Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Young Devotee Couple Cultivating Krishna Consciousness in Iceland
By Atma Tattva Das, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Apr 28, 2024

Gaura Bhagavan Das and Dayarupa Devi Dasi at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in Iceland. 

Amidst the mystical glaciers, geysers, and volcanoes of Iceland, a spiritual revolution is quietly taking shape. Gaura Bhagavan Das and his wife, Dayarupa Devi Dasi, have embarked on an extraordinary journey to establish ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in this Nordic island nation. This project encompasses not only the opening of a restaurant but also a vibrant preaching center. Theirs is a story of faith, perseverance, and a commitment to sharing the teachings of Lord Caitanya. 

Gaura Bhagavan, originally from Iceland, and Dayarupa, born in India and raised in the USA, are a dynamic duo who have dedicated their lives to the service of Lord Krishna. Their spiritual journeys began years ago, taking them across continents where they would eventually cross paths. Still, it was their shared vision of establishing a spiritual haven in Iceland that brought them together.

In a recent interview with ISKCON News, the couple shared their vision, challenges, and triumphs on this extraordinary path. 

The history of ISKCON in Iceland goes back to the early 1970’s. Since then, devotees have come periodically to preach, distribute books, or sell paintings, but this is the first time someone has committed to staying in Iceland for the long term. The current effort over the last seven years towards establishing ISKCON in Iceland has been nothing short of a Herculean task. From navigating bureaucratic hurdles to facing financial constraints, Gaura Bhagavan and Dayarupa have encountered numerous challenges along the way. However, their faith and determination have been the driving force behind their endeavors.

“There’s plenty to do which could go faster with lots of help. We have to keep going, slow and small, taking baby steps. Krishna will facilitate,” Dayarupa shared in the interview, “We have seen so many miracles happen, amazing things you would never believe could manifest.”

Their dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission is evident in every aspect of their work. Over the past three years, they have managed to acquire a storefront property in ISKCON’s name and began renovations and construction for the restaurant project as a median feature of the acquired real estate. All of this has been done mostly from their own resources, a testament to their commitment to the cause. 

Central to their vision is the establishment of a vibrant community centered around the teachings of Vaishnavism. “We envision a welcoming place where people can come and be positively impacted by Krishna consciousness,” Gaura Bhagavan explained, “A restaurant that not only serves delicious prasadam but also supports our mission financially, an idea originally proposed by Suhotra Swami in the early 1990s.”

Their commitment to community building extends beyond their restaurant project. “Another miracle happened when we recently were able to acquire a larger apartment, where devotees with pioneering spirit from around the world can live and commit to contributing to Srila Prabhupada’s mission in Iceland,” Dayarupa emphasized, “We want them to feel at home, as part of our spiritual family, and facilitate their service.”  Devotees from around the world are invited to join them on this extraordinary journey.

Despite the challenges they have faced, Gaura Bhagavan and Dayarupa remain steadfast in their faith. “We are literally experiencing what Syamasundar Prabhu has said, ‘If you take a risk for Krishna, and Krishna has no choice but to step in and intervene,'” Dayarupa reflected. “We feel like we’re just pawns, little pieces of things that He (Krishna) is moving around on a gameboard like, ‘Okay, now it’s time to get you guys a restaurant building,’ it is absolutely out of this world how all of this is just taking shape.” 

Their journey has been marked by miracles and milestones, from securing permits to receiving unexpected support from unexpected sources like the Indian Embassy. “It’s like being in a whirlwind,” Dayarupa shared, “We’re struggling mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually, and then Krishna just gives us a little sweet ball of encouragement that then builds up to the next act of surrender.'”

Kirtan being held at the Embassy of India in Iceland.

Gaura Bhagavan and Dayarupa held a fundraiser back in 2021 to support their project. However, despite their hard work and dedication, they faced a significant setback. The health department now requires them to build an extraction chimney extending all the way to the top of the building. This requirement arose due to another restaurant abusing an exemption, allowing exhaust to enter the underground garage.

Despite this challenge, the restaurant project is nearly complete. The construction of the chimney and the procurement of an operational license are next on their list of things to attend to. Once finished, the restaurant will not only serve delicious vegetarian food but also host various spiritual programs, including kirtan, yoga, and meditation. It will be a place where people can come and experience the joy of devotional service. “We want our restaurant to be a place of spiritual nourishment, where people won’t feel forced into anything,” Gaura Bhagavan said, “A place where people can come and connect with Srila Prabhupada and experience the bliss of Krishna consciousness at their own pace.” 

As they continue on their journey, Gaura Bhagavan and Dayarupa remain focused on this vision. “We are very inspired by the new temple in Washington DC,” Gaura Bhagavan explained, “Although we know it’s nearly impossible to accomplish something similar in Iceland, considering it took a whole community’s effort to achieve this feat and there are just the two of us here. But as long as there’s a will, Srila Prabhupada’s inspiration, the kind blessing of Vaishnavas, and Krishna’s guidance, we believe the Lord will always provide a way.”

“We have accomplished a significant portion of the groundwork, from purchasing equipment to applying for permits and setting up the kitchen,” Dayarupa revealed. “However, we still need financial support to see this project through to its completion. Your contributions will help us realize this dream of creating a spiritual sanctuary in Iceland.”

For more information on their project and how to support their efforts, visit their website and Facebook page.