In this era dominated by technology and devices, there are very few devotees of Krishna who use technology or know how to use technology so effectively to spread the message of Krishna-consciousness (KC). Yukta-vairagya, or renunciation in KC, is being perfectly practiced by Shabda Hari das. In this article, we will read how a young man, who is so well-versed with technology, uses technology as a tool to empower devotees to learn using technology to spread KC.
We will learn about the online course he has created to enable devotees to use social media platforms and other ways to promote KC using the internet. He has made this course absolutely free, since he has created it exclusively for devotees, who want to know and serve Krishna and the mission of Srila Prabhupada more. I request devotees to go through this course after they are done reading this article and make the best use of technology to promote the message of Supreme Personality of Godhead- Shri Krishna.
Shabda Hari Das (SHD ) was born in a family of Tamil brahmins, Iyers. His father is from Srirangam and mother is from Madurai. He was brought up in Bangalore. SHD got connected to KC at an age of just 10 years in Bangalore in 1993.
His KC journey started when his mother went to a very famous astrologer Shri S.K. Jain (Subhanjaya Krishna Das) in Bangalore when they were going through some family issues. His mother got a few books on KC from him, started chanting Hare Krishna mahamantra and was advised to visit the ISKCON temple for the Sunday love feast regularly. Mr. Jain told his mother to give Tulasi water to her husband every day and talk to him about glories of Lord Krishna. Father of SHD got the higher taste and became a devotee when he got devotee association.
Later on his entire family started visiting Krishna-Balaram temple in Bangalore every Sunday. SHD and his younger brother Swarup learned to play the mridanga and lead kirtan at a young age. Their entire family used to look forward to going to the temple and used to participate in Sankirtan, book distribution and congregational preaching. They were especially attracted by the love and care of the devotees and and khichdi prasad - which was out of the world.
One of the initial bhakti-vriksha programs in Bangalore was started at his house by the inspiration of Narhari Chaitanya das and Vibhav Krishna das.
After finishing his school, SHD moved to Chennai in 2001, for a course on sound engineering. He finished his 9 months sound engineering course (diploma) when he was just 19. He secured 92% marks and topped his college. He was recruited to teach in the same university. After working as an audio engineering lecturer for 3 years, he then moved to Dubai in the year 2005.
In Dubai, he worked at a place called Internet City for 2 years making polyphonic ringtones for mobile phones. He again got connected with devotees when he was in Dubai in 2005. Nandakumar das and Shri Vallabh das guided him further in KC and SHD took shelter of Jayapataka Swami in Dubai in 2005.
He also made ringtones for devotees which were there on ISKCON Desire Tree back then. The devotee congregation in Dubai is one of the very vibrant communities there. Nandakumar das went on inspiring him a lot. In 2005, even before he got formally initiated into KC, he created a music album called Damodar Kripa.He launched it for local devotees in Dubai, since Dubai is known as Damodardesh. He then formally launched his album when he came back to India in 2009.
In 2008, SHD got married and released an album 'Illuminize’ internationally with his wife. Both of them sang in that album which had Jagannath Astaka, Damodar Astaka and other devotional songs which we set in a western format - to make it appealing to an international audience.
It became very popular in those days. He promoted this album single-handedly in 2009, after learning internet marketing. Entire 12 song album was created in a bedroom studio, using a laptop and a simple condenser microphone. He had learnt playing piano when he was around 11 years old. While he worked in the music industry, he was already an expert in playing piano keyboard and also with technicalities of digital media.
After working in the corporate world for over 6 years he decided to quit his job in 2011 to set up his own digital media company, which he has been running successfully for last 8 years. It currently has more than 25 employees. He feels that the transitions from one industry to another has been smooth only by the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his spiritual master Jayapataka Swami.
He currently resides in Chennai along with his wife Vanita and two sons - Rishabh and Dhruva.
SHD started blogging in 2006, he started his own website named guruvakya.com , which had compilation of quotes of his guru Jayapataka Swami. He used to listen to lectures of his guru maharaj, take small quotes and publish them on Wordpress blog. In 2007-08, he set up his own blog, learnt blogging in 3 to 6 months and kept upgrading his skills. His main positioning now is on e-learning and helping people create courses.
He did not want to become a blogger but it was a way to attract customers through content. SHD says, “I was promoting internet tools, products and was doing personal branding. I am moving towards podcasting now, as this is the new trend. I have embedded it in my website https://siddharthrajsekar.com/
SHD mentions, “I have been doing a lot of social media workshops over last 6 years and have trained over 50,000 entrepreneurs and brands. I trained them how to grow their businesses in full day workshops. I was thinking to use my skills to preach KC.I got idea of coming up with an online course after I read the book Sri Godruma Kalptavi written by Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur and translated by Jayapataka Swami, it’s about the different roles one can play in the marketplace of holy name. My idea was to enable devotees to use social media to promote ideology mentioned in scriptures in the best possible way. Digital Marketing can be a powerful tool for devotees to preach and attract people towards movement and to become devotees.”
The Digital Preacher is a free course, which has been developed by SHD, whose purpose is to spread the holy name to as many people as possible.
After preparing this course, SHD happened to meet Yudhisthira Govinda Das. He coordinated with Anuttama Das and suggested him that this course, which was created by SHD can be certified by ISKCON. If anyone completes this 30 days course, then he can be given a certificate of completion from ISKCON Global Communication.
It is a simple course which can be taken by anybody in any part of the world. Devotees can use it to bring people close to their zones or centers. It was created single-handedly by SHD and was made officially available in April 2019.
2268 devotees are enrolled this course currently (as on 8th January 2020) and response has been amazing. SHD is promoting it online but it has picked up on its own too. He is getting a great response and devotees all over the world are motivated to go for it!
SHD feels, “I plan to do 2-3 courses on promoting Digital marketing for devotees in places, where there is a big congregation, e.g. in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi etc.”
Devotees might not be tech savvy but he intends to bring them online. So, in The Digital Preacher course, SHD gives templates to go live on Facebook, record videos, how to write etc.
The challenge being faced is that those who start the course must also follow it till the end. He wishes that this course reaches at least 100,000 devotees. Though devotees from all across the globe have gone for this course but 80% of them are Indians.
We are living in an interesting time, since social media is very prominent, as people are spending many hours online every day. Devotees must create more content so that people realize their true purpose of life.
If the internet is flooded with a lot of valuable KC content, then it will have a ripple effect and KC will be spread all over the world. This is the great vision of this multifaceted genius Shabda Hari Das(Siddharth Rajsekar).
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The Digital Preacher course can be accessed online at https://www.thedigitalpreacher.com
Siddharth Rajsekar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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