Encouraging for me is to see that news of the College seems to have gotten out to the ISKCON world. The College is a nice place for young people to come and take time to deepen their understanding of the philosophy and culture of Krishna consciousness. These young people may be those who have joined a temple and hurriedly taken up service without a great deal of formal or systematic training; they may be devotees who after many years need to enter a more reflective period of life; or they maybe the next generation, sons and daughters of our older devotes, sent by their parents, who wish to fill in the gaps in their children’s spiritual education.
Subjects taught at Bhaktivedanta College are not merely formulaic. Rather, ample time is given to introspection and reflection on the applications of learning in real life. This is something new for ISKCON. It is an exciting development and one that should be experienced by many more members. When I brought a disciple of Srila Prabhupada here sometime ago, who joined ISKCON in 1972, he was so excited by the implications of having our first European Vaisnava theological college that upon returning to the UK, he composed a two-page article for the community newsletter. All religions need their colleges, for these are the centers of thought, creative thinking, and where new ways of carrying out the mission can be developed. Bhaktivedanta College is already attracting the cream of ISKCON’s mature and experienced speakers and is fast becoming the destination of progressive members.
What kind of impact do you think a project like this will have on ISKCON?
If Bhaktivedanta College can preserve its intended goal of being a ministerial college, without getting conceptually side-tracked into becoming a philosophical academy or a stepping-stone for further secular education, then it will produce systematically educated and mature graduates who will be prepared for a lifetime of ministry. I would, however, like to see that ISKCON itself is well prepared to receive those Bhaktivedanta College graduates who are looking forward to a lifetime as being religious ministers in the Vaisnava faith. This means that we must carefully create funded posts for such future ministers. Then attending a ministerial college like Bhaktivedanta College will become a practical preparation for a lifetime vocation.