“VIPLAVAH”, Annual International Education Symposium
by ISKCON Ministry of Education


Since 2019, the Ministry of Education embarked upon an annual symposium called “Viplavah” where ISKCON educators from around the globe gather in Sridham Mayapur to share some of the invaluable insights they’ve acquired through years of practice. It is with great pleasure that we now invite you to share with us this enlightening journey. We hope you enjoy imbibing this knowledge as much as we did. We hope to release one seminar every fortnight. And if you would like what you see below and like to be kept informed then please register on this website and we will keep you updated on new releases.
We are targeting to organize Viplavah 2021 between 4rd – 6th March 2021. Write to us on viplavah.iskcon@gmail.com if you would like to participate and/or present there.
Thank you,
Tapana Mishra dasa,
Executive Director


Atul Krsna Prabhu video synopsis: Srila Prabhupada’s vision, wherein all of his followers would have Bhaktivedanta by 1975, and current statistics differ greatly. We discussed the obstacles faced in conducting sastric degree certification programs and explained how the newly developing system of assessment which can increase the number of degrees awarded.

Atul Krsna dasa joined ISKCON’s Melbourne Mahäprabhu Mandir in Australia in 1985. He served as a book distributor and fundraiser in ISKCON Melbourne for 12 years. Prabhu spent the subsequent 4 years, under the personal guidance of his mantra guru, serving in the Bangladesh preaching mission, during which time he learnt fluent Bengali. Prabhu played a leading role in the development of the ISCKON Disciples Course which has become a mandatory educational program in ISKCON. Prabhu resides in Sri Dhama Mayapur, and teaches in both English & Bengali mediums, throughout India, Bangladesh and the Middle East. He currently serves as the Chairman of the ISKCON Board of Examinations, which sets standards for sastric study courses in ISKCON, and is an Executive Member of the Ministry of Education.’


Mahatma Prabhu Bio: Mahatma das joined ISKCON in Berkeley, California in 1969 and received first and second initiation in Los Angeles in 1970. He has been temple president, book distributor, sankirtan leader, college preacher, and western congregational preaching, and worked with the VIHE. In 2006 he began focusing on delivering workshops for devotees, especially focusing on practical aspects of Krsna consciousness like japa, vows, forgiveness, marriage, etc.
In 2012, he began focusing on developing workshops for non-devotees through his company Sattva. In 2013 he began accepting disciples, and in 2016 he began developing workshops online for both devotees and non-devotees and plans to expand this into a “university” of online courses. He published his first book in 2017 and Sattva established their first center in Mexico in 2018. He now has three books and Sattva presence in four countries. He travels up to six months a year to Mexico, South America, South Africa, Mauritius, Australia, India and Eastern and Western Europe and China and is presently based in Alachua, FL.

Mahatma Prabhu video synopsis: The presentation I gave at Viplavah brought awareness to how emotional issues can impact one’s sadhana, service and relationships, and the need for education and counseling, within a Krsna conscious context,  that can help devotees with problems that are not fundamentally spiritual, but essentially emotional/psychological. I offered many examples of problems devotees face that cannot be solved only with philosophy, but require help by someone who understands psychology or counseling.  We often fail at helping a devotee when we try to fix emotional/psychological issues without either understanding the issue ourselves or without being trained to help them with those issues.

Nrsimhananda Prabhu Bio: Who am I?  I’m an idiot who undeservedly received the inconceivable mercy of the pure devotee. I’ve tried to dovetail my desire to make films into devotional service.  I hatched the idea of Iskcon Television in the late seventies after six years of not hardly making a mark in serving the Iskcon mission.  I built a preaching center called the “Pyramid House” in the Los Angeles area and hosted Sunday feasts nonstop for 14 years.  My crowning achievement was producing the Srila Prabhupada Complete DVD Library in 20 languages.  I am currently chairman of the Spiritual Advisors Bhagavat Assembly while, at the same time, trying to produce commercial Krishna conscious feature films.  My most important engagement is chanting sixteen rounds a day. Whenever I say “I,” like I’ve done above, I realize that I am fool number one.  I try to get up every day and leave the old man in the bed.  Hare Krishna.

