Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….

Calling the Next Generation of ISKCON Leaders

ISKCON Radhadesh

Below is an announcement about a scholarship program that I have been volunteering to help organize over the summer.  The idea is that some forward thinking first generation devotees are looking for ways to help facilitate those of the next generation who are interested in serving within the ISKCON institution.  I am happy to announce that three Vaishnava Youth from North America (two male, one female) have been awarded full scholarships for one year to study at the Bhaktivedanta College in Radhadesha, Belgium starting the end of September 2006.  The idea is to make these scholarships available on an annual basis. Stay tuned….

Calling the Next Generation of ISKCON Leaders:

Catch the wave of the future! The North American GBC and Spiritual Strategic Planning Initiative are actively seeking qualified second generation men and women to fill an array of important leadership positions within our ISKCON movement.

Years of experience have provided you a unique perspective into our society’s strengths and weaknesses. Now is the time to bring forward those insights, to partner with our current leaders, and to build a more successful future for our movement.

This effort will be funded and there may be grant monies available for devotees wishing to get involved, particularly those who are willing to enter training and mentoring programs. (see below).

We are also dedicated to redefining the classic concept of devotee maintenance by creating a financial care package that will include housing, education, health care & a livable stipend for those devotees willing to take on leadership positions. Devotees who will care for and value the contribution of each individual devotee, who will approach management with a practical and competent mindset, and who are eager to pursue their spiritual lives are strongly encouraged to participate.

To receive a copy of our prospectus or discuss possibilities with us, please contact:

Manu: manu at

Caitanya Mangala: cwalker5 at 

Sudharma: sudharma at

Also, Scholarships available for the 2006 – 2007 Radhadesh Leadership Training Session

Five scholarships are available to North American second generation devotees interested to take on leadership positions in ISKCON. This is your opportunity to travel to the beautiful Radhadesh community in the Belgian countryside and participate in a one-year accredited Leadership and Management training program* Applicants 25 and up are encouraged to apply; the application deadline is August 16th. Finalists will be selected on the merit of both recommendations and their written application.

If you are interested please contact: Sudharma at

* Program accredited through the University of Wales @ Lampeter


September 13, 2006 - Posted by | Education, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Vaishnava Youth


  1. When will we find out who the awardees are?

    Comment by Madhava Gosh | September 13, 2006 | Reply

  2. It’s a secret that we’re not allowed to reveal….  Actually, I should have mentioned something in my original post but I’m waiting to see if they make it to the college. The news of this program was only recently announced, so eligible candidates only had a few weeks to see if they would be able to attend. Once I get confirmation that they are indeed enrolled I’ll give more information on them.

    FYI: There were other applicants who would have been accepted but there wasn’t enough time for them to make arrangements this year. Some are considering going next year.

    Comment by chaitanyamangala | September 13, 2006 | Reply

  3. You know, I saw the advertisement for this program the very first day that it appeared publicly, which was on I got my application in that very day. Surely, I was the first, or one of the first.

    Not only that, I was born into the Movement, am one of the oldest of the gurukulis (now at 36), have 8 years of sales experience under my belt, a Philosophy degree from UC Berkeley, a great variety of management experience from my days in the student cooperative, plenty of involvement in gurukuli affairs, have been studying Srila Prabhupada’s books, and am following absolutely perfectly. It’s pretty difficult to imagine who could be more qualified than myself (although others may be equally qualified). The only thing that may have been unusual is that, for reasons I will not get into, I requested that no other gurukulis deal with my application.

    So what was the response from the person heading this up, the head of the Women’s Ministry? Did she write back saying she was glad to have received my application? Did she write back saying that it would be no problem for her to deal with my application herself? Did she even write back with the promised prospectus or any other details? No. Instead there was no answer whatsoever.

    Normally, as I have no patience for being kept waiting like some dog, I give three days for people to respond. However, as I was rather busy with other matters, I did not manage to write again until after five days. At that time, I declared that I must obviously be unsuitable for the program and would like to withdraw my application. Obviously, this should have been a wake-up call. Instead, I was once again completely ignored.

    After three more days had passed, I was about as angry as one might possibly imagine. I’d been waiting for years for ISKCON to finally start some sort of program for the gurukulis, and once they finally got it going, I was being treated as though I didn’t even exist. I cannot repeat what I wrote in my final email. I will just tell you that it was filled with all the worst swear words that you can possibly imagine. I sent it and then I shut down that email account.

