Frequently Asked Questions

The Bhaktivedanta Academy, established in 1984, is an educational intitutional that incorporates the Sri Rupanuga Paramartika Vidyapitha, established in 1974 by Srila Prabhupada at Sri Dham Mayapur as a school and library that now offers adult education; the Sri Sandipani Muni Asrama, offering primary and secondary educational programs for boys; and the Bhaktivedanta Cultural Academy, offering primary, secondary & tertiary education for girls.

The primary goal of the Academy is to produce devotees of Lord Krsna trained to the level of Bhaktivedanta. Bhaktivedanta devotees are described as being of the two kinds - those who know how to act to save themselves and those who know how to act to save others.
Our aim therefore constitutes a complete cultural reorientation of students to produce a society in which the individuals understand that their principle occupation in life is to practice pure, unalloyed devotional service, with the goal of going back home, back to Godhead.

The Bhaktivedanta Academy is run by a council of Deans who are responsible for all facets of the Academy's operations. See our Administration page here for more details.

Gurukula means the place of the teacher. Literally, guru means teacher, and kula means family. So gurukula means more than just a school, but the place where the student comes to be a part of the family of the guru for some time - and learn the culture and etiquette of the Vedas, as well as the knowledge.

In the Vedic educational system, the focus is always on progressive life, ultimately leading to service and surrender to the Supreme Lord. There are many gurus in ones life, beginning from the mother, then father, then teachers, and finally the spiritual master. So the system of gurukula is very deep and significant in the life of a devotee, and is one of the stages in accepting the authority of the spiritual master. For this reason it is very important that there is a seamless transition between family and school and back again.

If the student feels that the teacher and the parent are both to be respected and honoured, and if they feel that the teachers and the parents are "on the same page" about their education, then their conception of guru and spiritual authority becomes very healthy and natural, and they are easily able to understand the importance of accepting a spiritual master, and making tangible progress on the path back to Godhead.

Srila Prabhupada requested that all members of ISKCON take up brahminical culture. Therefore all activities are based on developing these qualities within the students and teachers.

The basic principle of devotional service as given by Srila Prabhupada, is that all devotees are brahmical by qualities and culture, while they may have different varnas by occupation. For example, all devotees will come to the temple early for mangal arati, practice cleanliness, chant japa etc, but during the day devotees may be engaged in different occupational activities: education, administration, business or general work. Srila Prabhupada accepted all devotees who were willing to follow a minimum of devotional or brahminical culture, while allowing wide scope for the particular service or occupation of the devotees.

In the same way, we accept all students who are willing to be trained under these criteria regardless of their natural inclinations for work. They are simultaneously trained in the brahimical culture, and also in the area of their occupational interest, which gradually develops over many years.

Of course, prior to any differentiation of duties on the basis of varna or occupation, all students must go through the primary and secondary educational streams to develop the basics of literacy, numeracy, geography etc. that Srila Prabhupada set down for his young devotees.

The purpose of the training that students receive is to take up leadership roles (in any of the varnas) within the ISKCON society. However the character training and understanding of there own natures that all students receives will give them the tools to achieve anything they put there efforts to.

In today's information-rich world, employers often report that the main traits they require in an employee are ability to work in a team. flexibility to follow directions and work with others, a strong work ethic, honesty and integrity to the company. These kinds of qualities are developed in Gurukula from a young age, so students who graduate have a strong advantage in the workplaces of mainstream society if they choose to follow that route.

The core training that all students receive is centered on the development of character. As such if a student desires to study at a conventional university he will have the tools to apply himself to any extra academic studies required and join university. There are examples of Academy graduates who have gone down this path.

Unlike previous times, there are many options now for further education, both online and face to face, where students can do various short courses to achieve university entrance. It is not such an issue nowadays that one did not do their primary and secondary education at a recognised institution.

As long as the basics of literacy and numeracy are provided - and these are comprehensively covered at the Academy - then there are many ways that the student can do short courses to prove their qualification for university entrance.

While it is easy for a young devotee with good character training and discipline to get the necessary qualifications to enter university within a short time, it is very difficult to reverse 12 years of improper character training in an atheistic and materialistic modern environment.

