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Over one hundred people attended the reception for a new art exhibit by ISKCON artists Ramadasa Abhirama Dasa and his wife Dhriti Dasi, at the Exeter Courthouse Gallery and Museum in Central California this January 9th.
The show, entitled “A Marriage of Art,” included thirty-six landscape and figurative paintings by both artists, as well as ten of Vrindavana and four large paintings of Lord Krishna, which the couple collaborated to produce.
Ramadasa and Dhriti have been painting Krishna since 1975, when they participated in the famous marathon to produce seventeen volumes of Chaitanya Charitamrita for Srila Prabhupada’s Bhaktivedanta Book Trust in two months. They are also the official Bhaktivedanta College Transcedental Art Tutors.
One of their paintings for the Exeter show, ‘Krishna and the Peacock,’ was created in 1983 in Florence, Italy, where they headed up the BBT art department for six years. It was used on the cover of the BBT’s recent Krishna Art book.
The other three—Gopal with the Cows, Radha and the Peacock, and Radha Krishna in the Monsoon—were painted by Ramadasa and Dhriti in the last two years, for a new BBT publication.
Board members of the Exeter Gallery invited the couple to hold their own show because they knew them to be artists in the nearby town of Three Rivers, and because they found it very interesting that two married artists could share a life and a career, and sometimes even work together on the same painting.
“They had seen a newspaper article from the larger city of Visalia, a few months prior, about our ‘Transcendental Art,’ and were aware that we did landscape and figurative art in the classic school,” says Dhriti. “They were very respectful and appreciative to have us do the show. And when we brought the Krishna paintings, they were not phased in the least and seemed just happy to have this level of artwork and beauty in their gallery. So happy that they gave ‘Krishna and the Peacock’ pride of place right in the center of the gallery!”
Despite the primarily conservative Christian population of Exeter, there was an excellent turnout at the show’s reception, and Gallery staff said it was their best show to date.
When a prominent senior administrator of the local college was asked which paintings he liked best from the show he said, “I can’t decide—it’s between Krishna
and the Peacock or Radha and the Peacock!”
“Krishna was definitely the star of the show,” Dhriti says. “People were expressing much appreciation for His beauty and that of His Radha. One person commented, ‘When I look at that painting of Krishna, I see love.’ Another, looking at ‘Gopal with the Cows,’ said, ‘I love the cows in the distance, and the path, and this figure of Krishna is so perfect and beautiful.’”
Dhriti finds she and Ramadasa are always amazed when people are attracted to Krishna without knowing the philosophy behind Him. “There is just a natural attraction,” she says. “Often the response seems to be from the heart. For most of the people at our show, a book or harinam might not have elicted a favorable response to Krishna consciousness, but through these paintings they were attracted to Krishna, which was what Prabhupada wanted.”
She adds, “Of course, doing these paintings for Srila Prabhupada’s books is always the most fulfilling, but it’s interesting to see people attracted to the paintings themselves. And this gallery setting gives them a greater sense of asthetic and value.”
The Western style of painting, using classical techniques, that Ramadasa and Dhriti employ was requested by Srila Prabhupada, who instructed his artist disciples to make Krishna “real” so that people would understand Him as a real person and not mythology.
“We strive to develop better technique and deeper understanding to communicate the beautiful profound teachings Srila Prabhupada has given us,” Dhriti says.
“It has been our meditation throughout our entire lives to make these pastimes ‘real’ but not mundane.”
It is Ramadasa and Dhriti’s dream that in the future, they—and other ISKCON artists—will have more similar shows in many different cities.
“This would be a great way for devotee artists to introduce Krishna to many people, and to bring appreciation and inquiry for the amazing philosophy of Krishna consciousness,” Dhriti says. “Already, we are seeing the potential of devotional art to affect the hearts of people who appreciate culture and fine arts.”
Hundreds of people are expected to continue visiting Ramadasa and Dhriti’s “Marriage of Art” show at the Exeter Courthouse Gallery and Museum.
Yes, BC has again given the world another group of bright young minds. And this time, minds that are not only theologically sound but also trained in Educational Studies.
The 2015 graduation was a special one because for the first time in its short history BC awarded two degrees: one for Theology and another for Educational Studies. This achievement shows that BC has the potential to become an esteemed college.
