Srimad-Bhdgavatam, an epic philosophical and literary classic, holds a prominent position in India's voluminous written wisdom. The timeless wisdom of India is ex- pressed in the Vedas, ancient Sanskrit texts that touch upon all fields of human knowledge. Originally preserved through oral tradition, the Vedas were first put into writing by Srila Vyasadeva, the" literary incarnation of God." After compiling the Vedas, Srila Vyasadeva was inspired by his spiritual master to present their profound essence in the form of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Known as "the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic literature," Srimad Bhiigavatam is the most complete and authoritative exposition of Vedic knowledge.
After writing the Bhiigavatam, Vyasa taught it to his son, Sukadeva Gosvami, who later spoke the Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit in an assembly of sages on the bank of the sacred Ganges River. Although Maharaja Pariksit was a great rajarsi (saintly king) and the emperor of the world, when he learned he would die in seven days, he renounced his entire kingdom and retired to the bank of the Ganges to seek spiritual enlightenment. The questions of King Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami's illuminating answers, concerning everything from the nature of the self to the origin of the universe, are the basis of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
This edition of Bhagavatam is the only complete English translation with an elaborate and scholarly commentary, and it is the first edition widely available to the English-reading public. This work is the product of the scholarly and devotional effort of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the world's most distinguished teacher of Indian religious and philosophical thought. His Sanskrit scholarship and intimate familiarity with Vedic culture combine to reveal to the West a magnificent exposition of this important classic.
With its comprehensive system of pro- viding the original Sanskrit text, roman transliteration, precise word-for-word equivalents, a lucid English translation and a comprehensive commentary, it will appeal to scholars, students and laymen alike. The entire multivolume text, presented by the Bhakti vedanta Book Trust, promises to occupy a significant place in the intellectual, cultural and spiritual life of modern man for a long time to come.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Cosvam], in Calcutta in 1922. Bhakti siddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four GauQiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowl- edge. Srila Prabhupada became his student, and eleven years later (1933) at Allahabad he became his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge through the English language. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gitii, assisted the Caudtya Matha in its work and, in 1944, started Back to Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine. Maintaining the publication was a struggle. Singlehandedly, Srila Prabhupada edited it, typed the manuscripts, checked the galley proofs, and even distributed the individual copies. Once begun, the magazine never stopped; it is now being continued by his disciples in the West and is published in over thirty languages.
Recognizing Srila Prabh upada' s philosophical learning and devotion, the Caudiya Vaisnava Society honored him in 1947 with the title "Bhaktivedanta." In 1950, at the age of fifty-four, Srila Prahhupada retired from married life, adopting the odnaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. Srila Prabhupada traveled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in very humble circum- stances in the historic medieval temple of Hadha-Damodara. There he engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyiisa) in 1959. At Hadha-Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life's masterpiece: a multivolume annotated translation of the eighteen-thousand-verse Srimad-Bhiigavalam (Bhiigavata Puriir)a). He also wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three volumes of the Bhiigavalam, Srila Prabhu- pada came to the United States, in September 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Subsequently, His Divine Grace wrote more than sixty volumes of authoritative annotated translations and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
When he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhu- pada was practically penniless. Only after almost a year of great difficulty did he establish the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in July of 1966. Before his passing away on November 14, 1977, he guided the Society and saw it grow to a worldwide confederation of more than one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes and farm communities.
In 1968, Srila Prabhupada created New Vrindaban, an experimental Vedic community in the hills of West Virginia. Inspired by the success of New Vrindaban, now a thriving farm community of more than two thousand acres, his students has since founded several similar communities in the United States and abroad.
In 1972, His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West by founding the Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. Since then, under his supervision, his disciples have established children's schools throughout the United States and the rest of the world, with the principal educational center now located in Vrndavana, India .
Srila Prabhupada also inspired the construction of several large international cultural centers in India. The center at Sridhama Mayapur in West Bengal is the site for a planned spiritual city, an ambitious project for which construction will extend over many years to come. In Vrndavana, India, are the magnificent Krsna-Balarama Temple and International Guesthouse, and Srila Prabhupada Memorial and Museum. There is also a major cultural and educational center in Bombay. Other centers are planned in a dozen important locations on the Indian subcontinent.
Srila Prabhupada's most significant contribution, however, is his books. Highly respected by the academic community for their authority, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into over fifty languages. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 to publish the works of His Divine Grace, has thus become the world's largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy.
In just twelve years, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. In spite of such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.
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