ISKCON of Bali, Indonesia hosted its first ever Varnashrama Global Mission seminar this August first and second. Varnashrama, a traditional Vedic social structure of natural vocations and life stages, is often confused with the birth-based caste system—which Vaishnavas consider to be a misaplication of the original ancient system.
Held at ISKCON Bali’s Gaura Hari Asrama, the two-day seminar attracted approximately seventy-five delegates from different temples. Speakers arrived from Bali, Java, and Sumatra, with others such as the seminar creator Bhakti Raghava Swami hailing from further afield.
Proceedings were off to an auspicious start, as the seminar’s opening day was also the first day of Jhulan Yatra, a sacred Vaishnava festival. August 1 also commemorated the Festival of Sarasvati according to Balinese tradition; special functions were held at all Bali’s educational institutions throughout the day in glorification of Sarasvati, the Goddess of Learning.
Bhakti Raghava Swami opened the seminar with his presentation Overview of Varnashrama Global Mission, the Four Waves of ISKCON and Varnashrama Social Structure. Other modules on a variety of subjects followed, including Bali Tradition in Relation to Varnashrama, National Education in Indonesia, Comparison of Traditional Education: Pondok Pesantren (Islamic) and Gurukula (Hindu), Gita Nagari Baru project in Sumatra, Varnashrama Projects in Indonesia, and Gurukula Traditional Education. A question and answer period, during which participants could get further clarification, followed each presentation.
Both speakers and participants responded to the seminar positively, expressing their desires to make it an annual event.
All participants received a Certificate of Attendance, while each speaker was presented with a delicious prasadam dish and a book on varnashrama as a small token of appreciation for their involvement.
The seminar was also the perfect setting to inaugurate the Gaura Hari Varnashrama College, a forerunner to Bali’s proposed Markendaya Rishi Gurukula school. The college will be headed up by Bhagiratha Dasa, a recent graduate from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust’s Srimad Bhagavat Vidyapitham Sanskrit school in Govardhan, India.
Also launched at the seminar was the local language—Bahasa Indonesia—edition of Bhakti Raghava Swami’s book Varnashrama Education. The book was gifted to ISKCON Bali president Kisora Krishna Dasa, who will add it to the Varnashrama College’s proposed Bhaktivedanta Library.
For more information, please contact Bhagiratha Dasa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ bali ] [ varnashrama-dharma ]