In 1974, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada expressed his desire to “establish a Vaishnava Research Institute” to present the science of Krishna Consciousness for an intellectual audience. The following year, Prabhupada requested his disciple, Dr. Thoudam D. Singh (Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Maharaja), to establish an institute in the United States. On December 10, 1976 in Washington, D.C., Srila Prabhupada and the founding board members including Singh as director, Richard L. Thompson (Sadaputa dasa), Michael Marchetti (Madhava dasa), William H. Deadwyler (Ravindra Svarupa dasa), and Robert Corens (Rupanuga dasa) signed incorporation papers that legally established the Bhaktivedanta Institute. Dr. Singh recalled that at that time, “Prabhupada specifically instructed us to build a model of the universe that could later be built full size at the future Mayapur Temple and Planetarium complex.”
Materials produced for the 1977 “First International Scientific Conference on Life Comes From Life,” held in Vrindavan, India, included this mission statement:
Bhaktivedanta Institute is a center for advanced study and research into the Vedic scientific knowledge concerning the nature of consciousness and the self. The Institute is the academic division of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It consists of a body of scientists and scholars who have recognized the unique value of the teachings of Krishna Consciousness brought to the West by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada. The main purpose of the Institute is to explore the implications of the Vedic knowledge as it bears on all features of human culture, and to present its findings in courses, lectures, monographs, books, and a quarterly journal, Sa-vijnanam.
During the following years, several chapters of the Bhaktivedanta Institute were established around the world, all dedicated to the mission Prabhupada established. These groups aim to work in a collaborative spirit while independently engaging in research and outreach initiatives.
The “Legacy of the Bhaktivedanta Institute” seminar will include presentations on the early history of the Institute, reports of recent activities from current BI chapters, and discussions on the value of the Bhaktivedanta Institute for the devotional community. The objective is to help develop future goals for exploring new territory while remaining grounded in Prabhupada’s vision.
Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies