Hridayananda dasa Goswami (Howard J. Resnick, Ph.D.) is one of the most senior and respected spiritual leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). As the first westerner to translate the sacred Bhāgavata Purāṇa from Sanskrit to English, together with authorized commentaries, as the first senior ISKCON leader to complete a doctorate in Vaiṣṇava studies and to openly promote higher education in ISKCON, as the pioneer of Krishna consciousness in Latin America, as the first senior leader to publicly endorse a campaign to provide greater opportunity for women in ISKCON, and in many other activities, Hridayananda das Goswami has been on the cutting edge of the Hare Krishna movement.
“Acharyadeva”, as he is known to his students, took birth on November 5, 1948, in Los Angeles, California and lived there until January 1967, when he went to study at the University of California, Berkeley, participating there in the social and political revolution of the time.
In early 1969, he attended a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the Krishna Consciousness Movement. Impressed by the deep wisdom and saintliness of his future guru, Acharyadeva frequented the Los Angeles ISKCON temple in the summer of 1969, joined the Berkeley branch of ISKCON in September of that year, and soon took up full-time service. On February 8, 1970, Srila Prabhupada personally initiated him as a disciple in Los Angeles.
Since his earliest days in ISKCON, Acharyadeva distinguished himself by his devotion to his teacher’s mission and his eloquence and erudition in presenting his guru’s teachings. After serving in ISKCON Boston, where he married Ananga-manjari dd, and after leading, with her, ISKCON’s temples in Gainesville, Florida, and Houston, Texas, Acharyadeva accepted the renounced order of life, sannyasa, in 1972, and spent two years living in a van as he traveled throughout North America, lecturing in dozens of universities. During this time, he founded the Library Party and successfully distributed Srila Prabhupada’s books to colleges and libraries throughout the U.S.
In March, 1974, during the first international Gaura-Purnima festival in Sridham Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada called Acharyadeva to his room and requested him to join ISKCON’s highest governing body, the GBC, and take charge of ISKCON’s activities in Latin America. In the following three years in Latin America, Acharyadeva established over twenty centers that attracted thousands of Latinos to the Krishna consciousness movement. He also personally supervised the translation, publication, and distribution of millions of Srila Prabhupada’s books in Spanish and Portuguese. In his trips throughout Latin America, he met many social, religious, and governmental leaders, conversing with them in fluent Portuguese and Spanish.
Acharyadeva has also supervised ISKCON activities in the Southeast United States, Italy, and Greece, in addition to lecturing around the world with great success. Indeed people in over a hundred countries, including many other spiritual leaders, listen to and study his recorded lectures and writings.
Srila Prabhupada made many statements that confirm his explicit, consistent view that his disciples and subsequent followers would eventually initiate their own disciples into the disciplic succession, including a conversation with members of the GBC in May 1977. Shortly before leaving this world in November of 1977, Srila Prabhupada asked Acharyadeva and ten other prominent disciples, to initiate on his behalf. After his departure, under the auspices of the GBC, these eleven and eventually dozens of other disciples of Srila Prabhupada, in accordance with his expressed desire, began accepting their own disciples. Thus, they became what Srila Prabhupada described as “regular gurus.”
Three years later, ISKCON’s leaders, recognizing his profound devotion and erudition, authorized Acharyadeva to complete Srila Prabhupada’s most important service: translation and commentary of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the central scripture of the Gaudiya Vaishnava movement. In 1988, with the invaluable help of Gopiparanadhana Prabhu and Dravida Prabhu, Acharyadeva completed this monumental task.
In 1996, Acharyadeva received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit & Indian Studies from Harvard University and began teaching at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also served as a visiting scholar at UCLA, taught at the University of Florida, and lectured at hundreds of universities around the world. Harvard Press, University of California Press, and Columbia University Press have all published his articles.
Eager to reach a much wider audience, he has just completed his first major novel, and is already busy at work on a creative trilogy, based on the central story of the Mahabharata.