Interview with Arjun Raja,
affiliated with Bhaktivedanta Manor and its youth group, Pandava Sena.
What did you do before coming to Bhaktivedanta College?
I’ve been involved with Krishna consciousness since birth. I studied mathematics at Brunel University.
Why did you enroll here?
I wanted to study in a spiritually uplifting environment and had a strong desire to learn more about religion in order to understand how to take part in interfaith conferences and maturely represent Vaisnavism.
What’s your experience been so far?
It’s been hard to settle in. Living in an ashram isn’t easy, but it’s helped me in many ways, especially in the social and spiritual aspects of my life. Having friends is one thing, but living with them is another. My social skills have definitely increased, which I’m happy about. I find it easier to maintain a good level of spiritual practice in Radhadesh. My friends and I in London used to talk a lot about media onslaughts when taking the tube or walking through the local shopping centre simply to get a bus. We all felt that numerous advertisements constantly bombarded us. Such situations used to drain much of my energy. At Radhadesh, it’s the complete opposite. To get to classes means walking past flower gardens, which look wonderful even in winter. It’s peaceful.
What’s a nice aspect of education here?
The smaller classes. Last year I was accustomed to attending lectures with around eighty students. This year there are eight students in our class. It’s much more interactive. The nicest thing, however, is being able to study with a diverse range of students. There are students from Africa, North and South America, Australia, and Europe.
And what is challenging?
People skills and time management. These are general challenges that will always be there, no matter what the environment is. Here at Bhaktivedanta College, we have mentors. My mentor, Rasamandala Prabhu, has been extremely helpful (so has Yadunandana Swami) whenever I have sought advice or help in overcoming my challenges. Although these challenges are general, I’ve never been in an environment with such genuinely helpful guidance on a day-to-day basis.