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Happy Couples, Healthy Families, Strong ISKCON

By: for ISKCON News on May 29, 2015
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Some of the seminar participants

The Grihastha Vision Team Shares their Goals in Brazil

In April and May 2015, Grihastha Vision Team  (GVT) members, Uttama dasi and Partha das spent 5 weeks in Brazil, offering seminars, workshops, retreats, individual couple education and mentor training in various cities across Brazil.

The Brazilian centers are developing a devotee care initiative, and one of the many aspects is to try to assist members to have better marital relationships.     

Vaisnava Krpa devi dasi, a cardiologist, second generation initiated devotee and one of the coordinators for the devotee care initiative there, commented, “I have noticed that many persons that I know, both devotees of Krishna, and acquaintances at work, seem to lack the skills necessary to have a successful marriage, and end up divorcing. When I discovered the Grihastha Vision Team, and learned of their spiritual relationship skill building education programs, we made arrangements to bring some GVT members to Brazil. 

Partha Das and Uttama Dasi

Partha das and Uttama devi dasi first visited in 2012, but at that time, it was hard to convince couples to attend the seminars.” Vaisnava krpa laughs, “Many women wanted to drag their husband’s to the course, but the husbands seemed afraid they would be made to feel inadequate and told how they were doing everything wrong. Somehow, we managed to arrange one seminar and encouraged 40 devotees to attend. Afterwards, word spread like wild fire how wonderful their work was! All the women and men went away, rejuvenated. This year, when we advertised, the first course registration filled up in a few days, so we had to find a larger venue!”

The GVT offered their interactive, skill based, 3-day seminar, Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us, to large audiences in the beautiful rural community of Nova Gokula, near Sao Paulo and at the community of New Naimasaranya in Campina Grande. Some of the topics taught are skills for better communication, how to develop realistic expectations, to understand the different needs of men and women, to manage challenges in constructive non-confrontational ways, and to develop effective parenting skills, all while living a life based around one’s values. The course stresses building stronger heart to heart connections as a service to Krishna.

Happy marriages are the foundation of the ISKCON community

A partial course was also offered in Belo Horizonte, along with several evening seminars. The president of the Belo Horizonte temple, Shri Krishna Murti commented that these were some of the most powerfully useful seminars ever offered there.

In Rio de Janerio, a 2-day Couple’s Retreat was offered; helping couples develop deeper connections, understand each other’s language of love, and how to have more compassionate dealings. Uttama and Partha were also interviewed for 12 short video segments for a popular outreach website, Vedanta 108. One video, “What is Love?” has already been released, with Portuguese subtitles.   


The GVT also stopped in the cities of Salvador and Joao Pessoa, meeting with devotees and speaking at a local university.

Devotees in Brazil, have been expanding their congregational Bhakti Vrksa programs and group leaders expressed the need for skills to help devotees navigate challenges in family life, so some of the Bhakti Vrksa leaders were able to get training in coaching couples. They and other selected mature married couples were trained how to coach others in marriage skills.

Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us(SBTTFU) is now also being developed into an on-line format in Portuguese by devotees at the Jaladuta Institute in Campina Grande. The leaders in Brazil are working towards recommending that all new couples take the SBTTFU course either in person when the GVT visits, or online through the Jaladuta Institute, and that each new couple has access to personal coaching by one of the newly trained mentor couples. The mentor couples have been trained to share a 5 session coaching program, called From Couple to Couple, designed by the GVT in collaboration with the Dasi-Ziyad Family Institute. They want to see that devotees entering the grihastha ashram have the support they need to have lasting healthy, happy, spiritually strong marriages. 

A group photo of the seminar participants in Brazil

Feedback Comments from the courses:

“I love the interactive format and organization. I could feel the harmony and balance with other couples.”

“The example of the facilitators was inspirational. I felt very content after the course.”

“I would have loved to stay there for 6 days!”

“It surpassed my expectations. I got many realizations from the presentation.”

“I liked the positivity! It was very practical and positive. The facilitators were respectful and tolerant.”

“I liked interacting in groups and hearing all the practical examples.”

“The material was very oriented on Krishna and Srila Prabhupada and presented in a way that was easily understood.”

It  was exciting times for Partha and Uttama, when the Brazilian BBT satellite company, Sankirtan Books,  signed a contract to print a Portuguese translation of the GVT book, Heart and Soul Connection, a Devotional Guide to Marriage, Service and Love. 

One of the goals of the Grihastha Vision Team is to see that every devotee in ISKCON gets coaching in relationship skills before marriage, to fulfill their vision of Happy Couples. Healthy Families. Strong ISKCON. The Brazilian devotees are taking that vision to heart and working towards it.

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If you would like to purchase the English version of Heart and Soul Connection, a Devotional Guide to Marriage, Service and Love it is available in soft cover at Krishna.com, ( http://store.krishna.com/heart-and-soul-connection/) Touchstone Media,   (http://touchstonemedia.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=heart+and+soul+connection)  Vedic Sky, (http://www.vedicsky.net/index.php?route=product%2Fproduct&keyword=heart+and+soul+co&product_id=1403) and as an e-book or in hardcopy on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Soul-Connection-Devotional-Marriage-ebook/dp/B00LPR93ZU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432613261&sr=8-1&keywords=heart+and+soul+connection%2C+ebook)

Tags:
[ brazil ] [ family ] [ grhastha ] [ grihasta-vision-team ] [ gvt ] [ vaishnava-family ]
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