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Although all prospective students may enroll in any of the Bhakti Sastri modules, we recognize two levels of awards for the degree.
1) Bhaktivedanta College Bhakti Sastri Digital Attendance Certificate, which will be issued electronically at the end of each Bhakti Sastri module. The study requirements are:
a) Watching the weekly video classes2) Bhaktivedanta College/VTE Bhakti Sastri Certificate. In addition to the above requirements, a student must:
b) Reading the assigned materials
c) Submitting homework assignments and completing quizzes
d) Being active on the forum
e) Successfully pass the closed-book exams within the requested time frameUpon successfully completing all six Bhakti Sastri modules, students will receive a VTE Bhakti Sastri Certificate issued by the ISKCON Board of Examination.
f) Chant sixteen rounds of the maha-mantra daily
g) Follow the four regulations for bhakti-yoga
h) Provide a recommendation letter by a local ISKCON representative. An online form is here.
This program can be attended without special requirements. You are able to enroll in one module or all program.
In any case registration is done via Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus.
The VTE’s over-arching purpose in promoting the systematic study of sastra (sacred texts). This Module introduces the VTE methodology. To facilitate a systematic, Krishna-conscious education, the VTE has developed an aims-driven (as opposed to content-driven) approach to studying sastra. Here you will find an introduction to and overview of those 12 aims of sastric study.
The time is 5000 years ago; the place: Kuruksetra; the circumstance: the biggest battle the world has ever known. So the stage is set, and Lord Krishna has arranged a most dramatic build-up so everyone's attention is on what happens next. And when all eyes and ears are ready, Lord Krishna arranges that an intimate friend falls under the influence of His internal energy to act as a conditioned soul, bewildered by the most basic questions: 'Who am I?' 'What am I meant to do?' Lord Krishna , in response, explains to Arjuna the process of yoga and the basic transcendental knowledge needed to act in spiritual consciousness.
Teacher: Dragana Jagusic (Jahnava Lila dd) is a head librarian and a teacher assistant for Introduction to Philosophy and Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion courses. She also teaches on-site Bhakti Shastri Sri Isopanisad, Bhagavd-gita and the Disciples Course. She holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religion from the University of Zagreb and a Bhakti-Shastri degree from Bhaktivedanta College.
Dhrtarastra asks Sanjaya about the events taking place at Kuruksetra. Sanjaya describes Duryodhana’s diplomacy and signs of victory for the Pandava army. Krsna, as the chariot driver of Arjuna, is ordered to drive the chariot between the armies. Seeing those assembled, Arjuna becomes apprehensive, hesitant, and overwhelmed with compassion. He argues that killing one’s family will lead to the unchastity of women, unwanted children, and the end of Vedic culture. Arjuna, deciding not to fight, casts aside his bow and sits on the chariot.
The second chapter is a summary of the whole Bhagavad-gita. In this chapter, karma-yoga and jnana-yoga are clearly discussed, and a glimpse of bhakti-yoga is also given. Arjuna surrenders to Krsna, accepts Him as a guru, and thus changes his relationship from that of a friend to a disciple. Krishna begins His instructions by describing the individual, eternal nature of the soul, compared with the temporary nature of the body. Krishna eventually changes the topic to buddhi-yoga, or working in devotional service with fixed intelligence and detachment from the fruits of action. Krishna also shows how attachment to sense enjoyment and material opulence, as described in the karma-kanda section of the Vedas, is an obstacle to determination in devotional service. By devotional service one becomes indifferent to Vedic rituals, gains freedom from reactions, attains liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and goes back to Godhead.
While Chapter Two explains paths such as sankhya-yoga, buddhi-yoga, sense control with the help of the intelligence, and work without fruitive desire, Krishna now establishes that one should not artificially renounce activities but should perform prescribed duties with detachment. He explains a course of action for those who are not yet detached. By satisfying their desires in a religious way, they will be purified. Krishna concludes His explanation of karma-yoga by warning Arjuna not to give up prescribed duties, though there may be some imperfection in doing them. He says that everyone is forced to act according to his nature. Arjuna asks Krishna what forces us to act sinfully, and Krishna describes our eternal enemy, lust. One can conquer lust by working in Krishna consciousness with steady intelligence, fixed on knowledge of one’s pure identity.
Imparting knowledge about Himself that leads to liberation, Krishna explains how He is the ultimate goal of all paths; everyone depends upon His mercy for success. Krishna analyses action and describes how to act transcendentally. To attain this transcendental knowledge, one must control the senses and submissively approach a spiritual master and faithfully render service. Thus one will become free from reactions and understand his relationship with the Supreme. Krishna urges Arjuna to fight, armed with transcendental knowledge.
