#44 – Devidasi Devotion: Service & Self-Sacrifice | Yamuna Benedict – Part 1 of 2

According to Hare Krishna tradition, a ‘devadasi’ is a female who devotes herself to a lifetime of service. Upon her birth, this week’s guest was given the name Yamuna Jivana Devi Dasi by the founder of ISKCON, Swami Prabhupada. Yamuna’s parents ran the Berkeley Hare Krishna Temple when she was a child, and she grew up believing that her purpose in life was “to be a servant to the servant to the servant.” She carried this foundational approach to life with her into adulthood, and it has delivered some mixed-bag results.

Tracy Stamper (see Ep.34-37) rejoins Candice on the podcast to welcome Yamuna, who was once an ‘Org’ executive team member, trainer liaison, and all-around go-to gal. Yamuna was drawn into the inner circle at ‘the Org’ in 2010, a pivotal time in the company’s growth. True to form, she went ‘all-in’ devoting her devidasi spirit to the company’s mission. She worked overtime – underpaid – for five years before being let go with staggering insensitivity (a story she’ll share in Part 2). E

ight years later, Yamuna is ready to step out from the shadows and break her unspoken vow of silence. Not to “gossip, complain, or create drama” (see Org’s implicit-rule book for thought-terminating cliches on all that) but to liberate herself from a cycle of self abandonment that existed before and after her time at the Org. She hopes that sharing the details of her experience might help her and others to better understand why so many of us are drawn into cultish communities, and also… why we stay put when the red flags are impossible to ignore.

[CW: This episode may be triggering to current or former Org members, and/or anyone who has experienced high demand groups or coercive relationships. Please listen with care.]

The stories and opinions shared in this episode are based on personal experience and are not intended to malign any individual, group, or organization.

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