May 24, 2024
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Nama Ruchi Korea (left to right) Patanjali Muni Das and Omkarnat Das with dance group in the background.

Situated near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating South Korea from the North, the Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Temple serves as a center of spiritual enlightenment and community in the cosmopolitan city of Seoul, steadily growing, offering spiritual guidance, and cultural enrichment to the people of this dynamic nation.

Patanjali Muni Das, a devoted disciple of Bhakti Tirtha Swami, serves as the regional secretary of ISKCON in South Korea and as the temple president of Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Temple. His journey into Krishna consciousness began in London and led him to this country, where he is committed to serving the Krishna-conscious community there.

The history of ISKCON in the region is marked by significant milestones, one of which was the arrival of Srila Prabhupada’s murti. Patanjali Muni Das reminisced about this event with enthusiasm. “In 2005, one of our congregation members, Shyam Kishor, felt inspired to invite Srila Prabhupada in a life-sized murti from the Ujjain temple in India.” The arrival of Srila Prabhupada’s form marked a new chapter in the community’s journey, bringing immense joy and inspiration to the devotees.

The Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Temple in Seoul is active in offering traditional programs and adapted initiatives to reach the indigenous people of Korea. Patanjali Muni Das explained, “We have daily worship services, including Mangala Aarti and Gaura Aarti. Every Sunday, we have an active program with book distribution, Nrsingadev arati, bhoga aarti, kirtan, and a spiritual discourse followed by sumptuous prasadam distribution.” Additionally, the temple organizes monthly choreographed harinams in different cities and has formed a musical group, Nama Ruchi Korea, to enhance outreach efforts.

Understanding the cultural sensitivities of this serene state, ISKCON has tailored its preaching efforts to resonate with the indigenous people. “Previously, harinam produced a negative impact due to noise sensitivity in Korea,” said Patanjali Muni Das, “To overcome this, we started attending local festivals and government cultural programs, presenting ourselves as an Indian cultural group and musical collective called Nama Ruchi Korea.” This strategic shift has allowed devotees to slowly connect with the local community and generate curiosity and acceptance for their spiritual practices.

Building alliances with the Indian embassy and sharing the history of Vaishnavism and Vedic culture’s connection to Buddhism has also assisted in easing local acceptance of the Krishna-conscious aesthetic and spiritual practice among the locals. Patanjali Muni Das acknowledges that the Hare Krishna effort is still new in the area and requires a careful and sensitive approach to nurturing it into the cultural fabric of the indigenous people without causing a stir, as had happened to the movement in the 1980s.

Looking ahead, ISKCON Korea is brimming with excitement and aspiration. “We are planning a grand Rath Yatra event in Seoul on the 7th of July,” shared Patanjali Muni Das, “This event aims to showcase our cultural heritage and attract more people to Krishna consciousness.” He envisions a future where Krishna devotees play an integral role in spreading the message of love and spirituality across the nation.

The journey of ISKCON Korea, under the guidance of Patanjali Muni Das, is a testament to the power of faith, dedication, and community. From humble beginnings to a flourishing temple near the DMZ, the community has overcome challenges and continues to grow. As they set their sights on future endeavors, their message of love and spirituality resonates, bringing hope and inspiration to all who encounter them.

For more information about ISKCON Korea and to support their service, please visit their website, YouTube channel, TikTok and Instagram accounts in Korean and English/Russian. Additionally, they have started outreach accounts on TikTok and Instagram. Donations and volunteer opportunities are always welcome and greatly appreciated.

 

 


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