Dates: 04/04/2016 - 22/05/2016
Mode of Delivery: Online
The ISKCON Disciples Course is a training program which deepens devotees’ understanding of guru tattva and guru padasraya within the multiple guru environment of ISKCON.
Designed for new devotees preparing to take initiation in ISKCON, the course is also recommended for leaders, preachers, councilors and educators in ISKCON. The course was developed under the direction of the Guru Services Committee, with the combined efforts of leading educators in ISKCON.
The course is based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and current ISKCON Law and references the writings of the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.
The 14 lessons include Powerpoint presentations, interactive workshops, forums, quizzes and assessment exercises. The ISKCON Disciples Course is designed so that your time zone is not of primary importance. You just move along the materials to be found on the Web pages. During the course we will meet for two or three live Q. & A. sessions, but we decide on the timings together so that the majority of participants will have the opportunity to take part.
Course Principles and Values
- Srila Prabhupada as Pre-eminent Siksa Guru
- Allegiance to ISKCON and Parampara
- Respect for Multiple Authorities and Senior Vaisnavas
- Considerate Selection of Diksa-Guru
- Commitment to Vows
- Exemplary Sadhana and Conduct
- Faith in Guru’s Instructions
- Inquiry, Humility and Service
- Favorable Association
- Purity, Inclusivity and Cooperation
- Cultivation and Propagation of Holy Name
- Assimilation and Dissemination of Srila Prabhupada’s Teachings
Broad Aims of CourseTo improve the quality of discipleship within ISKCON in order to promote the long-term wellbeing of Srila Prabhupada’s Society and its members. We will achieve this by enabling students to: 1. Understand the long-standing principles of discipleship, as presented in the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the broader Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, and appreciate the unique contexts in which these teachings are applied within ISKCON. 2. Apply these principles to: – Form spiritually healthy, constructive relationships with their gurus and senior Vaisnavas – Act appropriately within those relationships. 4. Develop the values and attitudes required of a disciple. 5. Co-operatively serve the Supreme, and His various representatives, in order to perpetuate Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and mission, through both personal example and instruction.
ISKCON GBC Resolutions 2014
Week 1: Guru-tattva & ParamparaA guru represents Krishna and previous acaryas. He is a manifestation of Krishna’s mercy. This lesson is meant to provide an understanding of the position, role, and importance of the various types of gurus. It will help students understand principles of paramapara by way of contrast with fallacious understandings, such as ritvikvada.
Week 2: Srila Prabhupada as ISKCON's Founder-Acarya & Gurus in ISKCONThere are two lessons: one about Srila Prabhupada and one on gurus in ISKCON. The first aims at helping students understand Srila Prabhupada’s unique position as the preeminent guru in ISKCON for both present and future generations. The second aims at providing an understanding of the role, position, and qualifications of gurus in ISKCON (present and future), with regard for their loyalty to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and ISKCON’s authority structure. These lessons will also help students develop appropriate attitudes toward gurus in other Gaudiya Vaisnava organizations.
Week 3: Guru-padasraya & Selecting a GuruThis lesson will mainly nurture the students’ devotional relationship with Srila Prabhupada and their own diksa and siksa gurus, through discussions of the relation between Prabhupadasraya and guru-padasraya. A guru’s qualifications will be defined, as exemplified in sastra, and the students will be familiarized with how to examine, select, and develop appropriate relationships with diksa and siksa gurus in ISKCON. This lesson will also prepare students for harinamadiksa, by considering the suitable motivation, time, choice, and qualifications. The regular study of Srila Prabhupada’s books, as an effective way of developing a deep relationship with him, will be evaluated.
Week 4: Initiation Vows & Guru-pujaDiscussion on the purpose and importance of strictly following initiation vows with relevant references to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. We will identify challenges encountered in strictly following vows and suggest solutions in rectification, in case they are broken. In the second part we will familiarize students with the standards for guru-puja and Vyasa-puja (Pancaratra-Pradipa) and prepare them to maintain regular, appropriate worship. Students will reflect on their experiences, such as taking part in a Vyasa-puja celebration.
