VAISHNAVA TRAINING & EDUCATION Course Material
TEACHER’S HANDBOOK for
the Bhakti astri Course
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness Founder-Acarya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The VTE Bhakti Sastri Course Materials Copyright © 2000. Vaishnava Training and Education CD Version, First Edition (published December 2000)
Hard copies of these materials can be printed by the purchaser for personal use and may not be passed on or sold without permission. Teachers formally facilitating the VTE Bhakti Sastri Course are permitted to copy the “Student’s Handbook” and the “Student Worksheets Book”, for distribution solely to students sitting the course.
Published by Vaishnava Training and Education 63 Divinity Road, Oxford, OX4 1LH, England, UK tel: +44 (0)1865-304310 e-mail: [email protected]
These materials include: The Teachers’ Handbook The Students’ Handbook Student Worksheets Book Syllabus One Syllabus Two Syllabus Three Syllabus Four
(Module One) (Module Two) (Module Three) (Module Four)
Book of Quotes One Book of Quotes Two Book of Quotes Three
(Module One) (Module Two) (Module Three)
(CD version only)
For more information on VTE courses and materials, please contact Vaishnava Training and Education (see above). You may also contact the VTE for information on updated and hard-copy versions of this Bhakti Sastri Course.
Prices: Entire set - CD Version only (excluding cost of delivery) This book (Teachers’ Handbook) – not available separately (First edition) 2
Abbreviations and Sanskrit Notation
Chapter One – A Framework for Sastric Study
Chapter Two – Overview of the Bhakti Sastri Course
Chapter Three – Qualifications of the Teacher
Chapter Four – Organising Your Course
Chapter Five – Preparing to Teach
Chapter Six –
Delivering Your Lessons
Chapter Seven – Formal Assessment
Chapter Eight – Orientation Lessons
Appendices Appendix 1 – Quotes on the Twelve Aims of Sastric Study
Appendix 2 – Examples of poor/dishonest use of scripture
Appendix 3 – Preparing for Your Course – Checklist
Appendix 4 – Diagram of the Three Stages of Education
Appendix 5 – Participatory Learning – Planning Sheet
Appendix 6 – Student’s Initial Report Sheet (sample – blank)
Appendix 7 – Chart showing Key Thematic Verses for the BG
Appendix 8 – Chart showing Overview of All Materials
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who intended that his disciples and followers diligently study and apply his teachings for the welfare of all
WDGYJYLVDUJR MDQDWJKDYLSODYR \DVPLQ SUDWL ORNDP DEDGGKDYDW\ DSL QPQ\ DQDQWDV\D \D R Í¤NLWQL \DW £YDQWL J\DQWL J£DQWL VGKDYD¯
On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest. (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.11)
In this way you have to understand, by studying carefully the philosophy. We have got so many books now and I want all of my disciples to read them carefully. Soon we shall be instituting Bhakti-sastri examinations and all brahmanas will have to pass. So utilize whatever time you find to make a thorough study of my books. (Letter from Srila Prabhupada to Upendra, 7th July 1976)
FOREWORD I heartily welcome the publication of this new VTE Course as a significant step forward for ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada intended his society to be led by educational values, as indicated by ISKCON’s first purpose: To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real peace and unity in the world. Srila Prabhupada not only gave priority to the publication and marketing of his books, but left specific instructions for their systematic study. Nearly thirty years later, this order remains unfulfilled. This particular course, I believe, has the potential to at last fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s directives; most notable are its proposed systems for global implementation, including already-written teacher training modules that complement and extend existing VTE courses. This curriculum has a number of other distinguishing features. Possibly it is the first to be built on sound and explicit educational principles and a well-articulated methodology. It thus goes beyond memorisation and intellectual understanding, to explicitly promote students’ application of knowledge, their development of appropriate values, and, ultimately, personal realisation. This slant on conduct and character, I believe, gives it great potential in addressing our numerous individual and societal challenges. Furthermore, its detailed delineation of “the aims of sastric study” is a welcome feature at a time within ISKCON marked by lack of clear direction. I was particularly impressed by the aim of “Mood and Mission”, which even today will help students appreciate Srila Prabhupada continuing presence. Conscientious teachers will recognise how this course offers support to the less-able and yet respects the expertise and initiative of the more-experienced. For students it offers a quality of learning which is relevant, practical and enjoyable. I particularly liked the use of progressive assessment procedures, such as project-work, which free students from unnecessary pressure and promote their natural creativity. In conclusion, I think this course will appeal to many sections of our membership. Particularly, though, I appeal to our leaders to provide concrete support for its global implementation. Co-operation between managers and educators may hold the key to a successful future, and ensure that this initiative bears fruit – happy, learned and balanced devotees, who can form the nucleus of an evolving brahminical and Krishna-conscious leadership. My heartfelt thanks to all those devotees who, over a period of five years, have helped so far in developing this essential aspect of ISKCON’s work. Sesa das Adhikari 28th December 2000 The GBC Ministry of Education Executive Members (December 2000) Sesa das (GBC Minister – Alachua, USA) Braja Bihari das (Vrindavan, India) Laksmimoni dasi (Alachua, USA) Saunaka Rsi das (Belfast, Northern Ireland) 5
ABBREVIATIONS AND SANSKRIT NOTATION
The following abbreviations are used throughout the Bhakti Sastri materials:
Books etc. BG BRS CB CC Conv ISO KBK LCFL Lec Letter MW NAP NBD NOD NOI POP RV SAR SB SPL SSR SUM TLC TLK TQK
Bhagavad-gita Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu Caitanya Bhagavat Caitanya-caritamrta Srila Prabhupada Conversations Sri Isopanisad Krsna Book Life Comes From Life Srila Prabhupada Lectures Srila Prabhupada’s Letters Morning Walk Narada Pancaratra Nectar of Book Distribution Nectar of Devotion Nectar of Instruction Path of Perfection Raja Vidya Saranagati Srimad Bhagavatam Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Science of Self-Realisation Surrender Unto Me Teachings of Lord Caitanya Teachings of Lord Kapila Teachings of Queen Kunti
The Bhakti Sastri Materials BOQ MAN SHB SWK SYL THB
Book of Quotes (1–3) Instruction Manual Student’s Handbook Student Worksheets Syllabus (1–4) Teachers’ Handbook
Lesson Outlines MP QT AR SG OHT
Main point Reference(s) found in corresponding Book of Quotes Additional references which the teacher could look up him/herself Suggestions (found at end of the lesson outline) Chart and/or Overhead Transparency
(Sub-aims are marked with an asterisk * and are below the corresponding main Aim)
Kno Und PeA PrA ThA M+M AMI Aut SC Rea * Eva F+C RfL TAR * SSK *
Knowledge (Memory and Recall) Understanding Personal Application Preaching Application Theological Application Mood and Mission Academic (and Moral) Integrity Authority Sastra Caksus Realisation Evaluation Faith and Conviction Responsibility for Learning Taste/Appreciation/Relevance Study Skills
Miscellaneous d.s. esp. FOL KMV KTV para. pg NAG RFL RLE SP
devotional service especially Focus of Learning Key Memory Verse Key Thematic Verse paragraph page Nine Assessment Groups Recommended Focus of Learning Recommended Learning Experiences Srila Prabhupada
Sanskrit Notation The system of transliteration used in these materials conforms to that used by most scholars and in all standard ISKCON publications. In most cases, we have used diacritics. Where otherwise, we have usually denoted the words as it sounds, e.g. by inserting “h’s” and “I’s”, as in Krishna and Chaitanya. In other cases, the terms will simply lack the diacritic marks, e.g. Krsna.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS MEMBERS OF THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM VTE Executive Anuttama das (IC Minister, Washington, USA Braja Bihari das(VIHE, Vrindavan, India) Saunaka Rsi das (N. Ireland, UK) Sita Rama das (MTE, UK)
The Bhakti Sastri Writing Team Braja Bihari das (VIHE, Vrindavan, India) Narayani dasi (Vrindavan, India) Rasamandala das (VTE, Oxford, UK)
ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND THANKS TO Assistant Writing Staff Abala dasi (Oxford, UK) Braja Sundari dasi (Vrindavana Gurukula) Mahamuni das (Philadelphia, USA) Rati Manjari dasi (Cape Town, South Africa) Tyaga Caitanya das (Malaysia) Visakha Priya dasi (Vrindavana, India) Consultants Bhakti Caitanya Swami (BCEC, South Africa) Gopiranadhara das (ISKCON Vrindavan, India) Lat Blaylock (CEM Professional Team, UK) Sefton Davies (Sefton Davies Associates, UK) Purnacandra das (USA) Sita and Edgar (The Learning Framework, UK) Reference Materials Bhurijana das (Surrender Unto Me) Gauri das (NOD Study Guide) Satsvarupa Goswami (Lecture tapes) Suresvara das (Bhagavad-gita Study Guide) Vraja Kishora das (NOD Study Guide)
Trialling the Materials Bhaktin Aleksandra (Newcastle, UK) Gauranga Sundara das (ISKCON Leicester, UK) Janmastami dasa (MIHE, Mayapur) Kirtida dasa (Finland and UK) Prasanta dasi (Vrindavana, India) Sita Rama das (Bhaktivedanta Manor, UK) Urmila dasi (North Carolina, USA) Editing/Office Support Bhagavata dasi (Inisratha, N. Ireland) Brajajana das (USA) Manjari dasi (Mayapur, India) Diane Rollinson (the OCVHS, Oxford) Others who kindly helped Daoji (Vrindavana Gurukula) Isodyana dasi (Vrindavana, India) Kurmarupa das (Vrindavana, India) Prana das (Auckland, New Zealand)
WITH A VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO Devaprastha das Giriraja Swami Harikesa das Bhakta Jitendra for helping to make this project possible by kindly offering their financial support
Bhurijana das who started with Bhakti Sastri Course in Vrindavan, India The Oxford Centre for Vaishnava and Hindu Studies for their vision, support and encouragement.
Introduction – How To Your Teachers’ Handbook Welcome to your Teachers’ Handbook, which serves as student notes for the Bhakti Sastri Teacher Training Course and as a comprehensive manual for Bhakti Sastri teachers. Parts of it are also essential reading for students engaged in independent study, including those involved in distance-learning. Do note that these materials are quite detailed and comprehensive, and rather than reading from cover to cover (which could be quite trying!), you may better refer to the appropriate sections as you need them. This material is designed not simply for reading, but as part of an ongoing training programme. If, however, you do have any queries, please do consult the VTE. Our details can be found on page 2.
While you are teaching the course, you’ll use this booklet in conjunction with: a) the corresponding Syllabus (Modules 1–4) b) the corresponding Book of Quotes (Modules 1-3 only) and, additionally, students will each require a copy of: a) the Students’ Handbook b) the Student Worksheets Book
If you are reading this on your computer screen and don’t have a hard copy, we strongly recommend that you print one out from the corresponding PDF file (we recommend double-sided, comb-bound with a card cover). There are two versions – the colour version is better for reading on-screen, but black-and-white will produce better hardcopy, especially from ink or bubble jet printers For more information on using the various materials please consult Chapter 5. A useful overview of each syllabus is found in the very last page of this book (Appendix 8) As you read this book, you may wish to keep in mind the overall structure of the course, as follows:
Bhagavad-gita (Chapters 1–9)
Bhagavad-gita (Chapters 10–18)
Nectar of Devotion, Sri Isopanisad, Nectar of Instruction
Thematic Lessons (all books)
A more detailed overview of the course is included in Chapter 2.
Chapter One Developing a Framework for Sastric Study
Introduction Learning and teaching sastra is arguably the most important aspect of any Krishna conscious education. Srila Prabhupada’s books form the foundation for ISKCON’s activities and devotees understandably, and quite rightly, hold them in high esteem. Superficially at least, it appears that this respect for Srila Prabhupada’s teachings has often detracted devotees from considering exactly how we study and teach such sacred literature. In educational terms, validity of content hardly legitimises the whole learning process. There needs to be an appropriate methodology, without which teaching, even of Srila Prabhupada’s books, remains relatively ineffective. In this chapter, therefore, we attempt to construct a framework for scriptural study; not so much by rigidly defining practice and procedure, but by identifying universal principles and values that can inform an evolving methodology. These, underpinned by a clear sense of direction, help us make purposeful decisions in the planning, delivery and evaluation of scriptural education. In constructing this framework, we have drawn from four broad sources: 1) 2) 3) 4)
Srila Prabhupada’s explicit instructions on sastric study His broader teachings, especially as pertinent to education Guidance found from within our broader (i.e. Vedic) tradition The best of educational theory and practice ‘outside’ of our tradition
In borrowing from beyond our immediate tradition, we have evaluated everything for its consistency with the principles and values of Krishna consciousness. In this way, the VTE aspires to develop a model that is true to our long-standing heritage and simultaneously relevant to ISKCON’s role in the contemporary world.
What is Sastric Study? By the term “sastric study” we refer to the study of the Vedic scriptures (sastra), and specifically the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. The importance of Srila Prabhupada’s books is encapsulated in the following excerpts from ISKCON Law:
Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON Definition To fulfill the previous acarya’s desire for a united worldwide preaching organisation to expand Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission, Srila Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as a distinct branch of the Brahma-Madhva-GaudiyaVaisnava sampradaya. Therefore he is the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON. This means that he is ISKCON’s link with the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Vaisnava-sampradaya, that his writings, oral teachings and exemplary actions remain the permanent and irreplaceable basis for all subsequent teachings of ISKCON. He is and will remain always the instructing spiritual master of all devotees in ISKCON. (Law Revision committee 9.6.90).
Principles 1) Srila Prabhupada is the foundational siksa-guru for all ISKCON devotees because he has realised and presented the teachings of the previous acaryas of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Vaisnavasampradaya appropriately for the modern age. 2) Srila Prabhupada’s instructions are the essential teachings for every ISKCON devotee. 3) Srila Prabhupada’s books are the embodiment of his teachings and should be accepted as the standard by all future generations of ISKCON.
The Four Sastric Degrees Srila Prabhupada himself presented an outline for the study of scripture, as demonstrated by the following excerpt from one of his letters:
Bombay 10 January, 1976
My Dear Svarupa Damodara, Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you for your letter dated December 26th, 1975, and I have noted the contents carefully. Your plan to have the Bhaktivedanta Summer Institute in one of our farms is a very good idea. . . . . . . . brahmana means pandita. Therefore I am suggesting examinations. Bhakti-sastri - (for all brahmanas) based on Bhagavad-gita, Sri Isopanisad, Nectar of Devotion, Nectar of Instruction, and all the small paper backs. Bhakti-vaibhava - the above plus first six cantos of S.B. Bhaktivedanta - the above plus cantos 7-12 S.B. Bhakti-sarvabhauma - the above plus Caitanyacaritamrta. These titles can correspond to entrance, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. So just consider how to organize this Institute. At Mayapur we shall finalize everything. Hoping this meets you well. Your ever well-wisher, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami ACBS/tkg
There are several other references Srila Prabhupada made to these degrees, with some variations. For this and other reasons, ISKCON devotes will hold different opinions as to what should be the exact nature of the four courses. The VTE respects the fact that other devotees may hold differing views. It intends and hopes that this course will be recognised by the ISKCON Ministry of Education*, but also hopes that other devotee educational institutes write their own ISKCON-approved courses. The broad framework for the Four Degrees, largely based on this letter, is shown on the next page
*As of the date of publication (January, 2001) of this first edition, we are still awaiting approval
Overview of the Four VTE Courses On the basis of Srila Prabhupada’s letter, the VTE has proposed: A.
