In India, members of ISKCON’s Governing Body Comission and the GBC Succession Committee, along with top ISKCON educators, have developed a new training program called ISKCON LEADS (Leadership Education And Development System).
The program gives current ISKCON leaders an opportunity to identify potential leaders within their temples and regions. Candidates enter a comprehensive training program of seventeen four or five-day courses, totaling 89 days in a three-year period. The program’s three modules cover Interpersonal Spiritual Development, Missionary & Family Spirit Development and ISKCON Institutional Development.
ISKCON LEADS chairman Brihat Mridanga Dasa facilitated Module One’s first course -- Bhakti-Sadacara (Krishna conscious behavior) – at Mumbai’s Juhu Temple this March, drawing 49 attendees. The course was repeated in Tirupati, South India, and will be taught at locations in Northern and Eastern India later this year.
Topics of the four-day course included the qualities of a devotee, offences against a Vaishnava and forgiveness, how to offer and accept correction, devotional friendship and mentorship, and the importance of devotee association, amongst others. “I felt the course was very relevant,” commented Kalanidhi Dasa from Hyderabad. “It’s a relief to know that our movement, its methodologies, tactics and strategies are evolving with time, while keeping Srila Prabhupada’s mood and mission intact.”
Participants were encouraged to go deeper, as Brihat Mridanga highlighted the importance of a proper internal mood and corresponding external behavior, especially for a devotee in a leadership position. “It made me realize deeply that I have to be very careful, caring and conscious in my relationships with devotees,” said another attendee, ISKCON Aravade temple president Gaura Krishna Dasa.
The course aimed to be all-inclusive, with different elements relating to the broad spectrum of devotees. “It highlighted the role of women in spreading Krsna consciousness,” said Bhaktika Dasi, wife of ISKCON Tirupati temple president Revati Ramana Dasa. “Married devotees will realize the importance of adhering strictly to their devotional practices and teaching Krishna consciousness to others.”
The course also focused on directly spiritual topics. Sukirti Madhavi Dasi, who develops curriculums and conducts courses on the Bhagavad-gita in Chennai said, “It deepened my loyalty to Srila Prabhupada, and helped me to improve my chanting tremendously.”
Lokanatha Swami, one of ISKCON’s leading kirtan singers, will teach ‘Kirtan and Japa Retreat’ – the next course in the ISKCON LEADS program – in Pandharpur, Western India, from April 15th to 18th. Successive courses will be conducted by devotees similarly experienced in relevant topics.
Candidates wishing to apply for the training program must follow ISKCON’s four regulative principles, chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily, and fully accept following ISKCON’s line of spiritual and managerial authority, amongst other criteria. For more information please contact Vamsi Vadan Dasa at ISKCON.LEADS@pamho.net