Krsnacandra Dasa – Vrndavan:
This paper asserts that the present ISKCON educational system is not in line with the educational system that Srila Prabhupada wanted. That further – under whose instruction are we acting when we deviate from Srila Prabhupadas instructions on education?
The premise for making this statement is that the present system firstly has an “operating system” or “mode of reference” in understanding Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on education that is from a western educationalist point of view rather than a Diavi-varnasrama (Vedic) point of view. One simply has to check what we are doing in our schools and see where it corresponds with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. We seem to want to throw out Vedic or traditional education saying “Oh, we tried that and it did not work”! When what in actual fact we are doing is throwing out Srila Prabhupada.
Further the current thought within education is to so called “Krishnaize” western educational systems or at the best to use Vedic systems to compliment western systems. Or we use western thought to analyze Vedic educational systems. Whichever way it manifests, we have a western mind set developing both our educational ethos as well as our schools.
This manifests down on a practical level in developing Curriculums as well as syllabuses (what to speak of staff selection) that are primarily western in orientation; as well developing schools that emphasize the western educational ethos of “get qualified so you can get a job”. This has many ramifications. Primarily it undermines a child’s faith in devotional practices and Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
To look more closely at this we could also paint the scenario where in say ten years time the Japanese Yatra gets together and decides to take on education and they decide to “Krishnaize Zen Buddhism”. What would the present educators say to that! It would be a clash between two ‘mleccha’ cultures vying for supremacy! The fact remains that anything in the way of education that they could both offer would be re-inventions of the ‘wheel’ of Vedic culture and tradition.
It may not only be the fact that we are using western techniques but even when we describe Vedic systems we do it from a western perspective. We describe Vedic teaching methods by using terms such as ‘experiential learning’ and so on, not realizing that we are still embracing the ‘western’ or ‘mleccha’ consciousness in doing so.
It seems that the present schools within our movement not only are developing along the stated above lines, they are also using teaching methodology to deliver the subject matter that is primarily ” memory recall” in order to teach as well as to gauge the students achievement level. This alone undermines the very principal of Vedic schooling which considers that the process of learning operates under a “love” or in other words “service” mood to engage students in the learning process. This is all achieved under the principal of gurukula where the student takes shelter of a guru. The present mood created under memory recall models is “anxiety/stress” that is needed in order to create a specific “atmos-fear” which is supposed to facilitate the student in remembering the subject matter.
The Journey of Self-discovery – The Science of Spiritual Life
So all of the students at the gurukula learn how to be very submissive and how
to live only for the benefit of the guru. They are trained from the very beginning
to be first-class submissive students. Then the guru, out of affection and with
an open heart, teaches the boys all he knows. There is no question of money.
It is all done on the basis of love and education.
In the Vedic model it is due to the fact that the student loves his teacher that he is willing to hear and do what the teacher desires. “Here comes a mute point however, when we do not have Brahmanas teaching then this system is open to ‘child abuse’. However, the memory recall is also equally open to child abuse if there are also not Brahmana’s involved in teaching”.
The role of a teacher in a gurukula is fulfilled by the brahmin varna. There are other teaching roles for those belonging to other varna’s. Ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras also teach, but they would be instructing on specific skills such as weaponry in the kings palace or fort. In the case of a vaisya and sudra then they would receive “on the job training” by either a parent, relative or employer in the form of an apprenticeship.
The understanding of a gurukula Srila Prabhupada states is for children from the ages of 5 – 10/12 years after which they then go on to varnasram college.
So what is this gurukula and varnasrama college that Srila Prabhupada talks of?
Letter to: Giriraja, Sydney, 12 April, 1972, Bombay
As soon as possible we should open our own school and teach children KC
through English medium, that is one of our programs. Our school will not be
government recognized because we cannot follow the government syllabus.
We want to teach only Krishna Consciousness. Also, in Mayapur and Vrindaban
we must have schools…”
Vrndavana March 14, 1974 – Morning Walk
Satsvarupa: Should our children who are at gurukula, when they grow up, should they go to that varnasrama college, or…?
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. They should go.
