(iskconnews.org) – ISKCON News | Premvikash Das Bridges Krishna Consciousness and African Spirituality
Premvikash Das in his traditional Sangoma cloth.
South Africa, a nation deeply marked by its tumultuous history, continues its journey towards healing and self-realization. In the heart of this transformative landscape, Premvikash Das – mathematician, artist, activist, and temple president at ISKCON Hammanskraal – emerges as a spiritual trailblazer, navigating the crossroads between Krishna Consciousness and African Spiritual Practices with a mission to empower communities still grappling with the aftermath of apartheid.
In a unique fusion of devotion and heritage, Premvikash, an initiated practitioner of both Vaishnavism and the Sangoma Religion, is spearheading a revolutionary effort that seeks to harmonize the timeless teachings of the Krishna Consciousness tradition with the profound spirituality inherent in African indigenous thought.
Premvikash’s journey is as unconventional as it is inspiring. Born into a culture rich in African spiritual practices and later initiated into Krishna Consciousness, he embarks on a spiritual awakening that takes him beyond the physical, transcending the confines of materialistic ritualism and challenging the prevailing narrative surrounding what is popularly referred to as African Spirituality.
Premvikash’s dual initiation into the conclusion of Krishna Consciousness and the Sangoma Religion positions him as a bridge between two seemingly disparate worlds. He shared, “My religious upbringing played a significant role in searching beyond the physical. The recent surge in young Africans embracing traditional spiritual practices prompted me to introduce the timeless teachings of Krishna Consciousness into these spaces and share their relevance in the ongoing dialogue.”
The contemporary conversations surrounding the liberation of Africans often centers on the misnomer “African Spirituality.” Premvikash challenges this reductionist and exclusive perspective, recognizing the need for a fuller understanding of the complexity and richness of African indigenous thought. He asserted, “We should refrain from regarding it merely in contrast to Western religions or using it as a tool for comparison. Instead, recognize it as a system of thought, practices, and beliefs with inherent value. It has made meaningful contributions, particularly considering historical legislations like the Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957, which unjustly demonized African religions in South Africa.”
His mission is clear: to provide a holistic perspective that transcends the popular misnomer and emphasizes that spirituality is an inclusive reality, a profound and diverse journey accessible to all.
For Premvikash, the essence of his mission lies in empowering African communities that have had limited access to the Krishna Consciousness movement. Recognizing the challenges faced by the minority Indian carrier community in accessing previously disadvantaged communities, he emphasizes the importance of Krishna-conscious Africans taking the lead.
“Access to these communities is difficult for the Indian community due to variegated factors that include historical biases. By empowering Krishna-conscious Africans to address these biases in their own communities, we bridge the gap and create a more inclusive space for spiritual growth,” he explains.
Throughout South African ISKCON communities, Premvikash emphasizes the importance of education and training. He believes that by fostering a deep understanding of the host community and their struggles, devotees can engage in meaningful conversations that go beyond religious dogma.
In his words, “Education is pivotal in breaking down barriers. Training our devotees to understand the history, struggles, and aspirations of the larger African community enables them to approach their service with empathy and cultural sensitivity.”
In a world where spirituality is often compartmentalized, Premvikash Das stands as a symbol of resilience and unity. His journey as a Krishna Conscious Sangoma provides a nuanced perspective on spirituality, fostering an environment where diverse traditions coalesce into a harmonious tapestry of self-realization.
As Premvikash continues to traverse spiritual frontiers, his mission not only elevates formative African thought but also enriches the greater ISKCON community. In the intricate dance between Krishna Consciousness and African Spirituality, Premvikash is creating a space for dialogue, understanding, and, above all, shared spiritual growth.