In the 40’s, missionaries introduced Christianity to villages in Assam and converted most of the people in the area. Along with churches and chapels, they opened Christian schools. Devotee children have been attending them due to lack of any other alternative. Later it was discovered that there was a need for a Vedic school not only by the devotees, but also by the general Hindu families.
Not to mention the complete lack of philosophy, different method of worship and culture, children there were educated in a tamasic environment which included a complete lack of purity and cleanliness, non-adherence to the regulative principals by the teachers and families of the other children, and non-vegetarian meals were served at the school. Such an environment made it extremely difficult for children especially the young ones to practice Krsna consciousness.
With a hope to meet above need, a branch of Bhaktivedanta National School was inaugurated in Ananda Bazar (a very remote village in Assam) in December, 2014. So far the school has 63 enrolled students from surrounding villages and other areas. The children are being taught academic subjects, Krsna conscious philosophy, Vedic culture and lifestyle and other aspects of worship such as mantras. One parent said, “I like this school because they teach the children how to be disciplined. My son is learning English and he is happy here.”
Some of the children come from other states, and this is the closest Krsna conscious school to them. To address the distance factor, the school opened a hostel for those who don’t want to go home every day, and for those who simply can’t. Balesvari dasi, the school principal spoke about the situation during an interview, “The children are not local, most of them live quiet far and one thing is there, they want to become devotees. Because those people, they are refugee most of them, they are from Mizoram, most of them are Christians. Another thing is, they want to become vegetarian and practice Krsna consciousness. For that if we open the hostel is better for us….. we can stay with them 24 hours. There are 22 children in the hostel.”
During a meeting with parents and teachers, HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami Maharaja explained to them that the goal of the school is not only to teach the children how to be a big professional engineer or doctor but also how to understand the highest goal of life, and the eternal identity of the soul from the very beginning of life.
The Bhaktivedanta National School is just one aspect of HH Bhakti Purusottama Maharaja’s new project aimed at giving the forgotten tribal people of Assam, and other parts of India the best opportunity to go back home back to Godhead. The project aims to improve and uplift the lives of the tribal people spiritually, as well as providing the physical necessities and facilities required to practice spiritual life effectively and peacefully.
In April 2015, a few months after the opening of the school, HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami and well-wishers from Dubai namely Sri Vallabha prabhu and Mahesh prabhu, as well as Nitya Kishora dasi (ITC Marketing Coordinator), Vasudeva das (Film director) and Sridham Govinda prabhu (ITC Secretary) visited the school and other parts of the area to assess and expand the tribal care initiative project. In addition to meeting the local leaders to discuss further programs and actions like Tribal Youth Festival, Maharaja’s team set up the much needed ITC medical camp in Kundanala Assam and Ananda Bazar. The well-wishers from Dubai distributed pencil cases and sweets, which made the school children extremely happy. The whole expedition was filmed and interviews were conducted with the authorities involved as part of a documentary hoping to bring awareness and generally promote the project.
By ITC Communications
ISKCON Tribal Care (ITC) Initiative