HH Radhanath Swami was invited to a special home program on June 30, 2015 in Camarillo, California. This city houses California State University, Channel Islands, one of the 23 campuses in the CSU system, the biggest public university structure in California, where Nandini Radha devi dasi (aka Dr. Nitika Parmar), a disciple of Radhanath Swami works as a Biology professor.
In January of 2014 and 2015, Dr. Parmar took a group of 14 students from the university for a trip to India, to explore various facets of biotechnology. This trip served as the culmination activity of a study abroad course that she teaches. The core textbook for this course was “The Journey Home” and students were required to write a summary on this book and were also given quiz assignments on the same. As a result of reading the book beforehand, the students were very eager to meet with the author, which they did in India.
A visit to the Govardhan Ecovillage in Maharashtra was built into the itinerary as the environmental biotechnology component. The students had the most amazing time at GEV and got to meet with Radhanath Swami both at the Ecovillage as well as ISKCON Chowpatty, where the spiritual leader spent several hours conversing with them. Upon returning back to USA all students expressed an interest in meeting with Radhanath Swami again when they were told about his summer tour to USA. This led to the June 30 gathering at Dr. Parmar’s home.
Overall, the audience of almost 45 guests made for a packed gathering at the venue. Radhanath Swami arrived promptly on time and was greeted loudly by the students with the chant “Haribol!” which they learnt at GEV. An introductory video of the Journey Home was played in the first few minutes while the speaker was being introduced.
After a seven minute introduction, Radhanath Swami gave a discourse on “The Ecology of the Heart” a subject which focused on the development of human values in conjunction with concern for the environment. The speaker spoke about the need to connect with the Divine and our dependence on the higher powers at every stage in life. He also spoke briefly about his quest to know the truth and how this curiosity led him to travel to the other side of the globe while he was a teenager.
One main area that was discussed was the need to better ourselves in three “S” areas- sanga (association), sadhana (devotional practice) and sadachara (character). The speaker quoted- “If one loses money, nothing is lost. If one loses health, something is lost but if one loses character, everything is lost.”
The topic of hatred and religious intolerance rampant in the world today was also touched upon and the speaker enunciated beautifully how greed is leading to proprietorship of things that don’t belong to us in the first place. He specifically talked about the ‘simple living, high thinking’ model which is much needed in today’s society. Focusing on students, he encouraged them to think deeper since they would be the leaders of the future and to follow a path based on compassion and care was of prime necessity.
The audience listened attentively, digesting each word. Following the discourse there was a question and answer session and several questions were fielded. This Q and A could have lasted longer but since it was getting late and the guests were looking forward to dinner, a sumptuous vegetarian feast was served. The Journey Home book was also available for purchase and several books were bought by the guests. Radhanath Swami signed the books and spoke with the guests personally, tending to them with his characteristic care and attention. This program was very well received as evidenced from the feedback received (feedback forms were provided to the guests). Some of the feedback received was:
- I have been reflecting a lot about the message the Swami shared. My apologies to referring to him simply as the Swami. I can’t recall his name. His message really speaks to me in where I am at in my life in discovering my spiritual path and seeking enlightenment. I am very interested in learning more. It was a great event.
- Admittedly I thought your guest was going to be someone in the science field but I was pleasantly surprised! He was very insightful and his words resonated in me. Thank you so much!
- Radhanath Swami was a very inspiring and interesting speaker I feel privileged and lucky to have had the opportunity to hear him speak in such an intimate setting. I will definitely be reading his book in the near future. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the speaker.
- Thank you for a wonderful evening last night. We really enjoyed the talk. I purchased his book. I am looking forward to reading it.
- Thank you again for having us over to your home for dinner with the swami. Both my friend Cecily and I really enjoyed the talk and found it invigorating and enlightening.
- Thank you for such a very lovely dinner and what a surprise, to meet the most fascinating person I have ever met! I purchased his book and am enjoying it so much. I remember when the HARE KRISHNA movement was starting here in L.A. when I first became aware of it. I attended the temple in Malibu for a wedding sometime in the 70’s, it was very beautiful and here some 40yrs later to meet such an important man, to say I was very impressed does not even come close to how I felt.
- I really enjoyed Swami and his message. It would be great to go to another event in the future.
The program ended with the students eager to visit GEV again in the future and several mentioned how they would make changes in their own lives which will make them more conscious of values which are meaningful rather than pursue hollow dreams.
Article writen by Nandini Radha devi dasi