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ISKCON YOUTH SERVICES: GUIDING THE YOUTH

— Meher Castelino

One Friday evening, my designer friend Samira Shah invited me to attend an evening of the Prerana Programme organised by The ISKCON Youth Services (IYS), the young wing of the Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Mandir ISKCON Temple at Girgaum, Chowpatty, in Mumbai. She informed it would be a lecture on life and start at 7 pm lasting for 45-60 minutes. I have to be quite honest lectures on life can at times be a bit trying if the speaker talks down to the gathering and drones on and on. But I thought 45-60 minutes is something I could handle. 

The Darshan Hall of the Temple was packed with nearly 2,000 young men seated cross-legged cheek by jowl. Even the tiny overhanging balconies were occupied and those who could not fit into the Darshan Hall were accommodated in the two adjoining halls where they saw the lecture on a video screen. A few observers like me were given comfortable chairs. In the far corner sat HH Gaur Gopal Das the speaker, his Apple laptop ready for the PPP. The subject was “Life’s Amazing Secrets — 10 Golden Keys”. The two-hour long talk was immensely entertaining with stories and a very friendly chatter by HH Gaur Gopal Das who would have given any stand-up comic a run for his money. 

HH Gaur Gopal Das, an electrical engineer, did a stint in the corporate world before he joined ISKCON in 1996. A popular speaker, he has lectured at hospitals, corporate firms and all over the world where he is invited throughout the year. His three books “Revival”, “Conquest” and “Checkmate” are based on timeless wisdom. He admits he never cracked a joke during his talks till 2005 when he realised that to keep the audience engrossed, humour was an important factor to get the message across. His talk on the 10 Golden Keys was simply explained from 1 to 10. At the end of the lecture, the thunderous applause from the young men and shouts of encore would have made any Bollywood star envious as the audience rushed to meet the speaker. The evening ended with free dinner served to the gathering in the temple courtyard. 

For me, it was an enlightening experience and the wisdom delivered stayed with me as it was simply but factually given. So what are “Life’s Amazing Secrets — 10 Golden Keys” as explained by Gaur Gopal Das? The way they were explained was very easy to understand and practice on a scale of 1 to 10. The talk started with the first golden key, which is the most selfish one letter word that is ‘I’ which causes havoc in one’s life, while the most satisfying two-letter word is “We”. He then continued with each number having a word with the corresponding number of alphabets that gradually made sense. The most poisonous three letter word is “Ego”, which often is the cause of relationships falling apart as ‘sorry’ is not said so it should be transformed by bending down. The most used four letter word is “Love”, which is needed by all so people are to be loved and things are to be used and not the other way around. The most pleasing five-letter word is “Smile”, which Gaur Gopal Das defined with a statement, “We don’t laugh at the same joke then why cry over the same problem again and again?” The fastest spreading six=letter word is “Gossip”, which must be given the three point filter test – a) is it good/bad b) true/false c) beneficial or not and only then used. The most hardworking seven-letter word is “Success”, which should be for growing through life and not going through life. The most burning eight-letter word is “Jealousy” that arises from comparing and contrasting. While the most powerful nine-letter word is “Knowledge”, which is of two kinds — for making a living and making a life — so it has to be used carefully. Finally, the most divine ten-letter word is “Connection”, which we were told all need in life whether it is to connect with people or God.

The activities of the IYS help in developing introspective attitude, sharpening and excelling skills, spiritual awareness of life, out of the box thinking, health beyond fitness, personal counselling, self-confidence, embedding character into competency and meaningful pursuit for academics. Completely free to all, including the lavish dinner served to the gathering, there are around thousand serious practitioners and several hundreds who directly and indirectly benefit from the programme. “These talks are also beneficial to the public as they are uploaded on the Internet and YouTube. For newcomers, there are booklets and free trips are arranged to our eco-friendly farm near Wada after every Prerana event. For regulars, we have weekly sessions in the temple and in various parts of Mumbai. In these sessions, we address the deeper topics of Bhagavad-Gita and how these principles can be used in our everyday existence,” informs HG Purushottam Das. The talks are held separately for men and women as there are many problems that are unique to women. The topics are different for the two sexes but many times the points are covered in both sessions. “The programmes are advertised mostly through word of mouth but we print passes and posters that we distribute in colleges among students. We also advertise it on Facebook and GooglePlus,” adds HG Purushottam Das.

I realised then that at times the important lessons in life can be very simply told in an interesting manner and can remain imbedded as this session did for me. When the speaker talks in simple language and knows his subject, the audience is bound to be enthralled.
 

MEHER CASTELINO
 
19-APRIL-2015
 
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