ISKCON New York Bhakti Yoga
At the Bhakti Center in New York City, two brahmacharis (celibate students) are developing a new book club that helps bridge the cultural gap between the ancient spiritual texts of India and a postmodern audience.
Using the books of western philosophers whose portrayal of suffering in the material world and loving a personal God mirrors that of Bhakti yoga teachers like Srila Prabhupada, they are creating a framework to help modern audiences better understand Srila Prabhupada’s mood, language and message.
“We are not diluting Prabhupada’s message one bit, but rather we are bridging a cultural gap to help as many people as possible understand and appreciate his work and life, and connect them with his books,” says Rasanath Dasa, a full-time brahmachari at the Bhakti Center who holds an MBA from Cornell University and worked as an investment banker on Wall Street.
Rasanath leads the Bhakti Center Book Club along with Hari Prasad Dasa, an English major and NYU film graduate who introduced him to the great existential philosophers. Rasanath explains that the existentialists clearly and profoundly saw the problems of the material world. Some came to negative conclusions—Nietzche famously said ‘God is Dead,’ while Sartre’s conclusion was ‘man is but a useless passion.’ Søren Kierkegaard, however, a Danish Christian philosopher widely considered to be the father of existentialism, was different, and Rasanath fell in love with his writings.
“He was a theist, believed in a personal God, and was trying to get to the heart of what true Christianity really meant,” he says. “His work is relevant to Bhakti in many ways. In fact, the mood of his writing is very similar to that of Srila Prabhupada’s: very direct, and almost confronting, yet coming from a very realized place. His writing is profound, yet full of satire and creativity, using different pen names and characters to present philosophy, as Bhaktivinode Thakura did in his fictional Jaiva Dharma.”
Web site: http://bhakticenter.org