ISKCON DISCIPLES COURSE

  • disciple_courseThe ISKCON Disciples Course is a training program which deepens devotees understanding of guru tattva and guru padasraya within the multiple guru environment of ISKCON. Designed for new devotees preparing to take initiation in ISKCON, the course is also recommended for leaders, preachers councilors and educators in ISKCON.

    The course was developed under the direction of the Guru Services Committee, with the combined efforts of leading educators in ISKCON. The course is based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and current ISKCON Law and gives reference to the writings from the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.

    The 14 lessons include Powerpoint presentations, interactive workshops and assessment exercises.

    Topics covered in the course:
    • - Guru-tattva and the Guru-parampara System
    • - Srila Prabhupada ISKCON Founder Acarya and Preeminent Guru
    • - Types of Gurus
    • - Relationship between ISKCON Guru and ISKCON Authorities
    • - Gurus outside of ISKCON
    • - Guru-padasraya
    • - Selecting a Guru
    • - Following Initiation Vows
    • - Guru-puja and Vyasa-puja
    • - Worship of ISKCON Gurus
    • - Guru-vapu and vani seva
    • - Guru-tyaga
    • - Developing Cooperative Relationships in a multi Guru environment

  • disciple_course

    The GBC resolution on ISKCON Disciple Course

    RESOLVED (March 2014):

    That the ISKCON Disciple Course, as developed by the GBC Guru Services Committee, shall be a mandatory pre-requisite for all devotees accepting first or second initiation by an ISKCON guru, effective Janmastami, 2015.

    After that date, no guru may initiate a disciple who has not first completed the Disciple Course. This is in addition to current requirements of new initiates.

    Furthermore, all GBC Members and Temple Presidents shall ensure that within their respective areas of authority, no later than Janmastami, 2015:

    • - Devotees shall be advised and encouraged to complete the Disciple Course before selecting a diksa-guru
    • - Devotees shall have reasonable access to enroll in the Disciple Course
    • - A sufficient number of teachers shall be identified and facilitated to teach the Course
    • - No devotee shall be allowed to accept initiation before completing the Course (subject to exemptions below)

    Teachers/facilitators of the ISKCON Disciple Course must:

    • a. Be initiated for at least 5 years
    • b. Have completed the ISKCON Disciple Course
    • c. Be recommended by their Disciple Course facilitator
    • d. Have completed the VTE Teacher Training Course 1 (TTC1)* or have equivalent training or experience
    • e. Have the approval of their local GBC representative
    • f. Teach from the official curriculum, manuals and other materials as approved by the GBC Guru Services Committee

    Illiterate devotees are welcome to participate in the Course. Upon completion they shall be required to undergo a minimal oral examination at the discretion of the teacher. In rare cases of the infirmity or terminal illness of a prospective disciple the requirement for completing the Disciple Course may be waived by the local Temple President.

    GBC members who find a specific area within their jurisdiction needs more time for implementation due to exceptional circumstances, may request an extension of up to one year by submitting a request no later than July 31, 2015, to the GBC Executive Committee for approval.

    *An exemption for the requirement of the TTC1 may be granted by the local GBC Zonal Secretary based upon an assessment of the potential teacher’s maturity and teaching skills. The Mayapur Institute shall provide to the GBC a list of criteria by which such evaluations should be made.

  • disciple_course

    Qualifications for Teaching ISKCON Disciples Course

    Teachers Qualifications

    Teachers of the official ISKCON IDC are required to have been second initiated for at least 5 years and completed the following courses:

    • - ISKCON Disciples Course
    • - VTE TTC1 (or have equivalent training or experience)* (TTC2 is highly recommended but not compulsory)
    • - Recommended by one’s ISKCON Disciple Course facilitator
    • - Co- facilitated ISKCON Disciples Course (Recommended)
    • - Have the approval of their local GBC representative
    • - Teach from the official curriculum and other materials as approved by the GBC Guru Services Committee (From G.BC. Resolution March 2014)

    Online IDC graduates are not eligible to teach IDC on site campus courses. Potential teachers of IDC must attend, in person, an on site campus course.

