Seeking The Essence

Clearing Life's Webs and Weeds….

21st Annual LA Gurukuli Reunion Schedule

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July 30, 2010 Posted by | Bhajan, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Gurukuli Related Topics @ Other Sites, Gurukuli Reunion, Gurukuli Websites, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, ISKCON Youth, Jagadish, Kirtan, Krishna, Kuli, Kuli Mela, Kuli Mela Association, Kulimela, Vaishnava, Vaishnava Websites, Vaishnava Youth | Leave a comment

Reality Check: An Editorial from the As It Is Magazine

Front Cover of the As It Is Magazine Issue #4 Winter 1993    Editorial Page of As It Is Magazine Issue #4 Winter 1993

Below is an editorial I wrote for the As It Is magazine Issue #4 in the Winter of 1993. 

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August 7, 2007 Posted by | As It Is, Education, Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Jagadish, Prabhupada, Vaishnava Youth | Leave a comment

Who Set The Standards?

Prabhupada Seated

Below is an excerpt from a room conversation that took place in Vrindavan, India on November 5th, 1976 between Srila Prabhupada, Jagadish prabhu and other teachers from the newly formed Vrindavan gurukula.  I post this because lately there has been talk that the harsh treatment experienced by students was because the teachers were trying to sincerely follow standards set by Srila Prabhupada. Reading this transcript will help clear up this misconception.

From the dialog you’ll see that the gurukula teachers insist that the only suitable punishment for a misbehaving thirteen year old boy is that he be publicly beaten and made an example for all the other students.  Jagadish repeatedly insists this is the only viable solution.  

In this exchange Srila Prabhupada suggests alternatives at least thirteen times, all of which are outright ignored by Jagadish and the others. Three times in the conversation Prabhupada reluctantly acquiesces to their repeated insistence the boy be beaten publicly to make an example of him. Though, you will see each time Prabhupada includes a different recommendation as his preference AND his final words on the matter are to repeat his recommendation to find appropriate, positive engagement for the boy.

I’ve highlighted the relevant parts of the discussion so you can follow it more easily.  As you read through the exchange, you’ll see that it quickly becomes obvious how immature and unprepared these teachers were to properly care for children. 

The boy in question seems to have been “guilty” of exhibiting behaviors fairly typical for a teenage boy (misbehaving, questioning authority and showing interest in girls). For him to be thirteen years old in 1976 the boy was one of oldest gurukulis and most likely one of the first to reach adolescence.  One would think that the school authorities would recognize this as normal part of an individual’s growth and development. Unfortunately, as more gurukula students became teenagers throughout the 70’s and 80’s the discipline methods described in this conversation were frequently utilized.

Here is a link to a website that hosts the entire transcript of the Gurukula Guidelines conversation as well as an audio version, which is available for download. In the full transcript you can read how Prabhupada states it wasn’t necessary to wake children at 3 am or to force them to sit and chant japa for long periods. He also said children should be allowed adequate free time and be fed sumptuous, healthy food. He repeatedly suggests the school’s schedule and spiritual practices be made more age appropriate. Many of the harsher aspects of the ashram were introduced and maintained despite Prabupada’s objections they weren’t necessary. 

I am not so idealistic to think this is simply a case of “if they’d only followed the order of the spiritual master everything would have been perfect.” Things were more complex and dynamic than that. What I am saying is that if the gurukula had been closer to what Srila Prabhupada suggested it still would have been spiritually oriented, disciplined, and austere, AND it would have been a much more pleasant experience for those students engaged in it.

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September 6, 2006 Posted by | Gurukula, Gurukuli, Hare Krishna, ISKCON, Jagadish, Prabhupada | 16 Comments

   

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