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Bhakti means loving devotional service to the transcendental, personal source of everything.
So the word bhaktivedanta combines the ideas of scholarly excellence and the highest spiritual values and activities. The honorific term bhaktivedanta is given to revered devotee-scholars in Indian spiritual circles. Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), received this title in the mid-twentieth century from his contemporaries.
Late in his life, he wrote nearly seventy books, which are translations of and commentaries on Vaishnava texts. Between 1965 and 1977, he and his followers worldwide started more than a hundred temples, farms, and schools. Nowadays, his teachings are practiced and taught in many congregations connected to ISKCON.
Srila Prabhupada is the inspiration behind Bhaktivedanta College, because his exemplary life teaches that the best education combines the advancement of knowledge with self-realization and love of God, or Sri Krishna.
Bhaktivedanta College is an international institution serving the educational needs of ambitious, spiritually minded students. For this purpose the College pursues six ideals:
1. Courage and Purpose
2. Student Wellbeing
3. Spiritually Integrated Learning
4. Academic and Professional Excellence
5. Moral and Spiritual Maturity
6. Collaborative Partnership
The College is located in Durbuy, a hamlet nestled in the scenic Ardennes region of Belgium. Unequalled for its quietude and tranquillity, this forested area is a superb setting for research and reflection. At the heart of the College campus stands the historic Château de Petite Somme, the heart of a thriving Vaishnava temple and community.
Since its opening in September 2002, Bhaktivedanta College has received over a thousand students from twenty-six countries. From inception, the College’s academic modules were augmented with extra-curricular study and mentoring schemes aimed at nurturing character, personal fulfillment and spiritual maturity.
The programme aims to integrate rigorous academic study with spiritual refinement, values education and vocational training. The teaching medium is English, and students with an alternative first-language are offered extra support in both spoken and written English.
In 2003, University of Wales Lampeter (UWL) accredited the three-year academic course, culminating in a Bachelor of Theology degree in ‘Vaishnava Studies’: the first ever in the English-speaking world. The College worked collaboratively with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS), a recognised independent centre of the University of Oxford.
Since then, many faculty members have received their doctorates from Oxford. Committed to investment for the future, Bhaktivedanta College recently completed construction of a new library, office facilities and a residence block, thus providing students with up-to-date amenities for research and recreation.
Over the past ten years, as Bhaktivedanta College grew and developed, the trustees wanted to offer diverse opportunities. In 2010, after exploring the educational needs of ISKCON's global community, the trustees scheduled the introduction of two new degrees.
The first, in Educational Studies, meets an unprecedented demand for qualified teachers, both for ISKCON-independent schools and for stated-funded enterprises in partnership with ISKCON, such as the Krishna Avanti Primary School (the first Hindu, voluntary-aided school in the UK).
The second will fulfill aspirations of ISKCON leaders and many ambitious students for a professional Business degree, distinctive for exploring in depth the contemporary relevance of ethics, spirituality, and sustainability. The curricula for the Business degree is still developing, but the Educational Studies program began in late 2012.
The College leaders envision more postgraduate programs, a prestigious campus in India, and partnership schemes to award provisional QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). An online presence is also one of the College's priorities.