Chapter Five opens with a question that is similar to a question Arjuna asked in Chapter Three: “Which is better, work in devotion or renunciation of work?” Krishna responds that although the results of renunciation and devotional service are ultimately the same, devotional service is superior because it frees one from reactions, so the devotees can quickly and easily achieve Him. Devotees of Krishna enjoy unlimited pleasure within by fixing the consciousness on Krishna. Always working for the welfare of all beings, they soon achieve liberation. Yogis can also attain this by astanga-yoga. Krishna introduces dhyana-yoga and elaborates on it in Chapter Six. Krishna gives the peace formula in the last verse: Lord Krishna is the supreme enjoyer and controller, and thus He is the beneficiary of all human activities.
Even in astanga-yoga, karma-yoga is necessary in the beginning. When one becomes accomplished in meditation, he ceases all disturbing mental activities. After describing the yoga practice of fixing the mind on the self, Krishna explains the yogi’s realization. Srila Prabhupada explains: “A Krishna conscious yogi is the perfect seer because he sees Krishna situated in everyone’s heart as Supersoul. He sees Krishna everywhere and everything in Krishna. Thus he sees all living entities equally.” Krishna concludes by comparing yogis with karmis, jnanis, and tapasvis. The yogi is superior to all, and among yogis, the bhakti-yogi, who always thinks of Krishna and worships Him with faith, is the best.
Tradition describes the Bhagavad-gita as a treasure chest. The middle chapters (7-12) are where the treasure is kept. This part of Bhagavad-gita is its essence, hidden and specially protected by the Lord. It discusses the nature and activities of pure devotional service. These chapters contain the prayojana tattva, or the goal of bhakti. Bhakti-yoga is the essence of the Gita: "Yoga actually means bhakti-yoga; all other yogas are progressions toward the destination of bhakti-yoga." (Srila Prabhupada, purport to BG 6:47).
Teacher: Dinadayal dasa (Dario Knez), MBI (University of Zagreb), MBA (University of Wales), was born in 1976. He has served at Bhaktivedanta College ever since he started studying there, in 2004. He holds a Bachelor of Theology degree and a Master of Information Systems. He is completing a MBA through the University of Wales (Dissertation). He is presently Director for Online learning at the Bhaktivedanta College where he also assists the preparations being made to offer a degree in business. In addition to online and onside Bhakti Sastri he is teaching Bhaktivaibhava courses. His personal interest is in integrating spirituality and business. For this reason he is maintaining the Conscious Manager Online Magazine (www.conscious-manager.com). Since 2004 he serves as secretary for the Euro RGB (www.EuroRGB.com).
We speak about knowing Krishna as the source of material and spiritual energies. Why surrender to Krishna? What four kinds of people never surrender, and which four kinds do?
The bewilderment of the living entity and his freedom are discussed. We examine Krishna's answers to Arjuna's seven questions. What is Arjuna's eighth question? How to remember Krishna at the time of death?
This session compares the temporary and spiritual worlds and talks about the supremacy of pure devotion. Also discussed is aisvarya jnana: Krishna's acintya-bhedabheda relationship to the world.
Who doesn't worship Krishna and who does? Elaborations on indirect worship of Krishna and the glories of direct worshiping Krishna.
The opulence of the Absolute: how to understand Krishna's unknowable position. The catur-sloka of Bhagavad-gita. Arjuna accepts Krishna's position and asks to hear of his opulences
We hear descriptions of Krishna's opulences. Sanjaya communicates Arjuna's vision.
"I am time, the great destroyer. Become my instrument." Arjuna's prayers to Krishna. Who can see Krishna's two-armed supreme form?
Bhakti and the impersonal path. Here we also outline progressive stages of devotion and qualities that endear one to Krishna.
How is it possible that Krishna , after saying to Arjuna (Bg. 9.1), "I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization" then says (Bg. 14.1): "Again I shall declare to you this supreme wisdom, the best of all knowledge, knowing which all the sages have attained the supreme perfection"? Is more knowledge than that given in the "bhakti section" (Chapters 7-12) required, or is a repetition of the knowledge required?
After discussing the processes of yoga in Chapters 1-6 and after presenting the goal of all yoga processes - bhakti - in chapters 7-12, Krishna reveals how this goal can be achieved. After a section about karma (action) and a section about bhakti (devotion), we come to a section about jnana (knowledge). Please prepare yourself for receiving knowledge, which will help you go home, back to Godhead.
