On 1st March, Bhakti Learning offered their new online Krishna-conscious program for children to Srila Prabhupada at his puspa-samadhi in Sridhama Mayapur. Bhakti Learning has bundled four subjects into one course called the Bhakti Club. The four subjects are Story, Sloka, Sanskrit, and Pilgrimage. The Bhakti Club consists of three age levels – 5 & 6 year olds, 7 & 8year olds, and 9 &10 year olds.
ISKCON News talks to Prana dasa, the educational director of Bhakti Learning and a long time ISKCON educator of more than 30 years.
IN: Please tell us what it is, how it came about and what was the inspiration to bring it all together.
PD: The online children’s program is unique in many ways. It is a bundle of subjects to provide parents a rich context in which to engage their children and interact with them in a relevant Krishna conscious setting.
It is online, where a huge percentage of children are these days. We have embraced an essential Gaudiya Vaishnava principle of utilizing the material energy in service to Krishna and His devotees. It would be naïve to believe that our ISKCON children are not accessing education, being entertained or engaging in social interaction via the internet. Given the reality of our modern-day existence, we have developed an engaging, interactive and enlightening package for children to help them to develop their devotional creepers.
The inspiration for everything we do in ISKCON is Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada wanted our children to be taught Krishna consciousness from an early age. The reality of ISKCON providing direct instruction for our burgeoning young population has long vanished. Only a small percentage of our children are being taught in ISKCON schools around the world. Given this fact, we believe our Krishna conscious online learning platform for children will play an important role in helping parents, temple leaders, the GBC and Gurus in providing our next generation with valuable knowledge, skills and values of bhakti as taught to us by Srila Prabhupada.
IN: And how do children get access to the program?
PD: The program is delivered through our learning portal and each child enrolled has a unique username and subscription. The subscription is annual and is set at AUD$200 which is very reasonable. Throughout the year new units are released, each based on the Gaudiya Vaishnava Calendar and learners never repeat the same content.
IN: And tell us exactly what we are getting for $3 per week.
PD: We intentionally want to keep the price low so all devotee children can access this resource. We built it to be used and we want it to be utilized widely. We would ultimately like to see profits from the sale of subscriptions going back into community projects and in particular educational initiatives to help promote and support the development of ISKCON education for Primary and Secondary Schools.
IN: Could you tell us a bit more about the actual subjects you are offering in the Bhakti Club?
PD: Our Sanskrit subject covers pronunciation and writing the Devanagari script, essential first steps for those desiring to learn the Sanskrit language. Like all our courses it is interactive and engaging. Subscribers click to hear a native speaker pronouncing the Sanskrit sounds of the alphabet and download practice sheets for the Devanagari script.
The Pilgrimage subject is a virtual tour of the holy places with videos, stories, fact sheets, quizzes and more. We start our pilgrimage in Vrindavan at the Krishna Balarama Mandir. The Sloka subject provides a unique method for learning Bhagavad-gita verses through repetition, hearing, interactive activities and knowledge tests.
The Story program provides simplified and modified texts according to age and ability. Each Story level has a combination of 6 different follow up activities and tasks. There are three stories per month and a review week. That is 36 stories per year and 216 stories over 6 years of content and 648 different follow-up activities.
IN: Who will benefit from these courses, and about the different levels?
PD: The course is written for devotee children starting from age 5. Currently there are 3 levels: Venu, Vamsi and Murali. The levels are named after different flutes used by Krishna in His transcendental lila. Venu, being the smallest of Krishna’s flutes, is the name given to the 5 years and up group. Vamsi, the next size flute, is the 7 years and up. Murali is bigger again, for the 9 years and up group. Krishna is unlimited and He has many more flutes we can call on for older or other groups such as Sammohini, Anandini etc.
IN: So you have desires to serve older groups with courses?
PD: Yes, we certainly have a plan to expand our current offering to adult courses in various high-interest areas, which would be well facilitated by our online learning infrastructure.
We currently have an introductory offer, a Gaura Purnima special, which will expire on the 31st March. Anyone interested is requested to go to our website www.bhaktilearning.com and at checkout use the promo code GAURANGA108 to receive a 15% discount.
[ children ] [ education ] [ family ] [ learning ] [ online ] [ platform ]