupada in 1933 in Allahabad.

On March 18, 1933, Srila Prabhupada gave instructions to Srila Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Hridaya Bon Maharaja, and Srila Samvidananda Dasa Bhakti-sastri as they were departing to preach in Europe. At a meeting that was arranged to see them off, Srila Prabhupada gave a farewell address entitled “Amar Katha” (My message).

In the beginning of May, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples established a preaching center in Kensington, London. At the end of that month, Srila Prabhupada received letters inquiring into spiritual matters from Lord Zetland, who had formerly been the governor of Bengal, and the Marquis of Ludian, to which he replied. In June he received letters of appreciation from Lord Irwin’s secretary, the Marquis of Ludian, the editor of the London Times, and Sir Stanley Jackson. In July, Srila Prabhupada’s disciples met with King George V and Queen Mary at the Buckingham Palace, and also with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Last Days, 1936

On October 24, 1936, Srila Prabhupada traveled from Kolkata to Puri Dhama. He arrived with many disciples, including Sridhara Maharaja, Kunjavihari prabhu and Hayagriva das bramachari. Srila Prabhupada seemed to be in a deep form of meditation and devotion; in Puri he showed transcendental symptoms of divine ecstasy. Occasionally he told the devotees: “We have to serve our Lord in order to gain eternal service at His lotus feet. We must not waste time!”

On December 7th of the same year, Srila Prabhupada left Puri to Calcutta. The pastime of his disease took place there; therefore his disciples called upon the most famous physicians of the city to take care of him full time. When asked how he was, Srila Prabhupada said that his only problem was that he was not allowed to do Hari-kirtan.

Divine Disappearance, 1936

On the morning of December 31st, 1936, Srila Prabhupada asked Sridhara Maharaja to sing the song “Sri Rupa manjari-pada sei mora sampada” of Srila Narottama das Thakur. Afterwards, he expressed gratitude to some of his disciples for their service, and gave instructions for the future. Finally he said: “love and separation have the same end in view”. Srila Narottama das Thakur explained this concept of Srila Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, saying, “We must also live our lives according to this concept.”

At about 5:20 the next morning, Sripad Pranavananda brahmachari was at the bed of Srila Prabhupada. Suddenly, Srila Prabhupada said, “Who is here?” Pravadananda prabhu said: “Prabhupada, it’s me, Pravadananda.” Srila Prabhupada said: “Oh Pravandananda prabhu!” Pravadananda prabhu asked: “How do you feel Prabhupada?” Srila Prabhupada said: “What can I say? Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!” These were his last words.

Pranavananda prabhu went to his room where he sat thinking: “What would happen if he left us now? What should we do?”

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps. It was Krishnananda prabhu, who said: “Come immediately! I think the major disaster has occurred.” The sound of unrestrained crying was heard throughout the Gaudiya Math and surprisingly, all the clocks of the Math stopped working.

On Thursday, January 1st, 1937 at 5:30 am, Srila Prabhupada left this world to enter the nisanta lila of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. In this hour before dawn, when Sri Sri Radha-Govinda are united as one and the divine pastime of Sri Gaura Sundara manifests, the most worshiped Lord of the Gaudiya vaishnavas, Srila Prabhupada, who called himself Varsabhanavi-dayita das (the servant of the beloved of Srimati Radharani) entered the abode of eternal pastimes.