Teacher: Bhaktavasa Govinda dasa (Boguslaw J. Pyz), B.A. (Opole University), was born in Poland in 1965, and he joined ISKCON in 1995 while being a practicing teacher of the English language (having a BA in English literature). Fond of education, he completed the Bhakti Sastri Course in Mayapur in 2005 and graduated from Bhaktivedanta College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Theology degree. He now teaches Bhakti Sastri courses at Bhaktivedanta College at Radhadesh and develops educational programs for Poland. He also teaches vocational courses developed by the Vaisnava Training and Education team. In 2011 he completed Bhakti Vaibhava Course in MIHET, Mayapur, India.
What is the distinction and interrelationship between the body, the soul and the Supersoul (Paramatma). In the first week we will also learn what is knowledge, who is the ultimate enjoyer, and what is the end of knowledge.
The second week centers on an explanations what the modes of nature are, how they act, how they bind, and how one is liberated from their influence.
We will research the analogy of a banyan tree of material nature and recognize the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Purusottama) as the essence of the Vedic scriptures.
This week we are looking look into divine and transcendental qualities and distinguish which of them are conducive and which are detrimental to spiritual growth.
What is the position of one who concocts methods of worship, ignoring scriptural regulations? What are three types of faith, corresponding to and derived from the three modes of nature, goodness, passion and ignorance?
This week we analyze how the three modes of nature predominate human psychology and human endeavors as well as knowledge, action, the worker, intelligence, determination, and happiness.
Summary of the relationship between the modes and occupational duties and then draw final conclusion: the duty of the soul is to surrender unto Krishna in pure transcendental love and devotion.
The Nectar of Devotion (NOD) is Srila Prabhupada's summary study of Srila Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu. It presents "the complete scienceCourse structure of devotional service." In this course you will systematically study the first nineteen chapters of the NOD.
Teacher: Sudevi devi dasi, B.Th. (University of Wales), first read Srila Prabhupada's books during her Indology studies in Berlin, in 2000. In 2003 she took the Bhakti Shastri course in Vrindavana, and from 2004 through 2007 she earned a Bachelor of Theology degree at Bhaktivedanta College, Radhadesh. She now teaches Bhakti Sastri and academic courses at Bhaktivedanta College, oversees the ladies' ashram, and is finishing her work for a Master's degree in Religious Studies from Lampeter University. She likes to study and teach Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, especially with reference to Srila Prabhupada's books.
We discuss the Preface and Introduction. Therein, Srila Prabhupada explains the meaning of bhakti rasa-amrita-sindhu and introduces the definition of pure devotional service.
Once we understand what pure devotional service is, we next learn what will happen when we practice it. In the first chapter, the 6 symptoms that manifest are discussed.
Chapter 2 describes the eligibility for performing pure devotional service and various definitions of sadhana bhakti, devotional service in practice.
We learn about the qualifications that help us progress once we have taken to the process: knowledge of sastra and our faith that the goal of life is to please Krishna.
Chapter 5 provides evidence that performing devotional service is not dependent on one's birth and that it transcends prayascitta, or purificatory rites, and the duties in the varnasrama sysytem. So far, the philosophical foundations of devotional service and devotional service in practice have been established,
Chapters 6-13 describe 64 principle practices of devotional service.
The week is dedicated to the chanting of the holy names. We discuss the offenses mentioned in the NOD and different methods how to improve japa.
If you feel overwhelmed by the number of ways you can serve the Lord, you will be relieved to study just the five most potent forms of sadhana bhakti.
We explore Srila Prabhupada's instructions regarding raganuga sadhana bhakti, or spontaneously performed devotional service.
We end the course discussing the goal of our practices: bhava and prema, devotional service in ecstasy and in pure love.
Sri Isopanisad one of the 108 principal Vedic scriptures known as the Upanisads. Sri Isopanisad is a conceptual text, rather than a description of the Lord's pastimes. Reading and studying this book is meant to advance one's view of life; to teach one how to re-spiritualize every endeavor of one's actions.
Teacher: Raghupati dasa (Rajesh Kumar), M.A. (Agra University), MBA (Aston University), joined ISKCON in Vrindavan, in 1989. He holds a BA (in philosophy, English, and Hindi), an MA (in philosophy) from Agra University, and an MBA from Aston University in England. He now lives in Birmingham with his family and works for Birmingham City University. He completed Teacher Training courses in Mayapur and has taught Bhakti Sastri Online for Mayapur Institute (a nationwide course) in the UK. He is part of the Business-BA team at Bhaktivedanta College in Radhadesh.
