Bhaktivedanta Academy Alumni Page
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. I would just like to tell my humble story and experiences in gurukul, and my great gratitude for His Holiness Śrīla Bhaktividya Purna Swami and all the teachers of the Bhaktivedanta Academy of Mayapur.
I was born in 1995, and by Krishna’s mercy in a family of exemplary vaisnavas. My father is Śrīman Prahlad Nrisimha Prabhu, my mother is Śrīmati Manorupa Mataji, and my brother Śrīnam Vanamali Krishna Dāsa. I was brought up in New Talavan, America, until the age of 5 when my studies were going to begin. Then we moved to Mayapur and joined the Bhaktivedanta gurukul. My father became a teacher there and I stayed there for six months until the Bhaktivedanta Academy finally reopened in September 2001. My brother and I both joined and I have been there ever since. My experiences in gurukul are definitely the highlights of my life, and the teachers, namely Śrī Madhava Gauranga Prabhu, Priti Vardhana Prabhu, Śrī Radhe Mataji, Vagisha Prabhu, Subeksana Prabhu, and many others, are so dear to me, some of them I see just like my parents. They have cared for and looked after me so perfectly ever since I was 6, and still do. My brother left the gurukul in the end of 2007. I was so happy in the school that I still wanted to stay and continue my studies. It was really just the best — my friends are all like brothers to me, and still are; with them even the hardest services were fun.
In 2009 I left the school in the beginning of my teens, wanting to go and try something else. With my parents and brother we moved to Ecuador and started a new life there, trying to preach to our relatives and many, many families and friends there. We would put up great festivals on Gaura Purnima, Nrisimha Caturdāsai, Janmasthami, ect. We would even make excuses to do programs like birthdays, full moons, ekadāsais, weddings, anything that would bring people to come listen, chant and take prasad. We would get easy around 50 people, and serve them all prasad. It was really ecstatic. But due to my laziness, my studying was not doing too well; I was doing an online course and would get extra tuitions here and there. But being 13 and really not wanting to study it was difficult to focus. After a whole year and a half my father decided that although the preaching was going good and we were making quite a community, it was important that my brother and I first finish our studies and be properly rooted in Krishna consciousness before attempting to do anything else. But then the question was if the gurukul would allow me to rejoin after being a whole year away. My father said we should at least try and if not, then I would join the Śrī Mayapur international school and get my high school diploma. We sold everything: the car, TV, fridge, ect. Even the Xbox 360, which was the latest one at the time, and moved back to Mayapur.
We arrived the day before Janmasthami 2010 in the night, and the next day took part with the gurukul boys in the preparation for the festival. I felt so at home and like family that I told my father, “I need to go back. I won’t go anywhere else.” He picked up the phone and called Madhava Gauranga Prabhu. He told Mahasay (a way of addressing your teacher with great respect) of my request, and Mahasay simply said, “Yeah of course, send him over with his bags.” Within an hour I was on my way to school, completely overjoyed. I never regret leaving though, because it really made me realize what I had and not take gurukula for granted. I made a decision to really try my best and give it all I had. I joined back as a completely new student and worked my way through the levels and in 2013 took initiation from His Holiness Indradyumna Swami. I then started to help with teaching and also in the management of the boys, under the guidance of the senior teachers and deans of the Academy. In December 2015 my dear Mother moved to Mayapur to leave her body due to so many diseases, one of them being cancer. I was destroyed and really torn at heart. But the teachers and boys of the school were my greatest strength. I was told by my teachers to go and serve my mother in her last days and to really try to learn from her and get her association. It was by far the greatest experience of a lifetime. I saw my mother day in and day out, twenty four hours a day, staring death in the face, but at the same time she was in complete bliss. We had kirtan for her 8 hours a day and there were so many senior sannyasis and Prabhupāda disciples, so many devotees and well-wishers constantly there. On one day my mother called my father over and said to him, “It’s amazing that even though you took me to every paradise this world has to offer, and gave me every desirable thing, you still managed to keep the best for last.” She was happier than I have ever seen her. She kept on saying to me to please stay in Mayapur and serve. She stayed on the verge of death for two whole months and then on the 16th of February 2015 my mother left this world at 4:45 AM during mangal arti, and by Krishna’s mercy I was allowed to sing for her during this most auspicious moment. That day I sang for 8 hours straight with so many mixed feelings in my heart. But over all I just so proud to be connected to such a great group of Vaiṣṇavas.
After some time my father left Mayapur to go preach again and my brother too. I was in gurukula, and can’t find the words to express the love that I felt from my teachers and friends. I will be forever grateful. My mother’s passing had such a great impression on me; I really wanted to do more for Śrīla Prabhupāda and for the school. I took my responsibilities and service up with so much more determination and with so much faith in the Lord and his service.
On the 4th of May, 2016, I graduated from the school and now along with my two good friends Baladev Śrīman dāsa and Krishna Caitanya dāsa we are helping as trainee principals and headmasters of the Academy. I hope that I may be a servant of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mission and be an instrument in the gurukula educational system we all know was so dear to him. In conclusion, my experience of gurukula was by far the greatest thing I could have ever imagined. I love my gurukula, my life, so much that now even though I graduated, and could go where I like — and ‘experience’ the world — I really want to stay and serve in the gurukula. I want to help others, and to make sure that their experience of gurukula will top even mine. When I think back it fills me with pride to say that I really lived such a life. The relationships I made will last a lifetime, and my memories I hope will too. Of course, there were ups and downs; being six in the ashram is no walk in the park. But thinking back I wouldn’t have changed my past for that of a prince. For it made me what I am today, and although I’m not much, I really do want to serve and I ask for your blessings.
Your servant, Śrī Paramahamsa Gaura dāsa