As it outgrows its current facilities, the Mayapur Institute is beginning to build a new campus on ten acres at ISKCON’s headquarters in Mayapur, West Bengal.
Manager Anantashesh Das says that the new campus for the Institute – which trains ISKCON devotees in the systematic study of Srila Prabhupada’s books – will be located fifteen minutes from Mayapur’s main ISKCON campus, in a serene and beautiful spot.
The campus will be built according to vastu principles and will include accommodations for students and resident and visiting faculty, classrooms, a kitchen and dining room, an administration and library building, an assembly hall and a Gaura-Nitai temple.
“Due to its sheer size and cost, the project will be executed building by building,” says Anantashesh. “Phase 1 will include one classroom, a temporary kitchen, and the visiting faculty building, which will serve multiple purposes to begin with. We hope to offer Phase 1 to Srila Prabhupada by the end of this 50th anniversary year, funds permitting.”
Since it was established by Janmastami Das in 2000, the Mayapur Institute has made a big impression. It has offered seminars, workshops and courses to over 10,000 students, and awarded Bhakti Sastri degrees to more than 2,500 – no wonder it needs a larger facility.
“Overall it has increased so many ISKCON devotees’ enthusiasm to preach Krishna consciousness, as well as their preaching skills and understanding of Prabhupada’s books,” Anantashesh says. “It’s also brought about greater appreciation of the mission of ISKCON, and enhanced cooperative spirit.”
Last year's MI students pose with their graduation certificates
Winter courses will start this year on October 23rd during the month of Kartik, and run until February 22nd, just before Gaura Purnima.
They’ll take place at the current facilities in Chaitanya Bhavan at ISKCON Mayapur, which are being outgrown but are still well-equipped with four classrooms, and amenities like projectors and boards.
About 175 students from between thirty and thirty-five countries are expected to enroll this year, aged 18 to 30. They’ll study three main degrees established by Srila Prabhupada himself: Bhakti Sastri, an in-depth study of the Bhagavad-gita, Nectar of Instruction, Nectar of Devotion and Sri Isopanisad; Bhakti Vaibhava, an in-depth study of Srimad-Bhagavatam Cantos 1 through 6; and Bhakti Vedanta, a study of the Bhagavatam Cantos 7 through 12.
The Institute also offers the ISKCON Disciple Course, which is mandatory for anyone wanting to get initiated in ISKCON, in English, Bengali, Hindi, and Russian.
Meanwhile short term courses offered during the Gaura Purnima spring period are: Teacher’s Training Course Parts 1 and 2, Bhakti Sastri Teacher’s Training Course; ISKCON Leadership and Management course; Varnasrama Training Course; and a course on the Grihasta Ashram (family life) in Krishna consciousness.
“This we’re also planning to introduce new courses on Vaishnava etiquette and spoken Sanskrit,” Anantashesh says. “And next year, we will start a one-year residential training program for youth aged 18 to 25 known as the Youth Empowerment Program.”
The Master Plan layout of the new Mayapur Institute Campus
All these programs will be taught by some of the best teachers in ISKCON, senior devotees who have not only studied but also practiced and implemented the scriptures in their own lives. They include Kadamba Kanana Swami, Bhakti Caitanya Swami, B.V.V. Narasimha Swami, Chandramauli Swami, B.B. Bhagavat Swami, Yadunandana Swami, Bhanu Swami, Atul Krsna Das, and Laxmimoni Dasi.
With their guidance, according to Anantashesh students will gain thorough knowledge of Vaishnava philosophy and the ability to implement the basic principles and values of Prabhupada’s books in their day-to-day life. They’ll gain a greater taste for delving deep into the books, as well as greater enthusiasm for devotional service.
“Our courses will also help devotees who are preaching worldwide or serving various ISKCON projects in leadership roles to understand the mood and mission of Srila Prabhupada,” says Anantashesh. “As ISKCON is an educational society, it is important to ensure that those in leadership roles are properly trained. Out of the seven purposes Prabhupada laid out for his society, five very much stress education. So Mayapur Institute helps ISKCON fulfil these five purposes.”
The Mayapur Institute was also an express wish of Srila Prabhupada’s, as he wrote in a 1971 letter to Atreya Rishi Das: “Throughout the whole world there is no institution to impart knowledge in the matter of spiritual understanding. So we are going to open a big centre in Mayapur where this education will be internationally imparted. Students from all parts of the world will go there to take education in this important subject.”
“The Mayapur Institute,” Anantashesh says, “Fulfils this vision of Srila Prabhupada’s.”
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