A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on the corner of New York’s 2nd Avenue shortly after he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966.
ISKCON is gearing up for its 50th anniversary, with plans for celebratory events all over the world throughout 2016.
It all began, of course, in 1965, when A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was 69 years old.
Leaving his home in Vrindavana, India, he travelled to New York city aboard a cargo steamship to introduce “India’s message of peace and goodwill” to the Western world.
After surviving two heart-attacks, he arrived in the US with just seven dollars and a case of books to his name. The early days were a struggle, but his deep faith and his spiritual message resonated with some young people, who came forward to become his students.
On July 11, 1966, Srila Prabhupada officially registered his International Society for Krishna Consciousness in New York. At the time, he had one small storefront on New York’s Lower East-Side, and a handful of students.
Today, there are nearly four hundred ISKCON centers all over the world, and thousands of ISKCON devotees.
ISKCON is behind some prestigious educational institutions, such as Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium. ISKCON charities such as Food for Life and ISKCON Food Relief Foundation have fed millions of needy and starving people all over the world.
Many highly influential people are now ISKCON devotees, and ISKCON itself is well-respected by governments of some countries. In the UK, for instance, ISKCON devotees have addressed Parliament and been invited to perform the puja at No. 10 Downing Street’s official Diwali event.