Hrdayananda: We’ll start it right away.
Prabhupada: Varnasrama college means for grown-up students. College means for grown-up students.
Hrdayananda: Is there a minimum age for beginning such a college?
Prabhupada: Yes. Ten to twelve years.
Hrdayananda: They can start at ten to twelve?
Prabhupada: Yes. From five to ten years, gurukula. And after ten years, they should go to the varnasrama college.
One simply has to read what Srila Prabhupada has said on gurukula and varnasram college. Then we see exactly where we have deviated and how the ‘Western’ mind set has overshadowed the Vedic mind set.
It is posited here that this Western mind set is a major imbalance in our movements progress and unless it is corrected and we take the step to change our mind set to being more Vedic, then all our efforts will not produce the desired results.
We seem to want to throw out any attempt at being Vedic. We accept gurus such as Covey and preach widely around the world training up our managers, buying up all his books and day planners. Yet when anyone speaks of training ksatriyas and using the ‘Arthasastra by Kautiliya’ then everyone mutters and comments saying ‘why should we re-invent the wheel’, ‘Oh, we tried that’…
We must re-evaluate our position. See if we are actually ‘ambassadors of Vedic culture’ trying to establish the brahmana culture, placing the head back on human society, what to speak of whether are we in fact protecting the cows. On these two points alone then we see that we are not in fact protecting the cows and brahminical culture, then what sort of society are we?
These are all major questions that we must ask if we are to properly train our children. Once we can do this we can get on with our mission, the sankirtan yajna and become more Krishna Conscious.
Srila Prabhupada did not say that we must adopt the western culture in order to prosecute his mission, he wanted us to adopt daivi varnasrama culture. Yet we insist on embracing so many Western systems and ways. We have not Krishnaized our Western culture we have in fact Westernized Krishna Consciousness!!
We many times confuse the process of ‘yukta vairagya’ in thinking that it means using Western systems and methods in all levels in the prosecution of Krishna Consciousness.
We can use; cars and computers then receive training on how to use them properly and efficiently. However, to use Covey to help us become better administrators or De Bono to help us think logically is irrelevant when we have Vedic logic and Kautiliya or Beeshmadeva to instruct us on administration and philosophy.
We must learn how to accept and reject when dealing with matters of increasing our Krishna Consciousness. Just look at building for example. Many of the houses that we build are designed with a Western consciousness. For example when we have finished taking prasdam, we have to either wash our plates in the bathroom or at the same sink that we prepare the Lords meal, or we must wash our cloth in the room that has a toilet.
Instead of making philosophers, sanskrit scholars or technicians into devotees, our sannyasis are attending Uni in order to obtain qualifications, when they can increase their preaching potency by increasing their purity. Then the scholars and scientists who have been made into devotees can also preach. We further advise our devotees and gurukula graduates to attend Uni as we have nothing for them within our movement.
We have adopted the ‘do what you want to do, be what you want to be yeah!” philosophy of Western Kali yuga culture instead of the philosophy of acting according to our occupational duty within the Daivi-varnasram culture.
We have sudras in administrative positions and children leaving our educational systems that have little or no understanding of their occupational duty what to speak of what they will do in the future. We even have sudras training to be teachers thinking that they can transcend their occupational duties and do the duties of another’s by choice of will even though all Sastra speaks ill of it. We have brahmanas smashed for speaking up and stating Sastra and advising against the path that we are taking. So many ’round pegs in square holes’ and we ask why are we not getting anywhere.
A further point may be considered. There is also the opinion that Srila Prabhupada wanted us to become “Vaisnava’s” and we were not supposed to place emphasis on Daivi Varnasarama as Vaisnava’s are above varnasrama. Well this may yet be argued as a valid point, however, it will also have to assert that all Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on Diavi Vranasarama are spurious.
Our purity and potency is present only when we reject our minds opinion and accept and act on the instructions of our Acharya. When we act according to the dictates of our minds then we surely cease to be following Srila Prabhupada.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Educational Proposal for ISKCON India
Dear Maharajas and Prabhus.
Please accept my humble obeisance’s. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
The following proposal is suggesting that there are serious problems in our educational system.