Week 5: Guru-seva: Vapuh- & Vani-SevaStudents will learn about the relationship between service to a guru and service to the mission of ISKCON (and resolving possible tensions between the two) and balancing every-day duties and obligations with guru-seva, especially according to one’s position in varnasrama. They will be advised how to appreciate the importance of both vapuh and vani-seva and their interrelationship. Their skills and attitudes for behaving appropriately in the guru’s presence will be nurtured.
Week 6: Guru-tyaga & Presenting One's GuruWe will identify ways in which disciples establish connections to Srila Prabhupada, the guru-parampara, and ISKCON in addition to their connection via diksa. We aim to help students deal with issues in the disciple’s relationship with the guru, with hearing criticism of or rumors about the guru (true or false), and with the guru’s encountering spiritual difficulties or falling down. Also, we will explain correct procedures for lodging complaints in relation to a guru; guru-tyaga, or renunciation of a guru; and arguments for either re-initiation or the appropriate continuation of devotional service in ISKCON. The second part aims to help students appreciate the importance of appropriately presenting their guru within Vaisnava society and to the general public in line with the principles of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, relevant sastric evidence, and current ISKCON Law.
Week 7: Relationships within ISKCON & the Course Round UpOur focus will be on helping students appreciate the maintenance of cooperative relationships in ISKCON, especially by being mindful of Srila Prabhupada as the foundational guru and unifying leader. We will differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate discrimination on the basis of one’s diksa guru in ISKCON and discuss the consequences arising from it. We identify challenges faced in developing and maintaining cooperative relationships among disciples of different gurus and suggest ways of meeting the challenges. At the end we will discuss the broad aims and overall topics of the course, sharing our plans to apply the course’s values and principles in the future.
- Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed in three following ways:
Participation on the Forum; every week 10% of the total mark
Homework Questions (Essays) approximately 300-600 words; every week. 30% of the total mark
Two Quizzes; after 4th and 7th week 20% of the total mark
Closed Book Exam 40%
Candidates with a final mark higher than sixty percent will be able to download their original digital copy of the Disciples Course Certificate from the Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus (BCOC) platform. Alternatively, if they wish so, the students could receive the Disciples Course Certificate at their home address after filling in the relevant form in the introductory section of the course before the specific deadline.
- Disciples Course can be attended without special requirements. There are three possibilities for enrollment:
1) PayPal – Standard enrollment
The Paypal fee is €49, fully inclusive. By clicking “Enrol Now” you will be redirected to Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus (BCOC), where you will proceed with registration and payment for this module.
2) PayPal – Disciples Course and Introduction to Bhakti Yoga
We are also offering the possibility to study ISKCON Disciples Course and Introduction to Bhakti Yoga for the fully inclusive fee of €98 (25% discount). This payment does not lead you directly into the both modules. You need to create account on Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus (BCOC) and inform by email our Bhaktivedanta College Secretary providing your BCOC user name together with the confirmation of PayPal payment. You will be enrolled into both modules after that.
3) PayPal – For those who are not having regular source of income
The PayPal fee is €39, fully inclusive. This payment, though, does not lead you directly into the Disciples Course. This is three step’s procedure:
- Create account on Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus (BCOC)
- Fill in the registration form.
- Pay the Paypal fee (link below).
4) PayPal – Self-study model
For those who urgently need ISKCON Disciple Course education and certificate, we are offering Self Study course which you can finish within three intense study days. There is no mentor to oversee the class. From student is expected to go over all material and write elaborate Closed Book Exam.
By clicking “Enrol Now” you will be redirected to Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus (BCOC), where you will proceed with registration and payment for this self-study module. The PayPal fee is €49, fully inclusive.