Abhaya Caranaravinda Bhaktivedānta Svāmi (born Abhay Charan De; 1 September 1896 – 14 November 1977) was an Indian spiritual teacher and the founder-preceptor of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the "Hare Krishna Movement".
Members of the ISKCON movement view Bhaktivedānta Swāmi as a representative and messenger of Krsna Caitanya.
Born Abhay Charan De in Calcutta, he was educated at the Scottish Church College in Calcutta. Before adopting the life of a novice renunciate (vanaprastha) in 1950, he was married with children and owned a small pharmaceutical business.
In 1959 he took a vow of renunciation (sannyasa) and started writing commentaries on Vaishnava scriptures. In his later years, as a traveling Vaishnava monk, he became an influential communicator of Gaudiya Vaishnava theology to India and specifically to the West through his leadership of ISKCON, founded in 1966.
As the founder of ISKCON, he "emerged as a major figure of the Western counterculture, initiating thousands of young Americans.
" He received criticism from anti-cult groups, as well as a favorable welcome from religious scholars such as J. Stillson Judah, Harvey Cox, Larry Shinn and Thomas Hopkins, who praised Bhaktivedānta Swāmi's translations and defended the group against distorted media images and misinterpretations.
In respect to his achievements, religious leaders from other Gaudiya Vaishnava movements have also given him credit.
He has been described as a charismatic leader, in the sense used by sociologist Max Weber, as he was successful in acquiring followers in the United States, Europe, India and elsewhere.
His mission was to propagate, throughout the world, Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a school of Vaishnavite Hinduism that had been taught to him by his guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. After his death in 1977, ISKCON, the society he founded based on a type of Hindu
Krishnaism using the Bhagavata Purana as a central scripture, continued to grow. In February 2014, ISKCON's news agency reported reaching a milestone of distributing over half a billion of his books since 1965.
His translation of and commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā, titled Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, is considered by adherents of the ISKCON movement and many Vedic scholars as one of the finest literary works of Vaishnavism translated into the English Language.