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Written by Ananda Murti (the first year student).
Who would have thought that taking a field trip with my seven classmates, all girls except me, and three adult teachers to two Benedictine monasteries in Belgium’s Ardeen region would be enlivening and eye-opening?
As usual, we were an hour and a half late (following our ashram time), and so the priest, Pere Luque, who had to show us around Maredsous Abbey was unavailable. We waited for a bit before he finally came and engaged us in an extremely wonderful conversation regarding his monastary’s founder, followed by questions from us on traditions, rules, and values.
Surprisingly, he was more interested in our culture than we were in his, and thus we students answered his questions.
Lunch was simple yet satisying. We had a few other brothers from the church join us, and they were extremely friendly and open to talk. I personally loved talking to the head father of the monastery as he was so overly confident of himself and took joy in having us inquire about his personal spiritual practice and the monastery rules and schedule. It goes something like this:
The second monastery was shared by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. It is called an ecumenical church. They see it as a way to do research into other religions and let all the different paths meet at certain points and topics.
To sum up, they were very open-minded, and what we liked the most was their attitudes toward other religious groups. To be honest, we are usually a bit closed, but they were not at all like that but rather inclusive. Although their philosophy, for some of us, is not as deep as our own, their attitude is what struck us the most. To end the day we drove back to Radhadesh eating whatever ladoos were left over. We really learned a lot about this two-thousand-year-old religion.
It is because of an expansion of existing schools in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and India, and the proposed opening of more than fifteen primary and secondary schools in the UK, North America, Africa, Central Europe, South America, India, and other southeast Asian countries. If our movement can meet this demand for teachers, it will develop in an unprecedented way.
If you are looking for this sort of stable devotional career, enabling you to substantially contribute to ISKCON’s development, please consider enrolling at Bhaktivedanta College at Radhadesh to get the educational training you will need. We offer a Bachelor’s degree (Hons) in Education, Theology & Religious Studies (ETR).
Either that degree or our BA (Hons) in Theology and Religious Studies (TRS) can lead to such positions as primary or secondary school teachers, ISKCON leaders, sastric teachers, preachers, counselors, and university professors specializing in education, philosophy, theology or religion. With the demand for so many primary and secondary teachers, we will need more and more professors to train them. All our graduates will be well-versed in Chaitanya Vaishnava philosophy.
With Online Education you can increase your qualifications from your home. The Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus offers a dynamic, convenient way to learn. Under the motto “swift access to lifetime success,” the Online Faculty provides innovative, easy-to-access programs focused on the relevance of ethics and spirituality today. The online community includes three thousand registered users from ninety countries.
The College now offers interest-free loans to qualified candidates.
…more programs coming online
* Accredited by
Bhaktivedanta College in Radhadesh, Belgium is pleased to announce openings for an
Office Assistant Position. Service description can be read here: goo.gl/uJ9175
Please send a motivation letter with short CV and a reference letter from your local ISKCON authority to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Alumni and Friends of Bhaktivedanta College,
Please accept my warm greetings and respectful obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I am delighted to wish you a wonderful Christmas season and a happy New Year. I pray that Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha bless you and your friends and families with happiness, good fortune, and spiritual fulfillment. I am pleased to have this opportunity to update you on the developments at Bhaktivedanta College.
Besides the two BA degrees in Theology and Religious Studies (TRS) and Educational Studies, Theology, and Religion (ETR), which the College is offering on campus, in 2013-14 we began making available online our TRS degree, which increased the number of degree students. The University of Chester this year conducted a Partnership Panel Review at Bhaktivedanta College, which the University does with all its partner educational institutions every three years.
We are pleased that Chester University gave us very positive feedback about Bhaktivedanta College’s academic quality. The Panel representatives were particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness and maturity of our students. Another highlight of this year is that the Bhakti-shastri program is now officially accredited as part of both degree programs. During the Partnership Panel meetings we started to explore the possibility of offering a BA degree in Vaishnava Arts. More research in this regard is in progress, and the prospects look promising.
Our partnership with the Avanti Trust, in terms of finding placement for our college graduates, is moving ahead. The Avanti Trust needs qualified teachers for its growing number of schools. And our graduates have the possibility of working as schoolteachers after completing a Schools Direct training program at one of the Avanti Schools or after completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). It is also promising that some graduates are finding that our TRS and ETR degrees are useful in entering postgraduate studies in disciplines and professions such as Business, Law, and Education. Moreover, some of our alumni and students are actively taking leadership and other responsible positions in ISKCON projects, which directly meets the need for successors to the growing number of elderly ISKCON leaders who gradually retire. We are particularly focused on equipping and empowering the younger generations to preserve the Caitanya Vaishnava tradition and to contribute to society.