    Teachers with the above qualifications IDC should register with the IDC Secretariat upon which they will be issued with an official IDC Teachers Certificate. Contact: idcsecretariate@gmail.com

     

    Exemption for TTC1

    “An exemption for the requirement of the TTC1 may be granted by the local GBC Zonal Secretary based upon an assessment of the potential teacher’s maturity, teaching skills, and experience. The Mayapura Institute shall provide to the GBC a list of criteria by which such evaluations should be made.” (From G.BC. Resolution March 2014)

    The following list states the criteria upon which the above exemption may be made:

    Spiritual Qualifications:
    • - Mature understanding and application of Krsna consciousness philosophy
    Teaching Qualifications:
    • - A degree in Teaching for High School level or older.
    • - One-year minimum experience in teaching full-time professionally in a public or private educational institution for students 15 years or older. Or,
    • - Certification as a professional trainer by an independent institute with emphasis on interactive teaching skills and at least 200 hours experience in an adult classroom. Or,
    • - Have taught ISKCON VTE, or similar interactive courses, within ISKCON for minimum 300 hours.
    Practical Teaching Skills:
    • Basic communication skills
    • Basic facilitation skills:
    • Ability to facilitate whole class discussions, group exercises & experiential learning.
    • Reflective listening skills
    • Interpersonal skills (non-judgmental behavior & willingness to listen and value others’ opinions).
    • Time management skills
    • Classroom resource management skills
    Additional Qualifications:
    • Approval of the local Temple President

  • Disciple Course can be attended without special requirements. By clicking “MORE INFO” you will be redirected to the Bhaktivedanta College website, where you will get more information and you will also be able to proceed with registration to the Disciples Course.

    MORE INFO

  • ISKCON registered teachers (.xls document).iskcon_discipe_dbase

  • Feedback on the ISKCON Disciples Course (IDC) from Leaders (.docx document).iskcon_discipe_dbase

  • IDC Continental Figures (.xls document).iskcon_discipe_dbase

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

-Lesson 1 - Welcome & Introduction

Aims
To introduce participants to each other and establish positive foundations for the course. To familiarize students with:
  • - The inception of the course and its relevance in ISKCON today.

  • - Course Broad Aims & Twelve Principals and Values

  • - Course schedule & Assessment

  • - Classroom norms

  • - Student Handbook etc.

Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Introduce themselves to the rest of the students.
  • - Identify some the needs which form the basis of the course and discuss the importance of the course for ISKCON in general.
  • - Identify some areas they could personally improve in as a disciple
  • - Cite the Course Broad Aims & Twelve Principals and Values
  • - Discuss comments from ISKCON’s leaders on the relevance of the course.
  • - Discuss and agree to follow the Classroom Norms.

-Lesson 2 - Guru-tattva and Parampara

Aims
To help students understand the position, role and importance of, the various categories of guru. To help students understand the principles of paramapara and fallacious understandings, such as the philosophy of Ritvikvada.
Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Explain in their own words the role and position of guru, as the representative of Krsna and the previous acaryas.

  • - Discuss how the guru is a manifestation of the mercy of Krsna

  • - List the categories of guru and explain their roles.

  • - Explain the import of Prabhupada’s statement “the guru is one”.

  • - Explain the terms hari-nama-diksa, mantra-diksa and siksa, and briefly discuss their importance.

  • - Discuss the necessity of accepting living diksa and siksa-gurus.

  • - Explain and discuss the significance of the transfer of karma from the disciple to the guru.

  • - Explain, in their own words, the general principles of guru-parampara.

  • - Explain the fallacy of current philosophies, such as Ritvikvada.

  • - Give relevant reference to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.

-Lesson 3 - Srila Prabhupada

Aims
To help students understand the unique position of Srila Prabhupada as:
  • - the pre-eminent representative of Krsna and previous acaryas (for the modern world)
  • - the preeminent guru in ISKCON (for present and future generations)
Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Explain the meaning of the terms Founder-acarya and ‘preeminent guru’.
  • - Explain the unique function of the Founder-acarya of an institute.
  • - Identify ways, and explain in their own words, how Srila Prabhupada functions as the Founder-acarya and preeminent guru of ISKCON.
  • - Discuss ways to ensure that Srila Prabhupada remains the Founder-acarya and preeminent guru of ISKCON for future generations.

-Lesson 4 - ISKCON Gurus

Aims
To help students understand the role, position and qualification of ISKCON gurus (current and future), especially with regard for their loyalty to:
  • - the teachings of Srila Prabhupada
  • - the authority structure within ISKCON.
To help students develop the appropriate attitude to gurus in other Gaudiya Vaisnava organizations.
Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Discuss the appropriate general attitude for an ISKCON Guru (current and future) in regard to their loyalty to:
  • - the teachings of Srila Prabhupada
  • - the authority structure within ISKCON.
  • - Demonstrate the appropriate way to deal with a situation where in the instructions given by one’s guru differ from the instructions given by one’s local ISKCON authority.

