Sastic Diploma Evaluation

4 months, 1 week ago by hps in Special Category B


(rev. 2019 January 13)

With years of dialog and practical experience, among many members of ISKCON in various positions, we are making the following suggestions for standards and techniques of evaluation of candidates for the Bhakti-vaibhava and other ISKCON diplomas. We feel that this may be a step in the right direction but it is a continuous program of adjustment and improvement.

1.    Our eternal relationship with God can be revived in the human form of life, and that should be the goal of education. Indeed, that is the perfection of life and the perfection of education.

2.    The BOEX, Ministry of Education, should be able to certify the character development by at least 20% and maybe 100% if its members have the chance to associate deeply with the candidates. Otherwise the Board will have to develop practical techniques for acquiring information from others such as Temple Presidents and senior devotees.

To this end we should obtain the standards and techniques used by the Ministry of Sannyasa Services in evaluating candidates since Srila Prabhupada indicated the Bhakti-vaibhava (BhV) diploma as being for Sannyasis.

3.    Students might graduate Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude or Magnum Cum Laude, and optional lines should be developed by Varna Ashrama situation eg. Ladies, Gents, Brahmanas, Ksatriyas. Some may be good at Slokas others at essays and others at songs.

4.    In the matter of direct Sastric knowledge we would suggest that:

a.    Evaluation should be done by globally standard semester divisions eg. BhV might be grouped into four years or eight semesters. The students would have to be registered with the BOEX at the start of each Semester with their name, e-mail contact, and local contact person. Passing the Semester evaluation would then be centrally recorded and if they complete all eight Semesters within (?) 8-years then they receive the glorious diploma!!

b.    All related ISKCON BhV centers et al should develop and continually improve a common Question Bank of several hundred good, interesting, short-answer, questions on Cantos One – Six. Of course, these would be grouped by Semester and could be weighted from 1-5 points in terms of their importance. Semester tests could be selected from this Bank and anyone who can answer the questions without taking a BhV registered course would be quite a Venerable Dude.

c.    Three Open Book Short Essay Questions from maybe seven alternatives could be presented and the candidate could use all personal notes, indices etc. with full access to all of Srila Prabhupada’s literature. Of course this would be a timed evaluation of maybe 30-minute.

d.    Essays written at the candidates leisure but then presented in a discussion forum where they would have to defend or enhance their presentation.

e.    Sloka Memorization should include texts used by the Acharyas from the first six cantos of the Bhagavatam, but should also include relevant texts cited in the purports even if not in the text of the Bhagavatam itself eg. Candidates for Bhakti-sastri should know nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām even though it is not mentioned in the texts of the BhS syllabus.

The total number of Slokas may not be so high.

The candidates for BhV should be re-evaluated on verses from the BhSastri syllabus. This of course would be related to training the students how to develop techniques to refresh and deepen their memorization of relevant texts.

Daily and Annual songs and prayers can be included in the evaluation eg. For first initiation one should be able to follow the full morning program. For second initiation and BhS one should be able to lead it from memory and for BhVai one should know the word for word meanings to good extent. Testing could be offered for festival material such as Dasa-avatara-stotra, Radha-stava and Mangala-arcana.

Candidates should select some texts for their own memorization and then be tested eg. One may like to memorize the prayers by Queen Kunti in Canto One and another by Hanuman in the Fifth Canto.

f.     Relevant texts can be included eg. Nectar of Devotion Southern Division, Waves of Devotion, Surrender Unto Me.

Thank you for your attention and consideration and please contact us with comments, complaints, questions and donations.

Hanumatpresaka Swami

Anjana Suta Academy


Smoke for Philemon

4 months, 1 week ago by hps in Special Category B

Esteemed Patricia, Please forgive our little slowness in writing this letter. Part of it is that we are very busy with some deadlines before this trip to India. The other is our own laziness which we are fighting with great heroism to conquer. 🦍🐘🐘🐘🐷

First, thank you for the conversation. Then let us reiterate that NIOS, our North American Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, has developed over the term of its existence a good record of practical accomplishments in integrating historical and geographical cultural assets from around the world. I hope you can agree with this after being one of the most principal participants in our last effort: Art and the Sacred, in Lima.