I have been involved with all of the schools in question to some degree. I have been in the schools acting as the schools doctor in two cases. Therefore I had direct access to the medical and health status of the schools. I was the CPT officer in two CPT units so I am intimately aware of the CPT status. My child was in three of the schools and my wife was teaching at two. So my experience is quite diverse. In my non devotee days I held director and co-ordinator positions in Juvenile Justice – doing residential, prison and casework / Drug rehabilitation – doing residential and outpatient counseling / Youth work – doing outreach, counseling and training. I have taught in various schools and facilitated many training workshops and seminars. I have also operated an alternative medical practice.
I must admit that the attached proposal may seem quite drastic at first, as we are necessarily attached to the concept of not “rocking the boat”, however, under closer scrutiny we may find that it may be the only real option.
I have purposefully not spoken officially until now as I needed time to research the situation and look at what may be the best solutions to the problems.
A further note would be that many devotees whose otherwise constructive presentations and comments have been washed aside by various ‘cliche’ comments made by some devotees in position in education. Comments such as “he’s a trouble maker” “he’s got an ax to grind”, “he’s the new kid on the block” etc. Under closer scrutiny one may see that these comments are either motivated or made through ignorance. Never the less they serve to pollute the minds of the hearer and especially if the hearer is not astute enough to be able to discern ‘fact from diversionary slander’!
I have especially included this point as it is relevant to my own experience in dealing with certain individuals in the education system.
I pray that you at least see this as a constructive paper and look at it with an intelligent and open mind (brahminical). At the very least it may serve to make us be more thorough in understanding the direction of education and what it ‘actually’ takes to look after our young children and train them up to be functional members of ISKCON and therefore please Srila Prabhupada.
It is also to be said that there are many good teachers and students within our educational systems and further that many devotees involved in our educational system have in the past and are presently trying their best to serve Srila Prabhupada. That this proposal is a matter of proper leadership and direction hence not necessarily the fault of any particular devotee.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada
EDUCATIONAL PROPOSAL FOR ISKCON INDIA
The purpose behind formulating this proposal is twofold. Firstly it is delineating the present problems with regards to child protection, health and outlining that the present educational ethos within ISKCON is not in keeping with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on education. Secondly this proposal will suggest changes needed in the educational institutions, specifically India, as well look at how these changes may fit into the broader ISKCON educational programmes.
1. That all schools currently functioning within ISKCON properties in both
Vrindavana and Mayapura be closed down (The Vrindavana gurukula, the two
gurukulas in Mayapura and the Mayapura day school). The point of closing the
schools is more fully explained below.
2. That a committee or group be formed to research, develop, establish and oversee educational facilities for both of the Holy Dhamas.
3. That the committee be funded and supported by ISKCON India and/or international.
4. That the committee has the full support of the GBC and is working and funded independently of other existing departments or agencies. That if for the purpose of identification it must operate within a department, that it still retains its financial, philosophical and administrative independence. It will however, be accountable either directly to the GBC or through a GBC committee or GBC minister.
5. That the education development ministry be divided into two main sections. One dealing with ‘so called’ ISKCON devotional schools (Level 1 schools) the other with non-devotee and congregational schools (level 2 schools).
The rationale behind closing the present schools is manifold;
1. That due to the present climate regarding their history of child abuse if class-action or an international investigation was conducted against us we would not be able to withstand international scrutiny of our present schools on the grounds of child protection, health and welfare. What to speak of an unbiased professional internal investigation.
This is not fanciful it is very real indeed. We have not only a history of child sexual abuse but there are also many cases of physical abuse as well. The fact that we have international schools leaves us open to international / governmental pressure and accountability. Already we are experiencing what may be the beginning of this pressure by the accounts
appearing not only on the ‘internet’ but in international and Indian papers. This must not be taken lightly. Yes we may take the opinion that it will all pass and all we have to do is just do some ‘ image related damage control’ and wait.
