Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….

ISKCON’s Gurukula Experiment

 Srila Prabhupada with Children in Dallas

Below is a letter written by Srila Prabhupada to Satsvarupa Maharaja in 1973 wherein Prabhupada wrote the now well known statement that the children in Gurukula “are the future hope of our Society.” This was the source of the name for “Project Future Hope,” which was inaugurated in 1992 by a few GBC members, concerned individuals and the organizers of Gurukula Alumni, Inc. It was a program designed to match members of the first generation with members of the second generation for the purposes of training and employment. With little, or no, real funding and support it was a sincere, but short lived effort.

Another key phrase in the letter is where Srila Prabhupada wrote, “I am concerned that the Gurukula experiment should come out nicely.” As Prabhupada indicated, and history has shown, the gurukulas were an attempt at applying certain ideals and no one knew if they would be a success or failure. Unfortunately, for the most part, the gurukulas of ’70s and ’80s ended up being the latter. While it would be incomplete and disingenuous to describe the ashrams as totally bad, lots of negative things did happen and those experiences are still affecting and impacting people today. The bottom line is that there is still much unresolved in regards to the “Gurukula Experiment” and that dealing with the after effects will be a life-long effort for all involved.

Anyhow, lately I have been intentionally using the term “ISKCON’s Gurukula Experiment” in correspondence and conversation and a few people have asked where and how I came up with that saying. So, for the record, Srila Prabhupada’s letter (below) is the inspiration and source of the term. I find it an accurate and appropriate description for ISKCON’s Gurukulas, at least those of the ’70s and ’80s.

 

11 April, 1973  

 New York

My Dear Satsvarupa Maharaja:

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated April 8, 1973.

Now I am concerned that the Gurukula experiment should come out nicely. These children are the future hope of our Society, so it is a very important matter how we are training them in Krishna consciousness from the very childhood.

It was yourself who started this idea and it has been progressing nicely. Now you see that it continues to develop. So you should go there and inform me what is the position.

I hope this meets you in good health.

Your ever well wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

P.S. The simple method I have introduced, namely learn English and Sanskrit, is sufficient. Why the so-called Montessori method? (P.S. handwritten)

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August 8, 2008 - Posted by | Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Prabhupada, Vaishnava Youth

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