What is the difference between the Vedic Eco Village and Govardhana Academy at Saranagati Village?
Govardhana Academy is a day school affiliated with the standard, modern, educational system. A special characteristic is that the students are fortunate to receive academic as well as Vaishnava education and training. The students have Vaishnava association and Vaishnava teachers. So it is a combination of traditional education and modern day curriculum that is the norm in most countries of the world.
The Vedic Eco Village Gurukula is a traditional system where students being in a boarding/residential facility where students live with the teachers. It is based on long standing established curriculum referred to as the 14 standard books of knowledge. Srila Prabhupadada spoke extensively of the need and importance of a Gurukula. We attempted to establish such a Gurukula in the early days of ISCKON, but met up with obstacles and eventually failures. However, this should not deter us from trying to introduce what Srila Prabhupadada desired. Thus our attempts here is to establish the traditional education
Why create a Vedic Eco Village in Saranagati Village?
The project we are introducing is facilitating the expansion of the existing efforts at Saranagati Village and will add the opportunity to introduce traditional Vedic education. An Eco Village is based on concepts and talks of Srila Prabhupadada about Gurukulas and Varnasarama College. Unfortunately, although spoken about by Srila Prabhupadada, both are practically non-existence in ISKCON society. The proposed of the Vedic Eco Village is to further complement, not duplicate or compete with existing facilities and services and on-going activities at Saranagati.
Is the Gurukula in competition with the Govardhana Academy?
The gurukula is not meant to compete with Govardhana Academy. In a Gurukula there are few students, who are accepted if parents desire that their children get such an education, and if the student is willing. Finally the decision is solely at the discretion of the Gurukula master.
Who will be the teachers in the Eco Vilage?
We will have 2 kinds of teachers, one is Ashram teacher, the other an academic teacher. We have not yet selected teachers. Ideally the teachers will reside in the Colony. However in our current situation, teachers may come to share their particular expertise on a daily or weekly basic. We will have a mixture of residential and visiting teachers.
We will be looking for devotees who have teaching experience and recent graduates of Mayapur Gurukula or those who have received this type of training. There are devotees in Saranagati Village who have very valuable knowledge and expertise, for examples local teachers, farmers and gopas who are involved with land and cow care. There are devotees with other kinds of experience. Another area will be teaching different skills like carpentry, forestry - these are less brahminical, although the primary focus will be on brahminical education.
There is also a need to open communication with the existing Govardhana Academy to see which areas there can be co-operation and assistance and exchange to promote the over-all aspect of Vedic education. There is a good possibility of having joint programs and ventures as the Gurukula gradually established itself and developing.
Why are Girls and Boys separated?
Vedic culture does not promote co-education (mixing boys and girls in education). Education has traditionally been separate. It is part of Vedic culture to segregate men and women. This way our culture differs from modern culture, in that we stand by very basic well defined principles.
We encourage people to develop specific educational systems for girls - there are directions in our Sastra for this. For example Srimati Radharani is proficient in the 64 arts and sciences, which is a large curriculum which should be introduced. Some devotees in India are created books about this, which can be adapted to our present situation at Saranagati Village. In Vedic culture, education is for one an all and eduction is meant to be for one's entire life. Life is education and education is life.
Why build a new Goshala when there is already one in Saranagati Village?
The Vedic norm is that every family should have a Goshala, at least every family should care for at least one cow. Because Saranagati Village is spread out over 1600 acres (10 km), it is not practical to have only one Goshala. Saranagati Village is ideal to have many smaller communities within the larger community. Within each community, more naturally and geographically, there should be localize cows that serve each community.
The plan for a Goshala in the Vedic Eco Village should be seen as complimentary to the existing Goshala, and an additional asset to the entire Saranagati Village project. In the Vedic culture, householders are meant to care for cows daily. As Krishna shows by his personal example, householders are meant to worship cows on a daily basis, so we are trying to reach this high standard. Another Goshala brings us closer to a what a Vedic Village is meant to be, and the cow culture will become part of our life.
From cow culture, a cow economy emerges which is the basic os Vedic economics as taught in our literatures. We will be gradually be introducing cow products, with the idea of encouraging devotees to use this products to reduce harmful chemically produced products such as soap, toothpaste and detergents that are harmful to the body and soil. More and more devotees are producing such products and we will feature some of these on our website and gradually the production of such products will be part of the Gurukula curriculum. This can only happen if we have more cows.
Why build a new mandir when one already exists in Saranagati Village?
There is a nice explanation given by Srila Prabhupada in the context of another large community Hyderbad farm, which covered 700 acres of land. It is recorded that Srila Prabhupada instructed residence of New Naimisaranya, Srila Prabhupada indicated that devotees should live in groups of 6 to 10 families in difference locations, and each form a small community with each having their own temple and deities.
How many mandirs are being created?
Having small temples in different parts of the valley that will facilitate devotees to attend nearby by daily programs. The new temple will not diminish the importance of the existing devotees which give the opportunity for devotees to meet weekly. smaller temples allows devotees to congregate on a daily basis and they can attend the weekly meeting at the main temple. Many temples can co-exist in this way. More prasad, more darshan, more devotion, more kirtan....
Can Saranagati Village residence visit the Eco Village?
Not only are the residence of Saranagati Village invited to visit, but we humbly request they are involved in whatever way they feel inclined. The Eco Village is meant to enhance and support the existing work and service that has been done over the years. We welcome the devotees participation.