When Srila Prabhupada incorporated the first ISKCON temple in 1966, he stated the first purpose of ISKCON as follows: "To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world."
The Mayapur Institute's revised approach to the VTE Bhakti-sastri course, which will be piloted in Mayapur on November 9, 2008, deals with the main subjects of Bhakti-?Ã¤stri in seven distinct units. These seven units reflect the fundamental principles of learning presented in ISKCON's first purpose and in the VTE (Vaisnava Training and Education) approach to education, wherein students progressively learn knowledge ("spiritual knowledge"), skills ("techniques of spiritual life") and values ("check the imbalance of values...") in a systematic manner.
It is no coincidence that the Mayapur Institute's Curriculum Development Team is enthusiastically utilizing the vision Srila Prabhupada so intelligently imparted during ISKCON's infancy to develop a Bhakti-sastri curriculum, which senior ISKCON educators feel will revolutionize the study of the Bhakti-sastras and maximize the preaching empowerment of the Bhakti-sastri students.
This approach will benefit our students on the practical and educational levels and will improve the quality of their overall experience in the course:
The course can be taught on either a full or part-time schedule. Students have the option of completing the course over an extended period of time, if they cannot complete all the units within one 13-week session. They can simply start the following year with the next unit after the one that they have completed.
Information is categorized, filed and accessed in our brains in terms of subjects. Learning new information is easier when it is categorized in terms of subjects. Dividing the content of Bhakti-sastri material into seven specific subjects utilizes this natural approach to learning.
Separately assessing the respective units of the course facilitates more frequent assessment, thus making the assessment more relevant to the day-to-day learning experiences of our students. Assessment done in this sattvik way will reduce stress and anxiety students may feel regarding assessment that is less frequent.
Facilitators will focus on subjects, such as varnasrama-dharma, yoga ladder, and jnana in the beginning of the course. In this section the students’ learning emphasis will be on understanding the Bhakti-sastras. This first section of two units draws from the Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 1 through 6.
|November 10 - 21||1||Dharma in Bhagavad-gita||Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 1 - 2|
|November 24 -
|2||Yoga ladder in Bhagavad-gita & Jnana||Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 3 - 6|
After students have sufficiently explored and understood the basic philosophical subjects, they will progress into the units dealing with personal application with subjects such as pure Krsna-bhakti, sadhana-bhakti and elevation through the modes. Students will also study preaching applications such as defeating Mayavada philosophy and addressing inappropriate worship of the devatas. This section draws material from Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 7-18, The Nectar of Devotion, Introduction through Chapters 19, The Nectar of Instruction and Sri Isopanisad.
|December 8 - 26||3||Pure Krsna Bhakti||The Nectar of Devotion, Intro - Chapter 5 &
Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 7 - 12
|December 29 -
|4||Sadhana-bhakti||The Nectar of Devotion, Chapters 6-19 &
The Nectar of Instruction
|Break (Ganga Sagara Mela)|
|January 12 - 30||5||Preaching from Bhakti-sastras||Sri Isopanisad &
Various Bhakti-sastri materials
|February 2 - 6||6||Elevation through Modes of Nature||Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 13-18|
In the final section of this course, facilitators will address appropriate attitudes for a Bhakti-sastri graduate. Students will thoroughly explore topics such as appropriate attitudes towards ISKCON gurus, perpetuating Srila Prabhupada’s mood and mission, the mood of a Bhakti-sastri preacher, and cooperation within ISKCON. This section draws from various materials throughout the Bhakti-sastras and, in addition to exploring appropriate attitudes, consolidates the learning achieved in the previous units.
|February 8 – 12||7||Qualities of a Bhakti-sastri||The Nectar of Devotion, Intro - Chapter 5 &
Various Bhakti-sastri materials
Facilitators will assess students in each of the seven course units and will give students ongoing reports of their progress. This style of frequent and transparent assessment will reduce students' anxieties regarding assessment. Students who are unable to complete all seven units at once, due to other commitments, can complete the course over two or more years, as successfully completed units remain credited.
Due to the unprecedented stature of our teachers and the piloting of this revolutionary and student friendly curriculum, the Mayapur Institute administration expects many more devotees than usual to enroll in the Bhakti-sastri course this year. Devotees should, therefore, register online as soon as possible to secure seats on the course.
We look forward to serving you in such a way that you will receive the optimum spiritual benefit during your studies in Mayapur.
Please go to www.mihet.org for more details and to register online.
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