… intelligence is proved not by ease of learning, but by understanding what we learn.”
Lord Sri Krishna says that the Bhagavad-gita is raja-guhyam, the King of Knowledge. The Bhaktivedanta Academy helps to equip those eager to learn with the knowledge of the Absolute. Those who have successfully completed their studies in the Academy are able to address common unanswered questions such as:
“Who am I?”
“Why am I here?”
“What is the purpose of life?”
The Bhaktivedanta Gita Academy started in 1994 and is located north of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. It provides various courses on our Vedic literature, such as the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad Bhagavatam. The courses are designed in a way that benefits everyone who partakes in them, by building a strong foundation in sastra, and most importantly, helping the participants grow and mature in their Krishna consciousness. Whether a participant is new to the faith, or has followed the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita for many years, this course is beneficial for all. The Bhaktivedanta Gita Academy’s systematic courses will meet the needs of every participant and challenge them to grow and mature.
The devotees of the Academy develop and conduct Krishna conscious courses through direct courses (pathachakra) and correspondence. At present, over 1000 students have completed the pathachakra, or direct courses, and 16500 students have completed the correspondence study programs – the Gita Study course, which began in 1994, and the Bhagavatam Study course which began in 2004. Students come from all over India with all kinds of backgrounds.
The Gita Study Course consists of two levels:-
– On the first level, the students learn a summary of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. They study six chapters at a time, and the entire Bhagavad-gita is completed over a period of six months.
-On the second level, the students study in detail and complete the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the Teachings of Queen Kunti and the Nectar of Instruction over a period of one year.
And the Bhagavatam Study course, at the moment, teaches the students the first six cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam in great detail.
Since the inception of the Gita Study course, over 4000 students have successfully completed level one, and many more are still in the process. At level two, over 2000 students have enrolled. Out of those who have completed levels one and two, around 700 students have joined the Bhagavatam Study course, and over 350 students are now initiated and strictly practicing Krishna consciousness.
The Gita Bhavan is another division that is run by the Academy. They provide accommodation for over 550 people at a time. Every day, over 1500 plates of prasadam are served, and they have the capacity to serve 9000 plates a day. There are 14 permanent kitchen staff who cook lunch and dinner every day, and who are all practicing devotees.
Every year, the students go on a couple trips to different places, do harinam, hold preaching programs, workshops, and house programs. Their teachers and mentors accompany them, and on occasion, they are joined by senior devotees and Prabhupada disciples, who guide and encourage the students.
They also organize and partake in various festivals, such as Nityananda Trayodasi in Kolkata, Sri Krishna Janmastami in Haldia, Ratha-yatra in Basirhat & Rajarhat Circle, Navadvip Mandalal Parikrama as the Prabhupada group, and of course the world famous Gaura Purnima festival that is celebrated in Mayapur.
The Bhaktivedanta Gita Academy performs such a valuable service, not only teaching the students the most valuable spiritual knowledge, but also engaging them practically in Krishna consciousness and giving them a taste for devotional service.