Posted November 4, 2006
Are you sometimes finding it tough to be a devotee? Actually this is to be expected as Srila Prabhupada writes in a Fifth Canto purport, "...human beings should voluntarily accept suffering in the form of austerities and penances in order to attain the divine life."
Yes, I too feel the pinch from so much tapo divyam, but there is relief and a forum where these austerities we have been performing can be a great asset in crystallizing our devotional realizations. I am specifically referring to the Mayapur Institute for Higher Education and Training (MIHET)*.
Yes, MIHET students also perform austerities (devotees can't seem to get away from them) of rising early in the morning to chant their rounds so that will have plenty of time for their studies, of associating with advanced devotees and listening to them humbly speak their realizations (actually I don't find this to be austere at all), of eating unbelievably good prasadam, of bathing in the Ganga, of diving deep into Srila Prabhupada's books, of dancing and chanting in ecstasy before Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Madhava, of having enlivening discussions in interactive classrooms about issues that really matter to ISKCON devotees, of helping to shape the vision of our society through these discussions, and of going to potent places of pilgrimage. I may have left some of the austerities out, but I think you get the general idea.
When you come to Mayapur and see how blissful the MIHET students have become then you will begin to understand what Lord Rsabhadeva was referring to when he said that if we perform tapo divyam then we would achieve brahma-saukhyam (spiritual happiness).
Won't you join us?
Here are some details of what's up ahead:
A team of very senior devotees will facilitate the 2006 - 7 MIHET VTE Bhakti-sastri Course sharing their realizations in an interactive format designed to empower devotees as preachers, leaders, and lifetime servants of ISKCON. The course will begin on Bhisma Pancaka (November 2, 2006), enabling devotees, during the last five days of Kartika, to get credit for their austerities as if they had performed them for the entire caturmasya.
For those that have already taken Bhakti-sastri, the MIHET will pilot (also on November 2) a unique approach to studying the Bhagavatam with its Canto 4 Bhaktivaibhava Module. Students will hear from fully trained VTE facilitators in the morning Structured Learning Classes and from senior ISKCON sannyasis and leaders in the evening Thematic Discussions.
After the Canto 4 Module, Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu will facilitate a 3-week course entitled Vedic Cosmology in the 5th Canto. He is leading a team of scholars studying this section of the Bhagavatam and he will share their realizations with his students.
Due to the unprecedented stature of our teachers this year, the MIHET expects many devotees will enroll in these courses and thus encourages devotees to register online as soon as possible to secure their seats.
These courses will end before the Mayapur Festival when the MIHET will offer the VTE Teacher Training Courses, the VTE Leadership Management Course 1, the ISKCON Communication Course, and the Temple Worship Courses providing opportunities for our sastric students to increase their devotional and life skills.
For those wishing to stay on in Mayapur after Gaura Purnima, the MIHET will offer a Curriculum Development Workshop on Srimad-Bhagavatam Cantos 5 & 6 from March 12 to June 16, 2007. This workshop will be a combined MIHET / VIHE project with teachers from both institutions participating. It will be conducted as a course with the normal facilitator student interactions, but qualified students will also have the opportunities to participate in curriculum development projects for future Bhaktivaibhava courses. We have experimented with this combination in the past and our students have found this arrangement substantially enhances their learning.
Studying in Mayapur, the dhama with the most sakti in this age of Kali (Navadvipa-dhama Mahatmya), will be even more potent during this workshop because the month of Purusottama takes place from May 16 to June 14, 2007. Here is a description from the Padma Purana of the potency of the month of Purusottama:
"This month of Purusottama is even more glorious than all other months including the month of Kartika. The glories of all other months are not even equal to one sixteenth of the glories of month of Purusottama. The merit of a person who takes a holy bath even once in this month is equal to the merit of taking bath in Ganga for twelve thousand years . . . .
Suta Goswami continued to speak to the sages of Naimisaranya, "O brahmanas, in this way, the great sage Narada Muni became very pleased by listening from Lord Narayana about the month of Purusottama . Narada paid his obeisances again and again to Lord Narayana and started to speak, "This month of Purusottama is the best of all months; it is best among all kinds of vratas and austerities. One who just listens to the glories of the month of Purusottama faithfully will achieve pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord Purusottama. All of his sinful reactions will be immediately nullified. One who performs the whole vrata and worships the month of Purusottama properly will achieve unlimited glories and attain Goloka."
