His Devine Grace Srila Prabhupada
Childhood in Calcutta
A baby boy was born on September 01, 1896, the day after Janmashtami (the auspicious day of Lord Krishna's appearance) in a small house in the Tollygunge suburb of Calcutta. His father, Gaur Mohan Dey, and his mother, Rajni, gave him the name Abhay Charan.
An astrologer saw the child's horoscope and declared: "At the age of seventy years, this child will cross the seas and go abroad to spread the Lord's message, become a great teacher of religion and also establish 108 Krishna temples." This is exactly what happened in the life of Srila Prabhupadaji.
Srila Prabhupada traveled to America in 1965 and founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in America at the age of 69. He traveled around the world fourteen times to spread the message and teachings of the Lord, established more than 100 temples and initiated more than 10,000 devotees into Krishna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada always spoke with great enthusiasm about his childhood. Here we quote some texts composed by him, some lectures and some parts of conversations, in which he recalls his childhood.
“My father was a pure-devotee of the Lord and when I was only four or five years old, he gave me the Deities of Radha-Krishna. I used to worship these deities while playing with my sister. In fact, I used to worship my deities by copying the rituals of the neighboring Radha-Govind temple. Going to this neighboring temple every day, I would imitate the temple ceremonies and play games of the same ceremonies with my idols. In this way I developed a natural affinity with God.
“I remember when I was only one year old, a maha-saṅkīrtana was organized in our house and I too joined the dance troupe and danced with them. Because at that time I was very small in height, so I was only coming up to the knees of everyone else. I still remember those days.
“In 1898, a severe plague epidemic was spreading in Calcutta. In a way, the city of Calcutta was destroyed. Almost everyone had left the city. Hundreds of people were dying every day. At that time I was one or one and a half years old. Then at that time one Babaji organized Hare Krishna Sankirtan in the whole Calcutta city. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, etc. all participated in this Sankirtan. They entered every street, lane, and even every house. As a result, the outbreak of plague was reduced and eventually ended. This is a true incident. Everyone familiar with the history of Calcutta knows that it was through the sankirtan movement that the plague was suppressed.
“As a child, when I was one-and-a-half years old, I had typhoid. Dr. Kartik Chandra Bose said, "Please give chicken juice to this boy." But my father refused: "No, we can't do that." “No, he has to be given chicken soup. Now this child has become very weak. "No, I cannot allow." “No problem, I will prepare and send it to my house. You just…” So it was sent from his (the doctor's) house, and when I was given that, I immediately started vomiting. My dad made him throw up, and when the doctor said it was chicken juice... "No, no, don't bother.""
“My father's income was three hundred rupees at most. We were not very rich. But we had no desire of any kind. Father was maintaining his family, getting children married, donating money. Everything was going great and we never felt lacking. During the mango season, Dad would make sure “the kids had a full basket full of mangoes every day,” so we would jump, play, and feast on them.”