Or we may look with integrity, love, intelligence and honesty at our weaknesses and make a serious attempt at resolving these problems.
a) If our schools were investigated then we would not be able to demonstrate that we have adequate medical services for teachers and students that meet international standards? Spending two weeks in either Vrindavana and Mayapura would see the intelligent person aware of the immensity of this requirement! There simply is not even a halfway satisfactory medical service in either Mayapura or Vrindavana to meet these requirements.
b) Coupled with the fact that we place devotees in internal health services who generally don’t have any qualifications (albeit well intentioned) what to speak of experience in the diagnosis and/or treatment of diseases, we ourselves cannot speak of filling the gap made from a lack of external services. Other points to consider is that the facilities and funding by the various schools for health care is poor. In two of the schools there is a budget of five hundred rupees per month (12 dollars US) for medicines and equipment. In one school they were sharing a room with the accounts clerk and the clinic had no and still has no running water.
We must also take into consideration the fact that if we are providing a service for international students and staff therefore we must make sure to provide proper medical facilities and services.
c) A significant portion of the child protection service in the west is conducted by external health professionals acting as either primary contacts for victims or to identify symptoms of child abuse in children attending the clinic. These agencies are external to the schools and therefore assume an objective position. I do not think that we can see any of the local medical agencies providing this service.
There are many other more specific points regarding the CPT teams in both the Dhamas that could of been included in this paper but have been purposefully left out, however, they can be included if requested at a later date.
3) Educational philosophical misdirection.
The educational philosophy of the schools and therefore its choice of teachers and administrators is in keeping with the philosophy of “Krishnize western education”. Actually this term is inaccurate as it is in actual fact “westernize Krishna Consciousness”. The emphasis that Srila Prabhupada placed was to train our children up to be devotees trained in spiritual knowledge who desire to participate in the “sankirtan yajna” and not place the emphasis on western material knowledge and create students that desire to look after their material necessities by getting money and/or going to university and therefore securing employment in the non devotee world.
You will not find it in Srila Prabhupada’s books to emphasize western academics and methodologies as much as we are currently doing. His instructions are very clear on this matter. Yet we only give our children a little spiritual and a little academic education neither of which fully equip the boys for devotional or non-devotional life respectively. If Srila Prabhupada wanted us to operate schools so that our children could in fact go to university or get a job in the non devotee world then he would have given us instructions to do so.
We keep the boys in so called gurukula until late teens with no definite training for the various services within our movement. There is practically no differentiation in our schools between gurukula and varasrama college. It is all gurukula. Ksatriyas and the other varnas require highly specialized training in their respective fields. To have a gurukula that is dealing with so called “caturvarna” boys from the ages of five to nineteen is simply foolhardy and has no basis in Sastra. When we think about varnasram college we think of some trade school or technical college not a place where children with brahmin, ksatriya or vaisya qualities may attend to receive spiritual knowledge that is associated with
their particular varna and service. We usually see it as a school to train sudras in technical fields such as electronics/art/computers/etc. Why don’t we have the acumen to start up guilds and chambers of commerce to train our children through apprenticeships?
Gurukula is much more than a religiously orientated boarding school and varasrama college is not simply an extension to the same school or a trade school where children can pick and choose their subject according to their own desire. The ‘do what you want to do, be what you want to be Yeah’ Hippy philosophy. We must emphasize what Srila Prabhupada wanted in the way of gurukula and varnasram college and not our own speculations on what we think it should be. So often we hear that “Srila Prabhupada said like this ,but , we are not ready so we must do it like this”!, Immediately on saying this we are open to so many speculations and opinions on what ‘like this’ is!
The other argument is that Srila Prabhupada had given us the principals and left the details up to us. Now in many instances this is in fact true, however, we err when we pretend that the use of government accreditation and syllabus is a detail of the principals that he has given us. They are details that is for sure but they are details of ‘post industrial educational ethos’ and in direct contravention of his most lucid instructions.
These alleged details of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions have been gleaned from speaking with a small percentage of devotees. The proponents of the deviation argue that they have spoken with many children, parents, teachers and exgurukulis and so through the process of ‘vox populi’ they have reached the compromise. Yet who said that we have to right to compromise our Spiritual Masters instructions? No matter how large the numbers of adherents are.