We hope to be able to serve you in Mayapur in the months ahead.
Systematic Sastric Study 2006 - 2009
"Everything is in my books."
- Srila Prabhupada
VTE Bhakti-sastri Course
November 2, 2006 - February 6, 2007
Separate Sections for Men and Women
Nectar of Instruction|
(December 2 - 16, 2006)
| Bhakti Caru Swami|
Srimati devi dasi
(November 2, 2006 - January 30, 2007)
| Jayadvaita Swami|
Laxmimoni devi dasi
Su-gita Vani devi dasi
| Nectar of Devotion|
(November 2 - December 1 , 2006)
| Kadamba Kanana Swami|
Shyamala Sakhi devi dasi
| Sri Isopanisad |
(January 19 - 30, 2007)
| Lokanath Swami|
Nanda devi dasi
*With a desire to emphasize the Devotional and Life Skills Training Program within our ethos, we have implemented a name change from the Mayapur Institute for Higher Education (MIHE) to the Mayapur Institute for Higher Education & Training (MIHET).
November 2, 2006 - January 17, 2007
Thematic Discussions Facilitators
Bhakti Caru Swami|
Laxmimoni devi dasi
|Hari Sauri dasa|
Kadamba Kanana Swami
Srimati devi dasi
Structured Learning Facilitators
|Atul Krishna dasa||Tara dasa|
Vedic Cosmology in Canto 5
January 19 - February 4, 2007
Ravindra Svarupa dasa
2006 - 2007 MIHET Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama Schedule
|November 4||Antardvipa: Yoga Pitha|| Jayapataka Swami|
Kadamba Kanana Swami
|November 11||Simantadvipa: Jagannatha Temple|| Jayadvaita Swami|
Kadamba Kanana Swami
|November 18||Modadrumadvipa: Mamgachi|| Jayadvaita Swami|
Kadamba Kanana Swami
|November 26||Koladvipa: Dhameshwar Mahaprabhu||Kadamba Kanana Swami|
|December 2||Antardvipa: Caitanya Math||Bhakti Caru Swami|
|December 9||Godrumadvipa: Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Residence||Bhakti Caru Swami|
|December 24||Harinama: ISKCON Campus and onto Bhaktisiddhanta Road||Atul Krishna dasa|
|December 31||Harinama: ISKCON Campus and onto Bhaktisiddhanta Road||Atul Krishna dasa|
|January 6||Koladvipa: Devananda Gaudiya Math||Pankajanghri dasa|
|January 18||Godrumadvipa: Hari-Hara Kshetra, Amghat||Lokanath Swami|
|January 25|| Antardvipa: Advaita Bhavan |
(Advaita Acarya's Appearance Day)
|January 31|| Harinama:ISKCON Campus and onto Bhaktisiddhanta Road|
(Lord Nityananda's Appearance Day)
Curriculum Development Workshop: Cantos 5 & 6
March 12 - June 16, 2007
Adi Purusa dasa |
BVV Narasimha Maharaja
Narayani devi dasi
| Atul Krishna dasa|
Madhavendra Puri dasa
Devotees may enter any of the above Srimad Bhagavatam Study modules without attending previous modules.