Bhaktivedanta College continues to organize academic conferences to enrich the educational experience and expertise of both students and teachers. In 2013 the College hosted the second International Educational Conference and the fourth ISKCON Studies Institute bi-annual conference. Leading scholars of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, many of whom teach at Bhaktivedanta College, organized and took part in these events.
I express my heartfelt gratitude to you for your ongoing support and good wishes. Bhaktivedanta College is successful owing to the combined efforts of many persons. Your involvement in whatever capacity means a lot to us.
With affectionate regards, gratitude, and best wishes,
Bhaktivedanta College Principal
Kirtida and I drove out of Newcastle on a sunny afternoon in mid-October, down the UK’s primary tarmac trail in the southerly direction of Manchester, where we sheltered in the friendly hospitality of Gaura Nataraja, Lalita Priti and their lively son and daughter, Sumedha and Bhakti Devi. Early the next morning, we boarded our budget flight with “Na-Ryan” Air and, by Krishna’s grace, touched down an hour or so later at Brusells Charleroi, from where Damakartu Prabhu conveyed us to the Chateau de Petite Somme, latterly known as ISKCON Radhadesh.
By some good fortune we were again amidst the Radhadesh community, having attended in May the ISKCON Educational Conference there, during which Krishna Kshetra Prabhu suggested we return for this 4th ISKCON Studies Institute (ISI) Conference, from 19th-21st October.
The fact that my 2-meter-plus frame was now accommodated in a comfortable, en-suite, first-floor guesthouse room and not an attic room with awkward low slanted ceilings I accepted as evidence that the devotees charged with conference hospitality do read the feedback forms and are keenly responsive to guests’ needs. This observation was reaffirmed on many occasions during this ISI conference by friendly facilitation and first-class cuisine and catering, all experienced in the stimulating company of wonderful fellow delegates.
ISI was formed from the milieu of graduates generated by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS), who became inspired to combine their accumulated academic acumen by thinking about, researching, presenting, and publishing in subject areas relevant for and related to ISKCON. The first three conferences served to broaden the range of delegates in ISI’s network, an impressive sample of whom participated in this fourth conference.
The third ISI conference was held at Villa Vrindavana, Italy. For this one, Radhadesh was chosen as the enue to facilitate the attendance and participation of a potential future generation of academics from among the current Bhaktivedanta College students and alumni like me. This attempt succeeded, based on the old “study buddies” I spotted (who seemed to mirror my own enlivenment) and the conference hall’s being graced by numerous fresher-faced persons looking similarly captivated by the proceedings.
“Person and Community in Vashnava Thought and Practice” was the over-arching conference theme, to which was added the theme “Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his Legacy,” since 2014 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Thakura’s disappearance.
Day one was largely dedicated to the topic of “The Person,” day two to “Bhaktivinoda,” and day three to “Community.” The eagerness with which Kirtida and I anticipated this experience was well requited by the delegates’ presentations and discussions, which generated much food for thought.
The keynote presentation was read out by Lucian Wong of OCHS, on behalf of Paul Sherbow, a lecturer at Rutgers University. Drawing on Srila Bhaktivinoda’s Tattva Sutra and Tattva Vivek, this paper resented the Vaishnava perspective on learning, which is focused in the Gaudiya conclusion of the Absolute Truth as Krishna, the Supreme Person.
Aside from his role in expertly organising the conference, Dr. Kenneth Valpey read a paper that drew from three sections of the Caitanya-caritamrita in presenting evidence for the dynamics of the person and the community.
By inviting and including various insider and outsider academicians, ISI conferences serve as a valuable interface between the non-ISKCON academic community and ISKCON scholars. Dr. Jessica Frazier, an OCHS associate, proposed a comprehensive understanding of Rupa Goswami’s writings as “Dramatic Vedanta,” elucidating the divine person Krishna as the dramatic elements of Protagonist, Place, Plot and Pleasure.
Jessica was followed by Dr. Jan Olof Bengtsson from the University of Lund, Sweden, who convincingly spoke on the need to develop and employ a definitive range of terminologies to facilitate the eaningful comparison of notions of the person from the West and East.
Dr. Ricardo Sousa Silvestre traveled from Brazil to present his paper, “Perfect-Being Theology in the Vedanta Tradition”.
At the close of each day there was an informal opportunity for delegates to share news of their current academic projects. The conference co-organiser, Dr. Ferdinando Sardella, gave a fascinating account of his role as the academic advisor for Calcutta’s Bhaktivedanta Research Centre.
