In the midst of the lush, green Grihasta Para housing area of ISKCON Mayapur the Sri Mayapur International School is situated. The school campus features an idyllic combination of brick buildings, pathways, and tree-filled grounds, and those living nearby can often hear the children at play, performing kirtan, or practicing mridanga.
The Sri Mayapur International School, one of the educational institutes of ISKCON Mayapur, has been educating the children of Mayapur since it was founded in 1988. Students of many different countries study together here and receive a quality academic and spiritual education. The Sri Mayapur International School, or SMIS as it is commonly known, aims to be an inspiration to both ISKCON and the Vaishnava community by practically demonstrating how spiritual principles positively contribute to the quality of education and the lives of children and young people.
Many ISKCON devotees want their children to be taught to be Krishna conscious from an early age, and also want their children to receive certified academic training. The Sri Mayapur International School caters to these needs. The school is affiliated with Cambridge, and all students who graduate receive certified academic diplomas which will allow them, if they so wish to serve Srila Prabhupada in this way, to continue their studies at the university level. But students do not have to study outside of the association of devotees to receive their academic accreditation; instead, they are taught in an environment where Krishna is always the focus, where teachers and students alike are devotees of Lord Krishna, and where they receive the opportunity to reside in Sri Mayapur Dham.
“My time at SMIS was absolutely amazing,” a former student recalls. “When I first came to Mayapur and joined SMIS, I was actually taken aback by how different it was from the schools I had previously gone to in the West. At SMIS, students and teachers alike all basically had the same values, same goals, same lifestyle, and I felt at peace and harmony within myself. Everyone was welcoming, everyone was encouraging, everyone was a devotee. I was able to get a very good material education with Cambridge, so I could go to any international university in the world if I wanted to, and besides having that really high standard of material education there was also a very high standard of spiritual education. I was able to do Bhakti Sastri and get my Bhakti Sastri degree at SMIS before I graduated.”
Teachers at SMIS often use Srila Prabhupada’s books to fulfill the learning criteria of the Cambridge curriculum, so that even the study of so-called material subjects is related to Krishna consciousness.
In the past few years, students at the Sri Mayapur International School have participated in and won several national competitions, engaged in book distribution and various kirtan programs, organized a number of festivals and other activities, gone on parikramas, and have regularly done service at the Mayapur temple. In addition, students graduate with Bhakti Sastri degrees and a thorough knowledge of Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, and the bhajans of the Vaishnava acaryas.
The school is working on a more systematic approach to sadhana development for its students, with the aim to ensure that all students attend the morning program either in the temple or at school. The school has already developed a Bhagavatam curriculum, and teaches sastric topics to Primary School students on a daily basis, but the school is currently developing further sastric curriculums in order to expand the sastric study in the school. In 2017, SMIS also introduced Sanskrit as a compulsory second language for all students.
Currently, the Sri Mayapur International School has one hundred and sixty-nine students and forty-four teachers. Srila Prabhupada wanted his ISKCON movement to establish schools and educate its children in a Krishna conscious environment, and this school is a thriving example of the execution of his instruction.
“It is necessary for the leaders of the Krsna consciousness movement to start educational institutions in different parts of the world to train children, starting at the age of five years. Thus such children will not become hippies or spoiled children of society; rather, they can all become devotees of the Lord. The face of the world will then change automatically.”