What to speak of that fact that we think that we know better than Srila Prabhupada!
a) We are not presently able to withstand public scrutiny of our schools. However, what is needed is in fact a serious reassessment and overhaul of our educational institutions.
b) We need to address both the child health and welfare aspects of the schools.
c) That the educational philosophical orientation is not inline with the vision that Srila Prabhupada has for education in ISKCON.
An opposing argument to closing down the schools may suggest that it is better that we make small incremental changes rather than closing down the present schools. The small incremental change option requires that there are overall policy and programs developed aimed at achieving this as well as suitably qualified devotees to conduct these proposed changes. It is posited here that it would be much more timely and manageable to close everything down and start again. Form a committee and take all our strengths and add them to the further research that would be conducted to make the necessary changes.
The present administration and staff of the schools will under close scrutiny of professionals be left lacking in many regards and the dynamics and therefore momentum of the present direction that the schools are taking will not make the option of small incremental changes possible.
A further argument may be posited that we simply ‘gear down’ our existing schools and try to effect change this way. Yes this may be a good argument; however, it would mean very radical changes in staff, policies and programs in order to effect ‘real’ change. Plus it would also mean that old unhealthy ‘dynamics’ would need a great deal of effort by competent managers to break down and it would therefore be far easier to simply start again. It would also necessitate that the proposed committee be established in order to oversee these changes or some such similar body.
In other words what is needed is a complete overhaul of the schools. That this must be done in an objective manner and with devotees and professionals that demonstrate a thorough understanding and commitment to Srila Prabhupada’s mission with regards to education.
This would lead to the next argument that all we need is an independent investigation to see exactly what is wrong with our schools. Now non devotees would not understand the philosophical basis for gurukula, what to speak of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions, especially when it seems that we ourselves do not know. Also it is not that if a person has some qualifications and/or professional work experience then automatically he is an expert.
As far as having devotees doing the investigation then we must find devotees who have also demonstrated a thorough understanding and commitment to developing an educational ethos that is Vedic as opposed to western in keeping with Srila Prabhupadas instructions. They must also be “astute” and be thoroughly conversant with Child Protection / health and welfare matters especially displaying a strong commitment to protecting the children of our movement. It also holds the same here as above that so-called ‘formal qualifications’ does not automatically make a devotee an expert. Nor does their professional work experience automatically prove that they know what they are talking about.
What is the value of a devotees findings who does not have the qualities of; astuteness (wisdom), honesty, personal integrity and purity (to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions) who may be sent to investigate problems within the movement.
Procedure for closing the schools:
1. The Mayapura Gurkula (Vedasar’s) be closed immediately.
2. Vrindavana and Bhaktividya Purna Swami’s Schools at the end of the next term.
3. The Day school in Mayapura is held open to accommodate the local children. However, the format and administration must be changed in order to better meet the needs of devotee children. The committee can oversee the temporary change over of this school until the new program for the school is implemented (see point 2.2.k of this document).
4. That some of the staff and older boys in Bhaktividya Purna Swami’s school are retained to form the nucleus around which both the research can be achieved and the new school can be established. Some staff from the other schools may also be retained for the same purpose. Other staff and students may be re-instated in the new school depending on interview.
In fact further to this last point it should be noted that Bhaktividya Purna Swami’s school provides the closest to the correct educational model for ISKCON and therefore it will necessarily provide the basis for establishing new schools. The only major problems regarding the school is a lack of day to day medical care and CPT connections. As far as the philosophical orientation is concerned it mainly lacks emphasis on sankirtan (eg; books and Harinama etc).
A further note to this is to say that to all extents and purposes this proposal aims to close the schools down but in fact Bhaktividya Purna Swamis school will not be ‘actually’ closed down (only on paper).It will be expanded and changed to aim at research and teacher training before accepting younger students and will be termed a ‘super school’ or ‘prototype school’ which will form the basis of the future schools. Teachers from this school will be sent to establish other such schools. This aspect will require expansion and can be provided if requested.
That a committee be formed to research and develop a plan to reopen our schools at the soonest practical date.
