Not many of us Indians know and appreciate the fact that India is the spiritual capital of the world and the fact that Hinduism is one of the oldest religion (सनातन धर्म) in the world and Indian Spiritual beliefs and practices have always been popular across the globe. Me and most of my fellow Indians, live in the materialistic plane, far away from realizing the treasure what the Indian religion and Spirituality has to offer. One fine day I got a wonderful opportunity to learn more about my country and religion from one of my friend from Israel which was a real eye opener for me. While I had great admiration for my friend, somewhere inside, it was indeed a matter of shame for me for being an Indian and ignorant of the treasure that I had. In a retrospective exercise, I requested my friend from Israel to spare a little time to enlighten me to understand about God and spirituality from her viewpoint which she gladly accepted.
Hadas , a Jewish friend from Israel, an adherent devotee of Lord Sri Krishna is an Engineer by qualification and a Statistician by profession, has been a patron of ISKCON from past Two and half years. In my 90 min conversation with her, I was mesmerized with her depth of knowledge and faith in Krishna. She appeared intense and passionate about Krishna and spoke with conviction and with great maturity. She believes that she has some Karmic connection with India and shares and intimate bonding with India and her knowledge about India is amazing. Back home at Israel, she is part of ISKCON devotees, a group close to 30 people all of them from Israel and other western country who often gather together to progress in the path of spirituality. Excerpts from the Interview
Tell me about you and how you got into spiritual life?
I grew up in Israel in a well to do middle class family, in my youth I became attracted to science. Like all, I too believed that the Evolution theory and the Big bang as ultimate truth and I was an atheist. I have studied engineering in Israel technological institute and after I graduated I did my master’s in Statistics. Even though materially, I didn’t miss anything (thought one always feel like he/she don’t have enough even when he/she live a materialistic life) I somehow felt unsatisfied from within. Around 25th year of my age, I felt that there must be something else, something bigger, there must be a meaning for this life rather than just get married, have children, work, grow old and eventually die.
I felt like I was exhausted and I couldn’t find anything interesting, even the daily chorus –be it a party, a movie, a joint… it was not at all appealing.
What made you travel to India to seek Truth?
These feelings that were running in my mind made me decided to visit India to seek answers. From young age I thought of India and I somehow knew I will visit there one day. For some reason (maybe some experience from previous lives) I had the feeling that I might find the answers there for what I was so longing for. However, when I first headed for India the objective was (maybe mainly) to have fun after graduating my master, as at that time, I was not fully convinced about the spiritual life yet
How did you learn about Krishna?
Before boarding flight to India I met my friends in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. While we sat and chatted there, a gentleman approached me and asked us “are you interested in spirituality?” and I replied “yes”, and thats when I bought the Bhagavad Gita from him and we exchanged phone numbers. Two weeks later in India at Rishikesh, I met a person from El Salvador who was staying in the same guest house. We began to talk and he introduce me the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita and taught me about the laws of karma, modes of nature and much more. He also gave me a Japa mala and taught me the Maha mantra and how to chant. He also encouraged me to become vegetarian. During my 4.5 months in India I used to chant occasionally. When I returned back to Israel I called the same person who gave me the Bhagvad Gita and he invited me to the classes. Soon I joined the group of people who were practicing Krishna consciousness and as the time progressed, I started to chant 16 rounds daily (which I am doing till date).
Another interesting thing that happened is that on the flight to India, coincidentally, I met great spiritual master Morari Bapu and his followers. This is when I got befriended with one of his woman Disciple. She invited me to her place in Gujarat and introduced me more about spirituality and God.
What did you do in India?
I spent around 4.5 months traveling far and wide to various popular tourist destinations including places of Hindu pilgrimage. During this trip itself, I got introduced to ISKCON and Krishna, thanks for my friend from El Salvador and the woman disciple of Morari Bapu.
Apart from being highly qualified and from west where people are more logical and rational, how did you still got inclined to Krishna?
Somehow I felt from my heart that I was able to connect to Krishna from deep within and I am able to decipher Bhagvat Gita through the eyes of Srila Prabhupada. To become devotional, you need to be experimental, keep chanting, be in the company of truth seekers, discard bad habits and once you do all of this you will gradually get inclined to Krishna.
How has your life changed ever since you have associated yourself with Krishna?
I am now able to deal problems in better way. I am now in the company of Krishna Conscious people here at Israel and have a Guru as well, who guide me & help me in dealing with my problems. Even at work, whenever I face difficult situations, chanting helps me pass the phase and often, chanting has helped me accomplish challenging tasks with ease. I have got Inner peace and bliss when I chant. I live regulated life – wake up early in the morning to chant 16 rounds and go to sleep early. I have left eating Non Veg and have become Pure veg (सात्विक) (no eggs, garlic and onion as well).
What is the summary of Bhagavad Gita in your words?
Bhagavad Gita is a universal book of knowledge and wisdom. It is a guide for Truth seekers and educates one about the supreme Truth. I have read Bhagavad Gita once and now I am reading it for the second time. There are versus that I read few times in different occasions (like in classes or alone). What is so amazing about it is that it is always relevant and even if you have already read something you can still find new meaning in it every time you read it.
Have you completely devoted yourself to Krishna?
Though I am putting every effort for it but I am yet to reach there. I aspire to develop my relationship with Krishna; want to feel him everywhere and act upon him. I believe this should be the goal of everyone.
Having tasted the nectar of Krishna consciousness, how do you think , we can encourage others to join the path of Krishna?
As we talked earlier, we live in Kaliyuga where people are under the influence of Maya and people judgment is based on Logical and rational thinking process, however, it is my duty to spread awareness about Krishna consciousness by whatever means I could. We can preach them, we can tell them about Bhagavad Gita, we can offer them with Prasada. We have to keep in mind that we can’t enforce someone to believe, all we can do is to sow the seed of spirituality and it will grow someday, because spiritual knowledge is the eternal truth. We all must realize that we all are creation of God and he exists in each one of us and it is better the we realize this sooner to break away from the cycles of Karma and rebirth.
What is your view about Indians, Why do you think they are ignorant?
I think, people are more inclined to the Western countries particularly US and they are under the illusion that more money and materialistic things will bring them Happiness. That’s why despite that fact that they are lucky to be born in India, that are under the influence of Maya and are leading a meaningless life.
What are you doing these days? What are your future plans?
I am reading Shrimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. I have planned another trip to India in November 2015 where I will be visiting Vrindavan and I am very excited about it.
(Interview Date – Apr 2015)