Dr. Mans Broo from Finland’s Abo Akademi, began day two by reading “In Search of a Modern but Authentic Spiritual Personna.” Lucian Wong and Abhiseka Gosh, who is working toward a doctorate at the University of Chicago, both addressed misconceptions surrounding the legacy of Bhaktivinoda.
Dr. Ferdinando Sardella then presented a paper on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s concept of person. Saunaka Rsi Dasa, as the founding-father figure of OCHS, spoke about its past, present and future.
Dr. Kiyokazu Okita of Japan’s Kyoto University closed day two by presenting a historiography of the Gaudiya acaryas’ apologetic polemics regarding the marital statuses of Krishna’s Vrindavana Gopis.
Kavikarnapura’s “Gaura Ganodesh Dipika” covers the dual ontological identities of Caitanya’s companions, and it provided the material for OCHS’s Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms to explore and reflect on the formation of nascent Gaudiya devotional communities.
Alysia Radder posed the culinary question ‘Is Spaghetti Vedic’? Janne Kontala revealed a research tool in development for “Assessing the Commonality and Individuality of World Views within Krishna Consciousness.” Yadunandana Swami concluded the conference with his paper “Sannyasa in ISKCON,” based on his MA research dissertation.
Such an ebullient gathering evinced for me the personal and collective vision and strength of spirit impelling the cause of education in Chaitanya Vaisnavism, from Bhaktivinoda Thakura through to the present day. The question remaining for Kirtida and me as we trailed home was how we’d hold out for two whole years until the next conference.
Written by Bhakti Rasa (Newcastle, UK)
After a few months of preparation and three days of final execution the Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus has moved to a new delivery platform. It was a huge and nerve-wracking task, but we made it:
Visually, we tried to keep the theme as much as possible in alignment with Bhaktivedanta College’s main Web page. The theme is 100% responsive: It runs smoothly on any tablet or smartphone. (The content will be resized and rearranged to fit smaller screens and operating systems.)
The main improvements are with the modules and the features coming with the delivery platform. It will now be much easier than before to customize, or to implement and adjust, our online teaching needs. The students will benefit the most from this. Still, all the old functions we used to use are more or less the same as before, or improved.
I am sure that each of our numerous online students will need some time to adjust to the new system, but it will be worth it. Of course, it is possible to experience some hiccups, but we will sort them out.
With best wishes,
Dario Knez Dinadayal, MBA
Director for Online Learning
Petite Somme 10, 6940 Durbuy, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 86 32 32 77
Mob: +32 (4) 87 59 84 13
::: www.bhaktivedantacollege.com :::
Recently, Bhaktivedanta College came up with a video entitled “A Relevant Education in a Spiritual Environment” wherein students, teachers, friends, administrators and GBCs all say something about this wonderful educational project.
Inspiration for the video was drawn from the College’s six ideals: (1) Vision and Purpose: Inspiring long-term success through the ardent pursuit of truth, purpose, and self-discovery; (2) Student Well-being: Enhancing students’ prospects by laying solid foundations for their future career, economic stability, and spiritual fulfilment; (3) Spiritually Integrated Learning: Enriching students with positive spiritual experiences, curricula infused with Vaishnava theology, and a practical career-oriented qualification; (4) Academic and Professional Excellence: Promoting the highest standard of service and scholarship while preparing students as exemplary leaders in their respective fields; (5) Moral and Spiritual Maturity: Enabling students to develop virtue and insight, adopt ethical and fulfilling professions, and apply their wisdom to all aspects of private and public life; (6) Collaborative Partnership: Working cooperatively with local, national and global communities to establish an educational heritage of lasting social, cultural and spiritual benefit.
Music: Kevin Macleod, album Celtic & Folk: “Long road ahead” & The Succession Studios: “Happy Piano Music”
Editor and sound: Suravarya Dasa
Camera: Filip Cargonja
CEO: Dinadayal Dasa
Late in September, Gaura Karuna and Govardhana-lila Klein, fun-loving, inspired devotees and third-year students, said their marriage vows in French among friends and fellow students at the local government municipality. Tears were shed, kirtan was sung, and orange juice was drunk, followed by a photo shoot and the throwing of bouquets to the waiting female students.
After the legal wedding, a reception took place in the backyard of the college building. The rustic mix of orchids, green apples, floor-seating, and candlelight set the evening’s mood. Friends and mentors spoke about the couple, and cider was raised to a charming toast. Dinner was the highlight of the evening, kept hidden from view till the last minute: a buffet of Indian-Western fusion that wowed the guests. After a scrumptious
meal, everyone was ready to dance. Retro sounds were played by a college DJ, and the dancing was kicked-off by Govi and Gaura. They got sidelined by three unsuspecting toddler dance-machines, who had to be carried away from the party.
