Category Archives: Vedic Education

Para Siksha – A Symposium on Vedic Education Day 2

Morning Class, Priti Vardhana Prabhu

Sravana, manana and nididhyasana.

If one keeps aquiring knowledge and applying it, it furthers more and more, until one comes to the ultimate realization.

The teacher cannot make the student realize the knowledge, unless the student applies an endeavor.

If education is only based just on sravana, it is incomplete. The education must lead the student to the need to contemplate.

It is actually the jiva’s free will that determines whether he can contemplate on what he has heard.

If the jiva desires to enjoy the material world, Krsna will give that opportunity, and same for Krsna consciousness.

The teacher applies the principles of education and guides the student as he contemplates. In this way student can

The ability to have the right desire depends on the anarthas.

The anarthas from the heart should preferably be removed before the student reaches puberty, therefore education has to be started early.

Samskaras help the child to develop good qualities, health etc, so that the process of education is more smooth.

Srila Prabhupada mentions in a purport in the 16th ch. of Bhagavad-gita that if one wants one’s child to develop divine qualities, one has to perform the 10 samskaras for them.

Samskaras are there to create an impression and to change consciousness. Samskaras should be done with an endeavor to change consciousness. Samskara is not just the yajna or mantras, it is the whole environment.

When Samskaras are done properly in the right consciousness, it works.

Samskaras are like good bank accounts for the children.

In the mantras of the samskaras one surrenders to Krsna and asks for His help.

Samskara is proper when the consciousness is elevated. If the occasions of samskaras are used just for socializing, it is not proper.

There are various samskaras starting with marriage, then garbhadana, pumsavana, simantonayanam, jata-karma, niskramanta, nama-karana, anna-prasana, cuda-karana, vidyarambha, samvartana and then again vivaha.

There is no guarantee that the child will be Krsna conscious, but we should make all possible endeavor.

Because Maharaja Anga did everything he could for Vena, when he couldn’t change anything, he could just walk out without any attachement. Therefore from the very beginning we should try to do everything we can for the child.

Samskaras constitute about 40 percent of the child’s character. The other 60 percent is formed by association.

An adult can be trained if he has the desire to be trained.

Without a training 90% of people will treat their kids the same way they were treated by their parents.

If the second generation are not properly trained, they cannot actually be called the 2nd generation.

One may learn by hearing, by seeing or by experiencing. But the main thing is that one has to realize, even though one would have to experience to do that.

People realize by hearing from someone if there is a relationship.

One always has to be a step ahead of the children and think what they would have to understand and how. If they don’t learn by hearing, one has to create an experience for them.

The purpose of all the samskaras.

The purpose of marriage is to make a commitment to cooperate together to advance in Krsna consciousness.

Grihastha can easily realize that he does not want to come back to the material world due to the severe difficulties experienced.

Who makes the first step – the teacher or the student?

The teacher encourages the student to do what is good for him, but he cannot force. At the time that the child is interested in something, he is encouraged in that way, even though the interest does not last very long. Both the student and the teacher endeavor so that the student becomes elevated.

Devotional qualities being developed depend on the single quality of surrender.

The parents have to have faith in the teacher and encourage the child to have such faith. Then it is easier for the child to surrender to the teacher.

Education is a cooperation between the parent and the teacher, not competition.

The parent or teacher has to guide the child in contemplation.

Menial services are the best opportunities for contemplation. When contemplation happens, questions come.

When one makes a mistake, one simply realizes one way of how to not do things.

The consciousness is the most powerful that we have and it can be on any of the 5 levels.

Gurukulas should be established in many places, and the parents should know about the importance of gurukulas and demand them.

Is gurukula only for brahmanas? All the children can take advantage of the gurukula system, but it will be different according to their different natures.

Evening Class, HH BVPS Maharaja

Since one wants to go back to Godhead, one has to be comfortable with the lifestyle of the Lord.

The form and activities in the spiritual world go along with the devotional mood.

Since in the material world everything is about the secondary, we start with the cultural aspect of doing those things for Krsna, but people in the spiritual world follow the scriptural regulations out of spontaneous love.

The form of the varnashrama system is the same as in the spiritual world.

The syat-vada – modern academics work on the system of ‘maybe.’

To not be convinced about Krsna consciousness is a lack of faith.

On the madhyama platform one is fixed in devotional service because one’s faith is fixed.

To understand which of Krsna’s activities we should follow, we follow the acaryas.