|October 26, 2006||Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance|
|November 2, 2006||Bhakti-sastri & Bhaktivaibhava, Canto 4 Courses Begin|
|January 20 - February 4, 2007||Vedic Cosmology in the 5th Canto|
|January 25, 2007||Advaita Acarya's Appearance Day|
|January 31, 2007||Lord Nityananda's Appearance Day|
|February 5 - 15, 2007||GBC Meetings|
|February 7, 2007||Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's Appearance Day|
|Feb 16, 2007||Mayapur Festival Begins|
|March 3,2007||Gaura Purnima|
|March 12 - June 16, 2007||Curriculum Development Workshop: Cantos 5 & 6|
|May 16 - June 14, 2007||Month of Purusottama, in which devotees derive more devotional benefits from austerities than during Kartika.|
|July 16, 2007||Jagannath Puri Ratha-yatra|
|November 14, 2007||Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance|
|November 21, 2007 - February 23, 2008||Bhakti-sastri Course & New Bhaktivaibhava Course, Cantos 1 - 3*|
|March 6, 2008||Mayapur Festival Begins|
|March 21, 2008||Gaura Purnima|
|March 31 - June 28, 2008||Curriculum Development Workshop: Cantos 7 - 9|
|July 4, 2008||Jagannath Puri Ratha-yatra|
|November 2, 2008||Srila Prabhupada's Disappearance|
|November 9, 2008 - February 11, 2009||Bhakti-sastri Course, New Bhaktivaibhava Course, Cantos 1 - 3*, & New Bhaktivaibhava Course, Cantos 4 - 6*|
|February 23, 2009||Mayapur Festival Begins|
|March 11, 2009||Gaura Purnima|
|March 23 - June 17, 2009||Curriculum Development Workshop: Canto 10, Part 1|
|June 24, 2009||Jagannath Puri Ratha-yatra|
*Prior to entering this Bhaktivaibhava Course module, students will complete a 13-week Preliminary Home Self-study Unit using distance-learning technologies on the MIHET website.
TESTIMONIALS FROM ISKCON LEADERS
"I have taught the ISKCON Leadership and Management course, as well the
Communication Course, as part of the MIHET for almost 10 years.
I find the opportunities to educate devotees from our international community at Mayapur are an untapped treasure. As Lord Chaitanya's movement spreads around the globe, it is mandatory that we train our new members in understanding the depth of Vaishnava philosophy and culture, as well as in practical skills to improve their service to Srila Prabhupada's movement.
Without facilitating training and education, we fail to serve our new members--and our children--properly, and we fail to capitalize on the opportunities that Lord Chaitanya gives us to serve his mission.
When education and training are given priority at our world headquarters, we are building a culture of service to the devotees, and developing a standard of excellence for ISKCON---that combined will help transform the world."
- Anuttama dasa, GBC & ISKCON Communications Minister
"I see the MIHE as representing the future direction of the Krishna
Consciousness Movement. It is extremely important that the devotees get a
"systematic" education in the philosophy, so that they can be steady in
their own spiritual life, and capable of helping others come to Srila
Prabhupada's lotus feet."
- Bir Krishna das Goswami, GBC
"My experience is that devotees, who attend the MIHET VTE Bhakti-shastri
Course, become competent preachers of our Krishna conscious philosophy. Many
are establishing centers and conducting seminars without assistance from
In Taiwan for example, one householder couple, who took the course, now have their own center in a large city in southern Taiwan. They are recognized by the local people as authorities on the science of yoga, and are, therefore, regularly asked to give lectures to yoga teachers and their students. They both feel confident to handle preaching engagements on their own although they get only limited association with senior devotees. They are full of appreciation for the training they received at the MIHET
We also had several Chinese devotees with good English skills take the course, and, upon their return, were able to translate the Bhakti-shastri materials into Chinese and are now offering the course to Chinese devotees."
- B.V.V. Narasimha Maharaja
"Here in Mayapur, we have the Bhakti-shastri program. I have heard from so
many devotees who have studied Bhakti-shastri here in the holy atmosphere of
the dhama that their lives were transformed by three or four months of daily
full time study of Srila Prabhupada books. They said it just turned their
whole life around.
Why? Your life will become transformed when one way or another when you deeply accept the principles, these sacred principles of sastra, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam. You have to think about these things and allow your head and your heart to be challenged. That is how you experience spiritual growth. Srila Prabhupada was expert at doing that on his morning walks. He would challenge your conceptions, he would challenge your assumptions, and then he would insert the real knowledge that Lord Krishna gives."
- Devamrita Swami, GBC, Mayapur Bhagavatam Class, March 1, 2006
"It's just a damn good program!"
- Jayadvaita Swami
"MIHET provides an opportunity for young devotees, many of whom are just
finishing their required, often mundane, education, to study Srila
Prabhupada's books in the transcendental home of Lord Chaitanya, Sri Dhama
Mayapur. The temple offers a dynamic spiritual program and the community
offers an abundance of sadhu sanga. This is a perfect spritual setting for
the rare jewel of systematic sastric study. In addition, the program is
affordable, safe and comfortable.
