Devamrita Swami

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Since 1977, he has traveled worldwide, presenting the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness. Currently he is based in Australia and New Zealand, and frequently travels to India and the Orient on preaching missions [http://www.iskcon.net/perth/Biographys/ISKCON_Gurus/Devamrita_Swami.html Devamrita Swami Biography] ] .

Early Years in ISKCON

After joining ISKCON in 1974 Devamrita Swami received initiation from Srila Prabhupada being given the name "Devamrita das brahmacari". He spent two years distributing the books of Srila Prabhupada on the streets of New York however his health prevented a long career in distributing books. Devamrita Swami was moved to the ISKCON centre in Los Angeles where he began work as an editor for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT); a trust set up with the focus of publishing A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's books.

Devamrita Swami was at the BBT during the time of the famous "Caitanya-Caritamrita Marathon". By the time of Srila Prabhupada's disappearance he was one of the chief editors of the BBT, responsible for the English editing of Srila Prabhupada's commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam. [ [http://www.devaswami.com/index.php?q=node/11 Remembrances of time in the BBT by Devamrita Swami] ]

Eastern Europe

In the 1978, Devamrita Swami was in Mayapura, praying for guidance after the death of Srila Prabhupada, when one of his god brothers related to him that Prabhupada had said: "Whoever preaches in Communist Europe - I will personally take them back to Godhead." Taking this as a sign of his spiritual master's will Devamrita Swami headed to Eastern Europe to begin the dangerous work of trying to spread Krishna Consciousness philosophy behind the Iron Curtain. Working under Harikesa Swami, who awarded him the Sannyasa order on Gaura Purnima of 1982 [http://www.dandavats.com/wp-content/uploads/GBCresolutions/GBCRES82.htm GBC Resolutions '82] ] , Devamrita Swami worked as a prominent organizer giving assistance and guidance to many ISKCON centers throughout communist Europe. He continued preaching and organizing in Eastern Europe into the mid 1980s.

New Vrindavan, Australia and New Zealand

After leaving Europe, early in 1986 he moved to New Vrindavan, headed by Kirtanananda Swami, a Hare Krishna farming community in West Virginia, United States.

In 1987, Kirtanananda Swami was expelled from ISKCON by the Governing Body Commission of ISKCON [ [http://www.dandavats.com/wp-content/uploads/GBCresolutions/GBCRES87.htm GBC Resolutions '87] ] , thus causing the residents of New Vrindavan, to also be expelled in 1988 [ [http://www.dandavats.com/wp-content/uploads/GBCresolutions/GBCRES88.htm GBC Resolutions '88] ] . During this period Kirtanananda began Interfaith preaching, after been inspired by the history of Father Bede Griffiths,a Benedictine monk who had preached Christianity in India dressed as an Indian sannyasi. Kirtanananda Swami did this in the inverse - preach Krishna Consciousness in the West dressed as an Christian monk.

Devamrita Swami started to travel between New Zealand and Australia in 1993, with a team of preachers from New Vrindavan. The team secured a building lease in Ponsonby, Auckland, entitled "the Loft". The name was already on the building from the previous tenants, and it also echoed the name of an early preaching venue used by Srila Prabhupada [Prabhupada Letters : 10 April 1966 [http://prabhupada.blogspot.com/2007_04_08_archive.html Available here] ] , so it stuck.

When Kirtanananda Swami's personal problems were revealed in September 1993 and he was unable to continue in any leadership capacity, Devamrita Swami assumed ultimate responsibility for the now orphaned team, and shortly afterwards, in 1994, they made connections with the local ISKCON authorities, and were accepted again within ISKCON by the GBC by 1995.

Present Day

Since starting "The Loft" in Auckland, it has spread throughout New Zealand and Australia, with several centres opening. Devamrita Swami has become an authority within ISKCON for his innovative techniques for spreading the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita in a modern urban setting. Since its inception, 'The Loft', which offered classes on the Bhagavad-gita, and philosophical discourses, followed by dinner, has grown in popularity amongst both the general public and the devotee community. Over the years, the Loft has gone through various innovations, and the concept has spread to various centres throughout the world. These centres offer yoga classes, meditation and philosophy nights, and the classic Hare Krishna Sunday Feast, which is sometimes called "Krishnafest". As a result of the success of these centres, Devamrita Swami has on several occasions given seminars during the ISKCON Mayapur festival, and other conferences, detailing the practical aspects to running a Loft-style urban centre for presenting Krishna Consciousness in a relevant context [ [http://www.vnn.org/world/WD0207/WD26-7456.html Mayapur Festival program - Cracking a Western City by Devamrita Swami] ] [ [http://www.urbanmissionary.info/?page_id=775 Mayapur Festival lectures] ] .

The central concept of the Loft preaching comes from statements by Srila Prabhupada that he wanted to develop inner city centres where people could come and read books in comfort [Prabhupada Letters: to Subhavilasa das, 16 March 1977] ., and also that he wanted the distribution of complete sets of books. Loft centres specialize in helping people develop an appreciation for the practical value of Srila Prabhupada's books, and to obtain and read complete sets of Srimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita. [ [http://www.dandavats.com/?p=1840 Loft Preaching] ]

Bibliography

* Harikesh Swami and Devamrita Swami, "Varnashram Manifesto for Social Sanity", 1981, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. [ According to Ekkehard Lorenz in "The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant", edited by Edwin F. Bryant and Maria L. Ekstrand (Columbia University Press: 2004), Harikesh & Devamrita Swamis were co-authors of "Varnashram Manifesto for Social Sanity".]
* Devamrita Swami, "Cutting the Knot of Material Existence: Lectures & Essays (1979-1987)", 1988, New Vrindaban Publication.
* Devamrita Swami, "The Natural Sankirtan Servant: We Need You--and Your Donations Too," 1990, New Vrindaban Publication.
* Devamrita Swami, "Perfect Escape", 1994, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, ISBN 91-7149-480-4. Commentary on spirituality of modern times.
* Devamrita Swami, "Searching for Vedic India", 2002, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, ISBN 0-89213-350-3. Contemplating the vast ocean of India's Vedic culture.

References

External links

* [http://www.devaswami.com The Official Website of Devamrita Swami]
* [http://199.237.194.2/archive/Devamrita%20Swami/ Lectures given by Devamrita Swami at New Dwaraka Temple, Los Angeles]
* [http://namahatta.org/nh2/en/node/2056 Congregational Preaching Journal article on Loft Preaching]
* [http://www.atmayogi.com/?q=node/25 Devamrita Swami's Seminars on Contemporary Urban Preaching]


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