SEEKING... AND FINDING DIVINE-LOVE
An Interview with Priya Dasi
By Chris Dionisi
Singing their beautiful Sanskrit verses and explaining their in-tricate meanings, Priya Dasi unfolds the spiritual secrets of the holy writings of India into simple, profound truths. A lecturer and teacher for the International Society of Divine Love, Priya Dasi will provide a fascinating and illuminating introduction to this Divine knowledge through a series of programs in San Diego (Nov. 5-16) and Los Angeles (Dec. 1-20).
After extensive study of Hindi, Sanskrit and the Vedic Scriptures, Priya Dasi lectures on the path of raganuga bhakti or divine-love-consciousness as taught by her Spiritual Master, H.D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati. Shree Swamiji's practical, authoritative and loving teachings have inspired souls around the world to embrace the path to God Realization.
Shree Swamiji took the renunciate order of Sanyas at the age of twenty. Then for more than twenty years he stayed in devotional isolation in the holy places of India. In 1972, at the invitation of several devotees, Shree Swamiji left his seclusion to share his profound knowledge and experience of God with others. He founded ISDL to spread the true, original knowledge of the primary scriptures: the Vedas, the Gita and the Bhagwatam and to bring forth divine-love-consciousness, inner peace and health to interested souls. He also founded ash-rams in India, New Zealand and the U.S., and centers around the country including one in Kirkland, WA.
The following are portions of an interview with Priya Dasi held at ISDL's Barsana Dham Ashram in Austin, Texas:
CD: What attracted you to the teachings of ISDL?
PD: When I met Shree Swamiji, I had been seriously looking for, but not finding, the answers to my questions about life and God. My search ended when I found Swamiji. Reading his books answered questions which I hadn't even been able to verbalize. Every word was pure truth and every sentence replaced my confusion with real understanding. The experiences I received in his presence and through divine-love-meditation seemed to reach to my soul. I felt touched by God's love. I felt that I could know God through this path.
CD: Has Priya Dasi always been your name?
PD: Priya Dasi is the name given to me by Swamiji, when I took san-yas. The name Priya means God, and Dasi means the one who serves. It is traditional for those who enter sanyas to receive a new name at the beginning of their new lifestyle that is dedicated to the spiritual goal of God realization.
CD: I know that you lecture extensively around the U.S.; what is it that
you teach in your programs?
PD: We are concerned about finding our own happiness. Nothing else. Our experiences of life don't meet our expectations. So we constantly try new things and new ways to be contented. Why does our discontent remain? Because we need to achieve more? No. Because what we want is 'perfection' and 'perfection' is a quality of God, not of this material world. There is a complete philosophy behind this, which I describe in my lectures. Until we understand who we really are and what we really want how can we look for answers? And once we come to the conclusion that our life is for God realization, we need to know how to attain it. The path must be clear in order for us to walk it. That is the greatness of Swamiji, his teachings are crystal clear.
CD: Can you tell me what divine-love-consciousness is?
PD: Divine-love-consciousness is a form of Divine energy which evokes and evolves the dormant Divine-love power hidden in the depths of the human heart and brings him close to God. It is the original source of God realization in His ultimate, Divine beauty that was revealed in our Vedas, the Bhagwatam and the Gita even before the beginning of the religions of the world.
CD: It sounds like an experience of the heart.
PD: Yes, it is; but it's important to know that the heart and mind are not two separate things. The mind actually has two facets. When the mind is analytical we say intellect, and when the mind is emotional we say heart. With our intellect we can understand how to reach God, and with our heart we can receive the Grace of God and experience His love. When we direct our longing for fulfillment towards God, then it is possible to find Him.
CD: Finding God means different things to different people.
PD: In this case, God realization means finding perfect love, forever; finding your Supreme Divine Beloved for whom you have been longing since eternity. That is the teaching of bhakti yog or divine-love-consciousness. We tend to think of yog as doing hath yoga or some asanas for physical health. According to the Bhagavad Gita, bhakti means serving God with love, surrender, dedication, and humility; and yog means union of one's heart and mind with God.
CD: Is the Guru or Spiritual Master necessary to receive God realization?
PD: Yes, the Scriptures tell us that a genuine Spiritual Master acts as a guide who leads the qualified disciple towards his or her spiritual goal. There is a beautiful verse in the Rama-yanam that says the human body is like a strong boat that can carry us across this cosmic ocean of material existence to reach God, steered by the Spiritual Master as the expert helmsman, and propelled forward by the favorable wind of the Grace of God. When we could not have learned even something as simple as the alphabet without the help of a teacher, then in the same way, we need the guidance of a Spiritual teacher in order to learn about God.
CD: I am very impressed by the vibration of peace here at Barsana Dham.
What is the regular routine at the Ashram?
PD: Life at the Ashram is a balance of service and devotion in harmony with nature. Our aim is to provide an environment which fosters a continuous experience of devotion to God during our meetings, the day's activities and even during sleep. We also organize wonderful devotional celebrations and offer special intensives and retreats. And of course you have the special chance to meet Shree Swamiiji, who resides at Barsana Dham about six months of the year. When you visit Barsana Dham, you will find you are in a different world, a world of spiritual peacefulness that excites your heart with devotional affinity to meet your beloved God in this very lifetime. For those who have been intrigued by the spiritual teachings of India, Priya Dasi's programs present an opportunity to gain rare insight into this Divine knowledge and to experience it on a personal level through her devotional songs and meditation.
For further information about Priya Dasi's lectures in San Diego call (619) 276-0382, and in L.A. call (310) 471-5559.
Of special interest: His Divinity Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, founder of ISDL, will be visiting Southern California from December 24th to January 7th. Programs of chanting, lecture and an opportunity for questions will be held each evening. Call the above numbers for more details.
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