We would be sleeping, and father would be doing ārati. Ding ding ding – we would hear the bell and wake up and see him bowing down before Kṛṣṇa.
— Śrīla Prabhupāda
IT WAS JANMĀṢṬAMĪ, the annual celebration of the advent of Lord Kṛṣṇa some five thousand years before. Residents of Calcutta, mostly Bengalis and other Indians, but also many Muslims and even some British, were observing the festive day, moving here and there through the city’s streets to visit the temples of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Devout Vaiṣṇavas, fasting until midnight, chanted Hare Kṛṣṇa and heard about the birth and activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. They continued fasting, chanting, and worshiping throughout the night.
The next day (September 1, 1896), in a little house in the Tollygunge suburb of Calcutta, a male child was born. Since he was born on Nandotsava, the day Kṛṣṇa’s father, Nanda Mahārāja, had observed a festival in honor of Kṛṣṇa’s birth, the boy’s uncle called him Nandulal. But his father, Gour Mohan De, and his mother, Rajani, named him Abhay Charan, “one who is fearless, having taken shelter at Lord Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.” In accordance with Bengali tradition, the mother had gone to the home of her parents for the delivery, and so it was that on the bank of the Ādi Gaṅgā, a few miles from his father’s home, in a small two-room, mud-walled house with a tiled roof, underneath a jackfruit tree, Abhay Charan was born. A few days later, Abhay returned with his parents to their home at 151 Harrison Road.
An astrologer did a horoscope for the child, and the family was made jubilant by the auspicious reading. The astrologer made a specific prediction: When this child reached the age of seventy, he would cross the ocean, become a great exponent of religion, and open 108 temples.