Janmashthami special: The Kiwi who became a Hindu Monk

"The Bhagavad Gita unlocks so many wisdom secrets which are entirely relevant to current global turmoils."

Shri Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated every year to mark the birth of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated on Ashthami (eighth day) of Krishna Paksh (waning moon) in Bhadrapada month (sixth month, according to the Hindu calender). It generally falls on August – Sepetmber according to Gregorian calender.

The ancient Hindu text Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Shri Krishna and the prince Arjun (who was also his cousin) at the battle of Kurukshetra.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krishna_tells_Gita_to_Arjuna.jpg

The teachings of this spiritual and sacred text are so profound and universal that many people from around the world, from business scions like Alfred Ford to scientists like J Robert Oppenheimer, have been deeply touched by it.

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Today we introduce you to Shree Radha Raman Das who is originally from New Zealand but decided to pursue the path of Krishna bhakti after reading the Bhagavad Gita.

Interview with Shree Radha Raman Das by Pallavi Jain

1) Tell us about your own journey? 

My name is Shree Radha Raman Das, I am originally from New Zealand, and I have been a brahmacari with the Hare Krishna spiritual tradition for the past 40 years of my life. At the young age of 19 years, after reading the epic spiritual text Bhagavad Gita, I made the decision to devote my life to the pursuit of Krishna bhakti.

I have been serving as a Co-Director at Sacred India in Western Australia since 2002. I live here as a resident monk, project Co- Director, and as Tours And Events Coordinator.

Shree Radha Raman Das with Jagattarini Dasi who is founder of The Sacred India Gallery in Perth

2) How often have you visited India and what have your experiences been like?

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I first visited India in 1985. I was 20 years old. I traveled there as a young monk on pilgrimage to the sacred sites of the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition. I fell in love with the depth and vitality of India’s rich spiritual heritage, the ancient sites and temples, and the fascinating people who carry these traditions in their hearts. i now journey to India every year, and have developed a deep connection with the Vrindavan region in Uttar Pradesh, the site of Sri Krishna’s janma and leela 5000 years ago.

3) How did the concept of Sacred India Gallery come about?

When we founded Sacred India in 2002, we had a desire to share the fascinating gifts of the spiritual culture of India with people from all walks of life. We set out to create an experience where our guests directly enter the realms of India’s ancient spiritual heritage through the medium of intricate artistic installations and an incredible miniature world.

Miniature art at The Sacred India Gallery

4) Do you see more Australians being aware of Hinduism and the teachings of Bhagavad Gita today than they were before?

Now more than ever, all over the world, people are reaching out for deeper meaning, purpose and connection in life. We live in such a fast-paced modern world. The emphasis is on immediate gains, competitive success, acquisition and accumulation. Old cultures of the world, such as India, offer a glimpse into alternative perspectives of reality, where the focus is on the inner journey, on the timeless nature of the true self within, and on the importance of living a life of knowledge, upliftment and enlightenment.

(Image: The Sacred India Gallery)

So many people are very frustrated with contemporary modern life, it’s demands and pressures and the predominance of short term values and agendas over any deeper goals and objectives. The Bhagavad Gita unlocks so many wisdom secrets which are entirely relevant to current global turmoils. I find many people here in Australia who have a profound interest in such knowledge, and who are making serious efforts to deepen their inner journey

Rita Safiotti visting Sacred India (She is now the Deputy Premier of Western Australia)

5) What are some of your favourite teachings of the Bhagavad Gita?

Gita teaches us that life has a profound inner purpose- to connect with God in a meaningful and personal way through love and selfless service. The Gita uncovers the mystery of the journey of the timeless self through the maze of samsara, repeated birth and death. We are all timeless souls on a temporary embodied journey.

Our journey reaches its culmination when we awaken to true self, and enter the path of deep loving exchange with our creator, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, through a lifetime of dedication in the spirit of bhakti.

It does not matter where you are from, what culture you were born into, your background, your age, your gender, for beyond all superficial differences, there is something deep which we all carry common within- it is the desire for deep connection and purpose.

Scott Fleming, Manager Swan Valley Visitors Centre

Deeper than all the labels we wear in life lies our true spiritual identity. With proper guidance and inspiring association, we can rediscover the shining light of our true identity as a spiritual soul, and perfect our existence through knowledge and enlightenment. Right now, we have the rare and valuable gift of this human form of life. We should not waste away this opportunity, distracted by theso-called glamour of this glittering superficial world. Turn within, follow the call of your heart, and find your true peace within.

The Sacred India Gallery

The Sacred India Gallery in Perth, Western Australia is a not for profit arts centre sharing the treasures of the spiritual culture of India.  Visitors embark on a spiritual journey, even though they are thousands of miles away from India!

The Gallery was founded by Jagattarini Dasi, an Australian-born Hare Krishna Artist who lived for many years in the revered North Indian temple town of Vrindavan.

Open to the public for free guided tours, the gallery is operated and maintained by a team of volunteers. Guests to the gallery are taken on a one hour guided tour, which features intricate artistic installations, and an incredible miniature Krishna world created by Jagattarini Dasi. 

Transporting visitors to three of India’s ancient sacred sites, (Vrindavan, Puri and Nabadwip) the gallery offers a unique interactive, cross-cultural exchange in Western Australia. 

Guests receive a fascinating introduction to India’s rich spiritual and cultural heritage because of the gallery’s maze of intricate displays, traditional Indian carvings, and Jagattarini’s exquisite miniatures, all of which capture the sights, sounds, and mystical atmosphere of spiritual India. 

Guests come from all walks of life and from a range of cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. 

The gallery is regularly frequented by WA based seniors groups, school groups, and other community organisations. 

Jagattarini is also an accomplished storyteller, and an authority on the ancient stories from India’s Vedic culture. 

A gift by a dying friend, a one-inch figure of Krishna, which inspired Jagattarini Dasi to take up her art again

Speaking about Janmashthami, Shree Radha Raman Das who has been Co-Director at Sacred India since 2002, says

“Here at Sacred India, we all have a deep love for Sri Vrindavan, the land of Sri Krishna’s mystical appearance and activities. Janmashtami is that special time of year where we remember the land of Vrindavan, where Sri Sri Radha and  Krishna eternally reside, and where, just under the surface, one can connect with the immense sweetness of this land and the loving exchanges Sri Krishna relishes with his most intimate associates, the Vrajbasis.”

“We sing the songs of their glories, we engage in service and celebration, and we dedicate our hearts to the path of Krishna bhakti. Vrindavan bihari lal Bhagavan Sri Krishna ki jaya! Sri Vrindavan Dham ki jaya!”