Please tell us about yourself.
I live in Latvia, in a town named Lielvarde. I am a student, studying translation. I am now working on my Bachelor’s paper. The topic is the translation of Manu Samhita. I have chosen to connect my interest, the Vedas, with education. I was introduced to the Krishna consciousness movement about four years ago and was captivated by its goals, philosophy, personalities, and the fact that I could find all the answers I wanted.
Why did you decide to become a student at BCO?
I heard about Bhakti Shastri as a great possibility to study Srila Prabhupada’s main books, about two years before enrolling in BCO. The Bhakti Shastri course in Russian was offered at our local temple, but I did not know Russian well enough to understand it deeply. Therefore I tried to find other means. Luckily, through the Internet, I found BCO, which is exactly what I needed.
How would you describe online education to someone who does not know much about it?
If we learn from experts, all kinds of jewel-like wisdom can be found in a few clicks. One can communicate with and learn from people one could never even imagine reaching otherwise. One can learn how to make the most of Internet technology and receive desired knowledge, just by sitting in front of a pc, managing one’s time, and developing oneself.
You managed to write all of your assignments first in the class. How did you stay so attentively engaged in this and your other responsibilities?
Vedic knowledge is an amazing manual for living life. It has many practical uses. Vedic wisdom has helped me a lot. For example, I do my duty as well as I can, and I leave the result in the hands of Krishna. So, as wise people say, I am doing my best, but Krishna does the rest.
What three main attributes or skills are most important for study at BCO?
- the self-supervision to be punctual, organized, submitting your tasks on time;
- the inquisitiveness to deeply understand the subjects and get clear answers;
- and actively taking part in forum discussions, inspiring others to respond, and keep in contact with fellow students.
Was there anything about online study that made you reluctant to sign up or that you had questions about?
Actually, I was quickly convinced, and I enrolled in five Bhakti Shastri modules, though it was my first experience with online studies. I do not regret my choice. My main questions were already answered in the FAQ section. The unclear points were answered by the BCO’s representatives.
Do you think the Bhakti Shastri course is important in today’s world?
The soul consists of knowledge, bliss and eternity. But our natural qualities are covered by illusion, and therefore we suffer. Srila Prabhupada gave us both the medicine and the instruction how to regain our spiritual nature. His instruction is given in his books. If we systematically study them, guided by representatives of Srila Prabhupada, we will obtain all the information we need to be cured ourselves and to cure others. This is what Bhakti Shastri offers.
One criticism of online learning is the lack of social interaction among the students. What kind of interactions did students have with each other in your online classes?
We communicated by sharing our opinions and our experiences regarding particular topics through online facilities. We had various opportunities to interact via e-mail, Skype, wiziq (when weekly seminars take place), and on the online home page. This is enough to develop a certain level of cooperative friendship. Our further relationships can be developed in the future.
What are your career goals?
If Krishna is willing, I would like to become skillful enough to translate and edit books and newspapers about Krishna consciousness in my native language. Hopefully I could even provide Vedic courses for Latvian universities, since there are none. So I need to grow and take the examples of expert devotees like the teachers at BCO, then practice and get more experience. BCO has given me a good basis already.
If there was one message that you could give about your learning experience at BCO, what would it be and why?
I studied Bhakti Shastri while studying in a university. The online course was my driving force, the energy boost that gave me the strength to meditate on the teachings, to recharge and to connect my daily activities with Krishna consciousness. This allowing me to see life through the eyes of the Vedic scriptures. I found the means to apply what I heard in different challenging situations, and thus I gained more experience and the strength to overcome obstacles. Therefore I believe that the power of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, obtained through BCO, is truly remarkable.