Krishna West teaches advanced spiritual knowledge from the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-bhagavatam and practices a form of devotional yoga called Krishna bhakti. This wisdom derives from the sacred and timeless hymns of the Vedas.
As one of the oldest, most cherished treatises on the philosophy and practice of yoga, the Bhagavad-gita explains that we are all eternal spiritual beings. We have always existed and always will exist. Only our temporary body is born and dies. Compelled by the reactions to our worldly actions (karma) we wander through many lives until we clearly grasp our eternal identity as souls, and our loving relationship with an infinitely beautiful, all-knowing, and ever youthful God, Krishna.
Because the practice of Krishna bhakti leads to a profound and personal relationship with God and all living beings, the Bhagavad-gita describes it as the highest stage of spiritual yoga and the joyful summit of religion.
Krishna West is an authorized, semi-autonomous affiliate of ISKCON, and thereby a branch of Gaudiya or Chaitanya Vaishnavism, a movement inaugurated by the celebrated teacher Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the sixteenth century. Gaudiya Vaishnavism teaches advanced monotheism based on the theistic Vedanta teachings rooted in the Upanishads, the earliest philosophical texts of India.
His Divine Grace
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) is the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and the world’s foremost teacher of Krishna Bhakti in the 20th century. Acharya is a Sanskrit term denoting a spiritual master who teaches by his own example.
Born in India as Abhay Charan De, he received a classical European education from Calcutta’s prestigious Scottish Church College. However, as an early follower of Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement, he rejected his diploma in protest of British rule in India. Several years later, after a life-changing encounter with Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, a prominent scholar and spiritual teacher who explained that the practice of Krishna Bhakti is too important to wait for political reform, Abhay redirected his attention from political reform towards the cultivation of spiritual life and it's dissemination to the world at large.
Bhaktisiddhanta represented the ancient tradition of Krishna Bhakti, the yoga of devotion, based on the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. Upon their first meeting, Bhaktisiddhanta asked Abhay to bring the teachings of Bhagavad-gita and the practice of Krishna Bhakti to the West. Inspired by the depth of Bhaktisiddhanta’s devotional wisdom, Abhay became his lifelong student.
After four decades of learning and practice, while simultaneously running his own business and supporting his family, Abhay took formal vows of sannyasa, or celibate priesthood. In preparation of his journey to the West, Bhaktivedanta Swami, as he was now known, settled in the holy city of Vrindavan, India and began translating the Sanskrit verses of the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-bhagavatam into English and writing elaborate commentaries explaining each verse.
In 1965, at the age of 69, Bhaktivedanta departed from India to fulfill his teacher’s request. After a month-long voyage, he arrived at a lonely Brooklyn pier with seven dollars in Indian rupees and a trunk of ancient Sanskrit scriptures translated into English.
Although faced with many hardships, Bhaktivedanta began giving Bhagavad-gita classes in Bowery lofts and leading kirtan (devotional chanting) in Tompkins Square Park. His sincerity attracted the attention of young seekers, eager to learn more about meditation and Eastern spirituality. With their help, Bhaktivedanta rented a small storefront in New York’s Lower East Side and continued giving daily classes and leading kirtan.
Inspired by the support of his young American students, Bhaktivedanta established ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness). The following year, Bhaktivedanta was asked to establish ISKCON in San Francisco, where hundreds of more students began regularly attending his classes and kirtans.
In the following 11 years, Bhaktivedanta (again honored with a new title – Srila Prabhupada) circled the globe 14 times, bringing Krishna Bhakti to tens of thousands of people on six continents. With their help, he established centers and projects throughout the world including temples, ashrams, farm communities, schools, universities, and what would become the world’s largest vegetarian food relief program.
During this time, Srila Prabhupada continued his translation work and authored an unprecedented number of books, over 70 titles, subsequently translated into 76 languages. His most prominent works include: Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the 30-volume Srimad-bhagavatam, and the 17-volume Sri Caitanya-caritamrita.
In 1977, at the age of 81, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada passed away in Vrindavan, surrounded by his loving disciples who continue to preserve his legacy. Although the teachings of Krishna Bhakti had rarely ventured beyond India’s borders, by the extraordinary devotion and determination of Srila Prabhupada, tens of millions of people around the globe now benefit from the timeless practice of Krishna Bhakti.
H. D. Goswami
In 2013, H.D. Goswami (Howard J. Resnick, Ph.D.) conceived and established Krishna West. As one of the most senior and respected spiritual leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), H.D. Goswami is an early pioneer and renowned teacher of bhakti yoga in the Western world. At the forefront of contemporary religious dialogue, he is celebrated for his unique ability to adapt the wisdom of ancient Indian philosophy into teachings that are comprehensible for Western audiences.
Affectionately known as “Acharyadeva” by his students, H.D. Goswami (born November 5, 1948) grew up in Los Angeles, California and began his studies at the University of California, Berkeley where he participated in the political and cultural movements of the late sixties. In 1969, after attending a lecture delivered by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, he began visiting the Berkeley ISKCON temple where he would later enroll as a full-time ashram student engaged in monastic service and theological training. In 1970, H.D. Goswami was formally initiated into the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of bhakti yoga under the guidance of Prabhupada.
Throughout his early career, H.D. Goswami distinguished himself by his devotion to his teacher’s message and his eloquence in presenting Prabhupada’s teachings to others. In 1972, with a relentless desire to better serve the world, he accepted a vow of lifelong celibacy. H.D. Goswami spent the following 20 years establishing over 40 ISKCON centers and supervising the translation, publication, and distribution of millions of Prabhupada’s books throughout Central and South America, Italy and Greece. During this time, he earned the distinction as the first westerner in history to translate and comment upon the canonical Bhagavata-purana from within the tradition.
With the conviction to complete his academic education and more effectively present the Vedic conclusions within the Western world, H.D. Goswami returned to the University of California in 1991 as a student of World Religions. After graduating, he continued his studies at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit & Indian Studies in 1996. While completing his Harvard education, he set historical precedence with a perfect mark on the Sanskrit comprehensive exam.
Since 2000, H.D. Goswami has traveled the world lecturing at prominent universities and speaking with various social, religious, and political leaders, eager to deepen their understanding of Prabhupada’s teachings. Having published articles with Harvard University Press, University of California Press, and Columbia University Press, he has also held visiting professorships at the Graduate Theological Union, UCLA, and the University of Florida.
Fluent in seven languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, and Sanskrit), H.D. Goswami recently completed translations of the Bhagavad-gita and the first canto of the Bhagavata-purana. He is now working on a three-part historical novel based on the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Having completed over 30 years of research for the project, he hopes to render the narrative of the Mahabharata in a style both appealing and intelligible to a modern audience.
As a dedicated teacher and scholar of religious history, H.D. Goswami continues to seek out effective ways in which to preserve yet adapt ancient wisdom to contemporary circumstances. Because people in the West need and deserve the chance to practice genuine bhakti yoga within an external culture that is comfortable and natural for them, H.D. Goswami has established Krishna West to help facilitate ISKCON’s outreach to Western audiences.