MIHET offers a well-rounded and philosophically stimulating curriculum which is especially helpful for devotees who are contemplating how to expand their service within Srila Prabhupada's movement and deepen their own Krishna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada wanted all the ISKCON members to be well versed in sastra and strong in their devotional practices so that they could imbibe a dynamic preaching spirit and thus inundate the whole world with prema Bhakti. MIHET is making a significant contribution to fulfilling this mission."
- Laxmimoni dasi, Ministry of Educational Development
"The MIHET is a wonderful project that has already benefited so many,
however, it is but at the dawn of its development. The Hare Krsna Movement
without education is no longer the Hare Krsna Movement. I look forward to
the day when the MIHET is not only the centre of advanced studies in Mayapur
but is at the very heart of the Mayapur project itself. The MIHET is the
perfect finishing school for all the students who have come through the
other schools at Mayapur, as well as a magnet for all international
Vaisnavas who want to have a 3rd level devotional education. Naturally, the
next step is for the MIHET to have a facility to match the wonderful service
they are providing, a purpose built campus that after the temple, is the
central feature of the Mayapur project would do nicely."
- Praghosa dasa, GBC
"It is said "If you wish to invest in a person's future, then invest in his
education!" This is true! I have met many of the students who took courses
in the MIHET. They all told me how important their time of study was for
their spiritual life. Yes, it prepared them for a wonderful future in
Krishna-Consciousness. I wish that many more devotees will benefit from this
spiritual life university!"
- Sacinandana Swami
"Our beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, was very impressed by Srila
Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur's commentary on Bhagavad-gita 2.41, the
essence of which was exemplified by Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur's
dear most disciple, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Srila Prabhupada derived
such inspiration from Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana's vyavasayatmika buddhi
mood that Srila Prabhupada dedicated his Bhagavad-gita As It Is to him.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the Bhagavad-gita 2.41 purport: "Service in Krishna Consciousness is, however, best practiced under the able guidance of a spiritual master who is a bona fide representative of Krishna, who knows the nature of the student and who can guide him to act in Krishna Consciousness. As such, to be well versed in Krishna Consciousness, one has to act firmly and obey the representative of Krishna, and one should accept the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master as one's mission in life."
The MIHET is attempting to provide and foster this understanding for serious and sincere disciples in ISKCON. By taking advantage of the wonderful facility the MIHET provides, one can fulfill the mission of life."
- Vedavyasapriya Swami
"It was without a doubt the most wonderful experience of my life. I'm sure
that either systematically studying Srila Prabhupada's books or residing in
Sridhama Mayapur for a few months fully engaged in service would have been
transcendentally enlivening, but the combination was exponentially ecstatic.
I very much appreciated Atul Krishna Prabhu's enthusiasm, expertise and mood, Jayadvaita Maharaja's patience and thoughtfulness with all our questions, and Hari Sauri Prabhu's dedication and expert intertwining of his experiences with Srila Prabhupada. Although I've practically grown up reading the Bhagavad Gita As It Is, I felt like I read it for the first time at the MIHET.
Best of all was the association of the students. It seems like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself screens who is allowed to come (how I snuck in I don't know), because everyone was so sincere in their desire to deepen their Krishna Consciousness and better equip themselves to spread the Lord's mercy."
-Navin Jani is a Ph.D. student at University of California, Irvine, with a M.A. in city planning from University of Florida, where he wrote his thesis on the proposed city in Mayapur.
"Although I have studied Srila Prabhupada's books for many years, taking
this course has deepened my understanding and realizations in many ways.
Because learning in this course focuses not only on acquiring knowledge, but
also on understanding and sastra caksus, as well as personal, preaching and
theological application, students undergo rapid character development.
The MIHET VTE Bhakti-shastri Course helped me to understand Srila
Prabhupada, his mood and his mission as well as my personal service within
that mission more deeply.
Therefore I recommend to all the members of ISKCON to follow this course at Sri Mayapura Dhama. It gave me more faith and conviction and brought me a step closer in serving Sri Sri Radha Madhava and Their servants with devotion."
