The founder/acarya (one who teaches by example) of the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness (ISKCON), is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Srila
Prabhupada). He arrived in New York from India in September of 1965, after crossing the
Atlantic Ocean on a freighter – The Jaladuta. After spending a month in Butler, Pennsylvania,
at the home of his sponsor, he came back to New York City to begin his movement to spread
bhakti-yoga (the yoga of devotion and service to God) throughout the western world. He
struggled for almost 6 months — during which time he was subjected to a bitter New York
winter, theft of his meager belongings and abuse from a drug-crazed roommate. Yet he was
determined to bring about a spiritual revolution.
In May of 1966, Srila Prabhupada, with the help of just two followers, rented a storefront in New
York’s Lower East Side – here at 26 Second Avenue. The storefront was previously a curio shop
with the name, “Matchless Gifts.” Early visitors to Srila Prabhupada’s new center were struck by
the prophetic name.
In July of 1966, Srila Prabhupada incorporated his beloved institution, ISKCON, with
headquarters at this storefront. Later, he often fondly remembered those early days, as he saw the
Hare Krishna Movement quickly grow into the worldwide movement we see today.
From 1966 to 1968 ISKCON was headquartered here at 26 Second Avenue. As the number of
followers grew, the storefront became too small so the temple moved to larger locations, leaving
the humble storefront behind — but never forgotten.
About twenty-five years and hundreds of worldwide temples later, the directors of the Brooklyn-
based Hare Krishna temple, led by Ramabhadra Prabhu, were able to take control of the space
and once again lease the original ISKCON temple at 26 Second Avenue. To commemorate the
25th Anniversary of the founding of ISKCON, members of the Krishna temple in Brooklyn
renovated the site, rededicated it, and reopened it to the public in July of 1991.
Since that time, the Hare Krishna temple here at 26 Second Avenue has become a beacon of
Krishna consciousness in New York City. Moreover, to followers of the Hare Krishna movement
all over the world it is a sacred place of pilgrimage, a tirtha (holy place), being the place from
where Srila Prabhupada began the dynamic expansion of Krishna consciousness and bhakti-yoga
in New York City and throughout the world.