In addition to being very tall, he is young, friendly, and intelligent. Recently, he taught the course Introduction to Hinduism (offered for the first time at Bhaktivedanta College), and the students appreciated his classes. In March he will teach the course on the Vedas and Upanishads.
We asked him: “What is your personal history? How did you join ISKCON? What was your earlier academic career like?”
Rembert: “I was born in Brussels twenty-four years ago and grew up in that town. When I was seventeen, my father urged me to take a break from education, and I went to Malaysia for a year. I visited an area where no tourists normally go, and I met Hare Krishna devotees there. I was interested in religion and Hinduism in general.
“After that, I started studying in Gent, Belgium: Oriental studies, with a specialization in Indology. I obtained a B.A. and a M.A. in four years, while at same time serving the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Because I studied Sanskrit I could help check synonyms, proofread, and make indexes. I wrote my M.A. thesis on Srila Rupa Goswami’s “Hamsaduta”, a 124-verse poem that I translated into Dutch. In my work, I placed Rupa Goswami historically.
“Then I applied through the theology faculty of Oxford University for the Ph.D. program and got admitted. So now I am working on my dissertation: “The Use of Sanskrit Poetry in Gaudya-Vaisnavism”. This especially contains elaborations on Srila Kavi Karnapura. I am also teaching courses on Hinduism at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.
“This was the first time I have taught at Bhaktivedanta College. The College is a wonderful initiative, a good project with great potential. Radhadesh is peaceful, the education is good, and the association is nice. It is an ideal environment for study. In the autumn, the weather is pleasant.
“It is important to educate the members of ISKCON. This will improve the preaching internally and externally. Many scholars respond very favourably to such projects. They have not yet seen anything like this. They have never seen devotional students and scholars. They are impressed by the quality.”