The Story behind the site
Origin: The Spiritual Scientist originally started as a hardcopy magazine in the late 1980s as an initiative of one of the pioneers of youth outreach in ISKCON, HH Bhakti Rasamrita Maharaj (who was then Devamrita Prabhu). He is respected and loved by thousands all over the world for the clarity, relevance and erudition of his classes and he brought those same distinctive virtues to the magazine. Bhakti Rasamrita Maharaj subsequently handed over the magazine to one of his most illustrious students, HG Radheshyam Prabhu, who is the global pioneer of systematic and structured youth outreach initiatives. It was during the time when he was the editor and producer of The Spiritual Scientist that I first came across the magazine in 1996. I was instinctively attracted to the promise of the name: an inter-linking of science and spirituality. As I pored over the articles, I was delighted to see how the magazine lived up to the promise: it presented spiritual tenets scientifically and logically.
Receiving the Baton: Radheshyam Prabhu, noticing my appreciation of the magazine and my inclination toward writing , handed the responsibility of running the magazine to me in 2001. Seeing that the internet was making significant inroads into the world and that many contemporary magazines were switching to e-zine format, I decided to change the magazine to an e-zine. Since then, over the decade the issues of the magazine have changed frequency from weekly to fortnightly to monthly till it eventually settled to a weekly format in about 2008. Initially the articles were sent only on an egroup, but later on the suggestion of several well wishers, i decided to compile them initially on a blog and finally on a dedicated site. In around 2009, after much experimentation, I arrived on the QA format as the principal mode of writing for this site.
Expansion: In late 2011, the site’s activities expanded dramatically due to a fortunate series of coincidences. Of course, coincidences are Krishna’s ways of staying anonymous.
1. I met with a crippling accident that severely reduced my traveling outreach engagements. While I was recovering from the accident, His Grace Govinda Prabhu, a Temple Presidents of the Radha Gopinath Temple at Chowpatty, Mumbai, and one of my foremost spiritual guides, suggested that instead of restarting a heavy traveling schedule that would be decidedly risky for my leg, I should focus on outreach through the net and travel only for substantial, prolonged teaching engagements.
2. At about the same time, Gopikrishna Prabhu (now Vijay Gopi Keshava Prabhu), a dynamic congregation devotee from Pune, took the initiative to revamp the site and transfer it to a platform that would facilitate easy uploading and smooth interaction.
3. Chandrahas Prabhu, an enterprising devotee from Pune who had been managing the site for years, boldly took up the gauntlet of maintaining the site on a platform that he was unfamiliar.
Seeing their enthusiasm as Krishna’s way of vindicating Govinda Prabhu’s suggestion, I decided to increase substantially the time and energy that I was investing on the site. So I resolved to start the Gita-daily feature that would involve my writing an article every single day on the Gita. That feature has gone on – to my own immense and pleasant surprise – till this day. And it is still going strong. For this, I can only thank Krishna for his grace in guiding me to see how the world is filled with so many living demonstrations of his teachings.
My far greater surprise was the overwhelmingly positive response that the newly introduced audio QA feature received. I was told that people prefer to read rather than hear on the net, and so audio QA would not appeal much. Knowing that i just wouldn’t have have the time to write all the answers, I decided to start the audio QA feature feature and see what Krishna’s plan was. In just a few months, the audio QA has become the most popular feature of the site. If the sheer number of serious, sincere and subtle questions that I have received over the last few months are any indicator, this feature has served a pressing need.
Being enlivened by the overall response to the site, I have subsequently added two more daily features: Prabhupada quotes and Holy Name meditations
The Team Behind the Site
The site is running firstly due to the mercy of Lord Krishna as is manifested through the blessings of my many spiritual mentors.
The practical working of the site is due to a dedicated team of competent devotee-volunteers.
First among these is Chandrahas Prabhu, the committed webmaster. Among his special services, prominent is the way he has played around the theme of the site like a trapeze artist, integrating many home-page features in an inhospitable code. He once told me that he feels that this site is his temple, the place where he worships Krishna through his professional skills. Seeing his devotional attitude, I feel like I am a visiting priest at this shrine, whereas he is the resident priest.
Praveen Prabhu is an unfailing help in classifying the content, in providing and implementing thoughtful suggestions and overall being ready to do whatever is necessary.
Kanhaiya Prabhu is a close devotee-friend who expertly tackles audio and other technical issues.
Manish Vithalani Prabhu helps in his inimitable way by testing and tasting the content. His candid feedback is a pleasure that I always look forward to. He is also coordinating the transcription of the QA and the lectures with Geetanjali Nath Mataji. Her diligence and swiftness in transcribing is remarkable, even incredible.
Siddhartha J Prabhu is a reliable research aid who provides the best resources with lightning promptness.
Pancha Pandava Prabhu is instrumental in sorting the multitudes of lectures and refining their quality for posting on the site.
Sridham Vrindavan Prabhu provides expert inputs for improving the audio and the aesthetics.
Vaibhav Sharma Prabhu is proofreading the transcriptions competently.
Vijay Gopi Keshava Prabhu keeps chipping in with valuable suggestions periodically.
Sujith Prabhu designed a custom-made contents page.
Varun Sharma Prabhu provided the pleasing masthead of the site.
Padmini Chandrakar Mataji, Muralidhara Prabhu, Manoj Kumar Gupta Prabhu, Mayur Gambir Prabhu, Rahul Shah Prabhu, Ramchander Kunta Prabhu, Mukesh Upadhyay Prabhu and Jeya Singh Mataji and several other devotees have also offered valuable contributions.
There are several other devotees who have helped in various ways.
I thank all these devotees from the innermost recesses of my heart and pray to Lord Krishna that he shower his choicest blessings upon them.