BC already attracts a variety of students from different parts of the world. There were students from Europe at this year’s graduation and also students from South Africa and India. This diversity has a lot to do with the fact that in 2012 BC added the Educational Studies program. Although it is not clear yet to what extent this new program will be successful, the majority of the graduates this year are Educational Studies students.
Three out of the seven graduates have been accepted into Master’s degree programs, and the rest are still planning to enroll for further studies.
In addition to having their degrees in hand, the BC graduates walk away with a lot more. They gained deeper insight into Vaishnavism and critical thought about world religions. And the graduates probably gave as much to the college as they have taken.
One thing they achieved was starting a debate on the issue of ‘sadhana and students’. We hope that future students, together with the college staff, find a way to continue this debate, for the betterment of the college and the benefit of ISKCON, especially its youth.
by Phelelani Mdabe
In May 2015, Alfred Brush Ford, the great-grandson of legendary Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, has accepted to serve as the Honorary Chancellor of the Alfred Ford School of Management, in Durbuy, Belgium and has inaugurated the world’s first Conscious Leadership MBA program offered by the school, unique for its holistic approach to worldwide business practices and the combination of ancient wisdom with the latest developments in teaching business and management. As the Honorary Chancellor, Mr. Ford, himself a pioneer of conscious leadership, offers support to the school and provides advice in areas such as ethical leadership and social responsibility.
In a recent statement, Mr. Ford applauds the highly qualified faculty of the Alfred Ford School of Management, especially trained and experienced in applying conscious leadership skills to core business areas, as well as the school’s small intake of students and high selectivity process, assuring utmost personal attention and an environment conducive to high quality exchanges.
The mode of program delivery is according to the up to date study standards: ten modules (included dissertation) are delivered online and the last module in Conscious Leadership is onsite one week residence in Belgium. Each module is having video lectures using new Polimedia technology (video screencast with the tutor’s presence) with weekly case study materials. That will offer the students complete educational experience.
The Alfred Ford MBA degree is offered in exclusive partnership with the Universidad Católica de Murcia (UCAM) in Spain, a university famous for its excellence in educational achievements, high ethical standards and outstanding sports performance. UCAM partners with Stanford and UC Berkeley and is the educational body of the Spanish LFP (Professional Football League).
Alfred Ford MBA is also in the process of accreditation at ACBSP – Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, one of four leading specialized accreditation association for business education.
Ten years ago, you were studying at Bhaktivedanta College for a year, what we call the certificate level. You gave up further study at that time. For what reason?
David: I found my year onsite a very interesting experience. I made lots of friends and had a really fun time. I especially liked it that we students were a focused group and discussed with one other the topics of our studies.
Especially fond memories are the times we ate lunch with our professors and inquired about specific subjects we were not covering in classes.
I was not so intrigued by the academic strand in the first year, since it was more like an overview, with a lot packed into it, but not going very deep. Of course, this is true of the first year in almost any field. What I liked a lot were the vocational modules with their practical approach. Those
really inspired me and helped me to pick up or refine certain skills: mediation, teaching, and so on. All in all it was a lovely experience, but I am the sort of person who likes to have an experience and then go back to my native surrounding, which I can perfectly shape to my needs. Therefore I decided to go back to Austria and start my own company and realize my vision
What were you doing?
I started an online marketing consultancy and wrote an e-book series about online marketing, which got published by a major German publisher. I am grateful that I was given this opportunity to work independently, and I used the freedom to travel all over the world during the last ten years.
Why did you decide to resume your studies?
Actually, I didn’t. It was always my plan to continue the studies online, since the possibility of an online campus was already floating around when I was studying onsite. As soon as it was possible, I grabbed the opportunity.
Now I have finished my second year, and it really is important for me to say one thing: Thank you. It cannot be appreciated enough that you give interested people the opportunity to engage their minds and scholarly natures in such a needed and important pursuit. The studies at Bhaktivedanta College touch on fundamental questions that we should be familiar with if we
want to have a high quality of living both materially and spiritually.
