Dates: 17/09/2018 - 31/01/2019
Mode of Delivery: On-site
Bhakti Sastri Plus will empower you with answers based on scriptural study:
- When a non-devotee friend asks you “WHY are you a Hare Krishna?”
- When facing an existential crisis, you ask yourself “WHY am I a Hare Krishna?”
- When, despite all the opportunities coming your way, you still feel like asking yourself “WHY am I not a better devotee?”
- When a coworker asks you “WHAT do the Hare Krishnas believe?”
- When an agnostic asks you “WHAT does Vaishnavism have to say about the human condition?”
- When you ask yourself “WHAT should I do to improve my spiritual life?”
- When a relative asks you “HOW does it all make sense: your lifestyle, your philosophy and your goals?”
- When you ask yourself “HOW can I better share Krishna Consciousness with others?
- When a skeptic asks you “HOW do the Hare Krishnas contribute to the modern world?”
Bhakti Sastri Plus will equip you with more confidence in being a Hare Krishna devotee because it will help you understand the meaning and reasons behind our daily spiritual practice, theology and culture.
Challenge yourself with numerous systematic learning opportunities to strengthen your critical thinking skills and deepen your faith in the scriptures. Learn the broader vaishnava context of the Bhakti shastri books – expand the borders of your knowledge of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. Think outside of the box – learn how to present the Bhakti shastri teachings in the context of contemporary society.
Besides being a place of education, Radhadesh is well known for being a place of kirtan. Your studies will be imbued with regular evening kirtans culminating with the Radhadesh mellows.
Radhadesh is a thriving community with various departments ready to give you an opportunity to im(prove) your skills and talents.
Self-reflect use the transformative potency of this extraordinary place, vaishanva sanga and scriptural studies
Socialize with likeminded persons pursuing the path of learned saragrahi vaishnavas
The Sastric Studies programme, which awards its students a Vaishnava Training and Education (VTE) Certificate, is designed to familiarise students with the theological background underpinning Vaishnavism and the practices of bhakti-yoga. The course takes a personal approach to learning, encouraging students to not only memorize the content of Srila Prabhupada’s books but to assimilate the philosophy and practically apply it. The course focuses on behaviour and character, nurturing students in appropriate Vaishnava values. Evaluation of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ perspectives, as well as case studies of modern definition and expression of religious/spiritual and nonreligious/ atheistic worldviews, is meant to assist students in developing a sara-grahi vaishnava attitude. Thus students can fulfil Srila Prabhupada’s dictum: “We must know the present need of human society.” Professionally designed and written, Bhakti Sastri Plus draws on the principles of Krishna consciousness and the best of progressive education. Thus while remaining true to ISKCON’s heritage, the course highlights how Krishna consciousness is applicable in contemporary society.
Bhakti Sastri Modules
- Bhagavad-gita 1 (Chapters 1-6) – Karma Yoga
- Bhagavad-gita 2 (Chapters 7-12) – Bhakti Yoga
- Bhagavad-gita 3 (Chapters 13-18) – Jnana Yoga (Transcendental Knowledge)
- Sri Isopanisad
- The Nectar of Instruction
- The Nectar of Devotion
VTE Aims of Systematic Sastric Study
Each Aim for sastric study is expressed in a few words as follows. Each aim has corresponding objectives. Each aim is also denoted by a two or three letter code, as shown below. Students should try to memorize these codes.
1. Knowledge (Memory and Recall) = KnoTo help students memorise and recall the (theoretical) knowledge which forms the foundation of their ongoing progress in Krishna Consciousness.
2. Understanding = UndTo deepen students’ understanding of the Krishna consciousness theology, particularly through studying it from a wide range of perspectives and through developing thoughtfulness and introspection.
3. Personal Application = PeATo help students apply the Krishna Consciousness theology, with reference to:
- their external practices;
- their inner development;
and to help them develop appropriate Vaishnava qualities and behaviour.
4. Preaching Application = PrATo enhance devotees desire and ability to preach effectively.
5. Faith and Conviction = F+CTo help build and maintain students’ faith and conviction in:
- the process of Krishna consciousness;
- the sastra as its foundation.
6. Authority = AutTo simultaneously cultivate within devotees:
- wholehearted acceptance of the spiritual authority of shastra;
- a mood of open and honest inquiry and a desire to factually understand and realise the import of Vedic knowledge.
7. Theological Application = ThATo help create learned Vaishnava theologians who are expert in assisting the Society through application of sastric knowledge to a wide range of personal, social, moral, topical and theological issues.
8. Evaluation = EvaTo develop students’ analytical, interpretative and evaluative skills, particularly in respect of the practical application of sastric knowledge.
9. Mood and Mission = M+MTo facilitate devotees in:
- understanding and appreciating the mood and mission of Srila Prabhupada;
- perpetuating that understanding within the Society and its members.
10. Academic and Moral Integrity = AMITo ensure that devotes develop moral and academic integrity in the interpretation, evaluation and application of sastric knowledge.
