Photo gallery for Krsnanandini Devi Dasi & Tariq Saleem Ziyad
How did you meet and get married? Krsnanandini & Tariq: Actually we met when Krsnanandini was 9 years old and Tariq 21. He accompanied a minister to deliver a care package to her mom whose husband was away in the army. We re-met over 20 years later. About 18 years ago, Krsnanandini asked Tariq to mentor her sons as she respected his gentlemanly demeanor, his intelligence and his spiritual inclinations. He really appreciated that she was a universalist and although she maintained a serious integrity with her practice of Krsna consciousness, had many friends and was respected in many cultural and religious circles. Little did she know that destiny had arranged for them to be husband and wife and engage in such an important work as a marriage/family ministry.
How have you been prepared for your unique mission?
Krsnanandini & Tariq: It was in a vision from Srila Prabhupada shortly after his departure in 1977 that Krsnanandini received instruction from him to “show Vaisnavas all over the world how to have a real Krsna conscious marriage”. She felt tremendously inadequate and for several years didn’t know how to proceed to carry out such a strong instruction. By surrendering to the instruction, our beloved Srila Prabhupada sent all facility the husband, the training, the circumstances and the other team players. We were both married before and realize that we have been being preparing all along to work to strengthen marriages and families.
How did you join ISKCON?
Krsnanandini: I was given a Bhagavad-gita by my mother in 1971. I had attended the University of Chicago for a year, took a leave of absence, gotten married, had a child and gone to work at the Chicago Urban League as a secretary. Every day I would take the Bhagavad-gita to work and read it – it was irresistible. Co-workers thought I was reading an intriguing novel. It seemed as though the author of the Bhagavad-gita was dictating inside of me and I knew that I had to meet him and be a devotee. I left Chicago (pregnant and with my two year old daughter) and came back to Cleveland, Ohio to live with my mother, her yoga students and some of my younger siblings. She had them all practicing Krsna consciousness.
In September of 1972, we left Cleveland after not being accepted by the new temple president in Cleveland (My mother had helped to establish the very first temple in Cleveland when Srilekha and Sri Govinda were the first temple authorities). We had written to, and received letters from Srila Prabhupada and wanted to find a place where we would be accepted and could practice Krsna consciousness. In a very strange and extraordinary way, we ended up in Dallas, Texas and learned that Srila Prabhupada was coming the next day! We had no clue – we thought he was in India! Srila Prabhupada sent for my mother and she sat in his room for several hours. Later, Prabhupada sent his secretary to ask her whom she was recommending for initiation. Some devotees protested that no one knew what our sadhana was and we weren’t really affiliated with any temple. However, Srila Prabhupada, being a merciful pure devotee initiated my mother (Bhumata devi dasi, my stepfather, Rupchand das, myself, Krsnanandini, and two younger brothers (Asutosh das and Subhana das). It was September 12, 1972, the auspicious occasion of Srimati Radharani’s appearance day. On this same day, His Divine Grace installed the beautiful Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Kalachandji.
Tariq: My wife’s serious commitment to her guru and the Krsna consciousness movement has given me a profound respect and appreciation for both.
What type of services have you done?
Krsnanandini: Mother, Mentor, Minister, Educator, Marriage & Family Educator, established the Cleveland Nama Hatta Program along with my husband and god-sister Kama-giri devi dasi.
Tariq: Father, Mentor, Marriage & Family Educator, Fatherhood trainer, retired as a supervisor in a Community Service Center.
What is your professional background?
In addition to being Grhastha Vision Team members, we’re both Co-Directors of Dasi-Ziyad Family Institute (www.dzfi.org), a non-profit agency dedicated to strengthening families, couples and individuals with healthy relationship skills based on universal spiritual principles. Dasi-Ziyad Family Institute has created and implemented a number of healthy skill-building curricula, courses and workshops including:
• The Young Pioneer Project - a multidisciplinary character and leadership building project for youth ages 5-18;
• From Couple to Couple – a 3-day comprehensive Mentor Couple/Marriage Educator Training course
• The Phoenix Project – an Interpersonal Relationship skill-building course for ex-offenders, their partners and their families
• Sharing Our Stories……Ancient Stories for Today’s Times – a community forum where up to five storytellers from Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, African and other traditions, share their stories with attentive audiences.
Krsnanandini holds degrees in Education and Sociology, Tariq has degrees in Psychology and Business Management. We are Certified Family Life Educatorss (CFLE), certified Family Wellness Instructors, Prepare/Enrich Administrators, and are members of the National Council on Family Relations and have co-authored several magazine and newspaper articles about healthy families, parenting, relationships and marriage.
Do you have children?
Cleveland author Kathy Dawson featured us in her 2004 book, Cleveland Couples: 40 Inspiring Stories of Love and Commitment. Together we have 19 children: Radharani, Bhakti, Krsna-Caran, Syama Prahlada das, Mohan-Madhuri das, Ganga,Ghanasyam das, Hari-Gaura das, Krsna-jivani, Visnu, Nigel, Khadijah, Makeedah, Vidah, David, Rasheed, Tauheedah, Jihad and Donna Shamayne. They live in many corners of the U.S.
Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington D. C., Georgia, as well as Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland author Kathy Dawson featured us in her 2004 book, Cleveland Couples: 40 Inspiring Stories of Love and Commitment.
What are your concerns about contemporary Vaishnava families?
Krsnanandini & Tariq: There is too much hurt in our families and our children. We need a healing in order to manifest the mercy and grace of Srila Prabhupada’s love. There are skills people can learn and commitments Vaisnavas can make to have healthier, Krsna-centered relationships. Srila Bhaktivinoda said that the Grhastha asrama was an excellent institution for the Vaisnava. We would like to see more deep, loving relationships with between spouses, between parents and children, between siblings. We have a vision of healthy, happy grhasthas being examples for devotees and non-devotees alike.
In 15- 20 words, what wisdom from your personal experience would you pass on to a new couple?
Krsnanandini: Write a letter to your spouse right now about how you appreciate, admire and respect him/her, looking forward to a wonderful life together. Your marriage is your devotional service!
Tariq: Put the letter away. Every 2-3 months or so, read it again and remind yourself why you made the commitment before the Lord and community, to marry.