I already said I wasn’t so intrigued with the first-year academics. Well, this was not the case in the second year. It was a pleasure to learn about the fascinating heritage of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, especially in the modules about Srila Rupa Goswami and Jiva Goswami. These modules especially interest devotee students, since they show us what gems we actually hold in our hands through Srila Prabhupada’s presentation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
The second year helped me gain a deeper appreciation (and it was already immense) for the philosophy presented in Prabhupada’s books. To learn in detail about the history, the sources, and the way different scholars of Gaudiya Vaishnavism built on one other increases one’s ability to see the value and sophistication of Prabhupada’s presentation.
How do you like the online delivery?
I am a huge fan of the online delivery. Sometimes I miss the direct contact with other students and the professors, which was a highlight in year one, but the fact that I can study exactly when I want and that I can learn even when I’m on the road is just perfect.
The way the learning material is presented for each module is clear, effective, and done in a way that I could immediately orient myself. And when I had questions (which almost never had to do with the online delivery itself, but rather with enrollment and legal aspects) the staff always
answered fast and helpfully. A big thanks to the staff there. In the first modules, the quality of sound was occasionally very bad, but fortunately this was the exception. Good audio is of great importance.
What I didn’t like is that many books were delivered as pdf-images, which is a pity, because they can’t be searched. Another thing which could be improved is the online library. Bhaktivedanta College provides access to many online libraries, which I appreciate very much, but it would be even better if the onsite library (which is highly specialized) could be transferred online. That would be amazing. But overall: 8 out of 10.
What is your plan for the future?
Expanding my business, while finishing my Bachelor’s degree at Bhaktivedanta College. Then I may continue academic studies (probably in psychology, philosophy, or economics), and I will definitely enter a second vocational field as a coach or speaker and hopefully be an example of a Vaishnava living happily and successfully in harmony with Lord Krishna’s social and
This is indeed sad news. Bhaktavasa Govinda Prabhu is born in Poland some 52-3 years ago; he was taking BC TRS program in period 2005-2008. While studying he was also teaching Bhakti Sasti and Intro to BY courses onsite. In 2009 he joined our Govinda’s prasadam distribution throughout Germany for two summertimes. In 2011 he joined our online department as teacher of Bhakti Sastri modules. He loved it.
In 2013 after coming back from India his health started to decline to the point of being bounded to three dialysis per week since his kidneys were not working properly. In the last two years we were in touch on more-less regular basis. This is what he wrote me on March 29th after my inquiry on his health:
“Because kidneys are not recovered yet I am still bound to dialysis centre in Opole – 3 times a week. That’s the essence of my health condition. Besides I feel OK. Still alive :-)”
I will remember him as friendly and jolly person in all circumstances. That was a great quality he had. Always keeping smile and move forward. I am sure that Krishna smiled back to him.
very sad news. He was a diligent and enthusiastic student and a very humble and dedicated devotee.
I have fond memories about his association and I pray for his ultimate spiritual success.
I am very sorry to read that our dear graduate, who also served as a teacher at the College, Bhaktavasa Govinda Prabhu has passed away and that we won’t be able to have his direct association in this lifetime anymore. As Vraja Vihari Prabhu pointed out, the Lord will take good care of him. In any case, as this world is dangerous and there are always obstacles that distance us from Krishna, please say a prayer for his smooth return to the lotus feet of Krishna or to an undisturbed condition of devotional service wherever the Lord takes him.
It is very sad news to hear of our dear brothers passing. Bhaktavasa Govinda Prabhu was always gracious, humble in his dealings, enthused to serve, learn, and teach, and inspiring to be around.
Bhaktavasa Govinda prabhu was a very warm and friendly devotee, always inquiring how things are going and with a lot of understanding and appreciation for devotees in a management position. I wish all the strength to his family, especialy his good wife, to bear the sudden separation.
For me, Bhaktavasa Govinda Prabhu was a prime example of the sort of devotee for whom Bh. College had its raison d’etre — ever eager and happy to be in the midst of a devotional learning environment, always thinking how he could bring what he learned to others (especially in Poland, where his loss as a pillar of the yatra’s budding efforts to have systematic education will be much felt). Lord Krishna must have big plans for him.
Very sad news! Bhaktavasa Govinda Prabhu was such a sweet devotee – always appreciating others and never critical. I pray that Krisna gives him all His mercy.
It is with great sadness that I receive this news, for Bhaktavasa Govinda prabhu was a fellow student, staff member and above all a good friend. I will miss his sanga.