11. Responsibility for Learning = RfLTo encourage students to take responsibility for their learning and develop healthy study habits by:
- enhancing their desire to study Srila Prabhupada’s books (particularly by nurturing their appreciation of shastra and sastric study, and by demonstrating sastra’s relevance to everyday life);
- equipping them with the appropriate learning skills.
12. Sastra Caksus = SCTo equip students with the ability to see through the eyes of shastra, and with a Krishna conscious worldview. Ultimately, to assist the students in realising scripture, and in seeing Krishna, at all times and in all places.
The Plus modules
Modern Interpretations of Bhagavad Gita
All of humanity converges in one person – Arjuna — to hear the divine instruction disclosed in the Bhagavad Gita. However, to understand, apply, and disseminate this teaching, the entirety of humanity diverges to produce a vast spectrum of multiple translations and interpretations.
- The Bhagavad Gita within the broader picture of Vedanta tradition, discussing the commentaries of Sankara Acarya, Madhva Acarya and Ramanuja Acarya
- The Bhagavad Gita and the Bible: A consideration of some Christian responses to, and interpretation of, the Bhagavad Gita in 19th and early 20th century.
- The Universal Gita: a particular reference to of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Prabhavananda, and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
- The Gospel of Action: In this session we will explore the influence of Hindu nationalism on representations of the Bhagavad Gita with particular reference to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh.
- Gandhi’s Gita: In this session we examine Gandhi’s allegorical interpretation of the Gita, the doctrine of ahimsa and his influence on Western and Hindu views of the Gita.
- The Counterculture and the Bhagavad Gita. Gita in the West in the 1960’s and early 70’s with particular reference to Swami Bhaktivedanta and the emergence of ISKCON.
The Vedic Way – The Art of Spiritual Transformation
The Vedic Way is a school of life for the complete progression and elevation of the whole human being. It takes all of you into account as you begin your spiritual development – the physical, mental, emotional, and interpersonal parts of yourself that support the uplifting of spirit.
The Vedic Way is supra-denominational – relevant for everyone no matter what his or her religious or spiritual orientation.
- Satva – Living in Balance
Balance the factors that influence your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and create the foundation for a healthy spiritual life.
- Dharma – Living Your Purpose
Find out what you are meant to be and do, and experience the universal force of dharma.
- Atma – Living in the Self
Become aware of yourself as an eternal spiritual soul, and confront both your mortality and eternity.
- Paramatma – Living with a Higher Connection
Connect with the Supersoul, and become fearless as you contact your intuition and guide.
- Bhakti – Living in Love
Embark on the path of devotion in a mood of service, and feel the pleasure of spiritual relationship with God and all His creatures.
Teacher: HH Sacinandana Swami
- Satva – Living in Balance
The main inspiration for this course is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s notion of the sara-grahi vaisnava — the devotee who is able to grasp and appreciate the essence of life situations, places, persons, and faith traditions. Here we will explore a few selected elements—practices, texts, images—of faith traditions, with the aim of reflecting on how we might meaningfully engage with practitioners of these traditions in pursuit of genuine friendship and cooperation for fostering the spiritual upliftment of all. Lectures will be complemented with thought-provoking discussions based on relevant case studies of the contemporary ways of defining and professing religious/spiritual and nonreligious/ atheistic worldviews.
Teacher: HH Krsna Ksetra Swami
Bhakti shastri in a wider Vaishnava context
- A series of lectures on Mahabharata, the Upanishads and Rupa Goswami.
- An introduction to the Mahabharata – setting the scene for Bhagavad Gita.
- Who, What, How and Why: presenting the structure of the Mahabharata and providing an overview of the central narrative, characters, theological themes and teachings.
- Examining the Sri Isopanisad’s position and distinctiveness within the Upanishadic corpus.
- The Bhakti Tradition: An exploration of the historical and theological context from which the writings of Rupa Goswami emerged, with particular reference to Chaitanya and the development of ‘intellectual’ and ‘emotional’ bhakti.
- Rupa Goswami s theory of bhaktirasa and consideration of the role of the Bhaktirasamrtasindhu as a commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam.
Teachers: Anuradha dasi and Gopinath acharya das (OCHS)
Jaya Bhadra dasi
HG Jaya Bhadra dasi is Srila Prabhupada’s disciple. She graduated from Bhaktivedanta College. She has regularly taught Bhakti-sastri courses, and she taught the First Canto module of the Bhakti-vaibhava course for three years. She has assisted students with English usage in their essay writing. Currently she is acting as an internal monitor for TRS program.
Joined Inis Rath temple, Ireland, in 1992, after completing a three year diploma in environmental studies.He served as a manager/temple resident in England and Ireland. Currently Syamananda Prabhu serves in Radhadesh as temple co -vice president. In 2006 he completed his Bhakti Sastri degree. Since then he has participated in teaching bhakti-sastri 3 times. Besides his interest in studying and sharing Vaishnava philosophy, Syamananda is an expert cook and theater director/actor.
