In 1965, at the age of 69, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada boarded the steamship ‘Jaladuta’ from Mumbai on his way to United States. At an age when most people think of retiring Srila Prabhupada undertook this arduous journey to fulfill the mission of Lord Caitanya and follow the instruction of his spiritual master Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur to carry the message of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam to Western world.
After arriving in New York City in September 1965, Srila Prabhupada struggled alone for the first year to establish his Krishna conscious movement. He lived simply, lectured whenever and wherever he got the opportunity and gradually began to attract some small interest in his teaching. In July of 1966, while still working from an obscure storefront on New York City’s Lower East Side, Srila Prabhupada nonetheless founded a spiritual society intended for worldwide participation. He called it International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON for short and thus began the Hare Krishna movement in America.
At the time of incorporation, Srila Prabhupada had not attracted even one committed follower. Undeterred, he enlisted volunteers from among the small group of regular attendees at his evening lectures to act as ISKCON’s first trustees. That was then. Today, ISKCON comprises of more than 400 temples worldwide, 40 rural communities and over 100 vegetarian restaurants. It also conducts special projects throughout the world, such as “Food for Life”, the only free vegetarian relief program in the world.