I remember him as a caring, jolly and devoted Vaishnava who was always in good spirits. In 2007 we taught a VTE course together in Krakow, Poland, and I remember his caring mood that permeated the whole course, a quality of his that inspired everybody who had the privilege of his company.
I am very shocked by this news, as I was hoping Bhaktavasa Govinda Pr. will soon resume his service at BCO. His wish was to develop and teach Bhakti Vaibhava Modules, starting with Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1. I missed the association of him and his wife during the time of his illness, but as I mentioned- I was hopeful we will see them again very soon. Krishna had other plans..
I remember Bhaktavasa Govinda Prabhu as a devotee who was ever eager to learn and to teach, who was wholly committed to ISKCON education, who showered others with care and affection, and who never missed an opportunity to smile. Even when I spoke to him some months ago, he refused to entertain any self-pity, and spent most of the conversation discussing his plans for service and asking about mine.
His Grace Lilasukha Dasa received sannyasa initiation this morning (31st May 2015) from his own spiritual master His Holiness Bhakti Caru Swami Maharaja. His sannyasa name is His Holiness Bhakti Prabhava Swami.
Four other sannyasis were also witness to the momentous occasion – HH Prahladananda Swami, HH Dhirasanta Swami, HH Dayananda Swami and HH Bhakti Prem Swami.
The ceremony took place at ISKCON Leicester, and the event was presided over by Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra, Sri Sri Panca Tattva and Srila Prabhupada. Senior devotees and leaders from around the country also attended the initiation.
Ten devotees from around the UK and Europe also received first initiation from HH Bhakti Charu Swami, with five others receiving Brahmin diksha.
This was the first ISKCON sannyasa initiation in the Midlands.
Bhakti Prabhava Swami (Lilasukha Dasa) met the devotees in Ghent (Flanders) in 1992. From 1992 to 1996 he was active in Nama Hatta preaching until 1996 when he joined the Radhadesh temple. In 1994 he met His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami who accepted him as his disciple. He received first initiation on the in March 1998 and second initiation in August 1999. Right after his second initiation he became the first secretary for the European RGB. He organised the first European Leaders Meetings (ELM) and went on several missions for the European RGB.
In 2002 he became the Secretary for the Global GBC Body and the Secretary for the GBC Executive Committee. He fulfilled that role until September 2009. He continues to attend the yearly GBC meetings as Recording Secretary.
From 1996 to 2007 he was engaged in management of the Radhadesh projects, mainly taking care of supervising the administration, tax defense and legal matters. He also served as legal director, trustee, teacher and student in the Bhaktivedanta College. In May 2004 he opened an ISKCON centre in Brussels, and ind March 2006 he received a Global Excellence Award for ÒActing in the Interest of ISKCONÓ.
Lilasuka Das graduated from the MIHE Bhakti Sastri course in June 2001, and followed the Bhaktivaibhava course (2001-2004) at the VIHE in Vrindavana where he graduated in 2004. From 2005 to 2011 he continued with the VIHE Bhaktivedanta study and graduated for Bhaktivedanta in 2011.
From 2004 to 2007 he served as Bhaktivaibhava and Bhakti Sastri teacher at the Bhaktivedanta College in Radhadesh. Since 1998 he has been mainly preaching in European countries including the presentations of various seminars on the Srimad Bhagavatam.
From July 2007 on he has been fully engaged in preaching mainly in His main preaching zones are Belgium, France, Germany, Northern Ireland and England. Since 2001 he has been assisting His Holiness Prahladananda Maharaja in preaching in the Balkan States every summer. Since 2011, his home base is Leicester (UK) where he has been developing systematic education. Recently, in 2014, he became the lead instructor of the bhakti-sastri centre of ISKCON Leicester.
Lilasuka Das has also an BA in Theology, and MA in the study of Religion – Indian Religions and is presently finishing a PhD in the study of religion at the University of Wales.
Written by: Nimai Dasi (UK Leicester)
You are invited to join us!!
