The Hare Krishna movement has been brought to the Western world by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
In the 20th century, Srila Prabhupada was the foremost proponent of Vaishnava philosophy, represented by the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya. This unbroken line of disciplic succession boasts the names of great acharyas [spiritual masters] such as Lord Brahma, Vyasadeva (compiler of the four Vedas, Vedanta-sutras, 18 Puranas, Upanishads, Mahabharata), Sri Madhvacharya, Sri Krishna Chaitanya and many others.
Apart from popularising the Hare Krishna maha-mantra as the supremely sublime meditation method, Srila Prabhupada was best known for his contribution in the realm of spiritual literature, especially his Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which was first published by Collier in 1968 and later published by MacMillan in 1972. Millions of copies sold, as the Hare Krishna movement emerged and rallied to propagate the teachings of Lord Krishna, distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books worldwide in every possible venue. Scholars and theologians took notice, and received Srila Prabhupada’s books with much appreciation. Universities and libraries took standing orders. Srila Prabhupada undertook the daunting task of translating and writing purports to 18,000 verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which he left uncompleted at 10 Cantos, and 17 volumes of Chaitanya-charitamrita. Altogether he published some 60 volumes of books in his lifetime. He also started up a monthly magazine, Back to Godhead, which at one point was distributed in excess of one million copies per month. Since Srila Prabhupada’s departure from this world in 1977, his disciples continued to compile his writings and published his letters (in five volumes), lectures (25 volumes) and transcribed conversations, in addition to a number of small books, bringing the total of published works to 160. Millions of Srila Prabhupada’s books have been distributed around the world in all major languages. A complete library of his books, essays, lectures, conversations and letters is available free online at Prabhupadabooks.com, hosted by Madhudvisa das.
Even while Srila Prabhupada was busy writing and publishing his books, he carefully tended to his students, nurturing their devotion for Krishna and enthusing them to make facility for broadcasting Krishna consciousness worldwide. He established 108 temples, several with guest houses and farm communities.
He produced phonograph records. He gave lectures daily to his students and to capacity crowds at universities and festivals. Under his direction hundreds of artful illustrations were created for his books, and his disciples held exhibitions of sculptures and puppets depicting Vedic science. All the while, Srila Prabhupada was constantly travelling, circling the globe at least 12 times from the age of 70 until 80 years, and recruited 10,000 disciples from countries all over the world.
In summary, Srila Prabhupada has opened up the storehouse of Vedic knowledge for all humanity. No other personality or group has accomplished as much in 100 years or even 500 or 1,000 years as Srila Prabhupada accomplished in the last 12 years of his physical presence. His disciples and followers proclaim him to be the Brahma Vaishnava Sampradaya Acharya and worship him as the ambassador of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.