    Perhaps she ignored me because my father was Pradyumna. The GBC passed a resolution specifically apologizing to him a few years back, and were begging him to return to his service. But now I know what would happen if he did contact the GBC. They wouldn’t say “No.” They wouldn’t be able to explain that. Instead, they would simply ignore him and keep him waiting like a dog until he got the message and went away. And if he ever said anything about it, they would probably quote some verse about being patient. Fortunately, Pradyumna seems to have a brain and doesn’t waste his time with the empty promises of the GBC. I guess I should take a lesson from him.

    Or, perhaps it is because I am a man that there is a problem. Perhaps, since she is the head of the Women’s Ministry, it is required that she disrespect all male applicants by ignoring them for a while before finally acknowledging their existence. Couldn’t the GBC have put this program under someone who is not likely to have a blatantly sexist agenda? Such an agenda may have a place in the Women’s Ministry, where it is basically expected, but is has no place whatsoever in a gurukuli scholarship program.

    I used to be a well-wisher to the Women’s Ministry. I even came and spoke publicly in support of the women at the very first ISKCON Women’s Conference. I was the only gurukuli male to do so, while some of the other boys were criticizing the ladies. But now those words of support are like ashes in my mouth. I completely retract them. May the women continue to be completely ignored just as I have been by their leader.

    Oh, and after that final email you may have thought there might have been some messages on gurukuli forums and so on, “Aniruddha prabhu, there has been a terrible misunderstanding. Please, do not be offended. Very sorry for the delay. There was such and such reason. Please recontact me. I would like to send you the information.” And so on. But, of course, there was nothing. And why is that? It is because the aim has been achieved, I have understood the message, and I have gone away. Now everything is perfect and let us continue to act as though we are all one big happy family. Jaya Srila Prabhupada!

    As Chaits has mentioned, only three of the five available scholarships have been awarded. But it is obviously better that the two other scholarships be completely wasted, rather than give a scholarship to a great rascal like myself, no matter how qualified I may be.

    By the grace of Sri Krsna, I have been forced to live like a yogi and perform much tapasya. Of course, I am really just into maximum sense gratification; but since this tapasya is coming about through Lord Krsna’s arrangements, and is not at all desired by me, this is called tapasya in the mode of goodness. So I shall continue to perform tapasya, and shower curses down upon ISKCON for putting this program underneath this useless woman.

    I know that this woman, the head of the Women’s Ministry, was kept waiting for 9 years before the GBC would even agree to see her. But can’t she work out her own problems with the GBC? Does she have to take it upon herself to head up a gurukuli scholarship program, and then take out the same thing on me? Unlike her, I have no tolerance for such utter nonsense. I want nothing to do with her. I hope she goes to hell!

    So what more is there to say. Obviously, this program is not for the likes of me. I shall put all this behind me, and continue to be a yogi, for as Lord Krsna states in Bhagavad-gita, 6.46:

    tapasvibhyo ‘dhiko yogi
    jnanibhyo ‘pi mato ‘dhikah
    karmibhyas cadhiko yogi
    tasmad yogi bhavarjuna

    A yogi is greater than the ascetic, greater than the empiricist and greater than the fruitive worker. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all circumstances, be a yogi.

    Comment by Aniruddha d.B. Sherbow | September 14, 2006 | Reply

  4. Aniruddha,

    I’m saddened to hear that you didn’t get a response to your application. I don’t know what happened. When I read through the lists of applicants I didn’t see your name (and I certainly would have remembered!). I hope the explanation is something less sinister than what you described. I try to involve myself in programs that move our Society forward in a positive manner. I suppose this is an excellent example of BG 18.48 “Every endeavor is covered by some fault…” Anyhow, I’ll ask around and try to find out more details.

    Please know that many of your peers are hopeful for more of your association.  We’d like to know where you are, what you’ve been up to, and how you are doing!

    Comment by chaitanyamangala | September 14, 2006 | Reply

  5. Aniruddha, you very clearly have some unresolved issues and if it is possible, you should get some counseling. I feel sorry that you are suffering so much in your internal life. Peace comes from within — depending on others for your happiness always leads to disappointment.

