September 30 2008

Narayan and Madhusudan

These two bright young men are Narayan and his brother Madhusudan. They are two of the 500+ students who attend our Bhaktivedanta National School (BNS) here in Mayapur.

Their father Advaita prabhu came to see me early this year asking if I could find someone to help sponsor them to attend the school. He was struggling to find the necessary fees for them. Life for a lot of our local devotees is not easy and even a few rupees a month can make a huge difference.

Their combined schools fees are only Rs. 500 a month so I decided to sponsor them myself. Its a very satisfying feeling to be able to help these young devotees get a good education while growing up in the holy dhama. The school has a regular curriculum but is run by our ISKCON devotees and they have a  solid spiritual component. Whenever we have festivals the kids from the BNS put on devotional dramas and music.

In France in 1976 Srila Prabhupada took special delight in seeing the gurukula children. Each morning they would eagerly line up to see him and on one occasion they had a special darsana in his rooms. He told us how easy it is to make advancement in Krsna consciousness:

[TD3] August 2, 1976 – New Mayapur [room conversation]

Lamenting the horrible condition of modern society, Prabhupada said, “This meat-eating, chicken juice, tea — these things are unknown to India. No, why India? By nature, you say that you refused meat, although you were born of a father and mother meat-eaters, still. What a horrible civilization they have made. He’s human being born, making him animal by culture. Instead of making him more cultured toward the spiritual life, making him redirected again to animal life. This is the Western civilization.”

He told us how fortunate our children are, and in doing so revealed his own innocent nature. “Yesterday I was astonished how these children were receiving just like friend, laughing and something saying. You have seen it? As an old friend. Their mother pushes, they would not come. But they were very glad to see me.”

My remark that everyone was glad to see him did not infringe on Prabhupada’s humble mood. “I was astonished, that how these children take me as friend.”

“I don’t think that’s too difficult. You’re the best friend for everyone,” I said.
blessings for the kids 

 ”No, but after all, they are children. How they can take it as it is? So they are fortunate children, and their parents and everyone should take care of them. A very difficult age [Kali].”

I said, “You always said they’re our asset for the future.”

* * * 

 About twenty-five or thirty gurukula children and some of their parents had a special half hour darsana with Prabhupada in his room this afternoon. One by one the children filed in to offer their dandavats in front of his desk. They then settled in a semicircle, facing him, on the opposite side of the room.

  New Mayapur gurukula darshan

   He had them chant the maha-mantra loudly for about fifteen minutes. It wasn’t singing and it wasn’t japa, but a rythmic chant in unison that grew in pace and volume. They began to clap in time, getting caught up in a swell of enthusiasm for Krsna’s holy name and His pure devotee. The bright faced children were eager to reciprocate Prabhupada’s smiles of encouragement, and Prabhupada’s pleasure at seeing their innocence and purity being nurtured by the lifestyle he has given them was clear to all.

 gurukula kids chanting 
Prabhupada distributed cookies to them.

cookies for all 

Then he commented that anyone, simply by voluntarily offering obeisances, “immediately becomes fifty per cent advanced.” …

“This is the beginning, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. Namaskuru means ‘Just offer your obeisances unto Me.’ So in the absence of Krsna — He is everywhere, but He sends His representative. So if we begin, offer namaskuru to the representative, it goes to Krsna. And then gradually by the grace of Krsna one becomes Krsna conscious and becomes situated in his own original consciousness, Krsna consciousness, and that is the perfection of life.”   (end qoute)

When I was with Srila Prabhupada in Vrndavan in 1976 the gurukula there was just beginning to develop. Prabhupada stressed the importance of giving these souls in new bodies the chance to continue their path to perfection:

 [TD5] October 28 1976 – Vrndavana, SB class

Prabhupada’s attempt to provide the best possible opportunity to those pious souls who have been given the connection to Krsna through birth is displayed in his ongoing concern for the development of the gurukula.

Surveying the young boys sitting attentively before him, he explained: “[They are] ringing the karatalas, chanting, dancing, offering obeisances to the Lord–temple atmosphere. Don’t think it is ordinary opportunity. It is very great opportunity. From the very beginning of life they are getting impression, bhakti yoga. Vasudeve bhagavati bhakti yoga. These are not going in vain. Even a child is playing karatala, imitation. Not imitation. He’s given the chance. He was previously Vaisnava. Somehow or other, he could not make his life perfect. Therefore he is given again chance. So naturally he has got tendency to play the karatala, to offer flower here, to offer obeisances. They take pleasure. It is due to previous life, yoga. But it was not perfectly done, so somehow or other they are getting chance from the very beginning of life.”

And where better than Krsna’s own abode to train them? Prabhupada’s plan for an international school here in the holy dhama is practical both materially, because it is so much cheaper here in India, and spiritually.”This is the ultimate goal,” Prabhupada told us.  “You have to come to this stage, vasudeva sarvam iti, fully, firmly convinced that ‘Vasudeva is my life. Vasudeva is everything. Krsna is my life.’  [end quote]

There are many young boys and girls in Mayapur area who would love the same opportunity as Narayan and Madhusudan. If any reader would like to sponsor some of these great souls, it doesn’t cost much but the benefits are unlimited. Please contact me for further details.

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