Congratulations and Best Wishes to Govi and Gaura! May their last year at the college be stress-free, with lots of time for their dissertations, and their marriage the same!
By Kumari Kunti Sherreitt (alumna)
On Monday, September 9th, Bhaktivedanta College began its twelfth academic year with a busy orientation week. The introductory ceremony was one highlight, with the students and staff getting to know one other through games, kirtan, and introspection activities. At the inauguration ceremony, Jayabhadra Dasi warmly presented the new college students to the Radhadesh community with complete introductions about them.
Yadunandana Swami shared his insights on learning and spirituality: “We should feel at home, but we are to be active at home, not lazy at home. We should aim to build a spiritual family — a family with responsibilities.”
He also emphasized the importance of combining spiritual engagement with professional training, noting that spiritual substance is the juice of life, like the juice accompanying a gulubjaman. The inauguration ceremony ended with pizzas and ice-cream. All students and staff hope to have a positive year, rich in academic and spiritual learning.
For two weeks in August, Radhadesh teemed with creativity. Nineteen students took Ram Das Abhiram and Dhrti’s Transcendental Art Seminar, and they painted in many places on the grounds, including the community hall, with its picturesque outlook perfect for an artist. From August 3rd to the 17th, Ram Das and Dhrti taught an intensive program of figure study, landscape composition, and the process for creating a painting. Under their careful instruction, each student returned home with an oil painting of a transcendental pastime.
Ram Das and Dhrti, based in California, are disciples of Srila Prabhupada who have been painting for the BBT for decades. Almost any canto of Srimad Bhagavatam contains a sample of their fine work. Their art is admired by devotees and the public alike. Bhaktivedanta College invited these artists to offer their seminar (previously hosted by the BBT several times in Vrindaban, India), and the teachers’ high level of expertise won over the students.
After the seminar, Ram Das and Dhtri visited ISKCON Amsterdam and then returned to California. They may visit Radhadesh again to inspire more creativity.
|Leelah, who came from Israel for the seminar, found it great for her artistic development. The course “brings out a lot of emotion, good and bad” she said. “It makes you feel like you need to appreciate yourself and your own work more and not compare yourself with others. Still, it is challenging to see other people’s work. It makes you want to do better.”|
|“The teachers were fantastic, the location beautiful, and the seminar was great,” said Sarasvati (from Los Angeles, USA).|
|Sylvie, a professional French artist, found the seminar invaluable: “The seminar is complete,” she said. “It is intense, and the ambience is nice because we paint in a happy spirit. We learn to draw and do composition. It is a good mediation on Krishna. Ram Das and Dhrti were good teachers and offered us nice association.”|
|Parth (Boise, USA) said, “Everything, including accommodations, food, hospitality, and transport occurred smoothly. I was never inconvenienced. Everyone at the art seminar and in the college was friendly and helpful. There is a big emphasis on individual work and drawing and painting from nature, as opposed to doing copy work. We had many patient models and access to good landscapes. This class was a wonderful experience, and I’m really happy I attended. Invaluable! I learned a great deal. The teachers were not only a great inspiration but kind people.”|
|Vrndavana, a new Bachelor of Education student from Dublin, Ireland, found the seminar “challenging and inspiring,” and was pleased that it made her “want to work harder.” For her the variety of classes was well chosen and necessary, interesting, challenging, tiring, and inspiring!|
|“You should try this! Impressive and intense,” said Gurupadma, an artist and disciple of Srila Prabhupada who lives in Maastricht, the Netherlands.|
|“All I can say,” said Krishen Kanadia (from London, UK), “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.”|
|Bergita (from Croatia) said, “A useful and interesting seminar by amazing teachers in an inspiring environment. This class has been helpful and amazing. We were inspired not only about painting and art but about life and the Hare Krishna culture.”|
|Anandini (from the Netherlands) said, “The facilitators were friendly, supportive and Krishna conscious. We learned profound painting techniques in only two weeks. The paintings by the students were amazing.”|
|“The teachers were excellent and very helpful. They really went out of their way to assist us all, according to our needs and artistic levels,” Anasuya (from Melbourne, Australia) said. “It was especially wonderful when Ram Das and Dhrti spent an afternoon telling us how to communicate Krishna consciousness thru art.”|
|“An intense, exciting course, wherein one can find the theory of drawing and painting along with ways to practice it,” said Svetlana (from Russia).|
|“I really appreciated the teachers’ methods of teaching. They were patient and kind. It was important what they taught, because it’s what Srila Prabhupada wanted from artists,” said Amritavani (from Radhadesh, Belgium).|