Pursuing material education for a spiritual purpose!
By Varaharupa Dasi
When Srila Prabhupada preached in the early 60’s and 70’s, during the period of the hippy age, mostly all those who joined him were from the age group of 13 to 22 years, and a lot were dropouts from colleges. They were in search of something beyond material qualifications and thereby were attracted to Krishna consciousness very sincerely. Now we have highly qualified youth joining ISKCON, and college preaching is very successful especially in India through the IIT graduate preachers.
When I wanted to join ISKCON fulltime in 1975, my late father His Grace Vishnumurti Das prevented me from joining, since he knew how important education was especially for him, since he was from a poor family. He struggled hard to acquire his education through sponsorships and coaching classes.
He even argued with His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada in 1974, whereby he explained, that to read and understand the scriptures and then to preach, some material qualification was required. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also took sanyasa at the age of 24, so that people would listen to Him when He preached.
ISKCON was also new at that time, and Srila Prabhupada was old, and not sure how long he had, and if he allowed me to drop my education at the age of 15 and take up to Krishna consciousness. Moreover, down the road, after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, many devotees left, because they felt a voidness in their lives, and I could have also felt the same. In 1975 Srila Prabhupada wrote a letter addressed to me, that going to England for higher studies should not be a problem, since I can associate with devotees in London, and chant and read and follow the 4 regulative principles. At that time, being young and naive, I was very bitter with my father’s decision. But now, looking back, I realise that he was 100% correct!. Now that I am qualified, when I preach, it carries weight, especially because my profile mentions my material qualification. So many senior devotees in our movement have gone back to college to complete their education .
Today, after almost a month of the passing away of my father, I am very deeply indebted to my dear father His Grace Vishnumurti prabhu for forcing me to complete my education and then to join ISKCON. In 1978 I joined as a full time devotee. He sponsored my travel and maintenance, and it is on even upto now.
All glories to such a wonderful father!