Krishna consciousness continues to spread in one of the last frontiers, South Korea, with Patanjali Muni Das and Prayojana Das recently returning from their third tour of the East Asian country.
Former Korean army officer Patanjali Muni spent three years living and teaching Krishna consciousness in his native country in the mid 2000s, and has translated both the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and the Sri Isopanisad for the Korean audience.
Today, he works as the kitchen manager in the U.K.’s Bhaktivedanta Manor, but has toured South Korea with his spiritual message for two weeks each in 2011, 2012, and 2014. Retired aircraft engineer and temple commander Prayojana Das assisted him each time.
During this year’s tour, which ran from September 14th to 27th, the two gave presentations on Krishna consciousness to undergraduate students at Kyung Hee University and postgraduate students at Gachon University, both in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul.
Prayojana and Patanjali Muni with students at a university program
They also spoke to yoga teachers at the Shanti Yoga Center, and held programs at the ISKCON temples in Pocheon and Itaewon on the outskirts of Seoul, and at house programs at various Indian families’ homes.
Each program included kirtans made especially inspiring by the considerable musical and singing skills of senior Japanese devotee and book distributor Amiyadhara Dasi.
There were also discussions based on the Bhagavad-gita about the science of the soul and the difference between spiritual and material education.
In addition, Prayojana and Patanjali Muni introduced more details about the principles and practices of Bhakti Yoga than they had on previous tours, demonstrating Deity worship by performing arati to a picture of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda of Bhaktivedanta Manor.
Kirtan at a yoga studio
“After the arati, one professor was so moved that she expressed her gratitude by inviting us again, not only to the university but also to her own home,” recalls Patanjali Muni.
At the end of each class, the devotees would distribute prasadam and copies of the Korean edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
“People responded very positively,” says Prayojana. “They were especially attracted to the kirtan, and afterwards were happy to receive the MP3 recordings we gave them by some of ISKCON’s best kirtaniyas. There were also some pretty emotional responses to the devotional stories we told in classes -- some were moved to tears.”
Despite the fact that it borders militarized North Korea, Prayojana says he never felt any danger in South Korea, where people enjoy the outdoor life such as hiking amidst beautiful mountains and forests, and where the main religions are Buddhism and Christianity.
Demonstrating Deity worship with a picture of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda
“Their hospitality is formal and respectful,” he says, adding, “South Korea is advanced in high tech culture, with a strong service attitude to each other. They follow and respect authority – in this way, they are ready for Krishna consciousness.”
Indeed, many people who have attended Prayojana and Patanjali Muni’s classes during previous tours have returned for more, and several have travelled to Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK to pursue further spiritual education by participating in its bhakta training program.
Meanwhile various devotees are currently working quietly behind the scenes on the ground in Korea. Russian book distributor Anatoli is traveling around the country with his team. Bengali devotee and businessman Amitava Mandal is organizing different Krishna conscious programs in Seoul. Kamala Dasi is running daily morning programs from her home in Seoul, along with weekly Sunday Feasts that attract a mix of Indian, Korean, Chinese, and English guests.
“So seeds are being sewn in Korea -- who knows what will happen in the future?” says Prayojana Das.
Until then, “It’s a wonderful adventure to serve my Guru Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada in this way,” he concludes.[ kirtana ] [ south-korea ] [ yoga ]