There are four divisions of the curriculum are ashrama, academics, vocational and cultural.

If there is not enough training in science, character and culture, people very easily get distracted by the arts and cannot function properly.

In India, even the artists, musicians run like a Gurukula.

A gentleman is cultured. Culture is the common thing among humans, no matter what is their varna or social background.

Even if people say that one needs a degree, still the people hired are those who have some character.

When ashrama side is strong, one will be able to learn. There has been no student in the Gurukula who had a good character who was bad in the academics, and there was no student with bad character who was good in academics, even though they were very intelligent.

Universities want to take Gurukula kids who have character, even though there are sometimes some shortage in academics.

Serious education may be started at the age of 5 or 6, not earlier.

The real point of being a parent is to help the children to be Krsna conscious. Of course, these souls at some point will be brought to Krsna consciousness, but we can just take part.

The modes do their work, we do not have to worry about it, but we as devotees have the choice of not being under the modes.

When Daivi-varnashrama is looked at from the viewpoint of service, there are no more prestigious and less prestigious positions.

Even though the modern talks about equality, they differentiate so much based on the degrees.

We do not want to accept varnashrama because we don’t want to be in a lesser position, but if things are seen in connection to Krsna, there are no lesser positions.

The more character, responsibility and morals one has, the better they can be engaged in devotional service.

Morality had no value unless it is connected to Krsna. The only reason good qualities are emphasized are due to their usefulness in devotional service.

All the cultural activities prepare one for actual initiation.

There are two types of mantras – Vedic Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit.

In the Vedic Sanskrit each syllable has a specific tone, and changing tone changes the meaning of the words.

There are only 2 people in our movement who know Vedic Sanskrit – Srila Prabhupada and Bhanu Maharaja.

In the Vedic karma-kanda yajnas, the whole endeavor is ruined by a little fault, but in bhakti small faults are being adjusted. However we should not use bhakti as an excuse to throw out rules.

One either follows the eternal religion, or one makes up one’s own rules.

There is no cramming in the Vedic education.

There is no children education in the Vedic system, the children learn parts of adult education that they can learn.

All of memorization is done by little children. From about 13 everything needs to become useful and practical. As an adult one learns the subtleties and philosophy, metaphysics etc.

Vedic education starts with principles, structure, and builds on the details.

Activity is the basis of language. The verb is the core point, noun is a form of activity. All nouns are connected to verbs.

There are 24 parts of speech, verb and 6 parts of noun are the main 7.

Modern cannot properly define the parts of language.

Language is meant for communication, but the modern does not understand even that.

Mathematics and astronomy are meant to establish the proper times.

The whole Vedic mathematics is based on addition. Subtraction is addition reversed, multiplication is addition in groups, division is subtraction in group.

Algebra is just arithmetics were multiple functions go on at the same time.

Modern academics would not like things reduced down to just aritmetics because it is all just about speculation, while Vedic is about understanding things and then applying them.

The rituals are only in expression of devotion to Krsna. One should focus on the devotion to Krsna in the rituals, not on the technicalities.

Some boys upon graduation have already done 10,000 yajnas, while devotees in the West may do a few yajnas a year.

There is always preliminaries, the process itself and then the conclusion in the rituals. If one understands that, it becomes easier to understand the purpose of the rituals. The procedure of acamana takes up 1.5 pages when written down, but so does the description of a handshake.

Everything in philosophy fits within sambandha, abhideya and prayojana.

Everything in our philosophy fits within sambandha, abhideya and prayojana.

Srila Prabhupada makes the point that in educated circles things are always presented according to Pancanga-nyaya.

Everyone will go through the same 14 books of Vedic knowledge, so they all have the same culture. Then one has one’s occupation, then there are hobbies.

One may know music, but one is not an artist, unless one uses music as one’s occupation.

Even though one does yajna only once a day, the whole day one practices the proper behaviour and culture that one will use in the yajna.

Srila Prabhupada gave the pancaratric lifestyle when he noticed that nobody was reading the books and therefore could not answer bogus philosophies.

If one has the training in science, one can deal with the art properly.

Education starts in a classroom setting, but once a child has learned how to learn, it moves into tutor system where each child moves at their own pace in each subject.

Varnashrama college is part of Gurukula.

All English classes are happening at the same time, so one can be present in whatever level one is at. Then Math class starts, so one can go to another level if one is more or less developed in it.

