Of all his various contributions, Srila Prabhupada considered his books most important. In fact, he would often describe his work of translating and explaining the ancient Vedic texts as his very life and soul. In 1970, Srila Prabhupada founded the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, now the world’s largest publisher of Vedic literature. Through its work over the last three and a half decades, millions of people have read at least one of Srila Prabhupada’s books and have felt their lives genuinely enriched. Here is a brief introduction to the spiritual knowledge you will find within those books.
Srila Prabhupada’s Books –
Highly respected in academic circles for their authority, depth and clarity, Srila Prabhupada’s books are used as standard text books in numerous colleges and universities around the world.
“If you get some money, you print books.” These words by Shrila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Thakura became the life’s mission of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who translated the wish of his spiritual master into reality.
Srila Prabhupada, the founding spiritual master of the ISKCON, translated over forty volumes of the most essential works of Vedic literature. Complete sets of these books, with original Sanskrit and Bengali texts, have been purchased by thousands of university libraries around the world, and dozens of scholars have praised them. Srila Prabhupada writes, “It is the duty of the Acarya to publish books that will help future candidates take up the method of service and become eligible to return home, back to Godhead, by the mercy of the Lord.”
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has become well known for its large body of Vedic literature—books on bhakti-yoga that include the Bhagavad-gita, the Shrimad- Bhagavatam, and the Chaitanya-charitamrta. These three works by the movement’s founder and spiritual guide, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, are voluminous commented English translations of Sanskrit and Bengali classics. Remarkably, Srila Prabhupada wrote these and many other, smaller works in the span of twelve years, from 1966 to 1977, while traveling widely and overseeing the growth of the Krishna consciousness movement.
In addition, he has written and translated Bhagavad-gita As It Is (1100 pages), Shrimad Bhagavatam (20 volumes) Chaitanya-charitamrita (12 volumes) KRISHNA, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (2 volumes), Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Nectar of Devotion, Sri Ishopanisad, Krishna Consciousness is the Genuine Vedic Way, and numerous other books. He is also the founder of the English monthly magazine ‘Back to Godhead’, which is published in fourteen other languages. Srila Prabhupada’s books are being used as textbooks by numerous major universities in America, Europe and Asia. When the late Prime Minister, Lal Bhadur Shastri saw the first three volumes of Srila Prabhupada’s Shrimad Bhagavatam, he said that every school, college, and government office in India should read these books.
Srila Prabhupada was writing and translating up to the last days of his eighty-one-year stay on earth.
He founded the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) in 1972, to produce his books. By 1976, over 55,000,000 literatures had been published in twenty-five languages and distributed in almost every country, making the BBT the world’s largest publisher of Indian religious and philosophical texts. One printing alone of Bhagavad-gita As It Is required seventy-six train cars to ship the paper needed to print it.
In these pages Srila Prabhupada presents the same message that the great sage Vyasadeva (Vyasa) recorded thousands of years ago, the message of ancient India’s Vedic literatures. As we shall see, he quotes freely and often from the Bhagavad-gita, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam, and other classic Vedic texts. He transmits in modern English the same timeless knowledge that other great self-realized teachers have spoken for millennia—knowledge that opens up the secrets of the self within us, nature and the universe, and the Supreme Self within and without. Srila Prabhupada speaks with startling clarity and a kind of convincing, simple eloquence and proves just how relevant the science of self-realization is to our modern world and our own lives.
Srila Prabhupada: “Yes, it’s all in the literatures. We’re explaining them in English. But we’re not manufacturing anything. If we were to manufacture knowledge, then everything would be spoiled. The Vedic literature is something like the literature that explains how to set up this microphone. It says, “Do it like this: some of the screws should be on this side, around the metal.” You cannot make any change; then everything would be spoiled. Similarly, because we are not manufacturing anything, one simply has to read one of our books, and he receives real spiritual knowledge.”