Sri Isopanisad, one of the 108 principal Vedic scriptures known as the Upanisads, is a conceptual text, rather than a description of the Lord's pastimes. Reading and studying it is meant to advance one's view of life and to teach one how to respiritualize every endeavor and action.
Living entities can regain their completeness by acting in relationship to Krishna (this is called isavasya). The benefit is that one becomes free from karmic reaction and acts on a liberated platform. Such activities are the only method for freedom. The fate of those who fail to recognise the Lord's proprietorship is vikarmic, or sinful.
Sinful people cannot understand the Lord's position because He is beyond material calculations. He reveals Himself to sincere devotees. One who can see Krishna everywhere is called a maha-bhagavata. Some qualities of the Lord that are known by the maha-bhagavata are described.
Two kinds of people lack knowledge of Krishna and remain bound to this world: those who are simply ignorant and those adopt material scholarship and think it is the end-all of knowledge. Both disregard the Lord's proprietorship and descend to the "darkest regions of ignorance." True knowledge produces a different result. One needs to take guidance from a dhira in the matter of discriminating between real and illusory knowledge and transcending worldly life and attaining deathlessness.
Improper conceptions of the Absolute Truth can be binding. Both worship of the demigods and the impersonal Brahman can bind one. One achieves a different result when his understanding of the absolute is guided by a dhira. He attains spiritual emancipation.
Krishna's relationship with His worldly energies and Krishna's relationship with His spiritual potencies (such as, the brahmajyoti), are both needed to achieve realisation of Him. A devotee asks the Lord to reveal His spiritual form, especially at the time of death. In conclusion, the devotee desires to achieve Krishna's mercy.
For six weeks we will be discovering Srila Prabhupada's translation and commentary to Srila Rupa Goswami's Upadesamrita. Rupa Goswami was especially empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to assemble instructions on how to attain love of Godhead, Krishna -prema. His Upadesamrita (The Nectar of Instruction) is a compilation of eleven verses that outline the gradual progress and main instructions for a serious spiritual practitioner who wishes to attain this eternal love.
Teacher: Mangala-candrika devi dasi (Maja Vrieling), M.A. (University of Ljubljana), comes from Slovenia and met devotees in 2001, while hitchhiking through Ireland. She joined Bhaktivedanta College, first as a student (2006/7) and later as the College secretary. She completed a MA in social work and received initiation from His Grace Krishna Ksetra Prabhu. Since 2007, she coordinates the Bhaktivedanta College's Introductory and Bhakti Sastri courses and has been teaching the Nectar of Instruction module since 2008.
We will be starting our journey by looking into the Preface, where Srila Prabhupada points out the significance of the Vrindavana Goswamis' writings by quoting Srila Narottama Das Thakura: "When I am eager to understand the literature given by the Gosvamis, then I shall be able to understand the transcendental loving affairs of Radha and Krishna." Why is Prabhupada saying we should become goswamis ourselves, and how do we do that? The first verse gives us the proper direction.
Verse 2 starts by pointing out how to lay a foundation for advancement in bhakti. Primarily one should know which six activities or habits are unfavorable for the execution of devotional service. Prabhupada shares many insights on how to overcome bad habits and attain a state of 'simple living, high thinking'.
To establish a strong foundation, we also must practice six activities and attitudes that are very favorable for devotional service. Srila Rupa Goswami promises us that by following them, we will 'undoubtedly achieve complete success in devotional service'.
This week we will meditate on how to properly appreciate sadhu-sanga, the association of devotees. Verse four guides on six types of loving exchanges, or symptoms of loving association. We will also learn to properly relate to Vaishnavas, how to avoid offenses to them, and why Rupa Goswami compares the body of a pure devotee to the sacred water of the Ganges.
We unveil Rupa Goswami's 'essence of all advice'. With Srila Prabhupada's guidance we will discover more about the potency of the holy names and about successfully uprooting our conditional disease. We'll see how we can follow his advice to constantly engage the tongue and the mind in chanting about and remembering Krishna.
The whole week we will be progressing through the gradations of devotees and the places for worshiping Krishna. We'll conclude by elaborating on the glories of Srimati Radharani and Radha-kunda. Rupa Goswami says that it is the best place of worship and recommends going on pilgrimage