1. This committee should consist of devotees who are either presently in India and have the basic requirements of having a brahminical nature (this may involve character references / astrological data -varna / devotional work experience) and can demonstrate that they have a commitment to and understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s vision for education in ISKCON.
It must be comprised of devotees who possess one or more of the following skills ; sastrically competent / experienced in delivering brahminical based teaching program / successful and extensive experience in administration / Qualifications and/or experience in welfare and health fields. This affords a practical knowledge base that is quite diverse but is centered around an educational facility.
The difficulty would not be so much to find these devotees but to convince them that they would be able to operate in an environment that is conducive and supportive of brahminical culture.
2. The committee will be responsible to;
a) Research into Vedic education and relate it to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on education and then formulate an educational ethos for ISKCON India.
This will take into consideration;
a) Gurkula and varnasrama college as per Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. The varnasrama college should also encompass the Vedic University concept. ii) Developing specific training of the various varnas for both males and females.
The gurukula will be from the ages of five to eleven or twelve. Gurukula will be either caturvarna or only for brahminas and ksatriyas as decided by the committee. Brahmins and Ksatriyas will receive further training past the stated ages whereas apprenticeships (see point (j) below) and specific philosophical subjects will be available for the Vaisya and Sudra varnas. Girls may or may not be trained at the gurukula but will also be able to receive training until age sixteen at a day school in Mayapura.
b) Collate, already in existence, information on curriculum and syllabus and develop and/or modify it as required in order to formulate a curriculum and syllabus that is in keeping with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for education. This will not only take into consideration gurukula but also higher education for brahmana and ksatriya training. It will also look at training packages for the subjects that are philosophically relevant to the training of the vaisya and sudra varnas.
c) Prepare staff structure outlines with duty statements and qualifications for teaching and administrative staff. Develop staff training and assessment packages.
d) Design a health and welfare system for the schools taking into consideration the specific needs of living in India. This will include;
i) Child Protection -assessment, intervention, training, educating procedures and programmes.
ii) Medical services – wholistic treatment, prevention and referral services (staff and students)
iii) Diet and nutrition / water purification facilities
iv) Counselling – varna/career/emotional (staff and students)
e) Appoint a Superintendent of schools to oversee the schools to make sure that the educational ethos is being carried out as well as provide practical and resource support for teachers and administrators on a regular basis. The position will be appointed and supervised by the committee.
f) Establish a fund raising base for the schools.
g) Advertise and recruit new staff and students.
h) Design student selection and assessment programmes. These will consist of character references / astrological data (varna) / ayurvedic data etc
i) Provide ongoing research and development of the educational ethos.
j) Encourage and support the establishment of; Guilds and Chambers of Commerce, in order to train, by apprenticeships, the Vaisya and Sudra varna’s. Secure employment for graduates within the devotional (congregational) community via the medium of, ‘job vacancies’ web page etc.
k) Provide the training of girls according to varna and gender- Day school (Present day Mayapur day school).
l) Encourage, train, resource and develop a programme of tutors for both children and adults. This is more like a situation where children or adults can go to a guru to get specific instruction on various spiritual topics.
m) Encourage the development, research and training in the various Vedic sciences such as astrology / astronomy / ayurveda.
n) Develop courses to train students that relate to jobs or service within the movement.
o) Develop a career counseling programme to link and support students after they leave the shelter of the school.
The committee must be funded in order to provide the service that is necessary. Initially it can be funded by GBC or other measures but when the schools are closed then any funds directed to the schools may be allocated to fund the committee.
This point is very important as the committee must be free from international restraint in order to provide an unbiased service. So many times brahminical bodies cannot fulfill their roles and objectives due to political and financial pressure from other interested parties. The development of a sound educational philosophy based on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions must be free from the pressure of various factions. The committee may either be independent or it may become part of the ‘educational development department’ of ISKCON. This will be dependent on its ability to remain independent.
This point will suggest that the educational ministry be divided into two components.
Level One and Level Two schools.