Dinadayal das was born in Croatia in 1976. He has served at Bhaktivedanta College ever since he started studying there, in 2004. He earned a Bachelor of Theology degree and also holds a B.A. in Information Systems and Organization from before. He completed the MBA through the Robert Kennedy College in Switzerland. He is a member of the Bhaktivedanta College Board of Directors and the Trustees and he is Admin Director at Alfred Ford School of Management (www.aford.be).
Anupama devi dasi
Anupama devi dasi joined ISKCON in Croatia in 1995. She holds a M.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the Jesuit College at the University of Zagreb and a B.A. in theology from Bhaktivedanta College. Anupama currently teaches Encountering World Religions, Modern interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita and Bhakti sastri.
Mangala-candrika devi dasi
In 2001, a Slovenian girl hitchhiking through Ireland met ISKCON devotees. After several years of associating with devotees in Ljubljana, she joined Bhaktivedanta College as a student (2006-07) and eventually became the college secretary. In between she completed her MA in social work, and Krishna Ksetra Swami initiated her as Mangala-candrika devi dasi. She got married in Radhadesh and until her first child was born, she was also a coordinator of introductory and Bhakti Shastri courses and taught “The Nectar of Instructions” module (on-site and online).
Krishna Kshetra Swami
Krishna Kshetra Swami (Dr. Kenneth R. Valpey) holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, an M.St. in the Study of Religion from Oxford University, and a D.Phil. (Ph.D.) from Oxford University (2004) for his thesis on Caitanya Vaisnava image worship. He has taught at the University of Florida, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Pula (Croatia), and (since its inception) Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium, he has taught a module on the Caitanya-caritamrita to third-year College students since 2007. He also teaches other courses at BC, and serves as the Dean of Studies. In addition to various published articles and his published doctoral thesis, he has collaborated with Radhika Ramana dasa (Dr. Ravi M. Gupta) on a pair of books on the Bhagavata Purana, published by Columbia University Press, New York. He is a permanent Research Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.
Sacinandana Swami is a Gaudiya Vaishnava guru,sannyasi, and one of the religious leaders of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as the Hare Krishnas or ISKCON). Of German origin, he joined ISKCON in 1970 and was initiated by the movement’s founder, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in 1971. Sacinandana Swami is well known throughout ISKCON for his kirtana and public speaking. He teaches and writes prolifically on Vaishnavism and the Hare Krishna movement and has translated the Bhagavad Gita into German. His publications include The Nectarean Ocean of the Holy Name, The Gayatri Book, The Way of the Great Departure, The Art of Transformation, and Spiritual Tonic.
Kadamba Kanana Swami
Yadunandana Swami has been the Principal of Bhaktivedanta College since its opening in 2002 until May 2014. He joined ISKCON in 1977 in Spain and received initiation from Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami and later sannyasa initiation from Jayadvaita Swami (both disciples of Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada). He has performed leadership and educational services in ISKCON since 1982. The latter include ministering spiritual education and counseling to many persons; teaching scriptural, academic, and vocational courses; and lecturing in more than twenty universities. He holds a MA in the Study of Religion from the University of Wales. He is the Rector of the Instituto de Estudios Bhaktivedanta in Spain.
Anuradha devi dasi
Anuradha devi dasi was awarded her BA in Social Science, from University College Dublin, and her M.St. in the Study of Religion, from Oxford University. Her masters thesis was an exploration of faith development in the Vaishnava tradition. She is currently a Fellow of the OCHS, acting as a faculty member of the Continuing Education Department. Anuradha has been a tutor for courses in London, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, and Leicester since 2003. She has acted as the principal curriculum writer for undergraduate degree courses granted by the University of Wales, Lampeter, courses taught in the UK and Belgium. She has also organised and run academic and interfaith workshops, seminars and conferences internationally. Anuradha is a respected lecturer and broadcaster.
Gopinath Acharya das
Gopinath Acharya das is the Librarian and Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He was awarded his BA and MA in Oriental Studies from the University of Ghent, Belgium, and successfully completed his D.Phil. in Theology at the University of Oxford in 2010, focusing on the theology of the sixteenth-century Caitanya Vaishnava poet and literary theorist Kavikarnapura. At Bhaktivedanta College, Rembert currently teaches Vedas and Upanishads and, with Ravi Gupta, Pre-modern Indian Theologians: Rupa and Jiva Goswamins.
Price packages (tuition fee, accommodation and prasadam):
- College building (single room), 2 hours service per week: €1,600 per person
- College building or temple ashram accommodation (room with two beds), 2 hours service per week: €1,300 per person
Study and serve options:
- College or temple ashram accommodation (room with two beds), 8-11 hours service per week: €700 per person
- College or temple ashram accommodation (room with two beds), arrival one month before the course begins, 6 hours service/day, 6 days/week, and during the Bhakti Sastri Plus course 8-11 hours/week: €108 per person
Two additional days are included. Each extra day is €20 (prasadam included).
You can submit your Bhakti Sastri Plus On-site 2018 application using the link below. Applications will be reviewed immediately. The total number of students is limited to a maximum of 10.
To register, please fill out the registration form.
For detailed info about on how to get to Radhadesh, please visit this link.