Four consecutive courses, focusing on the books shown in the table below:
1. Bhakti Sastri Bhagavad-gita Nectar of Devotion Sri Isopanisad Nectar of Devotion
2. Bhakti-vaibhava The first six cantos of the Srimad Bhagavatam
4. Bhakti-sarvabhauma The entire text of the Caitanya-caritamrta
The second six cantos of the Srimad Bhagavatam
The above four courses are “nested”. In other words, for any “degree”, the specific materials for previous degrees are also studied. For example, Bhagavad-gita is studied throughout all four courses. This suggests that from Bhakti Vaibhava onwards it will be studied in relation to the other relevant books and at progressively higher levels.
The Bhakti Sastri will be the equivalent of a university entry course. * (e.g. in the UK, the two-year ‘A’ level). This will determine the level and length of this course, and subsequent courses will be similarly based on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.
The Bhakti Sastri Course (and final assessment) should be completed at about the same time a devotee is ready for second (brahmana) initiation. The VTE has ascertained that this usually occurs when a candidate has been seriously practising Krishna Consciousness for three years (though this figure appears to be progressively increasing!). Since the longest recommended term of part-time study is two years, this suggests that devotees should have been “seriously practising Krishna Consciousness” for at least one year (or the equivalent of living in the temple for one year). This points to the need for preliminary courses prior to the Bhakti Sastri.
Some devotees have suggested that Srila Prabhupada’s statement was only used to illustrate the idea of continuity. The VTE accepts there may be some difference in interpretation.
The Twelve Principles of ISKCON Education The Bhakti Sastri Course has been deliberately and diligently built on specific educational principles and values relating to sastric study. This is not an entirely new initiative but has drawn significantly on the previous research of other leading devotees. The following Twelve Principles were identified by a team of devotees in Oxford, England, working in 1998 under the auspices of the GBC Ministry of Education. They are considered to underpin any effective Krishna Conscious education.
1. The Study of Srila Prabhupada’s Teachings ___________________________________________________________ 2.
4. Conducive Environment ___________________________________________________________ 5.
Clarity of Purpose
Utilisation of Appropriate Resources
Consideration of Time, Place and Circumstance
9. Respect for Individuality ___________________________________________________________ 10. Character Formation 11. Realisation and Application of Knowledge 12. Attachment to Guru and Krishna and Detachment from Maya _____________________________________________________________________ Note: the above four categories correspond to: 1) 2)
(the evidence, source of knowledge) (“establishing the relationship”; the necessary “ingredients” for delivering effective education ) (the means, or process, by which this can be achieved )
(the goal of a Krishna Conscious education)
The Implications of these Principles to Sastric Study The twelve principles listed on the previous page are intended to refer to any Krishna Conscious educational initiative. We here briefly run through each of our twelve principles and in turn ascertain how they specifically impact sastric study
1. The Study of Srila Prabhupada’s Teachings This principle underscores the prime importance of scriptural study
2. Qualified Teachers This calls for clear systems of training and certification to check that teachers are indeed qualified (refer to pages 42–43).
3. Qualified Students The Bhakti Sastri Course is not for everyone and teachers should exercise discretion in whom they enrol (see pages 44).
4. Conducive Environment The location and attendant facilities for the BS Course are important. For more details, please refer to pages 44, 74 and 96 - 97.
5. Clarity of Purpose This principle is perhaps the most important and serves as the basis for the VTE’s “Aimsdriven” (or some prefer “Aims-based”) approach. Without knowing and codifying the purposes of sastric education, it is likely to meander through the extensive content with little real direction (i.e. it will become largely content-driven and information-oriented).
6. Long-Term Vision This course has not been designed in isolation but developed as part of a whole scheme, ascertaining the far-reaching effects of scriptural training and taking into account the four sastric degrees. The writing team has also tried to ensure a high degree of continuity and progression between the degrees, and within the Bhakti Sastri Course itself (see pages 70-71)
7. Utilisation of Appropriate Resources Teachers should make use of all helpful teaching equipment. The syllabus has carefully borrowed educational theory from ‘outside’ of ISKCON, carefully checking that it is consistent with our principles and values.
8. Consideration of Time, Place and Circumstance The teacher should be particularly aware of the specific needs of his/her class. He or she may need to teach accordingly and to be flexible, responding appropriately to changing circumstances.
9. Respect for Individuality This principle has two major implications for sastric teaching. Firstly, the teacher must respect the individuality and uniqueness of each student and not discriminate in terms of bodily designations, preferred learning styles, etc. Secondly, this raises the issue of the Course accommodating numerous teachers, each with their own particular styles. This latter subject is explored further in this Chapter (see page 17, ‘Flexibility versus Prescription’)
10. Character Formation This is one of the main purposes of studying scripture and has been embodied in The Twelve Aims of Sastric Study, e.g. the six higher Aims relating to ‘Values’ (refer to pages 18-19 and particularly page 22). Note that ‘Values’ and ‘Character Formation’ are practically synonymous.
11. Realisation and Application of Knowledge This principle is so important that it is encapsulated within a number of ‘the Twelve Aims of Sastric Knowledge’. Knowledge is not simply informational but transformational; it is not merely academic but for application in everyday life.
12. Attachment to Guru and Krishna and Detachment from Maya Without these characteristics, all other qualities are of little use. The teacher must keep in mind the central focus of sastric teaching - Krishna and His representative.
$Q2YHUYLHZRIWKH(GXFDWLRQDO3URFHVV It is important to understand the purpose of education within any society. The chart below is a representation of the learning process and its social function:
Needs & Opportunities
❶ Aims and Objectives
➋ Learning Experiences
Assessment & Accreditation
➍ Application in Life Perhaps the most important principle here is “Consistency” represented by the vertical downward arrows. This is often summed up by the phrase “Aims-driven”. This approach is in line with the MED principle of “Clarity of Purpose”. The following are important features of this methodology:
Aims are based on meeting real-life Needs & Opportunities - for the individual, for ISKCON and for society as a whole. Although Aims tend to be enduring, the emphasis may change according to local needs and/or current trends. Similarly Objectives must be consistent with Aims and further determined by considering detailed Needs & Opportunities. Learning Objectives are met by selecting and designing suitable Learning Experiences rather than whimsically employing standard or hackneyed methods of delivery.
➌ The Means of Assessment must actually assess the Objectives we have established and ➍
not others. For this reason we have sparingly used closed book exams, i.e. only when deemed appropriate.
Assessment and accreditation should be developed in response to application in life. Formal Assessment can otherwise become meaningless and often unnecessarily punitive.
➎ Evaluation should be applied not just to students but to teachers (and indeed the original writing team). In this way Aims & Objectives may sometimes change. More often the Learning Experiences will be amended after determining how well they are meeting the established Aims & Objectives.
➏ The classroom serves as a microcosm for the ideal Krishna conscious society. Education can
more effectively than anything else address current issues and challenges which are based on an imbalance in values. By social contribution we are implying brahminical leadership. This is implied in ‘The Overall Purposes of Sastric Study’ (page 18) and is also relevant to the discussion on the following page.