For all of us, and especially for me, the integration of the work and perspective of Carl Jung and the traditional intelligence of classical Indian philosophy is central to this work. Our very serious enquiry would be if Prof. Shonu Shyamdasani and the Philemon Foundation are familiar with the heritage of Sri Krishna Caitanya, Srila Rupa Goswami et al who have been most prominently advanced in modern times by Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and his Bhaktivedanta Book Trust eg. Of course, other regular academic scholars and investigators such as Prof. David Haberman from Indian University and many others are making these resources available.

We love Jung, we love A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, we love Journey to the West and we are sure they love each other. We are hankering with some deep resolution and passion, for our own sake and many, many others to participation in this integration of these vital and relevant cultures.

Then ...… ...... can you present these enquiries to Dr. Shyamdasani and other members of the Philemon Foundation and inform us of the link to the symposium in Santa Barbara in April that you mentioned. It sounds wonderful and we will be returning from this two months in India on the 27th of March so we would have to fix it into our calendar as soon as possible. 🙂🙂🙏🦓 🐻     🦍

How to Lead Mangala Arati

4 months, 3 weeks ago by hps in Special Category B, Hot Topics


Once I, T. Brown, approached Uncle Gismo, who was seated in Samadhi next to his thing-a-majig, and asked him how to lead Mangala-arati.

Sri Gismo Uvaca (The Blessed Uncle Gismo Said): In ISKCON there are three ways to lead Mangala-arati: The right way, the wrong way and the ASA way. Even the ASA way has varieties but now, I shall describe one. (Sound of heavenly 'Uuus and Aaaas')

First, with love!

If you haven't got pure love then at least do it clean. I mean the Kartals and drum should never be louder than the Bhajana, Gurv-astakam. The frame should not detract from the picture. The frame should stand unnoticed but magnify aspects of the picture.

Learn the translation, word-by-word, the grammar. If with meaning you sing, your heart will certainly ring.

It's not two parallel mono-logs.It is a dialog. Got it?  Both sides should listen to the other, not just chant.

2/3 of the time should be Maha-mantra: HK HK --- KK HH ... Skc, Pn... HK HK... and Haraye namah ... Just the first and third line of that song. Look for the explanation at the end of 'CC, Adi-lila, Chapter on "Lord Caitanya in His Youth"'.

Your hands should not separate from your body by more than four inches and foam can come from your mouth only as long as it is of good quality and digestible like cotton candy.

Any other questions?

T.B. - Seems like enough for now.

U.G. - Haaa Rummfff. (One of the Professor's 'bija-mantras'.

Pune Conference Preparation

4 months, 3 weeks ago by hps in Special Category B

Letter to the educators coming to the ISKCON Pune conference.

AGTSP paoho I talked with Radha-Krsna Das for 34-minutes today. He is one of our greatest inspirations for work in Sastric Education in North America. We have a team of about five people now and are identifying our situation and how to go ahead.


1) I think a simple, short answer, test from a good Question Bank of many, many, practical questions from the books is an essential for evaluation eg. what are the three mode, three levels of devotees, three types of suffering.

2) Short closed and open book essay questions oriented to practical application and preaching challenges that test for citations from the books.

3) Association with authorized teachers and fellow Students. This can be on-line in various degrees. With visiting scholars and required attendance in residential programs eg. RKD and I et al are planning a Retreat in Houston at the end of March that would require applicants for Bh. Sastri etc to all attend. Teachers and Students can associate. Students can be properly evaluated.

4) Certain number of hours.

5) Parallel lines of authority. Temples have to keep a standard of Deity worship in terms of the Ministry of Deity Worship, so there should be a standard of hearing and chanting to be certified as a Temple. Other side diplomas should not be granted without Temple perspective.

6) The BOEX at the current moment should be doing 70% academic evaluation and 30% character evaluation unless it is a case where the Teacher is also a part of the relevant Temple.

Offer variety of curriculum for different types of students.

7)All this will take time, my commitment, group work, to implement but we were the first to read one letter from Srila Prabhupada where he responded to Sriman Jayatirtha Das comments that we have discovered that preaching is good in Berkeley by saying "you have discovered that preaching is good in Berkeley because you have made the endeavor there. Anywhere you that you make the endeavor you will discover that preaching is good".

Is this in general line with everyone else's thinking?

Thank you.


Vegan Diet / Sacred Cows

5 months, 3 weeks ago by arina in Special Category B

Hare Krishna

Hanumatpresaka Swami,

please accept my humble obeisances, all glories to Prabhupada!

