Temple Life

I started asking questions at the end of 1996: ‘Who am I?’, ‘What are we doing here?’, ‘Is there a God?’, ‘Is life a dream?’  There were some questions I had been asking my whole life, and some new. I found myself in India in September 1997.

I served in the Hare Krishna Temple in Rondebosch, Cape Town, from February 1997 to November 2006. In October 1997, through the Bhakti Yoga Society at the University of Cape Town,  I was awarded the Clough Fellowship for Oriental Studies. The fellowship sponsors a promising student of Indian religious studies’ two-month field trip of sacred Indian places. The student has to present their experiences to students and lecturers of UCT’s Religious Studies department after their tour.

Temple life at the Hare Krishna Temple in Rondebosch entailed distributing spiritual literatures all over South Africa, assisting the cooks with the weekly Sunday Feast, dancing in kirtans (chanting to drums and cymbals in the Temple) and harinams (processional chanting through the streets) and making frequent visits to India.  Later, we were called to manage on a local and regional level and attend national council meetings.  We were also involved in television productions through our friendship with the Commissioning Editor for Religious Programmes at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Yashika Singh.  Yashika roped me into a project in 2006 where I advised and helped produce a South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) production with Di Rosen Productions called Mayapur: Looking In, Looking Out – A Journey To The Source.  The documentary explored the Mayapur Temple in West Bengal from an outsider’s point of view.  2006 was a busy year.  I managed the Cape Town Temple’s Deity Department, was acting President for 6 month, site manager for the renovations of the Temple and expansion of the Temple Room and helped organise the first annual Festival of Chariots on Cape Town’s Sea Point promenade.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

ISKCON Rosebank 

In 2008, I established a Bhakti Yoga arts centre in Parkwood, Johannesburg, called ISKCON Rosebank. We established a Bhakti Yoga Society and held talks and demonstrations on yoga, vedic philosophy, ayurveda and conscious living at the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park campus. The society also held workshops on meditation, Indian traditional music and vegetarian cooking.

I have spoken at the University of Pretoria (TUKS), the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of Bloemfontein (Bloem) and the IIT (Mumbai).  Notable talks include: ‘Spirituality in the modern era‘ (Wits, 2011), ‘Jyotish: Classical Indian Astrology‘ (Tuks, 2009), ‘Sixteenth century heritage sites of West Bengal‘ (UCT, 1998) and ‘Western and Vedic conceptions of history and time: Similarities and Differences‘ (Bloem, 2014).  I delivered a popular four-day course called ‘Mantra Meditation‘at UJ in 2010.  I have spoken in ashrams, yoga studios, schools and universities in South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius, India, Ireland, the UK and the USA and spoken to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts at AA.

 Celebrated South African novelist and film-maker Rayda Jacobs wrote a feature article on the Rondebosch Temple and my involvement in temple life in the Cape Times ‘One City, Many Cultures’ series in 1997.  I have been interviewed on South African national television and radio and was interviewed by CNN global at the Festival of Chariots in Oriya, India, in 2008.

ISKCON Rosebank contributed the ‘Hare Krishna Maha Mantra’ and ‘Sri Sri Siksastakam’, for James Webbs’ Sound Art Installation, ‘Prayer’, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, which opened on 15 July 2012.

Ghana Tour 2013

In July 2013, I joined Madhumangala Das on his tour of West Africa.  We conducted a seminar on book distribution at the ISKCON Temple in Accra, appeared on National Radio with Ghanaian celebrity DJ Blakk Rasta and were guests at ISKCON Accra’ Janmasthami celebration.


‘The importation of slaves and ‘prize slaves’ at the Cape colony, 1797-1818′ was the title of my MA thesis in history, which I completed at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, the year I joined the Hare Krishnas in 1997. I have written about this experience in this blog and elsewhere.

Cape Town is my home and I want to contribute to the city’s cultural life and heritage in a meaningful way.  My specialized field of interest is the history of Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish and English slave traffic past the Cape from 1654 to 1860.  Since 2013, I have published a number of book reviews on the history of the slave trade and maritime history at the Cape and in the southwest Indian Ocean in The Quarterly Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa, New Contree (University of Potchefstroom) and Routledge’s Slavery & Abolition.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

I presented a paper on ‘Captive experience on VOC slavers during the Indian Ocean “Middle Passage” during the 18th Century’ at a conference convened by Dr Patrick Harries at the History Department of the University of Basel on 5 December 2014. I was invited to present a seminar paper on slavery during the first British occupation (c.1800) and the infamous Collector scandal at the University Paris Diderot on 22 January 2015.  Another paper entitled ‘The Cape and Indian Ocean Slave Traffic, 1654 to 1795.  An Overview’ was presented  before a distinguished meeting of historians at the International Institute for Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam on the 10 November 2016.  Hans Hagerdal has invited me to present a paper on ‘Processes of Enslavement on the Malagasy Coast in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries’ in Sweden on 8-9 September 2017.

My inventory of slave traffic – over 800 voyages of forced migrations – past the Cape of Good Hope during the late 18th and early 19th century is in Dr David Eltis and Dr David Richardson’s http://www.slavevoyages.org (1999) (the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (TSTD)).

I am preparing for a PhD on the living conditions of slave holds in VOC ships during the Indian Ocean Middle Passage in the 18th century.  Professor Patrick Harries  (University of Basel) and have been developing two intra-African web-sites chronicling the slave trade between East Africa, Madagascar, the Mascarenes and the Cape from the 17th century to the mid-19th century.  Patrick sadly passed away on the 2nd of June this year, and I would like to follow through on his vision to bring the human experience of the forced migrations across the southwest Indian Ocean to the Cape to light.  It was Patrick’s dream to see learners, artists, intellectuals, heritage activists, film-makers, museum personnel and the general public involved in this dynamic project.