Flexibility versus Prescription One of the most central and challenging dynamics in designing any course is in achieving a balance (or, better, a synthesis) between prescription and flexibility. We need to offer support and guidance to teachers, but without constraining their individual creativity. We are thus required to be flexible, but to also set standards that deter ineffective or whimsical teaching practice. We have therefore tried here to meet the needs of all quality teachers whatever their experience or individual style. To this end, the VTE has developed a policy, namely that: 1. Any teacher can use these materials and grant their own or no certification. 2. Teachers wishing to award VTE Certification must be accredited (see page 43) For those who formally teach, then the VTE has developed the following approach: 1. The writing team, with a consultative board, defines the broad Aims of the Course (and to a large degree, the Objectives). These are fixed and are not subject to negotiation, except at regular intervals when the curriculum is reviewed by a freshly convened team. 2. The local teacher can determine how he or she will attempt to meet these Aims We could sum this up by the following statement:
“Where we are going is largely established: how we get there is up to us”
Naturally, teachers who disagree with the Aims or prefer a different methodology may choose a different (i.e. non-VTE) Bhakti Sastri Course. We are aware that not all teachers will favour our approach. Nonetheless, we have tried to be flexible and to accommodate all effective styles of teaching - not so much by prescribing practice and procedure but by establishing the principles and values that underpin sound educational practice. The Assessment Procedures are largely fixed and designed to closely match the specified Aims of Bhakti Sastri (i.e. to factually measure what we have ascertained to be desirable learning). To allow greater flexibility and encourage personal initiative, local teachers can submit their own questions, provided they fall within the bounds of broad criteria. For more details, please refer to page 86 So, although our Aims are fixed, when and how they are delivered is largely left up to the individual. Local teachers can write their own unique lesson plans, and determine their own classroom practices. Nonetheless, if they wish students to pass, they are bound to try to meet the broad aims of the course, as reflected in the assessment papers. In summary, the VTE considers empowerment a key educational principle, but appreciates the need for this to be exercised within the bounds of a Krishna conscious educational discipline. The Aims-driven methodology, as used in this course, is based on this approach. The Overall Purpose of Sastric study is given on the next page.
The Overall Purposes of Systematic astric Study We have already touched on ‘Clarity of Purpose’, and three other principles expressing the broad aims of a Krishna Conscious education (pages 14-15). In following these principles, the VTE has developed an “Aims-driven” approach towards education.
Srila Prabhupada: “If you have no goal, it is simply useless. There is the example: ‘A man without any purpose is like a ship without a rudder.’ An airplane normally goes with an aim to land in some country. But if he flies on without any known destination, then there will be disaster. So without an aim, what is the use of practice?”
The following is the VTE’s over-arching purpose in promoting the systematic study of Srila Prabhupada’s books:
The Overall Purpose of Systematic astric Study To nurture the evolution of a brahminical, Krishna-conscious leadership, whose members are expert in the study and assimilation of [astric knowledge and are proficient in its application - in their own lives, in helping others, and in perpetuating the mission of Srila Prabhupada.
The educational Aims, to be fulfilled through the teaching process, are listed on the next page. You may wish to compare them with the overall purpose written above.
________________________________________________________________________ Please note: 1)
The VTE has established that their 6astric courses themselves are equipping students only with those skills absolutely essential to 6astric study. The Bhakti Sastri course is not, for example, a general preaching course, though it is an essential part of any preacher training programme. The VTE highly recommends students to sit complementary courses (for example, the VIHE Course, “Clear Thinking and Strong Speaking”). The above purposes rather than being purely educational, have managerial implications, most notably: (a) that teachers and students be spiritually and educationally qualified (see pages 42 - 43 for further details) (b) establishment of reliable systems of assessment and accreditation (see Chapter 7, page 80)
the quote above is the precis of a passage from a conversation with Prithu Putra Prabhu. It has been edited for clarity.
The Twelve Aims of Systematic Sastric Study The following Aims apply to all four VTE Sastric degrees, starting with Bhakti Sastri. These Aims are weighted differently for each of the four main courses (please refer to page 36 for more details) 1.
To help students memorise and recall the (theoretical) knowledge which forms the foundation of their ongoing progress in Krishna Consciousness
To deepen students’ understanding of the Krishna consciousness theology, particularly through studying it from a wide range of perspectives and through developing thoughtfulness and introspection
To help students apply the Krishna Consciousness theology, with reference to: (a) their external practices (b) their inner development and to help them develop appropriate Vaishnava qualities and behaviour
To enhance devotees desire and ability to preach effectively.
To help build and maintain students’ faith and conviction in: (a) the process of Krishna consciousness (b) the sastra as its foundation
To simultaneously cultivate within devotees: (a) wholehearted acceptance of the spiritual authority of shastra (b) a mood of open and honest inquiry and a desire to factually understand and realise the import of Vedic knowledge
To help create learned Vaishnava theologians who are expert in assisting the Society through application of sastric knowledge to a wide range of personal, social, moral, topical and theological issues
To develop students’ analytical, interpretative and evaluative skills, particularly in respect of the practical application of sastric knowledge
To facilitate devotees in: (a) understanding and appreciating the mood and mission of Srila Prabhupada (b) perpetuating that understanding within the Society and its members
To ensure that devotes develop moral and academic integrity in the interpretation, evaluation and application of sastric knowledge
To encourage students to take responsibility for their learning and develop healthy study habits by: (a) enhancing their desire to study Srila Prabhupada’s books (particularly by nurturing their appreciation of shastra and sastric study, and by demonstrating sastra’s relevance to everyday life) (b) equipping them with the appropriate learning skills
To equip students with the ability to see through the eyes of shastra, and with a Krishna conscious worldview. Ultimately, to assist the students in realising scripture, and in seeing Krishna, at all times and in all places.
N.B. For quotes from Scripture supporting these Aims please refer to Appendix 1 on page 91. 19
The Aims of Sastric Study in a Nutshell Each Aim for sastric study is expressed in a few words as follows. Each of these Twelve Aims has its corresponding Objectives. It is essential that teachers and students understand these 12 categories by referring as needed to the Aims, on the previous page, and the corresponding Objectives on pages 39 – 41. Each Aim is also denoted by a two or three letter code, as shown below and used in the Lesson Outlines. Teachers should also memorise these codes.
6& 6DVWUD&DNVXV BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB Please note: (1)
Aim number 11 is broken down into two halves, namely:
11 (b) “Study Skills”
The first is largely about motivation (and relates to values) and the second about acquiring the appropriate learning skills (2)
Aim number 12 includes “Realisation”
Although Sastra Caksus ultimately means and requires full realisation, this Aim is also delivered at different levels leading up to full realisation of the Absolute Truth.
Making Sense of Our Twelve Aims Our Twelve Aims are quite complex, and need some considerable endeavour to remember and assimilate. Nonetheless, it is difficult to reduce the number without blurring our clarity of vision. Here we attempt to put them is some form. As in all education, our Aims can be divided between three broad learning domains, namely 1. Knowledge
(action, or application of knowledge)
(the self — the “knower” and the “doer”)
How the Twelve Aims are categorised is shown below:
Values and Attitudes
Knowledge (Memory & Recall)
Faith and Conviction
Mood & Mission
Academic & Moral Integrity
Responsibility for Learning
Notes: 1. Again, it might be a useful exercise to relate these to our Overall Purposes of Sastric Study (page 18) and to see how each part of the statement correlates to the above categories. 2. The three Aims under skills can be categorised under two broad groups, with which devotees are extremely familiar, namely: •
Sadhana (personal application)
Preaching (preaching and theological application)
In one sense, we could consider that all our Aims fall under these two main categories. In other words, all learning is meant for application in ‘the real world’ (i.e. outside the learning environment itself), and this application has two broad divisions. What we explore on the next few pages is the relevance of these Aims, i.e. how they meet the needs of ISKCON and its members. We will attempt to achieve this by crossreferring the Knowledge and Values Aims to the two broad categories falling under Skills.
The Relevance of Our Knowledge and Value Aims
REALISATION (SASTRA CAKSUS)
PREACHING & THEOLOGICAL APPLICATION
Remembrance of slokas for personal use, especially in times of crisis/decision. Celibacy essential.
Can recall slokas and references for teaching, speaking, etc. Preaching is then suitably authoritative
Questioning our own perception and understanding of the truth (in preference to questioning the validity of sastra itself)
The ability to respond thoughtfully to discerning people.
The ability to see Krishna and factually realise all the imports of Vedic knowledge
The ability to present Krishna Consciousness just suitable to the audience, speaking from experience and the heart
Clear sense of personal identity and purpose (in relationship to Society and its broader traditions)
Clear and balanced sense of mission, as member of ISKCON. Can constructively address internal theological issues.
Personal honesty required, as basis of brahminical qualities. Real knowledge requires purity, honest self-examination, etc.
