By Jaya Subhadra Devi Dasi
The Bhakti Yoga Club (BYC) at Washington University in St. Louis has been active for seven years since 2007. Under the inspiration and guidance of HH Romapada Swami, the club began with a devotee couple who were alumni of the University and began advertising the club’s activities through the freshman orientation week. Weekly presentations were made on the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness along with group japa sessions and a 5-course dinner prasadam meal. Special speaker events such as visits by sannyasis were organized as well. In addition, occasional Cooking Classes were offered by the club. Within the first year of operation, BYC was established as an official undergraduate student group recognized by the Student Union.
For the first few years the average attendance was less than 5 students, generally just 1 or 2 students would participate in the weekly events. In recent years, however, the attendance has grown significantly to where 10 or more students participate on average. Weekly yoga sessions were added that helped to bring in more students to the core program of hearing, chanting and honoring of Krishna Prasadam. BYC was then promoted to a Class II student group and now receives $500 of funding each semester.
Four practicing western devotees and many appreciators of Bhakti Yoga emerged from this preaching effort. Two students are currently living and serving in ISKCON temples.
The St. Louis temple is soon to close on a purchase of a property a block away from the University to serve as a ‘Krishna House’, where interested students can live and practice Krishna Consciousness together.
Bhakti Yoga Club provides students the opportunity to experience spiritual culture from ancient India through a blend of small group discussions, yoga classes, speaker events that provide ancient prescriptions for modern maladies, and vegetarian cooking classes. Bhakti Yoga is the Vedic Science of connecting with God through devotion, bringing about genuine care for all people and things. All faiths are welcome!