By Denisha Konyn
People Approach the blue grey house on the road with no name, as if happening upon a hidden street that goes somewhere but nowhere, people filter in to the home, but not before they take off their shoes. Each person that enters the home stops and bows before a small statue that lay upon an altar. The statue is small and that of a blue man with a cow. There is commotion in the kitchen as I walk in past the screen door. As I take in the room there is a certain calm that is in the air, such wonderful smells. As I look at the beautiful pictures that rest upon the mantle of Krishna and Rama, my name is called and I look to see David; also known as Dharamaraj das in his spiritual community. He takes me to where all the noise and appetizing aromas are coming from, the kitchen. As he has opened up his home as he owns his restaurant Govinda’s, David or in his community Dharamaraj das prepares food and feeds those who are looking for something different and delicious.
David said, “Govinda’s is another name for Krishna or God in San Script and refers to him as the giver of pleasure, Krishna is a reservoir of pleasure so when you eat at Govinda’s you get a lot of pleasure.”
David (Dharamaraj das), Owner of Govinda’s Vegetarian Buffet on River Road, provides a food service that is much more that about providing a healthy diet for the body. With a focus on the spiritual health each meal at Govinda’s is blessed before Krishna as way to provide the nutrition the soul needs to become consciously aware.
The restaurant doesn’t look like much, the pale orange and pink paint looks as if it’s fading in the evening sun. Quaint and peculiar it’s as though you are pulled inside, the curiosity mixed with imagination as to the interior state of the restaurant. The delicious smells that drift around the building as if pulling knowingly at the pit of the hollow stomachs that approach. Taunted by the smell and curiosity, it’s as if the doors open independent from touch.
The air is cool and refreshing, but not freezing cold like the some restaurants. The woman at the register is polite and friendly as she smiles and says your back. As she disappears, attention is drawn to the music which is relaxing, the chimes and bells instantly calming the nerves, as each breath in is filled with the food that has been prepared.
David comes out with an invitation to step behind the register to the space where food is created. On display are pictures of Krishna and beneath those displays are small containers with food and a ritual leaf atop each offering. The food is given up as an offering to Krishna and in return the food is blessed.
“People come to the restaurant, but they don’t know something is happening and it feels good, they know they’ve been blessed by the way they experience it,” said David (Dharamaraj das). As he explained what Govinda’s signifies it is far more than just food that he provides to the Community. “Our spiritual master wanted to bring religion to the western world and provide food as well as a place of worship,” he said. Traditional temples have restaurants but they are separate from the place of worship.
Govinda’s has been in business on River Road for five years. From Ohio to Canada Dharmaraj das left his hometown to help open temples in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. He came to Eugene to help open another temple almost twenty years ago. Dharamaraj das ‘s calling in life is that of a service provider. His car lot is a mere 200 feet from Govinda’s where he does business also along River Road. His car business provides him with the financial means he needs to survive. Govinda’s is a service he provides to feed and nurture the body but more importantly the souls.
According to his Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-Acarya of International society for Krishna conciousness:
“Krishna consciousness is experienced as a process of self-purification. Its means and ends are an open secret, and there is no financial charge for learning Krishna consciousness or receiving initiation into the chanting of Hare Krishna. The gist of devotional service to Krishna is that one take whatever capacity or talent he or she has and dovetail it with the interests of the supreme enjoyer, the Lord, Sri Krishna. David or Dharmarajdas’s talents and passion for cooking divinely lead him to owning Govinda’s.
Back in the Kitchen of his home, David shows me the how to make rice and he uses butter to fry the rice grain just long enough to bring the other pot of water to a boil. As the water boils he pours the rice into the water while stirring h reaches the other hand or a jar of mineral salt, just a little goes a long ways. As he looks for the pepper, he said, “I am not allowed to cook at home.” As his wife looks at me after finding the pepper for him and said, “It’s because he is always making a mess, he is use to big pans and big kitchen and makes a big mess and doesn’t clean up.”
David’s calling is of that in service, he was brought here to serve the people of our community. As he serves the River Road community, he touches more than just this neighborhood. People come from all over Eugene and Springfield to eat his delicious cuisine. With his devotion to Krishna and his love for serving, Dharamaraj das and Govinda’s will be there for the people to continue to feed bellies and souls.
“You have to be receptive, just like the sun shines for everybody, but not everyone chooses to take advantage of that, some people choose to stay in door… This life is only meant for self-realization… The choice is ours,” said David (Dharamaraj das).
Govinda’s Vegetarian Buffet is open Monday thru Friday 11:30 to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8p.m.