The Best of Both Worlds
By Sri Mayapur International School
Sri Mayapur International School has always been known for its affiliation to Cambridge, its rigorous academics and an excellent standard of achievement by our students on Cambridge international exams. Now, in addition to this, our students are receiving an equally rigorous spiritual education.
SMIS has teamed up with Mayapur Institute and is launching the Bhakti-shastri course for students in grades 7 to 12. This course, which is compulsory for all students, is being taught by experienced devotees who have taken the Bhakti-shastri teachers’ training course and have been approved by MI for this purpose. The class is for one hour daily over a period of three years. This allows students to dive deeply into the nectar of the scriptures and at the same time to complete their work for other classes. The students follow exactly the same course as adults do only that the style of presentation is slightly adapted to capture the teenage mind. So far, the course has been immensely inspiring for students as well as teachers. The only complaint the students have is that one hour a day is not enough!
In addition to the Bhakti-shastri course, we have also begun a twice weekly class in Vaisnava Etiquette to train students in the proper mood of a devotee, how a devotee behaves in different situations, how respect is shown to different people, etc. Through interactive discussion, role-play, and case scenarios based on personal experiences, students gain a deep and practical understanding of proper Vaisnava etiquette.
Complementary to these courses in our new twice weekly class in Sanskrit. This class teaches students correct pronunciation which will help them in reciting Sanskrit slokas and songs. They also learn aspects of grammar such as prefixes and suffixes as well as vocabulary based on words frequently used in Vaisnava scriptures.
Over and above that, we have started a sadhana program where we monitor the students’ attendance at the morning program in the temple and how many rounds they are chanting. We require them to attend mangal arati, chant japa together in the temple room and stay for darshan arati and guru-puja on two days of the week. On other days they must attend darshan arati and guru-puja.
In just a few weeks of this program, we have witnessed astounding results: all students have started chanting a fixed number of rounds daily and are increasing week by week. Several have committed to chanting 16 rounds every day. Some students are coming to mangal arati every day – even when it is not required and are attending the whole morning program on the weekends. In short, they are getting a taste for spiritual life.
In addition to this, on the main campus, we have set up a kitchen and the girls are learning how to cook for Krishna. Each day, a team of four girls work from 7 to 8 AM to cook breakfast for all the senior girls and their teachers. This is a wonderful program which offers a variety of practical learning experiences. They must plan nutritionally balanced meals, coordinate a menu, buy the ingredients, work with a budget and manage the accounts. They also learn the vital art of teamwork as they share responsibilities – cooperating for the pleasure of Krishna and the devotees. So far, this program has produced delicious results!
As devotee teachers and staff, we are inspired to see the personal transformations that are taking place in our students. They are appreciating Srila Prabhupada’s books and are applying the principles of Krishna consciousness in their lives. They are developing an attitude of respect for each other and all devotees, and so their relationships with others are improving. As they realize how even their “mundane” academic subjects can be connected to Krishna, they are becoming more sober and focused on their studies. Most importantly, they are beginning to set spiritual goals for themselves and are feeling empowered that they can achieve them.
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