    I hope things get better for you.

    Comment by Madhava Gosh | September 14, 2006 | Reply

  6. I will first respond to Madhava Gosh. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed with his comment, as it came off as being quite unsympathetic and even condescending. On a different forum, he called another person “just another don’t-get-it-ananda,” and I’m afraid that he seems to have added himself to that category.

    Now Chaits, the reason you didn’t see my name on your list is because I specifically requested that none of the gurukulis deal with my application. You may have missed it, but I did briefly mention it in my post above, as well as that I wasn’t going to get into the reasons.

    I appreciate you making inquiries. It’s actually been four days already (three plus one for you to send the initial email), and either you are not being answered, or what you are finding is not very pleasing, or you are hesitant to actually make the inquiries in the first place. Whatever the reason, I wish to relieve you of any responsibility in this matter, because I am not sure that it really is your responsibility, and I have no desire to burden you with this. So let’s just leave it, and no explanations are necessary.

    I have actually made very serious efforts to work with ISKCON, and I believe that I can assist the Movement very greatly with moving forward and with resolving their many serious problems; but they seem totally disinterested in engaging me in devotional service. I had come to the point of giving up on working with ISKCON when this program popped up out of nowhere – a very unique sort of program, focused directly on gurukulis, and just what I had been wishing for over the years. So I applied that very first day. But even this program that is specifically for gurukulis seems to exclude such persons as myself.

    It is of particular interest that two scholarships are actually being wasted. I see this as a clear sign from Lord Krsna that two persons are missing who should be included in this year’s program. There is no doubt in my mind on this point. Obviously, I believe that I am one of them, and, after giving it some thought (although it didn’t really take that much thought), I am positive I know who the other is. The other, Chaits, is actually yourself. If we look at the criteria of age, level of gurukuli activism, and demonstrated academic ability, I will claim for myself to only be, at best, the second most obvious applicant. The most obvious shoe-in in yourself, without doubt.

    In addition, I must mention the important symbolic significance of the very first year of programs such as this. It is very important that the program should actually include those gurukulis who have been very active in the group, and it is some of the oldest such persons that should certainly be going along on this very first year.

    Of course, there are probably very good-sounding reasons why you have not included yourself as a prospective applicant (besides any potential conflict of interest due to being a volunteer helper with the program). Top of the list, I expect, are these two: (1) You are hesitant to give up a stable and comfortable employment situation; and (2) You have to deal with your kid(s).

    But naturally, Lord Krsna never opens up opportunities without providing solutions to any obstacles. With regard to any work situation, either your boss doesn’t mind you taking a year off, or it is actually time to move on (bearing in mind that it is to be assumed that you would go on to serve as a Temple President, BBT Department Head, or some such thing, once you have completed this program). Regarding any potential reduction in salary, Srila Prabhupada states in Science of Self Realization, Chapter 1, Part 1:

    “There is certainly a great deal of comfort in the first-class coach of a train, but if the train does not move toward its destination, what is the benefit of an air-conditioned compartment?”

    As for your kid, or kids, my guess is that, by the arrangements of the Supreme Lord, your ex has actually been wishing for some suitable opportunity to take custody for a limited period, such as a year, and will cooperate very nicely (especially, if you send some cash too). Otherwise, Bhaktivedanta College may be able to accommodate kids; or you may have recently found out about some acceptable gurukula situation, and this would be a great opportunity for your child to have a real gurukula experience for a year. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of obstacles and possible solutions, but just some thoughts about the most obvious. The point is, we should try to be sentitive to Lord Krsna’s desires for us, and try to overcome all obstacles.

    Since the program starts in just two weeks or so, you might be slightly late. But if they are doing the normal curriculum, including “Introduction to Hinduism” (I say with a laugh), I doubt being a little late will matter very much. But even if there is a different curriculum, due to your already existing high level of education, I know you will catch up without any difficulty at all.

    That’s all I have to say on this subject: the rest is up to you. Just bear in mind that the real core of our philosophy is obedience to the will of the Supreme Lord. Everything else is secondary. I will leave you to deliberate on all this and to observe for yourself the signs and instructions of the Lord that he is displaying all aound you (and there are probably others that I don’t know about); for as Sri Krsna declares in Bhagavad-gita, 6.30:

    yo mam pasyati sarvatra
    sarvam ca mayi pasyati
    tasyaham na pranasyami
    sa ca me na pranasyati

    “For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.”

