Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Inside the Bhakti Yoga Society’s Preaching Project at UJ Auckland Park Campus
By Atma Tattva Das, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Mar 23, 2024
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Dinesvara Krsna Das speaks to the UJ students with guest Bhakti Brihad Bhagavat Swami.

In the bustling halls of the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park Campus, amidst the whirlwind of academic pursuits and extracurricular activities, there exists a beacon of spiritual guidance and growth: the Bhakti Yoga Society (BYS-UJ). Led by the dedicated efforts of Dinesvara Krsna Das, the society’s outreach project is not just about disseminating teachings; it’s a journey of personal connection and understanding, navigating the diverse cultural and spiritual landscape of the student body.

With a steady influx of new students each year, the BYS-UJ project has become a sanctuary for those seeking deeper meaning and connection amidst the rigors of university life. Dinesvara reflected on the project’s inception, stating, “Our approach was systematic and methodical, ensuring the programs were accessible and digestible for newcomers. It’s crucial not to overwhelm them with too much too soon, considering this is often their first exposure to these concepts.”

The approach is not one-size-fits-all but tailored to meet individuals where they are, addressing their unique concerns and backgrounds. Dinesvara shares insights into the challenges faced, particularly among students from African backgrounds, where cultural perceptions of spiritual practices may differ. He recounted, “In some Bollywood movies that some students may have watched, Krishna is depicted, leading to questions when we introduce chanting. Some may share remembrance about Him or express concerns about Krishna’s association with Hinduism. It’s important to address these queries sensitively to maintain their interest in chanting.”

The compulsory one-hour cultural activity period at the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park Campus has proven to be particularly favorable to the Bhakti Yoga Society preaching project. This dedicated time slot provides a unique opportunity for large numbers of students to engage in chanting, hear about Krishna consciousness, and relish sumptuous prasadam. Dinesvara noted, “When you’re dealing with a large number of students, naturally, there would be one or two that would face some family challenges in terms of different cultural or spiritual presentations.” However, the structured approach of the Bhakti Yoga activities allows for a gradual introduction to Krishna consciousness, making it accessible and appealing to students from diverse backgrounds. Through engaging presentations, interactive discussions, and the sharing of delicious prasadam, the Bhakti Yoga Society creates a welcoming environment where students can explore and deepen their understanding of spiritual concepts in a supportive community setting.

This delicate balance between tradition and adaptation underscores society’s commitment to inclusivity and understanding. The project goes beyond mundane proselytization; it’s about fostering a true understanding of self and a sense of community and belonging. Dinesvara emphasized, “Our goal is to involve devotees in this service, nurturing the potential of all involved parties to lead their own projects in the future. It’s a rewarding prospect to see individuals grow within the community.”

As the project expands, so do its aspirations. The upcoming Science of Self Realization course signals a deeper dive into Krishna consciousness, aiming to equip students with not just spiritual knowledge but practical skills for living a holistic life. Dinesvara’s vision for the future is clear: “Following this model, we aim to offer cooking classes and delve deeper into spiritual texts like the BhagavadG-gita and the Nectar of Ddevotion for those eager to advance their understanding and practice.”

However, growth comes with challenges, both logistical and financial. The BYS-UJ relies heavily on self-funding and the generosity of volunteers. Dinesvara acknowledged the need for support, stating, “While we understand everyone has commitments, taking a half-day off to experience our programs firsthand can be enlightening. Witnessing these efforts in action provides a deeper understanding of fulfilling Srila Prabhupada’s mission in South Africa.”

Despite the hurdles, society remains steadfast in its efforts, buoyed by the unwavering belief that sincere service will be met with providence. Dinesvara shared the words of wisdom imparted by his Spiritual Master, Bhakti Charu Swami: “A sincere commitment to serving Krishna alleviates worries, as Krishna’s kindness ensures provision and support. Trusting in this principle sustains our endeavors.”

In essence, the BYS preaching project at UJ Auckland Park Campus is more than just a spiritual endeavor; it’s a testament to the power of compassion, understanding, and community. As Dinesvara aptly concluded, “All glories to Srila Prabhupada.” Indeed, it is through the legacy of Srila Prabhupada and the tireless efforts of individuals like Dinesvara that the light of Krishna consciousness continues to illuminate the hearts and minds of students, one soul at a time.

Dinesvara Krsna welcomes inquiries and contributions from those interested in supporting the project’s growth and success. To learn more about the Bhakti Yoga Society’s preaching project at the UJ Auckland Park Campus or to offer assistance, individuals are encouraged to reach out to Dinesvara directly. He can be contacted via phone at +27 82-734-0875 or his email.

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