All Glories to Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj
World Tour Interviews
Interviews and webpage by Vaidehi Devi Dasi
This evening, after having another one of the Wednesday youth classes, the prasadam hall and the temple room held many young devotees and their guests. Jasmin, 18 years old, is a regular guest to the Soquel Ashram and has recently been introduced to Krishna consciousness within this past year. She will tell us how she came across the path of Bhakti Yoga.
Jasmin: "I started working at a movie theater near the area, and Vidura Prabhu and Vyasa Prabhu were both working there. There was a lot of talk about religion with my co-workers because amongst us there were atheists, Christians, and pretty much every faith. As I got to become better friends with Vidura, I became interested in the place I kept hearing about that they called the Temple. I never really grew up around religion or anything like it. It hasn't been part of my life until now, so I was interested in experiencing something different. Vidura and some of the other devotees that were outside the Temple were going. Vidura asked me to come one time, so I did, and have been coming since then."
Vaidehi: "Apart from Vidura talking about the Temple, what was it that captured you and motivated you to continue coming?"
Jasmin: "I haven't really experienced much of any religions, but from what I have experienced it seems like once you walked in the door you felt on the spot. But the first day I came here, no one asked me any questions about whether I was going to become a Hare Krishna, or what my beliefs were. Everyone was really warm and affectionate, and it didn't matter what my background was. The devotees just wanted to share Krishna consciousness with me without forcing it. I have had conversations with people from other religions, and it feels like they are not so open minded. What I like about this is that they don't condemn other religions but they understand that there is the same goal, just different perspectives."
Vaidehi: "Can you tell us a little something about what you have heard about Srila Govinda Maharaj. Some connection you might have had?"
Jasmin: "It was only a few months before he came here that I started coming to the Temple. I kept hearing that he was coming, and that he was so amazing. It was hard to imagine that so many people had so much respect for this one person; I was anxious to see who this person was. I remember the first time that I actually saw him he had a big smile on his face. I don't know what it was, but it was his smile. You just see it and you feel happy inside I don't know. Ever since he has been going through health problems, I notice that every time I see him he is still smiling and you don't see the pain he is going through. It's hard to explain what it is about him, but there is something special."
Vaidehi :"What do your parents think about this?"
Jasmin: It's a really strange coincidence, but my grandfather has always talked about Siva and about Krishna, and he has been to India a couple of times, and has experienced a lot of different religions. What I remember the most is that during Christmas my parents would put presents under the Christmas tree, and his presents would always say, "To Don from Krishna." I didn't know too much about Krishna, but I remember seeing that on there and wondering what it meant. When my father was younger, my grandfather used to take him to Hare Krishna Temples in San Francisco and New York. I remember that my grandpa would come back from India and would bring me saris to dress me up with. I would always wonder when I was ever going to wear them, and now I am wearing saris whenever I come here. It's something that I want to wear to the Temple. I can't get over how strange it is that my grandfather would always go to Hare Krishna Temples and now I have found one to go to. My parents have been pretty neutral knowing that I come to the Temple all of the time. I invited my dad once since I know he's been exposed to it before, and I thought it would be nice to share this with him. He came and sat in the class one day. He didn't really know what they were talking about and couldn't really relate to it since the subject was very specific, but when the kirttan started, I could tell he really enjoyed it. During the prasadam he was very happy to be at the Temple. He enjoyed the prasad, so it was nice for me to see him happy. My parents don't really ask about it, but I know they are glad that I have found good people to associate with, and that I have something positive."
Vaidehi: "Do you have any aspirations or hopes for your spiritual life?"
Jasmin: "I hope to become more educated about Krishna consciousness because I know there is a lot more to learn, and as I learn more, I feel that my aspect of religion and spirituality is becoming more clear."
Vaidehi: "Is there a message you have for the devotees around the world?"
Jasmin: "On days I feel exhausted from work or don't feel inspired to go to the Temple, I have made myself go anyway. In the class, I always end up hearing something that makes me realize: 'This is what I came for. I came to hear this.'"
I first met Ista Devika when I was in seventh grade, as Emily, and invited her to come to the Temple a few times. I would call her and tell her, "There is a feast tonight you have to come!" She would come every once in a while but now that Srila Gurudev is here, she has taken initiation and does service at the Temple whenever she has a break from school. Ista Devika is currently studying at Cabrillo College, the same community college I, as well as several other devotees, attend. Let us hear the story of her first introduction to Krishna consciousness, and how her life might have changed now that she has joined that path of Bhakti Yoga.
Ista Devika: "I was going to a home-school program called AFE, and some of the young devotees like Sarvananda, Dhruva, Satyabhama, Anapurna, Vaidehi, Vyasa, etc. were also going there. I had been going to a Temple in San Diego with my mom when I was about four years old, but started coming here in eighth grade. Vaidehi was the first person to invite me to come to the Temple and when I came, I really enjoyed it. I felt very comfortable and everybody was welcoming and nice, so I always came back."
Vaidehi: "When you first arrived to the Temple, what sort of impression did you get?"
Ista Devika: "It was very different than other religions I had been around. I liked the community and how close and welcoming everybody was. Nobody judged me."
Vaidehi: "Did you know anything about the Deities when you first saw Them?"
Ista Devika: "I knew that the blue one in the middle was Krishna, but that is all I knew. I thought They were really beautiful and amazing, but I didn't know too much about Them."
Vaidehi: "You've been coming to the Temple more often, and now that Srila Gurudev has arrived, what inspired you to get initiated?"
Ista Devika: "First of all just seeing him and being in his presence was really amazing; I realized how great he is. I had heard about it, but never knew until I experienced it. I felt nervous and got all teary eyed, but I was happy to see him at last. One of the older devotees that inspired me to get initiated was Sarvabhavana Prabhu when he would speak at the Tuesday class. During the time that I was considering whether I should get initiated or not, he had a class and said everything I needed to hear to convince me that I really did want to receive Harinam."
Vaidehi: "Is there something he said that is still with you to this day?"
Ista Devika: "He was talking about the seed of Krishna Prema, how it is planted when you get initiated. He said something about how Krishna will guide you away from material attachments. He will steer you away and slowly you will become less and less attached. The way Sarvabhavana Prabhu said it, it was very clear and direct. Another thing I remember is that for example a lot of other religions put themselves as the highest and put down other faiths. Sarvabhavana Prabhu said that if someone is, say, a Christian, you don't want to take away their faith. They are also on a spiritual path but it's just different from ours. Krishna is one, but he is interpreted in many different ways and there are distinct paths to take, so we shouldn't put anybody down because they have a different capacity."
Vaidehi: "Do you have any aspirations or is there another step you wish to take to deepen your path to Krishna consciousness?"
Ista Devika: "At some point, once I have my life a little more together and I have finished school, I want to find a service that I can do really well. I want to find a responsible service because I know that I need to do that. It's really hard for me to be ready to do that and actually get myself to do that because right now there is so much going on in the teenage world of stupid material stuff. But once I really have my life together I want to find a service that I can do well."
Vaidehi: "Is there a message you have for the devotees around the world?"
Ista Devika: "When you are feeling uninspired or not into doing service or coming to the Temple at the moment, make sure you keep your association with your devotee friends. If they are all going to the Temple, you are going to want to go with them and you're going to be more inspired if you keep your association with the devotees."
Vaidehi: "Thank you very much for sharing your stories with us. I hope that in some way, these interviews are helping someone in need!"