The Bhaktivedanta Academy is predominately managed by second generation devotees. As such they are acutely aware of the problems that Gurukula has faced in the past. Despite this, the system of Gurukula as explained in the Shastras has the potential to develop the foundation in students to achieve great success in Varna and Asrama.

Srila Prabhupada has requested the members of ISKCON to develop this model of education as a primary goal of ISKCON. The dedicated devotees serving in the Academy have a firm belief (based on study of the Shastra and by seeing the actual results and changes of students enrolled in the Academy) that applying this highly developed system of Gurukula will lead to success.

We have the perfect system, based on Shastra, requested by Srila Prabhupada, which was good enough for Krsna.

We see it as our responsibility, as Srila Prabhupada's followers, to make his vision a reality, and make the Gurukula system work.

To reject the entire system of Gurukula based on previous bad experiences would be to 'throw the baby out with the bath water', and turn aside from one of Srila Prabhupada's primary teachings.

The questions than become:

Why aren't more devotees endeavoring to understand and apply the Gurukula system? 

and based on past mistakes. 

Why are we throwing the baby out with the bath water?

 

 

We accept Srila Prabhupada as the empowered acharya for the age, and his teachings as the basis for our life.  Srila Prabhupada repeatedly gave, over many years, thousands of instructions on the importance of Gurukula education for his followers and their children. He also wanted that Gurukula education would show an example of an alternative to the 'slaughterhouse' that he described as modern education, with its emphasis on sense gratification, free-mingling between the sexes, and atheistic and impersonalistic philosophical foundations.

We see it as our responsibility, as Srila Prabhupada's followers, to make his vision a reality, and make the Gurukula system work. To reject the entire system of Gurukula based on previous bad experiences would be to 'throw the baby out with the bath water', and turn aside from one of Srila Prabhupada's primary teachings.

From our own experiences also, we can see the benefits of the Gurukula system in developing character and making ideal devotees. Many of the current Mayapur management, and increasingly, leading preachers and managers throughout ISKCON, are coming from devotees who have spent time in ISKCON Gurukulas.
Of course we have deeply considered the mistakes made in the past, and thought about how to rectify these for the next generation.

Many previous students and teachers report that the main issue with Gurukula was the inexperience and lack of training of the teachers. Devotees with little or no training in education were forced to deal with large numbers of students, with little or no support from other experienced educators, nor informed by the experience of an established educational institution.

In contrast, our teachers are either former students who have many years experience in the Gurukula system themselves, experienced and qualified educators, or experienced parents. The external environment is also very different to ISKCON of the '70s. We now have many senior devotees in their sixties to give us guidance, and a whole generation of devotees brought up in the movement to draw inspiration from, with several decades of education in ISKCON to analyse and see what was the result of the different approaches taken.

When we take into account Srila Prabhupada's teachings, and this experience of education in ISKCON, the staff at the Academy share a strong convition that the Gurukula system, properly applied, is the very best educational system for the children of the Krsna consciousness movement.

This is a period covering six months which enables the teachers to monitor the students and ascertain their suitability for achieving success in the Bhaktivedanta Academy. It is also a time for parents and students to see how comfotable they are with the philosophy, culture and methods of the Academy.

 

 

The Academy's teachers are selected based on their qualification to fulfil the Academy's mission in delivering the stated educational and occupational outcomes for the students, and not on any formal qualification issued by an external institution that has different aims to the Academy and Srila Prabhupada's stated objective for his Gurukula's. Academy teachers that have not gone through the Gurukula system are trained by the deans of teh Bhaltivedanta Academy in the proper mood and relationship to develop with the students in order to develop the best in the students. The Academy's criteria for dealing and interacting with students is very stringent and based on the Vedic model of teacher student relationships.

Our teachers come from a variety of backgrounds including:
    •    Predominantly graduate students of the Academy (at various levels)
    •    Devotees from a variety of servic ebackgrounds that have been trained in the Academy
    •    devotees in good standing who have specialised knowledge in their subject area and understand the mission of the Academy


See our Teaching Staff page for more details on our teachers

A day student sleeps at home or with a guardian and attends Gurukula between the hours of 5:30am (mangal arati is compulsory for all day students) and 6:00 pm seven days week. All new students are required to follow this program during their trial period.

An Asrama student resides at the Gurukula. It is a program offered to day students by invitation only. The Gurukula experience and education is only fully developed in the Asrama program.  The age for entry to the Asrama program is varied and is dependant on the progress of the students. The decision to invite the student to the Asrama program is made between the teachers, the parents and the student.

Our pilgrimage schedule has three primary purposes.
1) To give the students an opportunity to practice what they are learning in an environment outside of the school.
2) To witness first hand the practical application of the Vedic culture in the villages and temples of India.
3) For the teachers to assess the progress of the students outside of the comfort of the Academy in order to gain a better understanding of the needs of the students.

Yes parikramas are compulsory for all students.

No. See above question.

We take our authority from guru, sadhu and sastra, and the instructions of ISKCON Founder-acarya Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

The western countries especially are filled with voidism and impersonalism, the primary aim of life being sense gratification. This analysis applies to all institutions including the educational institutions.
Factually we can see that there is only a study of material nature. This is presented through the arts and sciences which have no basis in authority: there is only empirical observation and inference. Consequently there is no fixed direction of scholasticism; standards of what is acceptable knowledge are always changing. Of course, modern knowledge has produced some useful gismos that may be dovetailed into the Krsna consciousness movement.

It may be argued that one can take gold from a filthy place and that is true. But if you are sitting on a known gold mine, the veins of which can never be exhausted, then why go ferreting around in the sewer to see if someone dropped some gold there?

If anything is genuine knowledge then it will be found in Srila Prabhupada's books, and if we research with a genuine desire for guidance in any field, then we will find it - we just have to have that faith. The more we follow this principle the more that faith will be justified and the more it will grow.

On the above considerations we decided that to Krsna-ize, that is, adapt to the needs of the Krsna consciousness movement, a Vedic formula of education is more natural that trying to Krsna-ize a modern one.
As stated in the Bhagavad-gita: vedais ca sarvair ham eva vedyo, all the Vedas are ultimately directed to knowing Krsna. Therefore the essential root principle of God consciousness is found all throughout the Vedas, but not in a modern educational system.

In the Vedic formula, the necessary principles of purity and respect for authority which are required for realizing the success in Gurukula training are axiomatic; whereas, the fundamentals of impersonalism, voidism and pursuit of sense gratification found in modern educational formulas are difficult to circumvent, no matter how much Krsna consciousness is introduced.

No, neither is true.

The goal of the Bhaktivedanta Academy is to produce highly learned graduates. Rupa Goswami defines highly learned as someone who has exemplary character and deep knowledge. As such Academics are extremely important to the teachers and students of the Academy. However what we do not subscribe to is that academic education alone will prepare the students for life. Along with this we have fully developed our own curriculum using the principals of the Vedas, what we have not done is "krsna-ized" a flawed modern curriculum. For a detailed explanation into our academic marking system see here (link here to academic marking doc sent to parents).

According to the system of Gurukula the mother, father and teacher have a life long relationship with the child (see our FAQ on the meaning of Gurukula). Depending on the time in the child's life the prominence of authority changes. For example when the child is in Gurukula he/she is under the authority of the teacher and the parents are in a supporting role. Regardless of this naturally if parents are unhappy with there experience they have the authority to take the child out of the school. It should be pointed out that this is heavily reliant on communication between parents and teachers. As far as the student is concerned his teachers and parents are working together for his/her benefit.

English, Mathematics, Astronomy, Astrology, History (in relation to the Veda), Geography (spiritual world down to us), Mantra, Mridanga. Harmonium, Civics, Deity worship, Yajna and Cooking.
For a complete curriculum breakdown see our Curriculum page.

We have extensive child protection measures. All teachers are put through child protection training. All students on at least three occasions annually, and prior to any festivals or travels, are given full training in child protection programs provided by the international Child Protection Office under the authority of the GBC.
In addition to this, two members of the ISKCON Mayapur Child Protection Team are teachers in the Academy.

We are located at ISKCON Mayapur dist. Nadia West Bengal.

See our contact page for full details.