The Vedic system is the most sophisticated,  but at the same time it is very simple and not complicated.

A quarter is learned from a teacher, a quarter from self-study, a quarter from others and from experience in life.

The quality of one’s character will determine the quality of one’s realization.

One may graduate at 16-18, or 25, or 32, whenever the individual has completed their education.

Individuals have to choose from activities recommended in the shruti, smriti, and things recommended by the acaryas.

Bhagavata-viddhi is enough, but since we are conditioned, we have to apply the Pancaratra.


Para Siksha – A Symposium on Vedic Education Day 1



So Srila Prabhupada in the 1960, then he envisioned this program of having a study, a systematic study of his books, going through the Bhagavad-gita, Nectar of Devotion, Isopanisad, Upadesamrta, as the fundamental course, the basis, because all the instructions are given in these books. Then Bhagavatam expands that out, gives more elaboration, and then Caitanya Caritamrta, then that gives how the Gaudiyas themselves apply these teachings that are there in the Gita, Nectar of Devotion and the Bhagavatam. And this is based on the course structure given by Srila Bhaktisidhhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Continue reading BHAKTIVEDANTA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY GRADUATION TALK

Brihad Manu Siksha #10 Lecture Notes

Full lecture transcription [link not active yet] 

  • One who is not up to a particular standard and properly initiation, should not pronounce the Vedic mantras.
  • We should be wearing whatever is the prescribed dress of our sampradaya.


  • Maximum rules on purity is described in the section dealing with grihasthas. Everyone is dealing with purity, but rules are given in those places where it is the most relevant.
  • Brahmachari should abstain from anything that has gone sour that is not naturally sour. Excess sourness thins the semen, so it tends to go down. Semen is present in the whole body.
  • Payment for Mayapur Gurukula Education is only meant for things that students themselves use. Teachers use nothing of the money given by the parents, otherwise the teachers would be under the parents as if hired.
  • Only brahmanas are supposed to run schools, not vaishyas or kshatriyas.
  • Fines collected from people who have committed mortal sins are not used for any day-to-day purposes. They are either given to extremely qualified brahmanas, or put into water.
  • Articles meant yajna should never be placed directly on the ground.
  • Students who eat only begged food get the same benefit as always fasting.
  • Rules for respecting teacher.
  • Teacher’s name should never be pronounced without a honorary title.
  • One should never hear the censuring of the teacher, even if just.
  • If we lower our respect for guru, we will drop it for everybody else also.
  • In the 1970s devotees would deal with 2nd initiated devotees like nowadays with the most senior men. The respect for guru was great, so it was great for everybody else also.
  • Parents are not the best to properly train the children, especially in lifestyle, due to their sense of possession. Child is already part of their scene.
  • Parents add things that the teachers cannot give, but teachers are indispensable in the child’s life.
  • In the Vedic culture both parents and teachers are there. The child can choose to be more affectionate to the parents, or to the teachers, and nobody gets upset.
  • Gurukula has lost many students because the parents could not handle the children becoming more affectionate to the teachers than to them.
  • The child will be able to be raised by the whole village if they have that respect for everyone.

Brihad Manu Siksha #9 Lecture Notes


Full Lecture Transcription [Link not active yet] 


