H.H. Dhirasanta Das Goswami Maharaj (previously Dhirasanta das) has been through the brahmacari, grihastha, vanaprastha ashrams and accepted sannyas in February 2015. Please find the enlivening interview with Maharaj sharing His experience of a “good move in the right direction”.
1. You have been a sannyasa candidate for the last 3 years and now with the approval of the sannyasa ministry and the GBC you have now taken sannyasa. How has the Sannyasa Ministry helped you over those last three years while aspiring for the sannyasa ashram? Accepting preaching assignments and travelling with your sannyasa Guru for the purpose of training to become a sannyasi is relatively new in our society. Prior to this new, more extensive process for entering the ashram was started, many relinquished their sannyasa status. I recently came across an ISKCON sannyasa statistic stating that over 45% of sannyasi’s from the pre-1992 era fell, and only 5% after that era have fallen”. This is an example of how the Ministry has made a deep positive impact to our ISKCON world. So, needless to say, I feel very privileged to have received training within this new era of our society. 2. What benefit did you gain from the yearly assignments given to you by the Sannyasa Ministry? The mission assignment is meant to give sannyasa candidates a special preaching opportunity outside the normal realm of their preaching area; an experience that offers them challenges and gives benefits to the local area. These preaching assignments are often in places where temple or congregation do not often get visits from travelling preachers. And often there could also be some inconveniences because of lack of proper facilities. We also learn not to be independent, but rather to be accountable to the local structural authorities. Besides this it also allows the ministry to receive an additional evaluation of the sannyasa candidate’s preaching performance. 3. When you received the approval to take sannyasa what was your initial response? When I received the email highlighting the sannyasa Ministry's approval of my conduct as a sannyasa candidate I was naturally very happy to know that from all parties concerned, who monitored my performance as a sannyasa candidate, the overall feedback was positive. My own personal response is as follows: "I wish to first offer my most humble obeisances to my spiritual master Srila Prabhupada. You have picked me up out of the darkness of ignorance and have now offer me the status of sannyasa so I can increase my service to your lotus feet. A diamond in the rough is a diamond sure enough. But someone must find it and someone must grind it. When it is found and when it is ground it shines like the full moon and ready to be of some service to someone. In the same way, I was a living example of a rough diamond within the dirty darkness of kali yuga. But you Srila Prabhupada found me and your ISKCON is grounding me, getting me ready again to regaining my lost glory in eternal service to Radha and Krishna. Secondly, I wish to offer my humble obeisances to my sannyasa Guru H.H Bhakti Caitanya Swami who has over the years given me his wonderful association and allowed me to travel and preach together with him guiding me on the path to sannyasa and monitoring my progress. He has now awarded me sannyasa. I wish also to thank my GBC Praghosa Prabhu who has been instrumental in steering the way for me as a sannyasa candidate to where I am today. As the saying goes, “You are never a saint in your own land”. Thank you Praghosa Prabhu for having a leap of faith in me. I also wish to thank the sannyasa Ministry for their invaluable training throughout these past three years. I was recently reminded of this training when I stopped at a cane juice stand one morning just before taking sannyasa. While watching the cane sticks being squeezed between the rollers to extracted the essential ingredient, cane juice, the dry sticks were then discarded. In a similar way I also felt a lot of unnecessary baggage has been removed from me and no matter how painful it may have been I now have a clearer incite to what sannyasa initiation means. Lastly, I would like to thank all my other well-wishers who have supported and encouraged me. I pray to the vaisnava community for their blessings so I can continue to assist Srila Prabhupada in this great mission to spread Krishna consciousness far and wide." 4. What were the main reasons why you decided to take sannyasa? To increase my service to Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission. It was also Srila Prabhupada’s wish that after raising a family and then spending some years in the transitional retired stage of varnaprastha one should take sannyasa. It is a stage of my life where I can officially dedicate myself (body, mind and words) exclusively to devotional service without any concern for material or family affairs. Sannyas is but one of the ashrams in the varnasrama system. It has its own duties to help purify one who executes them correctly, and to help serve all society by playing an important role as a model of spiritual dedication. 5. How do you feel about being now a sannyasi? I feel good. It will take a while to adjust and be truly familiar with the ashram but all the signs or indications are very positive. I feel it's a good move in the right direction.