The honest application of scripture, avoiding selfmotivation and distortion. Society’s representatives have credibility
Promotes the appropriate attitude towards authority, avoiding both a challenging attitude and blind acceptance.
Avoidance of fanaticism and speculation/compromise; thoughtful acceptance of authority will help promote Krishna Consciousness
Ability to make appropriate choices in personal life
MOOD & MISSION
ACADEMIC & MORAL INTEGRITY
Ability to give advice/counsel etc. that is actually relevant & practically useful to society
RESPONSIBILITY FOR LEARNING
Promotes personal responsibility and self-reliance. Helps students develop a taste for study
Enables students to become respectable and learned theologians and to develop a brahminical leadership
FAITH & CONVICTION
Essential for addressing the ‘inner life’ (so easy to neglect) and for sustaining our own spiritual development
Teaching and preaching will carry real weight without being overbearing
Assessing Our Aims Aims help us to identify where we are going in the learning process. They should not only give student and teacher a clear and meaningful sense of direction, but also a realistic sense of achievement. It is therefore essential that Assessment Procedures accurately measure what we have identified as the desirable learning (as expressed in the Twelve Aims). Often, in poor or mediocre education, they measure other things (such as the student’s ability to write quickly and legibly, to perform under pressure, etc.). It is also essential that students can identify their specific strengths and challenges to help them reach their Objectives. (More details of the features of effective assessment are listed on pages 26 & 27). To effectively systemise our assessment, we have identified three broad categories of learning, called Attainment Targets. They are based on our three cognitive Aims and the corresponding progression of cognition from jnana to vijnana as shown below:
COGNITION Theoretical Knowledge ↓ Intellectual Understanding ↓ Realised Knowledge
On the following page we have identified three corresponding Attainment Targets. The three rings of each ‘target’ represent the three domains of learning (from the outside ring inwards). The three domains are: 1.
The Cognitive Domain
(“knowing” — knowledge acquiring senses)
The Active Domain
(“doing” — the working senses)
The Existential Domain
(“being” — the self, the ‘knower’, the ‘doer’)
The third domain is placed in the centre since Vedic education is essentially valuesorientated; in other words, directed towards self-realisation, character formation and attachment to guru and Krishna (refer to page 14). Theoretical knowledge and acquisition of skills are subordinate to this goal, though it should be understood that in the bhakti tradition both cognition and activity are essential features of self-realisation. At the perfectional stage cognition, action and values are all perfectly integrated. These three Attainment Targets correspond to the three phases of learning (please refer to Appendix 4 on page 98 for more details).
The Three Attainment Targets Aims
1 Theoretical Knowledge (Paper 1)
Understanding Personal Application Preaching Application
2 Understanding & Application (Paper 2)
Realisation (Sastra Caksus)
Evaluation Mood and Mission Academic / Moral Integrity Authority Faith and Conviction Responsibility for Learning
Higher Skills and Values (Paper 3)
Further Notes on Aims and Assessment The following notes may be useful in helping (potential) Bhakti Sastri teachers in understanding our Aims, and how they relate to the assessment process: •
Teachers should be careful to understand precisely what each Aim actually means. For example, it is only too easy to consider that any sastric reference to “authority” automatically means that this content relates to our Aim called “Authority”. Factually, this particular Aim is about nurturing within students the appropriate attitudes towards scriptural authority. Without really appreciating and internalising these Aims, teaching will gravitate towards being content-driven.
Teachers should regularly review these Aims (on page 19) and the corresponding Objectives (pages 39 -41) in order to understand exactly what we mean when we refer to these twelve categories.
Aims can be assessed only by setting Objectives (for the Bhakti Sastri course, listed on pages 39 - 41).
Our Twelve Aims of Sastric Study are intended to be enduring (consistent with our principles of “long-term vision”). Nevertheless, depending on the prevalent learning needs of students, the emphasis will change. For example, at the time of producing the first edition of the Bhakti Sastri syllabus, devotees perceived widespread misuse of scripture to support party politics. Course writers therefore ascertained that “Academic and Moral Integrity” needs to be given sufficient weight even at this elementary level.
As learning progresses through the various courses (Bhakti Sastri, Bhakti Vaibhava, etc.) the respective emphases on each Aim will naturally change. “Higher Aims” (as represented by Attainment Target 3) will be increasingly prominent.
More elementary Aims (e.g. “Memory and Recall”) will remain important, but students will be expected to fulfill these largely through self-study. Even at Bhakti Sastri level, memorisation will mainly be conducted outside the classroom. At the Bhakti Vaibhava stage, students should already be able to effectively study themselves keeping in mind Aims such as “Understanding”, “Personal Application” and “Preaching Application”.
The Aims are often quite interlinked, e.g. “Authority” and “Academic and Moral Integrity”, or “Authority and “Faith & Conviction”.
The Aims are often not only interlinked, but progressive and “nested”. For example, in a discussion focusing on “Preaching Application”, the Aims of “Understanding” is implicitly included.
For the purposes of Formal Assessment, some Aims may be clustered (grouped together) in Assessment Groups.
At Bhakti Sastri level, each Formal Assessment Question focuses on one specific Aim (or Assessment Group). This may appear somewhat artificial, since in delivering any topic, one may cover a number of (inter-related) Aims. Nonetheless, it is useful at this stage, for two reasons: i) students receive detailed and focused assessment ii) this process helps teachers and students to clearly understand each Aim (before possibly synthesising them at subsequent stages)
Foundational Principles for Assessment Aims help us to identify where we are going in the learning process. They give both teacher and student a clear and meaningful sense of direction. They also nurture within us a realistic sense of achievement. Using appropriate objectives, we can also assess where we need to improve, both as a group and as individuals. With effective teaching, students will recognise their strengths and challenges, assisting them in the process of continual improvement. Additionally, at the end of a course, we have an accurate means of measuring students’ achievements. Assessment Procedures are often a source of much controversy and superficial debate. They cannot be effectively discussed without understanding the principles behind them. We therefore list below the following foundational principles used in developing assessment for this course.
A. Definition of Terms •
By “assessment’ we refer specifically to student assessment.” To refer to our broader assessment of the whole educational process, and of ourselves as teachers, we have tended to use the term “evaluation”.
There are two broad types of assessment, formal and informal. Formal assessment is the process that helps us to award grades and accredit students.
We may also use the terms “summative” and “formative”. Summative assessment comes at the end of any course Formative comes in the middle of the course, and is used to help students improve by, for example, helping them identify their specific strengths and challenges.
We also divide assessment into three other categories: (1) Tutor
B. The Purposes of Assessment There are two purposes, as follows: i) improvement – to enhance the student’s learning and ability to learn ii) accreditation – to qualify students for “services” and further educational courses Please note: formal assessment (e.g. exams) is not effective as a primary means of motivating healthy learning. Even where they are apparently effective, they usually promote the wrong type of learning (e.g. short-term rather than long-term memory)
C. The Principles behind Effective Assessment The VTE have identified the following eleven principles of effective assessment. They are explained over-page: 1. Consistency
2. Reliability 3. Equity 4. Transparency 5. Improvement 6. Positive Orientation
7. Focus 8. Accessibility 9. Self-comparison 10. Proximity 11. Self-evaluation
Unpacking the Principles behind Effective Assessment 1. Consistency Assessment procedures must accurately measure what we’ve identified as the desirable learning. In other words, they are consistent with our Aims (and Objectives). All too often in poor education, procedures implicitly and unnecessarily assess other skills and values, such as the student’s ability to write legibly, to perform under pressure, to memorise, etc. It is most important that the means of assessment is consistent with the Aims and Objectives.
2. Reliability By reliability we mean that if the same student performed a similar assessment procedure on a different occasion, the results would be similar. Reliable assessment is not, for example, significantly affected by ‘good’ or ‘bad’ days.