Srila Prabhupada’s Seven Purposes of ISKCON (the Template for Social Cohesion and Happiness), Writing, Songwriting, Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech, Aindra’s Prayers to the Dust of Vraja, ISKCON Chowpatty, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Confectionary, the History of the Slave Traffic and the Suppression of the Slave Trade in the Indian Ocean from 17th to 19th Centuries, Captive Experience during the Indian Ocean “Middle Passage” in the 17th and 18th centuries, Sanatana Goswami’s Brihad Bhagavatamritam (translated by Gopiparanadhana prabhu), Vrindavan, Jacob Burckhardt’s Italian Civilization During The Renaissance, Parkwood Tennis Club, Jananivas and Pankajanghri Prabhus, The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, Joy Division, Innovators, Freethinkers, The DIY Ethos, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s notion of “skin-in-the-game”, Adidas, The Restoration of the Lost Image of God, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Yoghurt and Honey, the Ganges River, Jagannatha Puri, Suncraft Galleries (Orissa), Making Friends with People, Accra, Artisan Culture, Whistleblowers, Leila’s Shop (Shoreditch, London), Booysens Amateur Boxing Club, Peacock’s Gymnasium and Boxing Club (Canning Town, London), Double Jab Boxing Club (New Cross, London), York Hall (Bethnal Green, London)

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare


Duplicity, Earth After 1914, Animal Slaughter, the Breakdown of the Family Unit, Snob Values, The Modern Day Banking System (Usury), Centralised Government, Divide-and-rule Hegelian Dialectics, Mainstream Media/Academic/Political shills, Abrogation of Constitutional Rights (e.g. the violation of long-established human rights like Habeas Corpus and the ‘Rule of Law’), Western Oligarchy-fascism Masquerading as Democracy, Overblown Political Correctness

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Prabhupada’s Order

The Krishna Consciousness movement aims to correct the spiritual imbalance in society. Krishna’s devotee is simple.  The first quality of the devotee is satyam or truthfulness.

We see, on the other hand, that a godless materialistic class of men – especially the big players – are duplicitous and untruthful.  They care about their own families, but not the human family.   They care about their own children, but not the children of others or other species.  If I came to you asking for a pebble, would you put a scorpion in my hand?

The great sage Sukadeva Goswami describes describes the Age of Kali as an “ocean of faults” in Srimad Bhagavatam.  But there is one quality which is supremely beneficial in this age of faults and that is the chanting of the Holy Names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama/Rama Rama Hare Hare.

16 Responses to “Mukunda Charan Das”

  1. somadas das Says:

    Hari Bol Prabhu,
    I’m inspired to see your blog. I hope i see you in India for Pune Yatra.
    ys, somadas das

  2. Bhakta Arne Says:

    Hari HAri!
    Dandavats Prabhuji!
    I don’t know if you remember giving one very small boy from DBN a book when he was in CT some many years back… Anyway, the seed you planted so long ago has since sprouted and is growing very nicely. I owe you more than I could ever give you. All glories to HG Mukunda Caran Prabhu! All glories to HH Srila Prabhupada! All glories, all glories to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!
    Your humble servant,
    Bhakta Arne
    P.S. I should be in Bloem for Lord Balaram’s appearance day. Could you send me the address of the centre there???

  3. It is our fortune that we can serve in the mission of Srila Prabhupada.
    Das ‘smin.
    Mukunda Charan das

  4. Fr.Damon Urbani Says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu

    It was very motivating to see you doing book distribution in Sandton City today, you appeared as a light amidst the darkness and maya of the kali yuga.Please keep up the good work amd I pray that Lord Narasimhadeva will watch over you .

    Best wishes.

  5. A.Al Hassan Says:

    oh, and your Puri rendition of your sojourn was absolutely marvelous, it’s a difficult language to get through, you know the baboons at cape point can sit in the back of someones car, opening car doors,etc, with such sheer skill that the driver and passenger, don’t even know they’re there, until someone alerts them and the latter evacuate post haste.

  6. Gerhard Says:

    Who took the photograph [is the copyright-holder] of Srila Prabhupada with George Harrison + Patti Boyd at Friar Park, 1969 in the article “At The Lotus Feet Of The Giver Of Liberation” – kind regards, Gerhard

  7. Gerhard Says:

    Another question: Really in 1969? [As George bought Friar Park in 1970 to my knowledge] – Any further comments on that and the photo ?

  8. Marcelle Says:

    Im impressed…hope to see you again sometime. Keep inspiring:)

  9. Mukunda das Says:

    Very nice. You write well and it is a pleasure to read. Keep up your sterling work in Rosebank

    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, prabhu. I have always lacked confidence in myself, so encouragement really helps a lot. This project is, by Prabhupada’s mercy, giving me more confidence though. Ys, MCD

  10. A.Al Hassan Says:

    The ethos of islamic concepts fits into the philosophy of an all-encompassing krishna consciousness.

    1. I think your art is excellent, Ameena…

  11. john bobZ Says:

    Hare krishna Hare krishna
    Krishna Krishna
    Hare Hare

    Hare Rame Hare Rama
    Rama Rama
    Hare Hare

  12. Gouranga das Says:

    Jai Jai Sri Radheeeeeeeeeeeeeee Syam,, Congratulations Prabhu, you inspire me too,,, YS, Gauranga Das

  13. Stead Steadman Says:

    Dear Michael,
    I spoke to you on Thursday at the Mall in Bexleyheath: one of the most erudite and wide-ranging conversationalists I have been lucky enough to encounter in a long time. My thanks, Stead.

  14. Dear Stead, I find your interest in the Eddas and Icelandic literatures very interesting and hopefully you can share your knowledge on them with me in January!! Regards, Mukunda

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