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ISKCON Devotee Profiled on National Public Radio
By Vyenkata Bhatta Dasa   |  May 29, 2008

New York – National Public Radio (NPR), voted the most trusted news source in America in a 2005 Harris poll, featured Hare Krishna devotee Gadadhara Pandit Dasa as part of a year-long series profiling dynamic young religious leaders called “The Young and the Godly.” The seven minute feature, reported by NPR religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Haggerty, aired as part of the popular drive-time news broadcast Morning Edition on Wednesday, May 28, at 5:20am and 7:20am. The piece, also available on the NPR website, was prominently featured on the main homepage and became the most viewed story on the site by mid-afternoon.

Gadadhara Pandit, a 35-year old monk (brahmachari) living in a New York City Krishna ashram, is a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Born in India and raised in America, Pandit came into contact with Krishna consciousness in the 1990s through reading Bhagavad Gita As It Is. In 1998, he spent six months training for monastic life at the Radha Gopinath temple in Chowpatty, Mumbai. He decided to continue his commitment to monastic life at the ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Ashram in New York City, where he has been residing since. Pandit received initiation from His Holiness Radhanath Swami in 2001, and brahminical initiation (taking vows of a priest) in 2004.

He is the first Hindu chaplain (religious life advisor) at the prestigious Columbia University and New York University. As a chaplain with the United Campus Ministry at Columbia, he provides representation for the Hindu community, raises awareness of Indian and Hindu culture, and participates in interfaith dialogue.

“Some people may think that a monk is somewhat reclusive — kind of isolated, in a bubble, meditating all day,” Pandit said as part of the radio interview. “But it’s quite the opposite. I’m on the computer, e-mailing. I’m driving, using cell phones and using Facebook to connect with students. Monks are supposed to take on a very active role in the lives of people.”

The NPR story, entitled Long Days and Short Nights for a Hindu Monk, shadows Pandit throughout his daily routine. Listeners join him for early morning worship service (mangala-arati), mantra meditation (japa), Bhagavad Gita study, and cooking. The show also follows Pandit to Columbia University, where he teaches a weekly vegetarian cooking class to crowds as large as 200 students.

“If we’re trying to love God but simultaneously causing harm and violence to his children, He’s not going to be all that pleased,” Pandit said. “‘Okay, you love My two-legged children, but what about My four-legged ones?’”

Approximately 13 million people heard the show on the radio, while many more continue to access the story on the NPR website. Also included on the site are an audio slideshow, entitled “A Day in the Life of an “Urban Monk,” background information on the Hare Krishna movement and Hinduism, and even some of Pandit’s best recipes. [The story can be read here.]

NPR serves a growing audience of 26 million Americans each week in partnership with more than 860 independently operated, noncommercial public radio stations.

The full audio file for the Long Days and Short Nights for a Hindu Monk story can be downloaded or streamed here. Additional articles and a multimedia slideshow are available here.

For more information about Gadadhara Pandit Dasa, please visit his website at: