ISKCON Vaisnavas Atmarama das and Viracandra das have taken the first and third place in the National Best Philosophy Essay Competition, organized by the Philosophical Society of Macedonia and publishers Az-Buki.
The essays had to be on relevant philosophical topics, 30,000-40,000 characters in length, and must not have been previously published.
The competition was anonymous and the texts were coded, the author's information having to be submitted in a separate envelope with the code clearly marked. The jury included university professors who had to evaluate the essays, including those of other philosophy professors. The results of the competition were announced at the end of a symposium on Hegel, held at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje in November.
Atmarama's essay was titled “The Absolute Monism of Shankara.” He won a prize of 500 euros (the equivalent of two average monthly salaries in Macedonia). The essay delineates Shankara’s philosophy, and closes with arguments for its impossibility.
The second place winner, from the Macedonian town of Bitola, presented an essay in the form of a confession.
Viracandra's essay, titled “On the Way,” dwelt on conceptions of life and beauty, with a devotional conclusion.
Macedonian daily newspaper “Vreme” published an interview with the winner.