    I wish I were joining you. Spending a year living in an ashrama environment (which we have never done together in the past), studying Vaishnava Philosophy and Leadership in the somewhat exotic location of Bhaktivedanta College in Belgium, would certainly have been an interesting chapter to add on to our already existing history together. But the forces that are opposed to me appear to be too powerful. If they decide to just ignore me, there is nothing I can do.

    Finally, thank you for your kind words concerning the desire for my association amongst our peers. But I am really unworthy of such sentiments, for as you well know, I am actually just a huge rascal, whom Lord Krsna has somehow managed to engage, so that, unbelievable though it may seem, I am actually doing something more than simply seeking to gratify my senses.

    Looking back upon my life, as well as on what I know of the lives of some of the other gurukulis, I have come to the conclusion that Lord Krsna sometimes removes us from the group to learn things that can only be learned on our own. Then, I believe, the wheel turns once again, and we are reunited, and we bring to the group those things that we have learned while seperated. I have given up trying to predict exactly what Lord Krsna has in store for me, as I certainly did not expect the most recent chapter of my life to be as it was. But, even though I am really a very rebellious servant of the Lord, and am really quite into maximizing my sense gratification, somehow or other I am remaining devoted to His transcendental arrangements. In fact, if there is one thing I have learned in this chapter of my life, it has been to recognize and to follow the arrangements of the Supreme Lord, even if they appear to be taking me in a direction that I am very hesitant to go in. So this is my rather convoluted way of saying that everyone will see me again when Lord Krsna desires it and makes the necessary arrangements.

    Well, I will leave it there. It is decision time, and as Lord Sri Krsna guides us in Bhagavad-gita, 18.30:

    pravrttim ca nivrttim ca
    karyakarye bhayabhaye
    bandham moksam ca ya vetti
    buddhih sa partha sattviki

    O son of Prtha, that understanding by which one knows what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared, what is binding and what is liberating, that understanding is established in the mode of goodness.

    Comment by Aniruddha d.B. Sherbow | September 19, 2006 | Reply

  7. Aniruddha,

    Please consider giving people a little more time to respond.  I think you may need to extend your three day expectation for email correspondence. My experience with email is that sometimes it can be nearly instantaneous and other times it takes days and weeks to get a response. It’s hard to know which I’ll get as I send a message.  If I want to ensure a faster response I’ll use other forms of communication.

    I did send out email inquiries about your application. I have not heard anything back yet, but I also know that several of the people I contacted are out of the country and may be delayed in responding. If I don’t get a response sometime in the near future, I’ll ask again. For me to continue volunteering with the program I would like to hear some kind of a reasonable explanation.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence for the scholarship. I agree that it would be nice to spend time together; another chapter to add to our shared history. At this point in my life I have little desire to enter into a temple ashram environment. Perhaps some day taking on more direct involvment in ISKCON and temple leadership will be appropriate for me.  For now, I would rather imperfectly carry out my current family obligations than consider perfectly following another path in life.

    These days I much better understand why Visnu, the maintainer, is considered superior to Brahma and Shiva. Regular and responsible maintenance is the most challenging. At times it can also can be the most boring. One has to rise at least to the mode of goodness and develop a sincere service attitude to remain steady and determined during the “maintenance” stage of life.

    Comment by chaitanyamangala | September 19, 2006 | Reply

  8. Chaits,

    The three day thing is not actually about people being out of time. What I have found to almost unversally be the case is that there is some problem, and I am seeking to relieve them from the pressure of having to write me a difficult or awkward answer. Generally, that is the end of it. But if they write back, saying they had an accident or whatever, I always accept that. However, with this scholarship it has been a bit different, because the scholarships were not the personal property of this woman; rather she was supposed to be a trustee, faithfully performing her duties. That is why her continued silence warranted some further reactions from me.

    However, a very noticeable thing has happened to me over the last few days. I want to be angry about all this, and originally I really was kind of outraged. But I now find myself just completely losing interest in the whole thing. I can’t really explain it.