3. Equity A paper marked by different local teachers from various ISKCON centres should receive the same marks and grades. Equity also suggests “fairness” and relates to the next principle.
4. Transparency Transparency suggests that students should know clearly what is expected of them in the formal assessment. They should not feel tricked or otherwise let down. Furthermore, they should understand and appreciate the Aims and Objectives of the course (which should not remain the closely guarded secret of the facilitator). This relates to our own Bhakti Sastri Aim of “Responsibility for Learning”.
5. Improvement Assessment procedures should help students to improve and identify their strengths and challenges. This suggests other principles (as follows).
6. Positive Orientation This implies highlighting the good rather than the bad and focusing on the student’s strengths. It also suggests that the criteria for full marks or a top grade may not be simply “a lack of overt mistakes” but the demonstration of exceptional skills, use of initiative, etc. Assessment procedures should encourage all students to improve and not demotivate them.
7. Focus Assessment should point out exactly where and how students need to improve. This suggests categorisation of assessment targets and an appropriate balance between qualitative and quantitative methods.
8. Accessibility Results must be clearly understandable to all students.
9. Self-comparison Students should not be assessed against each other but against themselves. This promotes an understanding of actual achievement (i.e. in terms of how much the individual has progressed). This should be kept in mind even when assessing them against fixed standards - which has some value, but may neglect to measure the individual’s improvement.
10. Proximity As far as possible, students should be assessed by local teachers, i.e. those with whom they have developed a trusting relationship (though external examiners may also be used).
11. Self-evaluation Assessment should promote the student’s ability to be self-reflective and introspective – an essential skill for responsible learners and spiritual aspirants.
Systematic or Thematic? Introduction In much formal education, learning is tightly compartmentalised. For example, in one day at school we might study six different subjects, usually guided by the same number of teachers, all specialists in their respective fields (e.g. mathematics, geography, art, science etc.). Naturally (or hopefully!), these subjects have practical application in our lives. Life, however, is not so carefully compartmentalised. Any of its various features will be relevant to many educational disciplines. Let us consider, for example, building a house. This task draws on a number of inter-related “subjects”, for example: S S S S
mathematics (in the structural design) geography (shipping in various materials) art (the architecture and interior design) electrical engineering (wiring the house)
The “theme” here is “building a house”. A thematic approach tends to reflect real life, which focuses on practical realities that require us to draw on our learning. The process where disciplines are taught largely independently of one another is termed “systematic”. Thematic learning, on the other hand, tends to focus on a theme and then to look to a range of disciplines to inform our learning on that particular topic. These two approaches are also relevant to sastric study, as shown below:
Systematic study suggests that we begin with a verse or passage and subsequently consider its possible application in life. Thematic study implies that we begin with a topic, issue or situation and subsequently draw on scripture to inform us, guide us or help us make a decision.
An Integrated Approach Systematic Study In this approach we tend to study one book at a time. Additionally, it is likely that the study is sequential, i.e. beginning at Chapter One, Verse One and proceeding in a linear fashion until we reach the end. This may initially appear to be somewhat content-driven (i.e. in this case, letting content inordinately dictate our order of study). Nonetheless, we must note that our scriptures have often (if not always) been designed with the educational purpose in mind. For example, the Srimad Bhagavatam is not presented chronologically, but according to the level of self-realisation of the student. Furthermore, the various books have respective positions in the learning process, e.g. the Srimad Bhagavatam begins where the Bhagavad-gita concludes. This not only endorses the educational principle of “continuity and progression” (to be discussed later — see page 71), but shows that sequential study for sastra is not only acceptable but factually recommended. The non-chronological nature of scripture also supports the case against content-driven education. Nonetheless, thematic study is also highly relevant for its tendency to reflect real life — we meet challenges and need to remember, understand and apply scripture in confronting them.
Thematic Study We have already explored the broad meaning of Thematic Learning. Additionally, in each of the scriptures, we have identified Major Themes running through each. In this course, Thematic Study includes exploring these Major Themes, as well as the general thematic approach described above. (N.B. the Major Themes are found in Section 2 of each Syllabus, and a list is included on page 31)
Systematic or Thematic? As we have explored, the thematic approach bears resemblance to everyday life. We are presented with an issue, e.g. “the role of women in ISKCON”, and it begs for a Krishna conscious solution. Nonetheless, without systematic study it is difficult to develop the comprehensive reservoir of scriptural knowledge needed to effectively apply the thematic approach. Therefore we recommend:
I n t e g r a t e d
A p p r o a c h
1. We employ both systematic and thematic learning 2. Systematic study often needs to be prevalent towards the beginning of any learning process; thematic will tend to predominate towards the end 3) Students should be helped to understand the benefits of working towards a thematic approach. 4) Thematic and/or Systematic learning should be selected as is appropriate
to the specific Aim(s) we are trying to deliver (see next page).
Relating each Approach to our Aims If we refer to our Twelve Aims, we may observe that some are more effectively delivered systematically, others thematically — and yet others are best equally delivered through both methods. The following diagram attempts to demonstrate this (the darker the box, the more relevant the particular approach to the Aim in question.)
Knowledge (Memory and Recall) Understanding Personal Application Preaching Application Faith and Conviction Authority Academic and Moral Integrity Mood and Mission Responsibility for Learning Sastra Caksus (and Realisation) Theological Application Evaluation
Please note: 1) that the emphases shown above are suggestions only. They are subject to further discussion and subject to amendment based on the teacher’s own understanding, preferred style, etc. What is important is to keep in mind the two approaches and to appreciate that one or the other may be more or less suitable for any specific Aim. 2) It may be true that one Aim will be delivered in one way, and later in another, according to the specific Objectives for this Aim We have used these guidelines in developing the Bhakti Shastri Course. Modules One to Three are Systematic and Module Four Thematic. As an example to illustrate the above, we have decided to only assess “Evaluation” during the Fourth (Thematic) Module.
Relating Each Approach to our Objectives
A particular Aim may be delivered both systematically and thematically. The various Objectives for that Aim may require different approaches. For example, let us consider “Preaching Application”. We recommend that teachers use debate and role-play more towards the end of the course, when the students have sufficient knowledge of the verses, analogies and specific arguments useful in countering a particular perspective (e.g. Mayavada). This approach is thematic. Towards the earlier stages of the course, it may be wise to let students collect their reservoir of knowledge. They can identify and write down verses, passages, analogies and stories that are helpful in preaching against a specific stance. Some debate, role-play etc. may certainly be there at earlier stages, but if it is used too much, learning will not be sufficiently focused. For more information related to this subject, please refer to the section on Continuity and Progression (page 71). ________________________________________________________________________ For student’ s information, we here list the Major Themes for all four books Bhagavad-gita
Nectar of Devotion
The Soul and Transmigration
1. The Purity of Devotional Service
Characteristics of the Self-Realised Person
2. Transcendental Devotional Service
3(a) The Levels of Knowledge
3. Yukta Vairagya
3(b) How to Receive Knowledge
The Yoga Processes
5(a) Renunciation of Work vs. Work in Devotion
5(b) Levels of God-Realisation
Devotees and Non-Devotees
2. The Living Entities
10(a) The Relationship between Jiva, Isvara & Prakrti
11(b) The Material Models of Nature
4. Defeating Impersonalism
6. The Absolute Truth 7. Isavasya
Nectar of Instruction 1. Mind and Sense Control 2. Attitude 3. Guru and Disciple 4. ISKCON’s Purpose 5. Sadhu-sanga 6. Devotees 7. Bhakti
Content of the Chapter
Number of Lessons
Aims of the Course
The Nine Assessment Groups
Bhakti Sastri Objectives
Modules The Bhakti Sastri course is broken into four modules, as follows:
Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 1–9
Bhagavad-gita, Chapters 10–18
Nectar of Devotion, Isopanisad, Nectar of Instruction
Thematic Module, covering all four book
These may be taught according to two main options:
4 Module Course
Option Two 3 Module Course
Thematic lessons taught separately during Module 4, towards end of course Thematic lessons integrated into systematic lessons during Modules One to Three
Number of Lessons The following chart shows the total number of recommended lessons (each of one and a half hours) for the entire course:
Module One Module Two Module Three Module Four
38 33 45 16
The orientation lessons are normally integrated into Module 1, giving a total of 41 lessons for this 1st module. Suggestions for these three lessons are included in Chapter 8. The table below shows the number of lessons for the 4 Module Course and one example of the 3 Module Course. Keep in mind that for the latter, thematic lessons can be integrated in different ways; here, 2, 10 and 4 thematic lessons have been slotted into Modules One to Three respectively.
