Staff at Srimad-Bhagavat Vidyapitham, the BBT's Sanskrit school in Govardhana, India, are requesting the help of ISKCON leaders to recruit students for their next school year beginning in April 2008.
"Every year our three-year BhÄgavata ÅšÄstrÄ« course begins afresh," says headmaster Gopiparanadhana Dasa. "We already have some students registered, and want to admit another eight to ten by October. In our experience, the best candidates are usually those referred by their spiritual masters – so we're asking leaders to recommend our program to devotees they think are suitable."
He adds that ideal candidates should be dedicated to Prabhupada's mission, have good command of English and an ability to learn languages, be well read in scripture, and be able to live with other devotees and work with them cooperatively, among other qualifiers.
The Srimad-Bhagavat Vidyapitham is now in its third successful year, with eighteen students from a dozen countries attending its Bhagavat Sastri course. "Not all who started the course in October 2005 have been able to continue," Gopiparanadhana says. "But the remaining students are demonstrating great potential, and have overcome any doubt as to whether non-Indians could cope with intensive Sanskrit memorizing. They're learning hundreds of ÅšrÄ«la JÄ«va GosvÄmÄ«'s grammar sÅ«tras, and gaining a strong foundation in Sanskrit grammar. That will lead to expertise in reading and explaining sastric texts, and eventually they'll become first-class scholars, translators and editors."
As well as teaching academic skills, the Sanskrit School wants to produce qualified Vaishnava brahmanas. Students live in an ashrama – currently a temporary one, while a permanent campus is developed – and attend regular morning programs. Good prasÄdam and adequate facilities are provided to ensure a disciplined but happy environment.
Generous contributions from various devotees, including BBT Special Project Director Gopal Bhatta Dasa, cover student tuition fees, as well as all expenses for the duration of their participation in the program, except for flying to India and travel outside India.
Gopiparanadhana is excited about the project, and hopes ISKCON leaders will take advantage of his request. He says, "Although we are a new spiritual venture for ISKCON, we are building on a rich heritage of connecting Sanskrit scholarship to the path of Bhakti, and helping to create one of the core building blocks for the future of our Society."