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Finance Exec Talks Krishna Consciousness in the Workplace

By: for ISKCON News on July 19, 2018
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Yasoda-dulal Das at work, with his small altar and Bhagavad-gita behind him

ISKCON Founder Srila Prabhupada often said that the sign of a true devotee, and a good representative of the Hare Krishna Movement, is his or her behavior. 

On July 29th, 1971, a television interviewer in Gainesville, Florida asked Prabhupada, “How would I recognize a true follower of the Krishna consciousness movement?” 

“He’d be a very perfect gentleman, that’s all,” Prabhupada replied, later adding, “A thing is judged by the result,” and “As soon as one understands how to deal with God, he will automatically deal very nicely with others.”

Yasoda-dulal Das, an executive officer in a mid-size New Jersey insurance company, is doing his best to follow these tenets and represent devotees well at work. 

Of course, building such character externally starts with one’s personal life and service. Growing up in Gujarat, Yasoda-dulal joined ISKCON in 1999 in Phoenix, Arizona, and now serves on the Bhakti Center’s Board of Directors in Manhattan.

He also informally mentors some of the Center’s congregation on spiritual matters, and helps organize get-togethers for householders. With head pujari Vasudeva Das, he runs “Strengthening the Core,” a series of programs based on deep hearing of bhakti scriptures. And with his wife Sri Radhika Dasi, he helps connect single devotees who want to marry other bhakti practitioners.  

With so many responsibilities, balancing work, family and spiritual life is a constant endeavor. 

“It helps to have a fantastic partner like my wife, who is on the same path and shares the same goals,” Yasoda-dulal says. “We both love to hear talks by great souls and to associate with devotees as much as we can. Leading a regulated life helps too.”

Interestingly, one of Yasoda-dulal’s most essential principals for a balanced and Krishna conscious family life is to try as much as possible to eat only prasad, or sacred food. 

“In the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.44, Srila Prabhupada tells us it’s not possible for someone to become a devotee until they’re pure in mind,” he says. “No one can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. And no one can be pure in action who is not pure in their eating, sleeping, defending and mating. Throughout their purports, Prabhupada and all the acharyas further explain that it all starts with eating.” 

Sure enough, Prabhupada writes in his purport to Bhagavad-gita 13.10: “The most important and uncontrollable sense is the tongue. If one can control the tongue, then there is every possibility of controlling the other senses.” 

So Krishna consciousness begins with honoring prasad. And that’s how Yasoda-dulal conveys the great gift he feels he’s been given to his work colleagues – by sharing his prasad with them.

He doesn’t do this in any kind of evangelistic way, but simply to be friendly and pass out some treats – as Srila Prabhupada called it, “dealing very nicely with others.” 

“I do it quite regularly – several times a week,” he says. “I’ll bring extra fresh fruit with me from a farm close to our home, or put fifty cupcakes Radhika has made out in the hallway for people to grab as they arrive in the morning.” 

Yasoda-dulal also makes a point to work very hard at his job and to be an exemplary professional. His peers and his team both love working with him, and his boss appreciates how he builds relationships and a strong work culture at the company. 

Not only is this likely to give people a good impression of Hare Krishnas, but there is precedent for it in the scriptures, too. “In the fourth canto of Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada clearly writes that although Dhruva Maharaja’s main goal was the Lord, he did all his duties excellently,” Yasoda-dulal explains. “And in the Caitanya-caritamrita, Rupa and Sanatana Goswami were excellent at their government job, even though inside they were hankering for Mahaprabhu.”

Yasoda-dulal also tries to always be kind and empathic; and he is naturally a very joyful person, because, as he says, “I feel Krishna consciousness really makes me happy.”

All this often leads to colleagues asking questions about the little altar he openly keeps in his office, or about the Bhagavad-gita As It Is on his desk – particularly from those who have already had prasad. This can lead to long conversations about Krishna consciousness, and the commonality between Hare Krishna and Judeo-Christian beliefs. 

One colleague, saying goodbye before he left to start his MBA, asked, “Why are you always so happy?” 

“Because I feel like I’ve been given knowledge that reveals the secret of happiness,” Yasoda-dulal replied. He then handed his colleague a copy of “The Journey Home,” which tells the story of how Radhanath Swami discovered that secret. The man returned four days later saying, “I finished the book. It’s mindblowing.” He has kept in touch ever since.

When colleagues have shown interest, Yasoda-dulal has also given them copies of other books like the Higher Taste cookbook and Srila Prabhupada’s “Science of Self-Realization.” He has invited some of them to kirtans, yoga or introductory talks at the Bhakti Center, where they have enjoyed the programs and connected with teachers such as Radhanath Swami and Niranjana Swami. 

To others inspired by his approach to being a devotee at work, Yasoda-dulal warns: “The biggest no-nos are being judgmental about others who might not follow or even appreciate bhakti; trying to (subtly or otherwise) ram bhakti down people’s throats; feeling a sense of superiority; and not honoring one’s commitments or doing a sloppy job."

Ultimately, it comes down to being oneself and having no agenda. “I don’t ‘preach,’” he says. “I simply do my best at work, am kind to all, and share prasad. I am open about my faith and practice as a Hare Krishna, when asked. Sometimes, that leads to deep conversations, and sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s okay.”

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