I have a big dilemma. One of the 4 regulative principles is ahimsa, not eating meat, not hurting others (or the least possible), that's how I understand it. If to obtain industrial milk, the cows are exploited, raped and separated from their babies, who are subsequently deprived of their milk and sent to the slaughterhouse in the case of males, all this process is very painful.

I understand that killing cows is not ahimsa.

In addition there is no dairy industry as such, since beef comes from the same industry from which the milk comes. If we buy industrial dairy, we are paying to kill and injure cows. Their udders are wounded and infected, which is very very painful, their minds are disturbed, they are given antidepressants to overcome the traumas of being separated from their babies again and again year after year, in addition to physical exploitation. These cows live about 6 - 7 years, when they could live 20. It is also violence against the calves, since they separate them from their mothers as soon as they are born and do not allow them to suckle from their udders, and then kill them.

They suffer a lot of terror and pain. This should not be justified with what is for Krishna or what is Kali yuga. Rather, I think these are excuses for satisfying the tongue, which is no different from eating meat (because you are mistreating cows as in a concentration camp to get that milk).

That is to say, for me to offer sweets, guewes, dairy products to Krishna, I have to collaborate with the physical and psychological mistreatment of hundreds of cows and also collaborate with the killing of calves and cows. It seems to me a barbarity to justify violence by saying that it is in the name of God.

I am very confused and I do not understand why this is normal and the devotees accept it, could you please advise me on this. What do you think? Thank you very much, your servant Arina.

HpS - AGTSP. Paoho. We answered this in a previous Blog post. Do you read the posts? We don't do too many while we are traveling. Now with the current arrangement for the Blog (PND is improving it!) we can't search for the post very easy.

Trying to accomplish several things at the same time we updated our "asa-encyclopedia.docx" file in the Archives in our webpage, with an entry on our understanding of Vegan diet.

There a lot more things that could be said, but we would like to hear your ideas on this first.

Thank you,

Hare Krsna!

URGENT: Brief Report on the International Symposium ART AND THE SACRED

5 months, 3 weeks ago by abhiramdas in Special Category B

Hare Krishna Gurudeva, please accept my humble obeisances

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!

All glories to Hanumatpresaka Swami!!

This is a brief summary of what we consider, the most outstanding points of the international symposium THE ART AND THE SACRED held from October 24 to 26 at the National Library of Peru.

1.- This event has allowed us to maintain and expand our range of action. In relation to the former, the participation of prabhu Radhika Raman (professor Ravi Gupta of USA) and of mother Lalita-gopi (professor Dolores Chaves of Mexico) has been very valuable. Regarding the extension of our call, at the National University of Music (formerly National Conservatory of Music), teachers Nilo Figueroa, Aurelio Tello and teacher Maria Tuslokova, said that we can count on them for another call and congratulated the completion of the event. The same happened with Carlos Sánchez of the University Center of Folklore of Peru, Patricia Llosa of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, José Luis Valencia of Mexico, Paula Miranda of Chile and Gustavo Corso of Argentina. At this point we would like to thank Druva O'shea (Druvananda d.), From Australia, for his interesting and enjoyable conference and his wife Dhanesvari for all their collaboration.

2.- The SOLARIS Magazine is positioning itself very well as an integrating vehicle of our academic and cultural activities, under the guidance of SS Hanumatpresaka Swami, the magazine was the axis to develop the content of this Symposium. This edition No 3 has almost 200 pages (16 articles and 4 reviews) with contents from the USA, India, Japan, Italy, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

3.- On Saturday, October 27, we held a camaraderie lunch with the exhibitors. By consensus, three points were agreed: 1) To suggest to NIOS that the content of 2019 continues to be based on ART AND THE SACRED (this content allows develop fully bridges between East and West in all academic disciplines) and also add, as specific content, this year to ECOLOGY, 2020 could be ART, THE SACRED AND EDUCATION ... 2) Starting in January establish a monthly meeting with all the exhibitors, it can be through GoToMeeting, to define and refine the details, participation and new guests. And 3) Support the dissemination of SOLARIS and invite some important academics from their environment in each country to write articles.

4.- The organization team has really had moments of hard work and dedication, we want to thank very much all those who in a direct or indirect way participated and helped the realization of this Symposium THE ART AND THE SACRED, sincerely without their cooperation it would have been impossible to perform this activity.

