On October fourteenth, a warm and sunny day, devotees at Bhaktivedanta College and Radhadesh celebrated a cornerstone-laying ceremony at the construction site of the College’s first residential building. Guiding them in this auspicious and elaborate ceremony was Sadya Sresta Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada’s from Spain, who was the head pujari at Radhadesh in the early 1980s.
He turned the site into a sacrificial arena by arranging sectors on the ground according to the rules of Vastu, which are meant to please Lord Vishnu and the demigods. The devotees and guests were touched by his expertise, deep devotion, and the colorful scene he created.
Representing ISKCON’s Ministry of Educational Development was Laksmimoni Dasi, who is also the first Dean of Students at the College. She said, “Srila Prabhupada often commented that because universities do not teach the science of the soul, they offer an education that is equivalent to so many zeroes. But by placing Krishna, the One, in front of all the ‘zeroes’ they will have a huge number and perfect the educational process. Bhaktivedanta College aspires to create students who understand that One and will teach others.”
Hridaya Caitanya Dasa, the temple president of Radhadesh and Co-GBC for the Benelux, said, “This ceremony is a humble beginning. Krishna willing, it can expand to a whole Vaishnava campus, a great resource for establishing Krishna-conscious teachings in universities worldwide. We all like quick investments, such as filling up the tank with petrol so that we can continue driving. But investment in education is a long-term one, and we need to have faith that this investment will fructify in devotees becoming committed to giving their lives to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada’s mission.”
The College Principal, Yadunandana Dasa, said that by educating devotees the College is carrying out its most important task: preserving Srila Prabhupada’s legacy. He said that the building confirms that Bhaktivedanta College is in Radhadesh to stay. He thanked those whose contributions were essential: Bhaktivedanta Library Services, headed by Visnu Murti Dasa, for donating the land; Sham and Saroj Idnani for providing initial funding for construction; the College trustee and administrative director, Jaya Krsna Dasa, for organizing plans and permissions, and backing up the project with personal resources; and the Radhadesh community and management for offering ongoing support.
Bhaktivedanta College needs three buildings to host its envisioned education for the next decade. The residential building will accommodate thirty-three students, teachers and staff members. A school building with classrooms, a library, and offices will be the next project.
Bhaktivedanta College started operating in September 2002, and six students received the first Bachelor of Theology degrees (in partnership with the University of Wales Lampeter) in June 2007 with high grades. The sixth academic year (2007-08) started with fourteen enthusiastic, devoted students from New Zealand, India, Iran, Russia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, and Canada.