- Lilasuka dasa (Secretary for the Governing Body Commission)
"The course really sobered me, the way I see and deal with people. It was
the teachers. They empowered and challenged me to apply what I was learning.
To complete the course, I had to discipline my mind and senses more than
ever. But I also tasted more love and trust with the devotees than I ever
have. I want to learn more, and teach others."
- Mahamantra dasa (20), Australia
"It was the way the teachers taught, -- lots of group work and interactive
learning, using music, art, and drama. At nineteen, I was the youngest
student, and I was afraid to speak in front of so many senior devotees. But
they encouraged me and gave me confidence that I could realize the truth of
the Bhagavad-gita. I read it all the way through for the first time.
Bhakti-Shastri pacified my heart and gave my studies and career goals a transcendent purpose-to please Krishna. I owe a lot to my facilitators."
- Vijaya Devi Dasi (19), Medical Student, Bolivia
"I must say that the Bhakti-shastri course exceeded my expectations. I
thought it would be lectures with questions and answers, but it was so
interactive; practically the students were involved in the teaching process
from the beginning. The course materials and recordings were professionally
done, the facilitators well trained and chosen, and the classes well
organized. And the MIHE staff was always ready to help us with whatever
inquiries or problems we had. I was astonished at how hard they worked,
practically day and night, to make sure everything ran smoothly.
While taking Bhakti-shastri, I personally felt that I made some friends for life. I had the feeling that we in ISKCON are really part of a big family, and I got a deeper appreciation for the devotees from all over the world who are serving in their various capacities. I have gotten valuable gems of experience I cannot wait to take home to Trinidad and share with my friends, family, and well-wishers. I am convinced that by the mercy of my spiritual master and the devotees, I am able to remain as a servant in this unique and wonderful society of devotees founded by Prabhupada to fulfill the mission of Lord Chaitanya."
- Santa-vigraha Dasa (24), Trinidad
"I'd say Bhakti-shastri revolutionized my spiritual life. I'll never be the
same after taking the course. Now I feel so strong, inspired, and enriched
by studying Srila Prabhupada's books, and I just want to preach Krishna
consciousness all over the world."
Sita dasi 19), Vaishnava youth, Australia
"I would recommend Bhakti-shastri as increasing one's personal spiritual health and desire to preach. The essays we had to write really tested our ability to apply the knowledge in Prabhupada's books and our ability to explain it to others, thus making us think seriously about both. That was most impressive."
- Krishna-kripa dasa, Krishna.com correspondent, U.S.A.
"Philosophy I did not fully understand has become clear. Now I am more determined in my spiritual practices. I saw the conviction of the teachers in Prabhupada's mission."
- Bhakta Kevin, Ireland
"Before taking the Bhakti-shastri, I never really understood what Srila Prabhupada's mood and mission was, and how everything he said was really based on sastra. So that really amazed me and gave me a lot of faith in reading Srila Prabhupada's books."
- Bhaktin Shalini , Ireland
"The integrity of the facilitators, their commitment to sastric study and their living according to Vedic ideals proved to be great models for personal growth. Prabhupada's books were re-established in the center of our lives."
- Santi Parayana dasa (Traveling Preacher, Polish Tour)
"The presentation on Bhagavad-gita was thorough and stimulating. During these three months, I've gained a better grasp of the details of Bhagavad gita than what I'd gained in many years of trying to fathom what seemed to be enigmas and puzzling passages."
- Kaliya Krishna dasa (Traveling Sankirtana, Australia and S.E. Asia)
"It is really great to study Srila Prabhupada's books in detail. Personally, the course is allowing me to be more confident when I'm preaching. I've developed a great taste to read Prabhupada's books and that taste keeps growing more and more."
- Carudesna dasa (Temple President, Ivory Coast, West Africa)
"I am happy to be home, although I must say that attending the Bhakti-shastri course was one of the most enriching things I have ever done. I am still feeling separation from the many devotees with whom I shared that ecstatic 13 weeks.
I am aching for some Mayapur association. All glories to Sri Mayapur Dham. All glories to the MIHET!"
- Kaivalya Sundari dd (New Talavan Farm, USA)