“What is it like to be born in a Krsna Conscious family?” This question often arises when I meet new people. It is often followed with, “Is it easier to be Krsna Conscious when you’ve been taught about Krsna from childhood?” or “Do you feel that you weren’t given any choice but to follow in your parents’ footsteps?”.
Answering those questions is never easy. Being born in a devotee family is due to some great fortune, but choosing to truly follow the path of the acaryas in the line of Sriman Mahaprabhu is definitely a matter of choice. Because it is a matter of inner conviction, it is not something that can be forced upon anyone. There is no shortcut to attain pure love for Sri Sri Radha Krsna. The only means is to surrender our complete self to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
I was born 22 years ago in India, to a French mother and an Indonesian father. I have been raised mainly in France, where I am currently living. My parents provided a very spiritual home environment, even though we lived far from any temple. I was homeschooled but I attended a music school. I had plenty of friends there, although none were devotees. I always thought that outside the house, material life went on and we had to participate in that as necessary, in order function in society, and that home was a safe space for personal and spiritual growth.
As a music enthusiast, I have always enjoyed singing and participating in kirtanas, and that’s truly what led me to make the conscious decision, my personal choice, to follow this bhakti path. As I grew older and more troubled by the surrounding world, I started studying the meanings of the bhajanas I used to sing for fun. My heart truly resonated with the songs of our acaryas like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura. Those songs were composed for people like me, so that I could learn to pray and to glorify Krsna in an authentic and bona fide way.
This is when I discovered the incredible benefits of being born in a Krsna Conscious family. We have the opportunity to save so much time, so much energy, because we don’t have to search for what will satisfy us. From the start we know that material life will only bring us temporary happiness. We already know the answers to so many existential questions such as Who am I? Why are we here? Who is God? What is real happiness?And we have some capacity to balance material and spiritual life naturally, because it’s simply how we were raised.
I’ve often asked myself how can I properly practice bhakti-yoga without access to temple life, big festivals and congregational chanting as advised in many of our sacred literatures, but I’m trying to work with whatever Krsna gave me, as mentioned in my favorite verse (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.14.8):
tat te ’nukampam su-samiksamaëo
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.”
Srila Rupa Goswami writes in his Sri Upadesamrta that enthusiasm (utsaha), endeavouring with confidence (niscaya) and patience (dhairyat), are qualities necessary to stay and progress on the path of bhakti. Life, in general, is not easy. Whether we are materialists or spiritualists, various kinds of problems and unexpected situations always arise that we have to deal with. But by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, we have the shelter of ISKCON, a house where the whole world can take shelter and where we are given all the tools to successfully achieve the goal of our life, krsna-prema. Through prasadam, association, holy books, service and lectures, we are able to keep our mind and senses engaged in thoughts of Lord Krsna, regardless of our background, age, race, gender, nationality, etc. It is our personal relationship with Krsna that matters the most, and by the mercy of Vaisnavas we’ll be able to build and strengthen it.
Today I’m still living with my parents away from temples and devotees, but I remain connected to Krsna through my sadhana, my online work for the Vrindavan Broadcast department, and my service of assisting my parents in their seva of publishing Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami’s audios and videos, which gives me a chance to hear more krsna-katha. I’m very grateful for all the wonderful devotees Lord Krsna has allowed me to take association of, and I pray to always be engaged in service to Lord Krsna’s dear devotees.
(Graphic designer, Iskcon Vrindavan Broadcast Team)