What were you doing before coming to Radhadesh?
Kalindi: I’d graduated from high school, and for a year I was helping at the school at Saranagati Village, assisting a teacher in her in social studies and science projects for the kindergarten to grade-3 students. I lived at Saranagati, also known as Venables Valley; it is a Hare Krsna community in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of British Colombia. I was born there and lived there my whole life. It is a secluded place, with no electricity or TV, a place that makes you find other ways to have fun. In the summer we ride horses, swim, and explore the countryside, and in the winter we ice skate, go sledding, and do many indoor arts and crafts.
Gopal Anandini: Before I came to Radhadesh I was in Saranagati finishing my last year of school.
Why did you come to Radhadesh?
Kalindi: Two years ago one of my best friends came here to do the Bhakti-Shastri course. When she came back, I saw how transformed she was, how much she grew from her experience, and how much she liked it here. Seeing a spark in her eye every time she spoke about her experiences, I decided that I wanted to go. Moreover, my brother-in-law had taught at the college a few years ago, and so the moment my sister and I expressed our desire to go, he and his wife immediately started to arrange everything. I think the main reasons for me to come here were my desires to learn more about our philosophy, to live in a temple, to meet new devotees, and to experience a new place in the world.
Gopal Anandini: Three years ago my friend, Haripriya, took bhakti-sastri and she came back home telling us that it was amazing in Radhadesh and she didn’t want to leave because it was so nice. She also told us about the course, explaining how good, developed, and interesting it was. Three years went by of me being in school and then the last year I did two grades in one year, grade 11 and grade 12 just so that I could come to Radhadesh and after to India. I had this great inspiration and motivation to come to Radhadesh and take Bhakti-sastri and so the summer after I graduated, my sister and I, arranged to come here and take the course. In this way, I got to have a taste of temple life, learning more of our philosophy, and experience a whole different world.
Before I took bhakti-sastri, I realized that I didn’t know much of our philosophy it was more kirtan, Krsna pastimes, and prasadam and so I decided that if I am going to be a devotee then I should know what being a devotee means. I should know how to reach the goal. By taking bhakti-sastri I knew that that would help me understand this process and actually be able to practice is seriously.
What was challenging here?
Kalindi: The most challenging thing for me here was finding a balance between schooling, spiritual practices, and work. For most students it is slightly easier to find that balance because they don’t have a job while studying here. I have an online job that requires me to work daily at least for an hour or two.
Gopal Anandini: When I first came here, the living conditions were a challenge. We stayed in 1A and this room was pretty difficult and austere. After a couple of weeks of staying here, I got used to it. Then after a while the devotees came and renovated room 1A and made it really nice and much more comfortable. Now, I really enjoy staying in 1A. It is comfortable, homey, and really nice. Also sometimes I have a hard to eating the prasadam that is being served at the temple. It can get pretty difficult for me to eat, at these times, I either eat at the restaurant or buy snacks and eat that.
What was the highlight of your experience?
Kalindi: A couple of things. One was seeing the breathtaking, merciful, shining faces of Radha-Gopinatha. Another was living in an old chateau in the European countryside that is peaceful and beautiful. The castle made me feel like one of Gopinatha’s princesses.
Gopal Anandini: My highlight of this Radhadesh experience was finally for-filling my dream of wanting to come here. Radhedesh has been an incredible experience, something that I will never forget. Everyday I experience something knew, I see beautiful Radha Gopinatha and I realize that this place is special. Radha Gopinath has surely blessed this place and made it there home.
Were there any surprises in the course?
Kalindi: I never realized how much there really is within Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Studying the Bhagavad-gita in-depth revealed a new realm of the Krsna conscious philosophy. It really made me feel closer to Srila Prabhupada. I can see him in my life so much more and be grateful for what he gave us.
Gopal Anandini: Yes there was a surprise in learning Bhakti-sastri. I didn’t realize that you really have to be motivated be to able to go back home quickly. This process, I realized, is more difficult that I thought it would be. But at the same time, Krsna is so kind that if we just chant the Holy Names we will eventually go back home.
Are you planning to come back?
Kalindi: Radhadesh is the first place that I would go to if I want to continue studying. It is the ideal environment with good association, perfect for any student.
Gopal Anandini: This summer there is a kirtan, musical, course that will be happening and I will be coming for that for sure. I find this course really inspiring and exciting and I can’t wait!