In particular we want to thank again and again our spiritual mentor His Holiness Hanumatpresaka Swami. GURUDEVA his inspiring sadhana, his classes of Bhagavatam and his auspicious guidance and association have been and are the compass that guides our humble service.

Personally, for his mercy I have been able to better understand BG 9.2. Life in this world is hard, but based on spiritual knowledge it is always possible to have a positive and ironic perspective of our existence and therefore there is always the possibility of doing seva with good conscience and joy. MANY THANKS FOR ALL GURUDEVA.

Hare Krishna, his insignificant servant, Abhiram Thakur das.

HpS - ASA --- AGTSP paoho. We just feel like little part of this machine now. We are getting such global contacts. At any moment it may all fall apart by Krsna's desire or it may become a participant in the struggle against evil on the global level. Thank you. We will try to help everyone!!



Este es un breve resumen de lo que consideramos mas resaltante del Simposio internacional EL ARTE Y LO SAGRADO realizado del 24 al 26 de octubre en la Biblioteca Nacional del Perú.

1.- Este evento nos ha permitido mantener y ampliar nuestro radio de acción. En relación con lo primero ha sido muy valiosa la participación de prabhu Radhika Raman (profesor Ravi Gupta de USA) y de la madre Lalita-gopi (profesora Dolores Chaves de México). En cuanto a la ampliación de nuestra convocatoria, en la Universidad Nacional de la Música (antes Conservatorio Nacional de Música), los maestros Nilo Figueroa, Aurelio Tello y la maestra María Tuslokova, manifestaron que podemos contar con ellos para otra convocatoria y felicitaron la realización del evento. Lo mismo sucedió con Carlos Sánchez del Centro universitario del Folclore de Perú, Patricia Llosa del Museo Metropolitano de Nueva York, José Luis Valencia de México, Paula Miranda de Chile y Gustavo Corso de Argentina. En este punto queremos agradecer a Druva O´shea (Druvananda p.), de Australia, por su interesante y amena conferencia y a su esposa Dhanesvari por toda su colaboración.

2.- La Revista SOLARIS se está posicionando muy bien como vehículo integrador de nuestras actividades académicas y culturales, bajo la orientación de SS Hanumatpresaka Swami, la revista fue el eje para desarrollar el contenido de este Simposio. Esta edición No 3 tiene casi 200 páginas (16 artículos y 4 reseñas) con contenidos provenientes de USA, India, Japón, Italia, Australia, Argentina, México, Chile y Perú.

3.- El sábado 27 de octubre realizamos, con los expositores, un almuerzo de camaradería, por consenso se acordaron tres puntos: 1) Sugerir a NIOS que el contenido del Sankirtana académico del 2019 siga siendo EL ARTE Y LO SAGRADO (este contenido permite desarrollar plenamente puentes entre oriente y occidente en todas las disciplinas académicas) y además agregar como contenido especifico este año a la ECOLOGÍA, el 2020 podría ser EL ARTE, LO SAGRADO Y LA EDUCACIÓN… 2) A partir de enero establecer una reunión mensual con todos los expositores, puede ser a través de GoToMeeting, para definir y afinar los detalles, la participación y nuevos invitados. Y 3) Apoyar la difusión de SOLARIS e invitar a algunos académicos importantes de su entorno en cada país para que escriban artículos. 

4.- El equipo de organización realmente ha tenido momentos de ardua labor y entrega, queremos agradecer sinceramente a todos los que de una manera directa o indirecta participaron y ayudaron a la realización de este Simposio EL ARTE Y LO SAGRADO, sinceramente sin su cooperación hubiera sido imposible realizar esta actividad.

En particular queremos agradecer una y otra vez a nuestro mentor espiritual Su Santidad Hanumatpresaka Swami. GURUDEVA su sadhana inspirador, sus clases de Bhagavatam y su auspiciosa guía y asociación han sido y son la brújula que orienta nuestro humilde servicio.

En lo personal, por su misericordia he podido comprender mejor el BG 9.2. La vida en este mundo es dura, pero en base al conocimiento espiritual siempre es posible tener una perspectiva positiva e irónica de nuestra existencia y por lo tanto siempre hay posibilidad de hacer el seva con buena conciencia y alegría. MUCHAS GRACIAS POR TODO GURUDEVA.

Hare Krishna, su insignificante sirviente, Abhiram Thakur das.