Level One Schools:
Level one schools being schools that are strictly devotional in orientation and seek to train devotees for service within ISKCON. The level one schools will be initially established in India and when it has proved successful then prototype schools may be opened outside India by graduates from the level one schools.
Level one schools will be under the responsibility of the above proposed committee.
Level Two Schools:
Level two schools will either locate and support children attending non devotional schools and/or provide devotional packages for schools opened up by congregational members.
The congregation may look at various systems and levels to educate their children, although they will be encouraged to accept the highest level which is one of strict adherence to Srila Prabhupada’s teachings on education. Thus the various devotional communities may do what they desire in regards to education depending on their needs. This is where the philosophy of “Krishnaize western education” may find its place. For example there may also be schools that wish to “Krishnaize Zen Buddhism” and they will also fit into this category.
The level two schools component will provide for;
a) Children attending non-devotee schools. They will also locate and direct parents to “devotee friendly schools”.
b) Design home/temple after-school devotional packages to compensate for a lack of devotional topics at the non-devotee schools and universities.
c) Provided training for teachers and facilitators of the level two schools.
d) Provide packages for congregational level two schools in the various communities and provide ongoing support and resources for the schools.
e) Develop preaching packages for the “devotee friendly” schools that may be included in the schools religious studies syllabus.
f) Establish a similar committee to the one suggested for Level One Schools to do the same service but for level two schools.
Thus the educational development department may be divided into these two sections each with its own specific field of responsibility and each providing a valuable service to the ISKCON community.
This somewhat succinct proposal or discussion paper may be opportune given our present predicament where it may be likely that external action may be taken against us on the grounds of our past child abuse history. It is also important in as much as it is presenting that the educational philosophical direction that we are taking requires not only correction but that a sound structure is needed in order to make the necessary changes.
This document has not, on purpose, delved into all the specifics, however, further to the above points and also worthy of consideration are;
1. There are both in the past and at present devotees in management who have either a history of child abuse or are accused of child abuse and/or covering up child abuse reports etc, (this of course requires further investigation).
2. There are also devotees in management and senior positions that act as “buffers” to any complaint or advice that is contrary to the accepted “norm” of the schools or in anyway shows them up as inadequate or having a problem rather than acting professionally to improve the educational system.
3. There is basically no process for external accountability for the schools, where the schools are accountable for philosophical / administrative and health and welfare decisions and procedures. Accountability is very important to monitor “all is well / we have everything under control” claims by authorities.
4. Most importantly that there is no qualified devotee in the position of GBC of education to provide the much needed spiritual / Sastric guidance and accountability that education and our schools require. This is a very important role and the devotee placed in this position must have proven commitment to education and be thoroughly conversant and committed to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on education and able to serve full time in this role.
These are not imaginary problems but very real and they do exist.
This proposal requires deep thought as the decisions here are very serious to make, however, it begs that if this proposal is not taken seriously then the consequences of “sticking ones head in the sand” will be evident and it may prove to be extremely detrimental to our movement in the long run.
We do have a ‘real’ problem with our past history with regards to child abuse and we must not be so complaisant to think that we have it all under control as some would have us believe. We must understand the full extent of our problem and the possible ramifications if we fail to act properly and with integrity. We must examine our actions to see if what we are doing is not simply to protect the “image” of the movement instead of the individuals within the movement. Of course the image is a consideration but honesty, integrity and character in our dealings encourage the maturity and therefore development of a healthy society.
For too long has the education of our children been an after thought. It is time that our movement took this service more seriously and placed properly qualified and committed devotees into our educational service, rather than “who ever wants to do it” or “who ever is around at the meeting”.
Developing a brahminical culture is going to take brahminical minded devotees, these are devotees whose qualities include ‘wisdom’ and above all ‘truthfulness’ and they are at the very least attempting to operate from a Vedic as opposed to non Vedic perspective .
Here are quotes that I prepared to try and gain a better understanding of what Srila Prabhupada wanted for his Gurukula and in particular what he wanted from his Gurukula in Vrndavana.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Sri Sri Radhasyamasundar
Dated 26th October 1998
(revised Kartika 2003)
Krishna Balarma Mandir