  • - Evaluate the position of a guru who abandons:

    • - the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and

    • - the authority structure within ISKCON.

  • - Discuss similarities, and differences, in the teachings of siksa-gurus, in the Gaudiya Vaisnava parampara, outside of ISKCON.

  • - Discuss the benefits of accepting diksa and siksa gurus within ISKCON.

  • - Cite instances of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples accepting gurus in other Gaudiya Vaisnava organizations and discuss the significance of Srila Prabhupada’s responses in this regard.

  • - Discuss the appropriate attitude to gurus in other Gaudiya Vaisnava parampara and organizations.

  • - Give appropriate reference to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition

-Lesson 5 - Guru-padasraya

Aim
To nurture within students, early in their spiritual progress, a deep and authentic devotional relationship with Srila Prabhupada, as the Founder-acarya and principle siksa-guru of ISKCON and with their respective diksa and siksa gurus.
Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Explain the meaning of the terms ‘Guru-padasraya’ and ‘Prabhupadasraya’

  • - Discuss methods for, and benefits of, developing a deep devotional relationship with Srila Prabhupada from the beginning of one’s spiritual life.

  • - Evaluate the effect that regular study of Srila Prabhupada books play in regard to developing a deep relationship with him.

  • - Cite the current guidelines, for new devotees joining ISKCON, in regard taking shelter of Srila Prabhupada.

  • - Discuss the relationship between asraya of one’s current or prospective diksa and siksa gurus and asraya of Srila Prabhupada.

  • - Give relevant reference to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.

-Lesson 6 - Selection of Guru

 Aim
To familiarize students with the authentic guru’s qualifications as defined and exemplified in Sastra. To equip students to:
  • - examine, select and develop appropriate relationships with ISKCON diksa and siksa gurus.

  • - prepare for hari-nama-diksa, by giving attention to:

    • - suitable motivation, time and choice.

    • - the guru’s qualifications by current ISKCON standards.

Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Cite the general qualifications and symptoms of a bone-fide guru with reference to appropriate verses from çästra.

  • - Discuss eligibility to become guru in relation to:

    • - kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari, uttama-adhikari Vaisnavas

    • - sadhana-siddha, nitya-siddha & maha-bhagavata Vaisnavas

    • - position in varnasrama.

  • - Discuss the specific qualifications of an ISKCON guru, with reference to current ISKCON standards.

  • - Explain the responsibility of the prospective disciple to examine and select the diksa and siksa gurus.

  • - Discuss appropriate and in appropriate utilization of ISKCON’s process of guru-authorization in one’s selection of diksa and siksa gurus.

  • - Differentiate between appropriate and in appropriate reasons for, and methods of, selecting diksa and siksa gurus.

  • - Cite appropriate references from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.

-Lesson 7 - Initiation Vows

 Aim
To prepare students to strictly follow initiation vows and, where necessary, take appropriate steps for rectification.
Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Discuss the purpose and importance of strictly following initiation vows with relevant reference to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

  • - Identify challenges faced in strictly following initiation vows.

  • - Suggest solutions to these challenges.

  • - Explain the appropriate steps of rectification in the case of breaking initiation vows.

-Lesson 8 - Guru-puja

Aim

To familiarize students with the basic standards of guru-puja and Vyasa-puja, and prepare them to maintain regular and appropriate worship.

Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Discuss the basic standards of guru-puja & Vyasa-puja for Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON gurus.

  • - Reflect on their experiences of participating in a Vyasa-puja celebration

  • - Give reference to the:

    • - teachings of Srila Prabhupada,

    • - broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition

    • - current ISKCON authorized standards as given in Pancaratra-Pradipa etc.

  • - Discuss the benefits of maintaining regular worship according to the above standards.

-Lesson 9 - Guru-seva

Aim
To enhance student’s:
  • - understanding of the relationship between service to guru and service to the mission of ISKCON.
  • - ability to resolve possible tensions between the above two.
To enable students to balance obligations in their lives, in addition to obligations to their guru, according to their position in varnasrama.

Objectives

By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Identify methods of guru-seva and service to the mission of ISKCON.

  • - Explain the relationship between guru-seva and service to the mission of ISKCON.

  • - Discuss a balanced approach to regularly offering guru-daksina and contributing financially to ISKCON preaching projects

  • - Differentiate between a balanced and imbalanced approach to rendering these services.

  • - Discuss consequences of imbalanced approach to rendering these services.

  • - Discuss importance of balanced approach to rendering these services.

  • - Identify obligations in their lives, in addition to obligations to their guru, according to their position in varnasrama.