Nrsimhananda Prabhu video synopsis:  The subject of propaganda is usually understood to be coming from a source external to Iskcon.  Actually, there is hidden propaganda bombarding the student even from the teacher, authorities, friends, and other devotees.  This insidious form of propaganda must be recognized in order to protect oneself from illusion and pollution.  In my presentation, I scratch the surface of this unrecognized threat to the spiritual health of every student 

Academics in Religion

Pranava Das

Synopsis:

It was the desire of our Acharyas to introduce academic studies in Vaishnavism. The problem in India today is a lack of academic institutes that study Vaishnavism. Such studies could include the Theology of Vaishnavism, the History, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, Cosmology and Astronomy of Religion, as well as World Religions, Interreligious Studies and languages such as Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, etc.

The operation of a research library is essential for academic studies. This ground was laid by the Bhaktivedanta Research Center (BRC) in Kolkata, founded in 2009. The Bhaktividyapitha Research Center in Mumbai, a sister organization of the BRC Kolkata, is a successful example of academic studies in Vaishnavism and religious studies. It has been affiliated with a Ph.D. program to the University of Mumbai, department of Philosophy, in 2018.

There are different options of academic educational facilities like e.g. affiliation with a department of an already existing university, opening of a deemed independent university or establishing an independent research center at a university.

The next steps for ISKCON would be that ISKCON leaders recognize the importance of a Vaishnava University, fund raising and involvement of wealthy donors, cooperation with professors, and to educate qualified academic and administrative staff.

More detailed explanations:

Do our Acharyas see the need of academic Vaishnava Studies?

  • Ravindra Svarupa Das told us about Srila Prabhupada’s desire to start a religious Bhagavata College in Mayapur with a Vaishnava library affiliated to Culcutta University (Srila Prabhupada’s Vyasa Puja Offering, 2018)
  • Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati started a school at the Bhaktivinoda Institute in Mayapur to prepare students for admission to Calcutta University. He furthermore encouraged his disciple Sambidananda Das to study at London University and even payed for it. Sambidananda Das got his degree in 1935 and the name of the thesis was: ‘The History and Literature of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas and Their Relation to Other Medieval Vaishnava Schools’.

How to proceed?

  • The problem in India today is a lack of studies of religion, particularly Hinduism. This is due to the British colonial period and secularism from 1947. There is also a lack of institutes that study Vaishnavism (except few small centres in Mumbai, Chennai etc.) However, at present, there are better possibilities to teach about faith, theology, Vaishnavism and Krishna. Science and religion such as Vaishnavism can today be connected even to yoga, Ayurveda, ecology etc.

Religious Studies with focus on Vaishnavism could include:

  • Theology of Vaishnavism (Chaitanya, Srila Prabhupada, etc.)
  • History of Religion (Vaishnavism in India, its spreading around the world)
  • Sociology of Religion (the Vaishnavas’ life and challenges, etc.)
  • Psychology of Religion (mantra, meditation, yoga, etc.)
  • Philosophy of Religion (God, the material nature, the self etc.)
  • World Religions and Interreligious Studies (Vaishnavism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity etc.)
  • Cosmology and Astronomy of Religion (TOPV)

Examples of religious universities in India:

  • Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute in WB.

The Foundation of Religious Studies is a Research Library:

  • For Vaishnava studies a research library has been founded in 2009: The Bhaktivedanta Research Center.

Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha Research Center Mumbai was founded in 2018:

  • Mission
  • To design and develop academic and research programs based on the study of philosophical traditions, arts and sciences from India and other parts of the world and help produce applied solutions in fields of Ethics, Emotions, Environment, Entrepreneurship and Efficiency.
  • Objectives
  • To create an ambience for deep studies and research of classical Indian texts such as Bhagavad Gita, Vedanta Sutra, the Upanishads, the Puranas, SrimadBhagavatam, Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, the Chaitanya Charitamrta etc.
  • BVRC in Govardhana Eco Village is proposing to establish a University as a DE-NOVO DEEMED UNIVERSITY as per the norms of the University Grants Commission.
  • The curriculum for the following courses were developed during the conference: Vocational Education, Organic Farming, Cultural Studies, Public health, Yoga and Applied philosophy, etc.

How to Start a University?

  • The first step of starting a university is determining the areas of education and developing a mission statement.

Next step, to find out what kind of educational facility we want?

  • Ex 1: Affiliation with a department of a university
  • Ex 2: Establishing an independent Research Center at a university
  • Ex 3: Opening of a deemed independent university

What do we need practically?

  • ISKCON leaders need to recognize the importance of a University
  • Fund raising and involvement of wealthy donors, as well as cooperation with professors
  • A library with a bibliography (minimum of about 500 books)
  • Staff: Ph.D.s and Professors (teaching)
  • Staff: Administration
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