Interview with Mahatma Das
Can you tell us something about yourself?
I grew up in Los Angeles, California, and joined Iskcon in 1969 in Berkeley after finishing my second year at the University of California in Berkeley.
Since then I have served as temple president (four times), book distributor, sankirtana leader, college preacher, membership director, VIHE teacher and co-director, Bhakti Life co-director. I was even a cook at one time in my devotional career. Plus, I was quite an expert bathroom cleaner in my early days of Iskcon!
I have lived and served in fourteen different temples since joining Iskcon.
What’s the focus of your service now?
Although I am well known for my music, my main service now is developing and facilitating workshops both for devotees and those coming to spiritual life, counseling and writing. To this end, myself and my godbrother, Pancaratna Prabhu, formed the non-profit Bhakti Life.
If you go to Course Descriptions on the home page you can see all the workshops I have developed. Each workshop was developed to deal with a need or problem that is common to most devotees and which I felt was of fundamental importance to deal with.
Are You Accepting Disciples?
In 2012 I became inspired to take up the service of accepting disciples and was approved to initiate in April of 2013. I also have close relationships with siksa disciples.
What’s your favorite seminar?
This is a difficult question to answer because they all have their own special flavor. I find japa retreats the sweetest. Yet, I find the forgiveness workshops the most transformational. At the same time, the workshop on prayer is the most heart opening, while the seminar on humility touches the deepest roots of our conditioning. The sexual purify workshop for men is one of the most healing and supportive workshops I do.
Are you still doing music?
I am doing more live kirtana than recorded kirtana because recording is a time consuming process and right now I am putting more time into teaching. But a new CD is on the way (which I stated ten years ago) I have also recently released a compilation of everything I have recorded up to date that includes 25 previously unreleased studio recordings and around four hours of unreleased live kirtan in addition to seven previously released albums.
You can order that CD or download all my music at www.mahatmasmusic.com
What’s in store for the future?
Bringing my workshops to new places, coming out with my new book, Living the Wisdom of Bhakti, putting all my courses on CD, writing new books based on my seminars, doing lots of live kirtan (and recording them and placing them on my website), developing a retreat program in India (www.sarcredindiaretreats.org), developing a web site and online courses for people brand new to bhakti, and developing a program to help corporations succeed through applying Vedic principles.
And wherever I travel, I do my weekly online courses when time, and time zones, permit (www.krsna.com/live Tuesday evenings 8 pm EST and Saturday mornings 9 am EST).
What about your work in America?
I am in America about three to four months a year and continue my work of facilitating seminars while there. In America my wife and I are also focusing on her project, Women of Bhakti (www.womenofbhakti.com) and promoting retreats to India.
I am also accepting invitations to visit other places around the world.
How is your work supported?
My work is partially supported through my workshops as well as through donations from friends and well wishers.
I also have devotees who volunteer their time to help me. There is much to be done: video and audio editing, website development, advertising, layout, transcribing, editing, proof reading, managing my newsletter, organizing workshops, course development, etc.
Anyone wishing to help or donate can contact me at email@example.com.