By Narayana Vishwanath, 24th August 2015
CHENNAI: On the eve of Janmashtami festival, which is being celebrated with grandeur in Chennai, I met the ever smiling Bhanu Swamiji, a Japanese, who was attracted by the faith and spirituality shown by the devotees of Hare Krishna Movement in Japan, and is currently a commissioner of the Indian governing body of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Can you tell me the genesis of this organisation?
This spiritual institution was founded by Swami Prabhupada, also the founder of Bhakthivedanta Institute, to systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society and to educate all people in the technique of spiritual life, in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve “real unity and peace” in the world, simultaneously propagating a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavatham.
What was the need for such an institution to revive god consciousness?
When various philosophers were propounding different philosophies about god, the Indian youth were lured by the glamour and freewheeling lifestyle of Westerners. They abandoned their ancient Vedic traditions, blindly following the West, and the future was bleak, hence the institution to revive people in ‘God consciousness’.
Are you trying to convert people to Krishna conscious belief?
Emphatically, I say no. The science and academic division of ISKCON recognised that scientists and scholars were primarily responsible for propagating ‘materialism’ in this world and if they join the movement, the resultant ‘metamorphism’ would be enlightening.
Our mission is a ‘non sectarian and monotheistic movement’, to promote the well being of society, teaching the science of Krishna consciousness according to Bhagavad Gita as the jewel of “India’s spiritual wisdom” spoken by lord Krishna.
I am an Advaiti, We believe in singular concept of god and I are one and the same. How can this be reconciled?
Vedic scriptures reveal that spiritual life begins, when one inquires, into the nature of absolute truth, the supreme god. We also recognise that the supreme god has unlimited names, such as Rama, Buddha, Vishnu, Jehovah, Allah etc.
The ultimate goal is to develop loving relationship with the supreme god.
Can you enlighten me on the efficacy of congregational chanting of mahamantra - hare Krishna hare Rama?
This form of worship has been propounded, by Sri Chaitanya, as accepted by the Vedas, as the most effective means of “Self Purification” in this age. The Vedas describe the “Mantra” as a prayer to the lord - ‘please lord engage me in your service’.
What is the impact of your mission?
Many may not know, Swami Prabhupada introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education in the West by founding the ‘Gurukula’ schools in Dallas, Texas and other places at a time when colleges did not give adequate recognition to spiritualism. However, Swami Prabhupada’s most significant contribution is his books, which are highly respected by scholars, for their authority, depth and clarity and used as text books in numerous college courses.Krishna consciousness is so important that it can’t wait as no political system can help humanity, which is the verdict of Vedic scriptures. It is certainly remarkable to note that ISKCON has grown in scores of countries, with more than 300 centres and hundreds of farm commodities.