THEOLOGY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES is a 3-year study program validated by the University of Chester which offer a broad and yet profound understanding of Vaisnava heritage, culture and theology…(Read more)
DIPLOMA IN VAISNAVA LEADERSHIP AND MISSION is a program designed specifically for those striving to contribute to ISKCON leadership and missionary work in all its aspects from a Vaisnava point of view….(Read more)
TRANSCENDENTAL ART SEMINAR is an intensive biennial art program where, during at least 6 hours of the course daily, one can get a complete experience of art and producing a painting, as well as hints on how to have a deeply spiritual experience while doing it…(Read more)
Transcendental Art Seminar is an intensive biennial art program where, during at least 6 hours of the course daily, one can get a complete experience of art and producing a painting, as well as hints on how to have a deeply spiritual experience while doing it. All levels of advancement are welcome. This year the dates are September 1-14.
“All I can say,” said Krishen Kanadia (from London, UK, participant of the seminar in 2013), “is that the experience was very sacred, something to treasure. To meet the devotees who had preached to me through their artwork felt surreal, and they were supportive. A rich, fulfilling, inspiring experience. And a great way to meet other artists involved in Krishna consciousness. This is no exaggeration: these two weeks have been one of the biggest highlights of my spiritual life. The teachers showed us how to meditate on Krishna all the time in developing our paintings.”
Reflecting upcoming Bhaktivedanta College event in September Dhriti dasi (teacher) said: “We invite all devotional artists and those desiring to explore this amazing devotional art to join us for this two week intensive course. We will delve into the practical points of executing a painting, and then using those tools to paint and express our devotional vision.”
Teachers: Ram Das and Dhrti, based in California, are disciples of Srila Prabhupada, famous and celebrated painters of the BBT for decades. Their art is admired by devotees and the public alike. It is our great honor that we will be able to host these artists for the second time whose fine works can be found in almost any canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. Bhaktivedanta College invited these artists to offer their seminar in 2013 (previously hosted several times by the BBT in Vrindaban, India), and the teachers’ high level of expertise won over the students.
The ISKCON Studies Institute cordially invites you to attend its upcoming conference at Radhadesh (Belgium) from May 22-24, 2015.
The ISI Conference 2015 features an outstanding array of academic scholars from around the world, who will gather to present their research on this year’s conference theme- Devotional Ethics, Community, and Practice in Caitanya Vaisnavism.
The 2015 conference schedule is finalized and a list of speakers and presentation topics is included below. Presentation abstracts are also available HERE.
Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible by completing and submitting the following online form HERE. The deadline for registration is 30April 2015.
The ISKCON Studies Institute is committed to cultivating scholarly discussions in conference forums that cherish a devotionally respectful and academically rigorous ethos meant to foster critical thinking in relation to concerns of ISKCON and its broader cultural, religious, and intellectual environments.
We look forward to seeing you at the conference. For further questions and inquiries, please write to
Mahalaxmi is a graduated Student (BA from Chester) at the Bhaktivedanta College, Radhadesh. She received her title in 2013.
What did you do after graduating from Bhaktivedanta College in 2013?
“I went to Vrindavana and took Bhakti Vaibhava courses there, and it was great.
After that I came to Belgrade, where I am now working on opening a cultural outreach center called Bhakti Hub. I also organized a Bhakti Shastri course here, and I co-run two new sangas here.”
Are you planning to stay in Serbia?
“I do not have fixed plans to do that. We will see how the services here go. It takes time to seriously try, so I am taking that time here.”
Do you remember your time at Bhaktivedanta College?
“Yes, I do. Especially the conversations. That was a time of intense
philosophical exchange with some wonderful devotees, and I really miss that. I even missed it in Vrindavan while doing Bhakti Vaibhava, simply because that was something different. In our classroom in the college, there was a very special atmosphere, because we could and we did ask and discuss any question.
We were very open-minded and broad-minded, all the while keeping our devotional goal and identity in mind. This atmosphere was created by our teachers. They were not at all afraid to dig beneath the surface, to poke, to disturb, and to test the limits and depth of our understanding. We had to grow.
And the group, the students, had bright intelligence. They were not afraid to ask questions. We never played a false humility or an artificial shyness. Our courses were varied and interesting. There were so many topics: the very important topic of the significance for the development of ISKCON, the world situation and our place in all that, and we went into great detail with some of them. At moments it was so brilliant, you wanted to clap.
And we all did service together and lived together, and there was a lot of joking and a lot of chanting. So it was a good balance. It was a very dynamic time.
If you ever do Master’s course, I am coming.”