Radhanath Swami talks about devotee care at ILS (ISKCON Leadership Sanga – 2014)
Read more – http://www.radhanathswami.us/profiles/blogs/hh-radhanath-swami-on-devotee-care
Preaching helps to make new devotees but the spiritual environment of ISKCON cannot maintain and keep devotees unless it also addresses their emotional and physical needs as well. The GBC formed a Devotee Care committee to further this mission.
Radhanath Swami has seen firsthand how the projects in the old days succeeded due to the devotees who gave their heart and soul to assisting Srila Prabhupada. But he also saw how those same devotees’ needs were largely ignored. Many senior devotees can remember days when illnesses were not taken care of by anyone other than the ill person. Many senior devotees have medical issues stemming from the early days of ISKCON, when leaders were over-zealous, untrained and competitive.
Radhanath Swami emphasized, ” We should strive to give each individual an experience of genuine protection and inspiration. The aim is to ensure, as far as possible, that devotees remain happy, enthusiastic and grateful to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission through every phase of life, until their physical departure. All of our policies and decisions should be built upon this foundation. Perhaps more than anything else we do, what will transform people’s hearts is to give them an experience of a caring community of sincere souls who are united through life’s joys and struggles by the philosophy and practice of pure Bhakti.”
The Chowpatty model, begun under His Holiness Radhanath Swami, gradually evolved into four main categories which focused upon:
Grihasta counseling group
Brahmacari counseling group
Children and Youth counseling group
Counseling for the elderly Vaisnava group
Many ISKCON centers have been making various attempts to care for their full-time and congregational devotees through systems that are workable for their congregation or community. Of course, the basic program of every ISKCON center is ‘caring for the soul’ or Spiritual Care by preaching the pure philosophy of Krishna Consciousness. Now the centers have extended their care to emotional/mental and physical issues as well. This leads to a more holistic care of devotees.
ISKCON is a society composed of many members. Each of us is ISKCON, a caring organization that provides a family atmosphere based on love and trust, just as Srila Prabhupada instructed. ISKCON will live through us as Prabhupada’s legacy. Each day, we should look in the mirror and say, “I am ISKCON and I care about others.” With this in mind, the ISKCON GBC Devotee Care Committee developed the following Vision, Mission and statement of Goals.
Every devotee within ISKCON is to be provided with the spiritual, mental/emotional and physical care they deserve as parts and parcels of Sri Lord Krsna, according to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and example. This should be carried out on the personal as well as institutional level.
We strive to care for the spiritual, emotional, physical and social well being of the devotees of ISKCON. We want devotees to be encouraged, inspired and empowered to be happy and make advancement in Krsna consciousness in order to be enthused to expand Srila Prabhupada’s mission.