From Beijing to Belgium, from Bulgaria to Buenos Aires, from Canada to Karnataka, from Nairobi to Naperville, from Istanbul to England, From Delhi to Gaborone, to Slovenia, to Switzerland, to Ecuador, to Romania, Poland, etc., four dozen leaders assembled in the Govardhan Ecovillage outside of Mumbai, learning for thirteen days at the GBC College for Leadership Development how to serve as Zonal Supervisors.
Among the teachers were three GBC members and three more disciples of Srila Prabhupada:
Radhanatha Swami, also the host of the program as the local GBC, spoke about the importance of sadhana for leaders and about the mood of chanting japa not just for oneself but for being able to serve one’s constituency and humanity at large.
Bhakti Charu Swami gave two lessons, one on the importance of having an institution to spread the message of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and another highlighting four crucial maxims delineating the four pillars of the movement.
Devamrita Swami explored the sensitive and intriguing topic of dealing with the apparently ever-increasing degree of diversity in ISKCON, revealing how to ultimately tame and transcend the centrifugal forces channeling them towards common goals.
Gopal Bhatta Das taught about strategic planning; about marketing Krsna consciousness – which included a section on branding – about ISKCON’s presence online and best practices among devotees’ websites. He also explained how religious movements have to deal with the gradual loss of the original intent, context and instructions as generations of leaders succeed each other.
Garuda Das (Dr. Graham M. Schweig, professor of philosophy and religious studies at Christopher Newport University in the US), spoke about the importance of relations for leaders.
Praharana Devi Dasi spoke about the dangers and the little-known realities of pastoral abuse; she also introduced ISKCON Connection, the GBC initiative to connect Srila Prabhupada’s overall international family through ongoing communication and formal general membership.
Rupanuga Das, President of the GBC College and a management professor from America, taught project management that Srila Prabhupäda had endorsed for projects, such as the construction of Juhu Temple, to be done “as professionally and as quickly as possible,”—SP Lilamrita, Vol 6, Chapter 48. He also taught time management, an essential skill for busy leaders and managers.
Gauranga Das, a 2015 graduate of the GBC College and the President of Govardhan Ecovillage, explained the historical and cultural roots of learning from experts and the implementation of the principle in contemporary devotional projects.
The Global Minister for Deity Worship, Nrisimha Kavaca Das, arrived with Jayananda Das – Deity Worship Minister for the US – and introduced the fundamental standards of arcana as well as the relevant ISKCON laws in connection with installing Deities.
Brajamohan Das presented Situational Leadership – the art of dealing with devotees at various levels of readiness – and also provided guidelines on how to execute the plans we make. These are just a couple of the themes he teaches in his professional life to corporate audiences.
Kaunteya Das, Co-Minister of the ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry, spoke about leaders as cultural engineers and on the importance of understanding and harmonizing the interactions among the various ISKCON “ecosystems”: the guru-disciple relation, the organizational needs and dynamics, and the social dimension; the private areas of family, personal economy, etc.
The sweet glance of youthful Sri Sri Radha-Vrindavana Vihari, the idyllic frame of the Vrindavana forest replica – with the seven main temples and the flowing Yamuna – the professional and helpful mood of everyone in the Ecovillage, the natural amenities and the rural setting provided the ideal atmosphere for the training in an environment that is living testimony of inspired leadership. This was the beginning of the one-year course which includes two residential sessions (the next in September-October), a dozen or so online courses and the Action Learning Project, the practical assignment each student will have to complete putting into practice the learning in the classroom.
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