4 module course
3 module course *
* one possible example
Further recommendations for these lessons are included in Chapter 8. You can also consult a detailed list of lessons at the beginning of Section Three of each Syllabus.
Please keep in mind that these figures are recommendations only. You may teach the course according to your discretion. Nonetheless, the above recommendations are based on the study time required for an average student, and the number of lessons corresponds to the Lesson Outlines within the Syllabuses.
Course Materials The Bhakti Sastri materials consist of the following: The Teachers’ Handbook The Students’ Handbook Student Worksheets Book
THB SHB SWK
Syllabus One Syllabus Two Syllabus Three Syllabus Four
(Module One) (Module Two) (Module Three) (Module Four)
SYL1 SYL2 SYL3 SYL4
Book of Quotes One Book of Quotes Two Book of Quotes Three
(Module One) (Module Two) (Module Three)
BOQ1 BOQ2 BOQ3
(CD version only)
When teaching each module the teacher will require the following:
* these are for students, who will each need one copy of both student books.
If you have the CD Version, please consult the Instruction Manual for details of which materials are also available on Microsoft Word (in addition to being in PDF)
If you are formally teaching the VTE course, you definitely need the following materials in hard copy as well as on CD: •
the Teacher’s Handbook
the Students’ Handbook (to copy for each student)
the Student Worksheets Book (to copy for each student)
It is also advisable to have hard-copy of the ‘Books of Quotes’ and most if not all sections of the Syllabuses. For more details of the content of each Syllabus, please refer to page 53 and Appendix 8 on the very last page of this book.
Time Requirements Students The total time of study for the entire course is about 450 hours. Students are expected to spend between 1 and 1.5 hours of self-study for each lesson (which lasts 1.5 hours). The following chart shows the approximate time allocations. Students engaged in self-study or on distance learning courses will be expected to spend 2.5 to 3 hours on each lesson (i.e. the same in total as devotees sitting the regular VTE course.)
Time spent (hours)
135 - 205
Project Work (Assessment Papers 2 & 3) Exams (Assessment Paper 1)
40 5 (4 x 1hr.)
410 – 480 hours
Naturally these figures will vary, particularly depending on the individual student’s own previous knowledge, capabilities, etc. Nevertheless, they will be helpful when organising your course. For different length courses, the approximate weekly time-allocations are shown below. For more details of course options, please consult Chapter Four Course
Study time / week
Four-Month Intensive Course
One-Year (36 week) course
Two-Year course (each of 36 weeks)
Two-Year distance-learning Course
Notes: 1) The shortest possible time for the course is three months. This requires that students can study full-time and are free from distraction. 2) For more information on the proposed distance-learning course, please refer to page 50.
Teachers We recommend that in the beginning teachers will require about the same amount of time as students and spend 1–1.5 hours preparing for each lesson. The time taken for assessment (marking etc.) will naturally depend on the number of students on your course.
Aims of the Bhakti Sastri Course
The Aims of the Bhakti Sastri Course correspond to the Twelve Aims of Sastric Study (page 19). However, for each of the four successive awards, different degrees of priority are awarded to each Aim. For example, at Bhakti Sastri level, “Knowledge” is given a high priority as compared to “Evaluation” whose priority is relatively low. This does not mean that delivering the Aim of Evaluation is unimportant at this level. It is essential to “plant some seeds” in this course - but relatively less time will be spent on this particular Aim.
The various “weights” given to each Aim are reflected in the Formal Assessment Procedures, where each Aim is awarded a specific percentage of the total marks,
For formal assessment purposes at this Bhakti Sastri level, some of our Aims are grouped together to form “Nine Assessment Groups” (NAG’s). All questions for both Examinations and Project Work (coursework) will fall under one of these NAG’s.
Do note that Responsibility for Learning is not to be formally assessed at this stage. The mood and style of the teacher, coupled with more progressive assessment procedures (e.g. Project Work), should ensure that this Aim is fulfilled.
The Nine Assessment Groups are listed overleaf. Also shown are: 1) the priority given to each Aim in terms of a percentage of marks 2) the corresponding Attainment Target and Paper (page 24)
The Nine Assessment Groups
Knowledge (Memory and Recall)
Personal Application (+ Faith and Conviction)
Preaching Application (+ Theological Application)
Mood and Mission
AT2 Paper 2
AT3 Paper 3
The Aim of ‘Faith and Conviction’ is at this stage included under “Personal Application” and any question will fall under this Assessment Group.
‘Theological Application’ is given only elementary treatment at this stage and any relatively small number of questions will be included under “Preaching Application” (the two go together quite naturally)
For Modules 1–3, all NAG’s are assessed except for “Evaluation”.
For Module Four, all NAG's are assessed except for “Sastra Caksus”.
In preparing and delivering lessons, it is important that Teachers keep in mind the priority given to each of our Aims and Assessment Categories, so as not to give too little or too much attention to any Aim.
Formal Assessment and Accreditation Each Module (1-4) may be assessed and accredited separately, though students will not receive the Bhakti Sastri certificate until they have completed all four Modules. They may complete them in any order (though we strongly recommend them to sit Module One before Module Two, and Module Four at the end). Please note: 1) all these proposals are tentative and can be changed without prior notice. If you’d like information on current procedures, then please do contact the VTE as shown on page two. There are two main options proposed for formal assessment, though only number one is currently in place. 2) those students sitting the three module course will still be required to sit the Module Four assessment papers (we’ve also called it ‘Block 4’, to help avoid possible confusion) Option One Paper One Exam
Paper Two Coursework
Paper Three Coursework
Understanding & Application
Values & Higher Skills
Module 1 (Block 1)
Module 2 (Block 2)
Module 3 (Block 3)
Module 4 (Block 4)
Option Two This is recommended for all students wishing to achieve the VTE Bhakti Sastri Certificate without sitting the regular VTE course. All papers for Option 2 are sat within a relatively short period. Details are yet to be confirmed by the VTE.
The proposed (but as yet unconfirmed) system of assessment is for papers to be marked by local teachers under the supervision of an external (VTE) moderator. This allows students to keep contact with their local teacher, but it ensures that standards of marking and grading are consistent. The external moderator may sometimes adjust marks and grades. For more details on assessment please refer to pages 80 - 87.
Bhakti Sastri Objectives For each of our Aims we have identified corresponding Objectives which are specific to the Bhakti Sastri Course (for subsequent courses they will be similar but also include others at higher levels) . These objectives are metprimarily in two ways: 1) explicitly (e.g. by choosing appropriate Learning Experiences) 2) implicitly (by our own example, by modelling, through establishing a suitable ethos, etc.) For more information on each of these, consult pages 65 and 76 - 77 respectively. The objectives, in most cases and where possible, will be assessed both formally and informally. It is essential that teachers know these Objectives and, as far as possible, help students understand what is expected of them 1. Knowledge (Memory and Recall) students should be able to: •
Recall and repeat important verses, facts, concepts, analogies, philosophical points etc. according to: i) their location within scripture ii) their relevance to specific subjects or themes
2. Understanding students should be able to: • • • • • • • •
Explain the content of scripture in their own words. Relate contents of scripture to their own experience. Relate and compare between the various books, chapters, etc., key concepts, philosophical points, slokas, stories, analogies, etc. Explain the implications of any concept/principle, or its application Explain by using scripture the causes of various phenomena. Synthesise various nuances of understanding, and draw well-balanced conclusions. Analyse/explain/resolve apparent contradictions, Present answers logically and systematically.