    I kind of imagined a group of the movers and shakers amongst the gurukulis, and everyone kind of having a bonding experience, comprising spirituality, teamwork, learning new skills, and so on. You know how CEOs will all go on some retreat, and everyone walks on coals, or swings through the trees blindfolded. But I just don’t see that anymore.

    Furthermore, the academic program is probably just a waste of time. A freshman level, one year program? Wow! That’s a really high level of leadership qualifications that the Movement requires. Actually, the thing that was probably the most exciting to me is that I would have had access to a complete set of Srila Prabhupada’s Collected Letters. The academics would probably just be a complete waste of my time.

    I see that a different institution, Florida Vedic College, offers a Master’s Degree in Vedic Philosophy. Now that’s a bit more like it! Now just suppose ISKCON was offering a 2 year Master’s Degree Program in Vaishnava Philosophy and Leadership, and you could concurrently earn your Bhaktivedanta Degree. Now *that* would be cool. But this one year certificate seems like kids stuff.

    It just makes me wonder what kind of standard they really have for their leadership. They don’t even look for an Associate’s Degree, or a Batchelor’s Degree, or possibly a Master’s? Instead, a one year freshman level program is the standard? Seems kind of a low standard, doesn’t it? Might be something they should think about.

    I was also looking through the photo gallery at the Bhaktivedanta College yesterday, and as I looked at the pictures, I was really wondering just how well I would fit in there. Everyone has these kind of sad-looking smiles on, like they are just going through the motions, or they are trying to look like they understand, but they really don’t. They look happy (sort of), and comfortable, and I really wonder whether having a revolutionary, philosophical gurukuli type like myself is going to be very agreeable to them. I’m not exactly the quiet, obedient type.

    Anyways, I said I couldn’t really explain it, but I guess I’m trying. It has just started to feel like a big drain and a downer. You know, I’m sending emails, and there’s never any reply. You’re making inquiries, and there’s still no reply. I suppose I have to cover travel expenses. So that’s a big drain too. Instead of “The Wave of the Future,” it’s started to feel like “The Wave of Depression.”

    So while I appreciate your making the original inquiries, please don’t bother making follow-up inquiries to whoever you wrote. In fact, what would be perfect is if you quickly wrote them again and said words to the effect that I have completely lost interest in the program and no explanation is necessary (in keeping with my policy of saving people from having to make awkward explanations).

    Comment by Aniruddha d.B. Sherbow | September 21, 2006 | Reply

  9. Aniruddha,

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve been experiencing a sense of relief the past few days. I understand your frustration, and I agree that the scholarships really aren’t worth getting outraged over. As you say, what’s being offered is pretty basic. It’s a nine month training course with a certificate being offered upon completion. It is mostly aimed at younger people who don’t already have more formal education or training. Your education and skill level already place you well past the Bhaktivedanta College nine month program.

    While it is basic, it is something. The idea is to start at a realistic and sustainable point and expand from there. One long-term goal is to make available to people a full-fledged education that can be directly applied in an ISKCON leadership role.  Even thought it may not have happened in time for most people in our age group, I am glad that something is being done so that current (and future) generations will have better support and encouragement than we did.

    The vision you have about a group of gurukuli “movers and shakers” getting together and having a “bonding experience, comprising spirituality, teamwork, learning new skills, etc.” is a good one.  In many ways, I think Kulimela was an event much like what you describe. At Kulimela many gurukulis (including some of the more active, outspoken, and forward-thinking ones) got together for several days of “workshops, seminars, feasting, dancing, music, singing, games, theatre and more…”  Networking was heavily emphasized.  Many new projects, programs and events are in the works as a direct response to Kulimela. We’ll be seeing a “butterfly effect” for many years to come.

    I remember that early in the planning of Kulimela you shared some excellent ideas. Several of your peers were surprised not to see you at the event and verbally wondered why….

    Comment by chaitanyamangala | September 21, 2006 | Reply

  10. To answer the question of my peers is not so easy: I shall need to think about it some more.

    Comment by Aniruddha d.B. Sherbow | September 23, 2006 | Reply

  11. I guess the simple answer is that I had my hands pretty full just seeing to the day-to-day things I have to take care of. It’s hard to get away sometimes.

    Comment by Aniruddha d.B. Sherbow | September 26, 2006 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: