November 2014 By Meher Castelino When I was invited by a friend to attend the Prerana programme organised by the Girgaum branch of ISKCON in Mumbai one weekend, I was pleasantly surprised. When HG Gaur Gopal Das, the speaker, began talking about ‘Life’s amazing secrets – 10 golden keys’, what followed was a 120-minute nonstop enlightening and entertaining talk peppered with stories, humour, videos, songs and quotes from the Bhagavad Gita. The lecture ended with a thunderous applause from young men and shouts of encore, as the audience rushed to meet the speaker. Youngsters applauding the inspiring Prerana programme Every week ISKCON Youth Services (IYS) organises the Prerana programme at Sri Sri Radha Gopinath Temple, Girgaum, Chowpatty, in Mumbai. Prerana is one of the visionary ideas of His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaj, the author of the book, The Journey Home. It was started in 2002 for young men between 15-30 years. A similar programme Chetana is for women from 15 to 25 years. The first Prerana/Chetana programmes had 50 participants, which has now grown to over 1,200 students regularly participating in these events. It is a programme meant to inspire the youth to practice a spiritual and disciplined lifestyle based on the timeless Vedic scriptures of India, to ensure their overall development. Some of the subjects covered are Power of Love, Mera Bharat Mahan, Pleasure Hunt, Tapping the Power of Faith, Art of Self-confidence, Ritual to Spiritual, Principles of Satisfaction, Winning the Game of Life, Power of Now, Lessons from the Titanic, and Power to Change. “Modern youth appears to be confused, despite receiving good education, best technology and climbing the success ladder. Suicide and depression cases are rising. We therefore concluded that something is missing in our education system that is causing these problems. We realised that India’s Vedic scriptures provide some amazing tools that can help tackle all these problems. And foremost among those scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita, the condensed essence of all these scriptures. Over the past several years, we have noticed how students and working professionals have experienced amazing transformations by applying these principles in their daily lives,” relates HG Purushottam Das. The activities of IYS include personality development courses, residential training, the Prerana and Chetana monthly youth festivals, youth retreat to various religious places along with weekend camps and trips.
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