  • Acarya is one who is teaching the practical application and philosophical significance.
  • Subteacher who teaches a particular portion or aspect of the Veda is called upadhyaya (Jyotisha, music etc). Modern teachers are all upadhyayis because acarya means one who knows the connection to the Lord.
  • Guru performs family ceremonies. During sacrifices one calls for the officiating priest, who is a guru just for the duration of the sacrifice.
  • 09:20 Ritviks – officiating priests – can be utilized in certain sacrifices, but not initiation.
  • Ritviks are trying to turn our line into diksha line, which is what case goswamis do. They are our first bonafide apasampradaya.
  • Why only initiation from Prabhupada? Why not from Bhaktivinoda, why not from Lord Brahma?
  • Prabhupada authorized to initiate on his behalf, while he was still present.
  • Ramanujacarya also appointed 74 disciples to initiate on his behalf while he was still present, just to see that they can function properly.
  • Parents chose whom the children learn from, but the teacher who fills one’s ears with Vedas is even more respectable than parents.
  • One will die from the birth that one took from parents, but initiation into Vedic knowledge is eternal.
  • 18:00 A man destitute of sacred knowledge is a child, and one who teaches him the Veda becomes father.
  • Seniority among brahmanas is judged by knowledge, ksatriyas – valor, vaishyas – commodities, shudras – age.
  • Stock money is not actually real wealth.
  • Actors who came up for a short time are not considered so much of an actor by other actors.
  • Real musicians practice 10 to 12 hours a day. But to be able to do something special with one’s skill takes several lifetimes of practice.
  • 29:00 Is stock market gambling? For those who know what they are doing is just risky, educated business. For others it is gambling.
  • Owner of gambling house is not gambler; it is just a business, bad business.
  • In the casino, if you know what you are doing you are considered a cheater.
  • We are amazed by the feats of oriental martial artists, but every monkey in Vrindavana can do that. Animals can easily do things that humans do with amazing talents.
  • Unlearned brahmana is useless and is brahmana in name only.
  • Criticized person may sleep peacefully but the criticizer perishes.
  • Person who criticizes others develops the same qualities that they criticize.
  • Study of the Vedas is the highest austerity.
  • There is only the brahminical culture, there is no separate culture for kshatriyas and vaishyas.
  • Person who daily studies the Vedas obtains the benefits of thrice giving away the whole earth.
  • If devotees are looking for money – study!
  • Studying the essential scriptures of the sampradaya is equal to the study of the Veda. If devotees have no time for that, they fall to the level of shudra.
  • First birth is from mother, 2nd – upanayanam, 3rd – initiation in the Vedic sacrifices.
  • If one’s diksha guru leaves devotional service, the validity of initiation remains, but one must find siksha guru. Siksha guru may be Srila Prabhupada, but it is better to also find living siksha guru. Otherwise, why are all Prabhupada’s disciples not inspired?

Nectar of Devotion Thematic #1


  • Chronological and thematic study.
  • Vedic education and theology is always practiced. Academic and practical always go together.
  • Formerly in the West the church had to authorize teachers, even for secular subjects.
  • The rank of a teacher was formerly determined by how much they could affect the lives of their students, not simply teaching a skill.

Continue reading Nectar of Devotion Thematic #1

Devotion Resides in Perfect Knowledge of the Supreme

or Why Do We Study Shastra?

Devotion resides in perfect knowledge of the Supreme. In other words, that knowledge that you have of the Supreme, your devotion can be based on that. It is being cultivated by that, it’s being developed by that, it’s being practiced by that. So if you don’t have knowledge of the Supreme, it will be really hard to cultivate the devotion.

Means, if you, seeing the Deity or hearing about Krsna and that, spontaneously just have a natural attraction just for Him, then means other than giving us great moral support there is no real need for you to be here. Other than, means, unless you sat here and gave the class, that would then be very good.

But the point is if that hasn’t happened then the idea is, then through knowledge, then you are able to properly situate yourself in devotion because then you know who you are, who Krsna is and what is your relationship. So he is making this point* is that it is not just a heading. Devotion resides in perfect knowledge of the Supreme that this is the basis of the whole course. Because we are trying to get knowledge by which we can base our devotion on. So that is the whole idea. To be able to see through this vision, to understand. It is not a matter of memorizing a few things because devotion is not based on a few things you have memorized.

Your devotion is based on what you understand, what you practice, that is manana. Manana is you understand it, you practice it. By practicing it you try to understand it more, you contemplate it more. By that contemplation you are better able to perform your practice. By continuance of this process, then you come to the platform of realization. That is then what you are trying to get to.

You realize this knowledge. You realize your position as Krsna’s servant, then act in that devotional platform. So you still have to take up seriously the devotional process. But the point is, first you have knowledge, that is the basis of your devotional service. Then by practicing that, then you come to realization. Then it becomes spontaneous. It is natural then. It is natural that you are doing it and in your mind it becomes a natural part of what you do.

So the whole idea is to situate yourself in devotional service. Otherwise, why would we have it? Why should we have study of the sastras? Why should we have organized classes in which people then study this knowledge and get degrees? To get degrees, to increase our prestige, make outside people think that we are educated. But that is not the purpose. The purpose is to develop devotion. This whole movement is only for that, it is not for something else. There is not another idea about it.

Devotee (1): If someone doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to go through this?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Why wouldn’t they?

Devotee (1): I know devotees, for them it’s a little bit hard to learn.

