In 1966 Srila Prabhupada told his followers, "Always remember that this Krsna consciousness is a sort of declaration of war with this illusory material nature. So there is war. She will always try to get you to fall down. It is very strong, powerful. How you can save yourself?" This is an issue we all need to resolve, and here's an approach you may find helpful.
Whether you are riding a wave of success in your devotional service or you are overwhelmed with life's challenges, please seriously consider fortifying and empowering yourself, or maybe even just saving yourself from becoming a casualty in the war against maya, by attending the Mayapur Institute's Bhakti-sastri or Bhaktivaibhava Courses beginning November 10th.
These courses give full facility for strengthening one's spiritual life by studying Srila Prabhupada's books deeply in the association of advanced devotees like Jayadvaita Swami, Bhanu Swami, Kadamba Kanana Swami, Candramauli Swami, B.V.V. Narasimha Maharaja, Bhakti Brhat Bhagavata Swami, Bhakti Vinoda Swami, Hari-sauri Dasa, and Laxmimoni Devi Dasi.
When Srila Prabhupada's disciples were having difficulties, he would invariably prescribe carefully studying his books as in this 1972 letter: "Nowadays it seems that many of the older disciples like yourself are having difficulty. . . . Try to always study our books and see our philosophy from different lights of directions. Become convinced yourself of this knowledge, and without a doubt all your difficulties of mind will disappear forever and you will see Krsna face to face."
Even if he was instructing a strong leader, he would still stress studying his books as in another 1972 letter: "I want you leaders especially to become absorbed in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and become yourselves completely convinced and free from all doubt. On this platform you shall be able to carry on the work satisfactorily, but if there is a lack of knowledge or if there is forgetfulness, everything will be spoiled in time."
Here are some students' testimonies underscoring these points:
Navadvip Chandra Dasa, M.Eng Oxford, Technical Projects Manager Bhaktivedanta Manor:
"I found the Bhaktivaibhava Course Module 1 to be inspiring, and I felt
greatly benefited by hearing the realizations of the teachers and other students. Understanding Srimad-Bhagavatam is a lifelong activity, and the course has left me a valuable framework upon which to build further study. I have begun to relish Srimad-Bhagavatam like never before, and I am confident that my studies will allow me to preach more effectively. I plan to return to Mayapur to complete Module 2."
Bhakta Kevin, Ireland:
"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."
Vijaya Devi Dasi, Medical Student Bolivia:
"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
Bhagavad-gita. I read it all the way through for the first time. The MI Bhakti-sastri Course pacified my heart and gave my studies and career goals a transcendental purpose - to please Krishna. I owe a lot to my facilitators."
Lilasuka Dasa, Secretary for the GBC:
"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 MI Bhakti-sastri 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."
Here's more from the GBC level describing the efficacy of our approach to devotional education:
Devamrita Swami in a Bhagavatam Class:
"Here in Mayapur, you have the bhakti-sastri program. I've heard from so many devotees who have studied bhakti-sastri here in the holy atmosphere of the dhama that their lives were transformed by three months of daily full-time study of Srila Prabhupada's books. They said it just turned their whole life around."
Laxmimoni Devi Dasi, Ministry of Educational Development:
"The MI 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 Caitanya, Sri Dhama Mayapur. The temple offers a dynamic spiritual program and the community offers an abundance of sadhu sanga. This is a perfect spiritual setting for the rare jewel of systematic sastric study. In addition, the program is affordable, safe and comfortable."
Please take a few minutes to read our course descriptions below, and please seriously consider making a powerful investment in your spiritual development. More information on all our courses can be found on our website http://mihet.org
THE MI BHAKTI-SASTRI COURSE
We teach bhakti-sastri's main subjects in separate units which reflect the principles of learning in our approach to education. You will progressively learn knowledge, skills and values in a systematic manner through a system makes learning easier and natural.
This system offers the following benefits:
FITTING THE COURSE INTO LIFE
You can study either full- or part-time, with the option of completing the course over an extended period if you cannot complete all the units within one semester.
MAKING LEARNING EASIER
Information is categorized, filed and accessed in our brains according to subject. Our unit system follows the brain's natural way of learning and remembering so you relish the joy of learning with less effort.
HAVING A BLISSFUL AND PEACEFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Separately assessing learning for each unit makes the assessment more relevant to day-to-day experiences. Assessment done in this sattvik way also dispels the stress students often feel when the assessment is put off till "midterms" or "final exams."
Detailed schedules of these units and their facilitators can be found on our website http://mihet.org
MAKING THE TRANSITION
We offer an access program during the first week of the course to assist you in preparing for your study in Mayapur.
SECTION 1: UNDERSTANDING OF THE BHAKTI-SASTRAS
Facilitators cover subjects like varnasrama-dharma, the yoga ladder, and jnana in the beginning of the course. In this section, comprised of two units, you focus on understanding the bhakti-sastras by studying Bhagavad-gita Chapters 1-6.
SECTION 2: APPLICATION OF THE BHAKTI-SASTRAS
After you have sufficiently understood the basic philosophical subjects, you will progress into the units dealing with personal application through subjects like sadhana-bhakti, ananya-bhakti, elevation through the modes and preaching from the bhakti-sastras (defeating Mayavada philosophy and addressing inappropriate worship of the devatas). This section draws material from Bhagavad-gita Chapters 7-18, Nectar of Devotion Introduction - Chapter 19, Nectar of Instruction and Sri Isopanisad.
SECTION 3: VALUES IN THE BHAKTI-SASTRAS
In the final section of this course, facilitators address appropriate attitudes for a bhakti-sastri graduate. You 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. In addition to exploring appropriate attitudes, it consolidates the learning achieved in the previous units.
Facilitators assess you in each of the seven course units and will give you ongoing reports of your progress. This style of regular and transparent assessment helps you to be peaceful and happy. If you are unable to complete all seven units at once, because of other commitments, you can complete the course over two or more years since successfully completed units remain credited.
THE MI BHAKTIVAIBHAVA COURSE
This course starts where the Bhakti-sastri Course ends by adhering to the same principles of effective education, and is designed to enliven, inspire and empower. Srila Prabhupada emphatically states on page 60 of Nectar of Devotion that "hearing and speaking Srimad-Bhagavatam is the religious process which elevates one to the platform of serving and loving the Supreme Personality of Godhead". As a graduate of the Bhakti-sastri Course, you have the option to optimize your advancement through the Bhaktivaibhava Course. Besides building on the previous course, this course also prepares you for further spiritual growth in the MI Bhaktivedanta and MI Bhakti-sarvabhauma
Courses, which are now in production.
Since there is much more material to cover in this course, the MI Curriculum Development Team has focused on facilitating students with substantial service responsibilities. As with the Bhakti-sastri Course, you may attend several units in one year and then return the following year to pick up where they left off. A Preliminary Self-study Section is available so that you can study much of the material before coming to Mayapur, thereby enabling you to spend less time away from your preaching fields and optimizing your learning while in Mayapur.
THE PRELIMINARY SELF-STUDY SECTION
# Guidelines on how to study Srimad-Bhagavatam
# Additional quotes from Srila Prabhupada's lectures on Srimad-Bhagavatam
# Focused reading assignments with Content Specific and Generic Questions
# A list of verses to learn, and live, by heart.
# You will apply your notes compiled during the Preliminary Self-study Section to the corresponding Campus Section.
THE CAMPUS SECTION
Our course consists of two 26-week modules, each of which has a 13 week Preliminary Self-study and a 13 week Campus Study Section. The Campus Study Section comprises 5 classes per week and two weeks of assessment.
ASSESSMENT FOR EACH MODULE
This course has a developed system of assessing your strengths and weaknesses through weekly closed-book exams (slokas and short answer questions), open-book questions (essays), and presentation of seminars to classmates. This system dramatically enhances your learning and growth.
You can find more information of these courses, as well as our usual offering of Gaura Purnima Courses, on our website http://mihet.org
We look forward to serving you this coming semester!!!