3. Personal application students should be able to: • • • • • • • •
Select material that is relevant to their personal lives and the situations they meet. Explain how the content of scripture applies to their own lives. Use scripture to identify their own level of spiritual understanding, and subsequently to select material that is relevant to them. Identify room for personal improvement based on scripture. Demonstrate a willingness to change his/her opinion/outlook/behaviour on the basis of scripture (and to avoid using scripture to reinforce existing values and worldviews). Take into consideration a number of relevant verses. Identify and express doubts. Express appropriate Vaishnava values.
4. Preaching Application students should be able to: • • • • • • •
Select scriptural references appropriate to the topic. Express sastric understanding in their own words. Present points suitable to the audience/situation, making the topic accessible and preempting the audience’s doubts. Remain faithful to sastric conclusions. Present sound logical arguments. Demonstrates the values worthy of a preacher/minister (compassion, tact, etc.). Demonstrate academic integrity (see Objective 10). 39
5. Faith & Conviction students should be able to: • • • • • • • •
Demonstrate faith in sastra. Describe how the practices and principles included in scripture work for them (and not simply everyone else). Reasonably explain why they are convinced. Demonstrate thoughtfulness and consideration in their approach towards scripture. Demonstrate understanding and realisation of sastra. Honestly express doubts, even of elementary facts and concepts. Express their faith/conviction/realisation in their own words.
6. Authority students should be able to: • • • • • • •
Demonstrate acceptance of the authority of scripture. Explain with reason and logic the need to accept Vedic authority. Explain why they personally accept Vedic authority. Explain, with reference to scripture, the need for a mood of open and honest inquiry. Reasonably express their doubts about scriptural statements, and explain how they deal with them. Appropriately deal with apparently contradictory or ambivalent statements, or those that appear to contradict commonsense, modern science, etc. Examine and explore the content of scripture from a wide range of perspectives.
7. Theological Application students should be able to: • • • • • • •
Select references appropriate to a range of moral, social, topical, personal or theological issues. Demonstrate how the Krishna Conscious theology, often expressed in terms of the Vedic social context, is relevant today and in a different cultural setting. Identify the principles and values behind Vedic and Vaishnava injunctions, and (other) context-relevant instructions and apply them according to time, place and circumstance, and specifically within the contemporary context. Present Krishna Conscious principles, values and conclusions in a way that is accessible to the intended audience Demonstrate an understanding of topic, particularly through an ability to express in their own words Present sound logical arguments Demonstrate the values worthy of a preacher/minister (compassion, tact, integrity, etc.).
8. Evaluation students should be able to: • • • • • • • •
Determine the merits and/or de-merits of any action or response to a particular situation. Demonstrate awareness of the need to consider the consequences of any action. Identify appropriate/relevant scriptural references. Consider apparently conflicting references and to still draw a conclusion (preferably) consistent with both. Identify the principles behind Vedic and Vaishnava injunctions and ascertain any order of priority. Draw on a wide range of principles in order to determine an appropriate response to any given situation. Examine a situation and/or response to that situation from a wide range of perspectives. Demonstrate values consistent with devotional life and as endorsed by scripture.
9. Mood and Mission students should be able to: • • • • • • •
Explain how a verse/purport/statement relates to and/or reflects Srila Prabhupada’s mood and mission. Explain how Srila Prabhupada’s translations and purports give insight into his mission and that of ISKCON. Evaluate Srila Prabhupada’s conduct and his attitude towards practice (rules and regulations etc.) in the light of traditional Gaudiya Vaishnava theology. Identify the main principles upon which Srila Prabhupada’ mission is built and relate these to corresponding scriptural references. Apply scripture to compare and contrast attitudes and behaviour worthy of members of ISKCON with those which are inappropriate. Identify how Srila Prabhupada’s personal qualities (as exhibited through his mood and mission) relate to scripture. Determine the role that Srila Prabhupada’s books play in furthering his mission, and in the lives of his followers.
10. Academic Integrity students should be able to: • • • •
Recognise and identify use of scripture which demonstrates a lack of academic integrity (according to the common mistakes we have identified (please refer to page 95). List and explain the common ways of misusing scripture. Exercise academic integrity in the use/application of scripture. Differentiate between the different categories of scriptural content.
11. Responsibility for Learning students should be able to: •
Demonstrate heart-felt appreciation of: - Scriptural verses/passages - Scriptural study (especially with devotees) - The relevance of scripture to his/her personal life - The contribution that the Lord, the Parampara, Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON have made towards their lives through scripture
Enthusiastically relate the contents of scripture to their personal lives Demonstrate an ability to study by themselves, and to initiate taking guidance from, or learning with, others when needed Apply the skills modelled by the facilitator, and demonstrate initiative in developing their own study methods.
12. Sastra Caksus/Realisation students should be able to: • • • • • • • •
Recall and apply verses appropriate to situations in which they find themselves. Identify KC verses, stories, etc., related to the things of the world. Demonstrate the correct Vaishnava attitudes and perspectives towards situations. Demonstrate appreciation of how Krishna is working in and through the world. Appreciate the imminence of Krishna — how he is present with us in the world. Identify Krishna Conscious truths, principles, values etc. in other philosophies/theologies, and in other aspects of human culture (e.g. literature). Identify the Krishna Conscious truths, principles, values, etc. they perceive in the natural world. Explain their own realisation of sastra, relating it to their own experience and demonstrating integrity of thought, word, feeling and action.
An effective Krishna conscious education is dependent upon having qualified teachers (please refer to page 14). The VTE policy is both lenient and strict; anyone is more than welcome to use its materials but teachers wishing to formally teach (and award VTE Certificates to successful students) are required to meet the specified standards. For sastric study, these criteria are based on the following formula:
Expertise in Sastra
Expertise in Teaching
Effective Teaching of Sastra
Lacking proficiency in just one of these three areas will render a candidate as yet unsuitable for teaching scripture* Based on the above formula, the VTE requires that:
Bhakti Sastri teachers should be: 1) qualified in sastric knowledge, understanding, etc. 2) qualified as teachers 3) devotees in good standing
It is often stated that Krishna consciousness itself is the key to success in all endeavours, and that other qualifications (especially, in this case, in teaching) are not necessary. It is the opinion of the VTE that a person so personally qualified in Krishna consciousness will happily acquire such qualifications, if simply for the sake of setting an ideal example for others to follow.
Qualifications for Formally Teaching Bhakti Sastri
As from 1st January, 2002*, the qualifications for formally teaching the VTE Bhakti Sastri Course will be as follows:
Bhakti Sastri Course Certificate (Grade B- or higher i.e. honours or high honours).
Teacher Training Course Two Certificate (Grade B- or higher).
Bhakti Sastri Teacher Training Course Certificate.
Chanting sixteen rounds daily, following the four regulative principles, demonstrating sound sadhana and being a devotee in good standing.
Please note: 1) The TTC1 (Teacher Training Course One) is usually required to sit the TTC2. It may exceptionally be waived for experienced teachers. 2) As from 1st January, 2002, the TTC2 and BS Certificates will be pre-requisites for sitting the BSTTC. 3) Other professional teaching qualifications may stand in the stead of the TTC2 Certificate. 4) At its own discretion, the VTE may occasionally approve someone to formally teach the Bhakti Sastri before getting the required qualifications (providing that these qualifications are subsequently obtained by a pre-agreed date.) 5) Any devotee may use the VTE materials to teach the course informally, but noncertified teachers will be unable to issue VTE certification to their own students. They may, however, have their students, after the course, sit the Assessment Papers through an approved centre. 6) All these standards are to some degree provisional and therefore subject to change; please consult the VTE for more information.
* For devotees genuinely unable to sit the required courses before this time, this date may be extended for up to a year at the discretion of the VTE.