HH BVPS Maharaja: It is hard to learn things, but that is to memorize things. We are talking about understanding something. Understanding is based on some form of learning, but it’s more is what is the principle it is working on, principles are very easy. Krsna is God, we are His servant and our natural relationship is through devotion and for the purpose of expressing our love for Him and developing that love. That you can teach to a three-year-old. But that is the complete concept of the philosophy. The process we use is chanting Hare Krsna. The goal is love of God. You can easily teach that to a three-, four-year-old. No problem. So what is it that can’t be learnt?

So that is the whole point, the Vedic system is so perfect that it starts with the highest part and then it descends. The modern is, you start on the bottom and you ascend. Therefore what they speak in the university, the nursery school kid could not understand. But the Vedic is you start with the highest principle which is universal, everybody can understand it. Then according to the individual’s capacity then you descend down into the detail.

Because if someone knows ‘I chant Hare Krsna, I please Krsna, I go back to Godhead,’ if they only know that, that is their inspiration to chant, and they chant, they’ll get perfection. While someone else can tell you all the technical details about the different kinds of names and their effects, namabhasa and chayanama and all these different things like that, that’s because they have that kind of intellect. So that’s what it takes to engage in.

Means, somebody eats two three chapattis, someone eats ten chapattis, we take chapattis over to the elephant house we got a problem. So it is a capacity. So, therefore, because there is more intellect you have to give more detail. But the knowledge about Krsna and the process – that everybody can understand. It is just within that how much detail we deal with.

One is, because we want to make sure there are no doubts on any side, therefore very elaborately or exhaustively we will deal with the point. But the principle of that point is very simple. It will have been stated basically in the beginning. So then if we go on for a three days pontificating on all kinds of technical points then it is still that, it is not that the person who didn’t understand any of that lost anything. Because the beginning, the main point and the conclusion of the pancanga-nyaya are the same. So may be all the examples and all the technicalities given in clearing doubts may not have made sense, something will have made sense.

So that’s why the discussions, what you will be tested on in this course is not what you have memorized but what you understand. That is different. We are not looking for what you have realized. We are looking for what you have understood. Because realization is going to come from practice. This knowledge then you take it, you build on it for the rest of your life. We know Krsna is God, so how He is God, so how you can see Him in His creation as God, how you can see Him in our devotional activities or in others’ lives that we can go on spending the rest of our life seeing.

So that means devotion resides in perfect knowledge of the Supreme, so that perfect knowledge means actually understanding who you are and who Krsna is. So that means, then your devotion is going to be based on that.

(From Lecture on Science of Inquiry, 28th Oct 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur)

*HH Suhotra Maharaja in his introduction to Bhakti Shastri study courses of the Bhaktivedanta Academy [editor note]

Transcription by Uddhava Priya Prabhu. Used with permission, minor adjustments in the text made by website editors.


PHILOSOPHICAL DEFINITIONS LECTURE #4, 23rd Sep 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur

HH BVPS Maharaja: Continuing 5 levels of consciousness.

Anna-maya means the senses, it is sensual perception, or engagement of the senses. Prana-maya that you are going to extend the sense gratification for others. In other words, you care about other’s sense gratification. Mana-maya will be the platform of religiosity, not even technically be your ethics, ethics would prana-maya. Where you understand the nature of something and act according to that. Vijnana-maya will be the platform of understanding the nature of the soul. Ananda-maya will be situated on that transcendental platform, so specifically for us it means devotional service Continue reading PHILOSOPHICAL DEFINITIONS #4

Philosophical Definitions #3

PHILOSOPHICAL DEFINITIONS LECTURE #3, 22nd Sep 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur

HH BVPS Maharaja: One has to have an interest to know before one will be involved in the activity of learning and having been engaged in the activity of learning then one will naturally apply it. In this way you get pranipata, pariprasna, sevaya as sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana. Means you are taking the Pradyumna aspect, pranipata, you have a desire, then pariprasna is the process of interaction between teacher and student, and sevaya is the goal that you will apply it in your life, you use it, it will be yours and develop the character, the qualities necessary. Continue reading Philosophical Definitions #3

Philosophical Definitions #2

PHILOSOPHICAL DEFINITIONS LECTURE #2, 19th Sep 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur

HH BVPS Maharaja:

Name, form, qualities and pastimes.

The name establishes the form, creates the attraction. Then the qualities one becomes attached to because of this one will engage in pastimes. That will bring about your sambandha, prayojana and abhidheya. Continue reading Philosophical Definitions #2