  • - Identify challenges faced in meeting these obligations in a balanced manner.

  • - Suggest and discuss solutions to these challenges.

-Lesson 10 - Guru Vapu and vani-seva

Aim
To help students:
  • - appreciate the importance of both guru vapu and vani-seva, and their inter-relationship

  • - avoid neglect of either, especially vani

  • - appropriately serve the guru’s vapu and vani

To nurture students’ skills and attitudes for behaving appropriately in the presence of the guru.
Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Explain, in their own words, the aspects of vapu and vani in regard to guru-seva.

  • - Identify methods of guru vapu and vani-seva.

  • - Discuss the respective importance of guru vapu and vani-seva.

  • - Discuss the importance of guru vapu and vani-seva in the case of departure of the guru.

  • - List examples of disciples who perfected their spiritual lives through guru-vani-seva

  • - Demonstrate appropriate behavior for a disciple associating with the guru:

    • - according to one’s position in asrama and one’s gender.

    • - in the presence of both one’s diksa and siksa gurus.

    • - in the presence of the guru’s godbrothers/godsisters.

    • - in the presence of the guru’s family members, if the guru is in the grastha asrama.

  • - Demonstrate appropriate behavior for inquiring from the guru.

  • - Differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate issues on which to seek advice

  • - Discuss the importance of behaving appropriately in the presence of the guru.

  • - Give appropriate reference to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.

-Lesson 11 - Guru-tyaga

Aim
To help students deal with:
  • - problems in their relationship with the guru

  • - criticism of the guru or rumors (whether true or false)

  • - the guru’s encounter with spiritual difficulties

  • - fall down of guru

Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Explain the concepts of:

    • - philosophical or institutional deviation,

    • - spiritual fall down of the guru.

  • - Explain, in their own words, the principles of guru-tyaga and re-initiation.

  • - Discuss different levels of guru-tyaga.

  • - Differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate, and explain the correct procedures for:

    • - lodging complaints in relation to their guru

    • - guru-tyaga

    • - re-initiation

  • - Identify ways the disciple establishes a connection to Srila Prabhupada, the guru-parampara and ISKCON in addition to their connection through diksa.

  • - Discuss the appropriate attitude for continuing to practice devotion service, in ISKCON, in the case of rejection of the guru.

  • - Give appropriate reference to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, the broader Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition.

-Lesson 12 - Presenting One’s Guru

Aim
To help students appreciate the importance of appropriately presenting their guru (within Vaisnava society and to the general public) consistent with:
  • - The principles of Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition

  • - Relevant sastric pramana

  • - Current ISKCON Law

Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Explain why we require to present guru when preaching

  • - Explain in their own words, with reference to relevant sastric pramana, and current ISKCON laws, the principles of Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition in regard to promoting one’s guru in public and within the society of Vaisnavas.

  • - Identify areas where, and discuss reasons why, the above principles are not implemented in ISKCON.

  • - Considering the above mentioned principles, discuss, in relation to gurus other than Srila Prabhupada:

    • - the appropriateness of wearing clothes and badges promoting ones guru in public

    • - the appropriateness of canvassing for ones guru amongst uninitiated new devotees

    • - appropriate places for displaying pictures of one’s guru

    • - appropriate places for promoting literary and other publications of one’s guru.

    • - promoting one’s guru in public preaching programs

  • - Discuss possible consequences of the disregard of these principles for the present and future of ISKCON.

  • - Discuss and benefits of, publicly promoting Srila Prabhupada as the Founder-acarya and preeminent guru in ISKCON, for the present and future.

-Lesson 13 - Relationships within ISKCON

Aim
To help students appreciate the importance of:
  • - avoiding negative discrimination on the basis of one’s diksa guru

  • - maintaining cooperative relationships with all ISKCON Vaisnavas, with Srila Prabhupada as the foundational ISKCON guru and its unifying leader, for the present and future.

Objectives
By the end of the lesson students should be able to:
  • - Differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate discrimination on the basis of one’s diksa guru in ISKCON.

  • - Discuss consequences arising from inappropriate discrimination on the basis of one’s diksa guru.

  • - Identify challenges faced in developing and maintaining cooperative relationships amongst disciples of different gurus in ISKCON.

  • - Suggest ways of overcoming the above challenges.

  • - Identify additional ways of develop and maintain cooperative relationships with all ISKCON Vaisnavas, without inappropriate discrimination on the basis of one’s diksa guru, with Srila Prabhupada as the foundational ISKCON guru, and unifying leader for the present and future.