Jai Srimannarayanaya! I was born in 1993 in Australia and raised as a Roman Catholic. I was always interested in different cultures and beliefs as a child, although religion was never a huge part of my life growing up. When I was 15 years old I started to question whether there was more to life, who is God, and how do I get to know Him or Her? Being a teenager I would be on the internet quite often chatting with friends, but I decided to instead start spending my time on the internet learning more about spirituality and religion. One day during my internet searches I discovered ‘Sanatan Dharma’, and that is when my life changed. With each word I read, the more and more everything started making sense to me. It was like a spark of light had opened my eyes and now I could finally see. When I learned that Brahman was always within me and within every living being I really started to feel closer to the supreme Lord. By the age of 16 I decided to start following the principles of Sanatan Dharma and live my life as a servant of God. During this time I also decided to become vegetarian to help fast track my spiritual life. Walking this path wasn’t always easy; there were a lot of obstacles along the way. At first all of this was hard for my family to accept and they thought it might just be a fad that would eventually pass. I felt very disconnected from everyone, especially at school. While my friends would spend their lunch time gossiping I felt completely out of place, so on some days I would sit under a shaded tree and read about Lord Krishna’s loving devotee Meerabai & the intense devotion she had for him. But I had hope that things would get easier, I had hope that when I finished school things would be different and I knew that one day my family would understand why I had made those changes in my life. One day at school a girl in my religion class came up to me and handed me a book. She told me some people were handing them out in the city and she thought I might be interested in it. I looked at the cover, it was the Bhagavad Gita! I was so happy I felt like crying. I was searching for it and didn’t know where to find it, but of course Lord Vishnu found a way for me to receive this spiritual knowledge. Eventually I began to ignore the ignorant comments and teasing from friends or family because all I could think about is the peace I would feel when I chant the names of God. When I got home from school every afternoon I would listen to bhajans & mantras, meditate, chant the Maha Mantra, and read the Bhagavad Gita. The next few years of school were hard for me since it was my senior year. I noticed that I started to spend less time devoting myself to my spiritual life, and more time partying with my friends. By the time I finished school I felt that I had completely lost myself and really needed to get back on track. When I turned 18 I met a friend by chance through my brother. This friend introduced me to ISKCON and brought me to their temple in Australia. When I walked inside and saw Lord Krishna’s face I started crying because I felt that I had neglected him and completely forgotten about the true meaning of life. From that point on I turned my life around and started to take my spiritual life much more seriously. By the time I was 19 I had come into contact with many devotees through Facebook. I was particularly interested in Vaishnavism and started to learn about the different sampradayas within it. I came into contact with some devotees who were part of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. I immediately felt a strong connection to it and knew that it was the right path for me. Soon after I took Samasrayanam under the guidance of my Acharya, Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari, and I had undergone the Pancha Samskara (pictured above). During this initiation my Acharya chose the name Kamakshi Ramanuja Dasi for me. Kamakshi is a name of Goddess Lakshmi meaning ‘one with loving/attractive eyes’, Ramanuja meaning ‘Sri Ramanujacharya (the saint of Sri Vaishnavism)’, and Dasi meaning ‘servant of God’. I am now 20 years old and looking back on my life so far I am extremely glad I made the decisions that brought me the spiritual happiness I have today. No matter what obstacles I have to go through in life, I will always remember Sriman Narayana is in my heart, and I will forever be a servant to Sri Maha Lakshmi. Om Namo Bhagvathe Vasudevaaya Namaha!