 

Boys Gurukula:

(for initial enquiries please contact the boys school secretary first)

 

Priti Vardhana Dasa

Dean - Bhaktivedanta Acdemy

Mobile: +91 9748776991

email: pvd@pamho.net

 

Sri Madhava Gauranga Dasa

Dean - Bhaktivedanta Academy

Mobile: +91 9002517150

Email: madhava@pamho.net

 

Baladev Sriman dasa

Secretary - Bhaktivedanta Academy (boys)

Mobile: +91 9800795822

Email: baladev@inbox.lv

 

 

Girls Gurukula:

(for initial enquiries please contact the girls school secretary first)

 

Sri Radhe Dasi

Dean - Bhaktivedanta Academy

Mobile: +91 9932441292

Email: sri.radhe.ids@pamho.net

 

Devesani Radhika Dasi

Secretary: Bhaktivedanta Academy (girls)

Mobile: +91 9800692084

Email: devesani.radhika@yahoo.com

Click here for admission details and procedures. Click here to read the Academy's complete prospectus package.

After reading the admission procedures and documents contact us, our details are in the FAQ under "What are your contact details?"

We admit new students in September. Please see here for full admission requirements.

The minimum age for admission is 5 years of age. This however is reliant on the 5 year old being able to perform minimal care on themselves such as cleaning themselves in the toilet and following basic inctructions.

This varies based on the individual. The older a student the more difficult it is to adjust. However some of our best students have come as older students and because the know what the want they completely immerse themselves in the school.

Boys attend the morning programs weekly during regular study times and 3 or 4 times a week during other periods. As there school day starts at 5:30 am they are fully engaged in various services and classes. We have many deities at the Gurukula which the students are engaged in serving.
The Academy's teachers and students play a pivotal role in any festival worship of the temple deities such as abhiseks, yajnas etc. Students also regularly travel to various temples to perform deity installations, Vastu yajnas, etc.

Girls attend morning temple programs regularly. They also have deities they serve in the school. In addition to this they are entirely responsible for small Sri Sri Radha-Madhava's dresses and decorations for the 20 day period of chandan yatra. They spend the year planning and executing this amazing service. See a collage of 2011 offerings here.

Some of our previous students have gone on to become: Temple presidents, GBC's, GBC secretariat, travelling preachers, Mayapur administration members, Bhaktivedanta Academy administrators, Ph. D. students, Guest house managers, life membership co-ordinators, business owners, Yoga retreat centre managers, university graduates in business who have gone on to own their own successful business, temple pujaris and many more.

Boys: Ideally the student's education continues up to 25.
Girls: Ideally the student's education continues up to 18.

The costs are as follows:

  • Admission fee 20,000 rupees. This is a one time payment and is used for capital purchases for students. It is non refundable.
  • Annual medical fee of 4,000 rupees. This is used to purchase hospital insurance to minimize  expense to parents of the child is admitted to hospital.
  • Monthly school fees of 6,500 rupees. This is used for the direct costs of the students as well as maintenance for anything the boys directly use.

The fees for the boys are due twelve months of the year, regardless of holidays or times out of school for any other reasons.

Traditionally Gurukulas were free to attend as they received adequate support from wealthy patrons such as the king or rich businessmen. Unfortunately we do not receive enough support to be able to offer this.
However all school fees are subsidised. In keeping with the tradition, teachers are not given any maintenance from the fees collected from parents, but are provided maintenance from other sources. In addition to this the school provides many scholarships to exemplary students whose parents have financial difficulty.

The schedule of the Bhaktivedanta Academy follows the lunar calendar as such it changes every year. Broadly students have three holidays in, January, In May and in August.

This is not permitted under any circumstance as it disrupts the progress of the student.

Yes, please contact for times.

Yes, please contact us for times. When parents visit the children they are not permitted to leave the campus grounds.

This is entirely dependent on the progress of the student and the relationship between the parents and the school. As a minimum the student attends the Bhaktivedanta Academy as a day student for the six month trial period. Admission to the asrama is by invitation only. The decision is taken through close consideration and discussions between the Academy deans and the parents.

Permission for any non-scheduled absence from the Gurukula will need to be received in advance to the requested activity. Permission is granted ona case by case basis. If the child is sick the Gurukula will need to be informed by 7 a.m.