On June 16 in Radhadesh the graduation ceremony was held for students from Bhaktivedanta College. Seven students received their Degree in Vaishnava Theology, and ten others completed their first and second years. Over fifty members from the Radhadesh community took part in the ceremony to congratulate the students on their achievements.
Yadunandana Swami, the College's principal, described his hopes for spiritual education - that the college staff's primary aspiration was to offer first class training so that graduates could make a substantial and positive contribution to ISKCON and to society at large. He also described how the year had been a time of transition and challenges.
Since its inception the college has been working with the University of Lampeter to offer a university level accredited course. However, this chapter is drawing to a close, and a new partnership with Winchester University (also in the UK) is being formed.
Another milestone is the completion this year of their first accommodation building - a great step forward to helping offer dedicated facilities for both students and staff. The college is also working on a new degree level course that they hope will be ready in the next couple of years - the course will be in Vedic management.
Expressing his appreciation for the students, Yadunandana Swami commented: “I would like to congratulate students for their great achievement in completing their courses. It is especially pleasing to see our second generation coming forward and doing so well. They are the flowers of ISKCON. I want to take the opportunity to encourage graduates to share with others whatever they have received from their time at Bhaktivedanta College.”
Kadamba Kanana Swami, one of the teachers at the college who was also present for the ceremony, expressed how pleased he was to see education developing in ISKCON, and that the college's contribution was part of a maturing process for the society. He commented that, “Profound education is part of a formative process where each individual can find their own identity and experience strength and conviction on a deeper level.”
A sad note for the year was that Laxmimoni Devi Dasi, a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada from America, will no longer be Bhaktivedanta College's Dean of Students. Jaya Krsna Dasa, the college's director summed up his feelings with the following words, “Laxmimoni's maturity, experience, and association have been a great help to both the staff and students. We will really miss her. However, we look forward to her visiting us in the future to continue as one of our teachers.”
After receiving his degree one of the graduates, Gopinath Bhadra (a former student at Mayapura gurukula) said, “Thank you for accepting me in the family of Radhadesh. It really means a lot to me. It's been wonderful to have your association. There's no community like Radhadesh.”
Finally, Radhadesh's temple president, Hrdaya Caitanya Dasa, summed up the feelings of everyone present when he said, “We are very happy to see students graduating today. But we also feel sad since some of them are leaving - they have become part of the community.”