page was last updated on January 15, 2004.
Rupanuga Vedic College
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In answering my letter "Useless Degrees," Madhusudhani D.D. writes:
It sounds like you had a bad experience. However, that’s no reason to put down hundreds of devotees, including Hridayananda Maharaja, Tamal Krsna Maharaja, Krsna Ksetra Prabhu, or Garuda Prabhu — just to name a few — who have found the time they spent in non-devotee run universities to be stimulating and beneficial and who have recommended that other devotees do the same. ...
When I was rereading my letter after having sent it to Chakra I was expecting that answer, because I realized that I have not dealt with this point. But it is actually very simple.
Jagannidhi das writes:
Madhusudani Radha devi dasi writes:
"While it is true that having a job in this world is temporary, that doesn’t make it any less useful during this temporary life. Most devotees have families to support, rent to pay, and food to buy. Unless a devotee is planning on remaining a temple devotee his whole life or unless he is independently wealthy, he needs to obtain an education or learn a trade. Or does Dr S Arnold really want to see more devotees living off social welfare or scamming tourists in urban settings?"
According to my experience there is nothing less useless for earning money and to support a family than a university degree. Spiritually and materially it is simply wasted time. Both my wife and I have spent several years at universities and I am advising all of my children not to commit the same mistake.
Update on Status
We have received a reply from the Missouri Department of Higher Education in reference to the status of RVC [Rupanuga Vedic College] (see letter below).
Some devotees have inquired about why RVC does not provide facilities for educating and training ladies in Vedic studies or Krishna consciousness, I will respond to that question.
It is certainly not because we do not care about the spiritual lives of ladies. I have personally been very involved in helping to establish education and training programs for ladies, in particular the Bhaktin Program that I began in 1974 at New Dvaraka. Later I personally helped establish Bhaktin Programs in many other places including London (with Rohininandana Prabhu and his wife Radhapriya devi dasi), South Africa, Miami, Vancouver, Denver, Portland, Tel Aviv, Athens, Amsterdam, Villa Vrndavana, and Tampa. Today I continue to give advice to those interested in developing training and education programs for Vaisnavis.
Dr S Arnold notes in his recent
article that he believes that the
Rupanuga Vedic College is accredited in
the "real eternal spiritual
world." That may be, but then so
are ISKCON's other educational programs,
such as those offered in Mayapur and
Vrindavan and the temple
That is wonderful and the world
certainly needs more programs that teach
us about spiritual matters. In fact,
after reading the course content of the
revised RVC website, it seems very
similar to a temple bhakta program —
only of longer duration and including
more of Prabhupada's books.
Offering Spiritual Degrees
I’m expressing my opinion with regards to some letters that appeared on Chakra concerning the worthlessness of degrees offered by RVC [Rupanuga Vedic College]. I believe that may be true on a material level because RVC is apparently not a "materially accredited" university. I believe obtaining a degree at this university is not meant for temporary material pursuits, pride, worldly recognition, and personal sense gratification or to pursue temporary material jobs. However, my limited understanding of this matter is that the knowledge gained at this institution and the degrees offered are everlasting and take one beyond the temporary illusion of material nature.
We can all relax now, knowing that Georgina Prabhu can spell and is capable of defending herself. That being said, in her recent post, she asks about answers to the Real Issues. Okay... I'll give it a try.
In her original post she says: "Yet it remains a fact that the daughters of ISKCON need education — most have to leave ISKCON to get it."
You are talking about an academic education, I assume? A lot women and men in ISKCON go to other sources for higher education. It’s not just a women issue or a knock on ISKCON. The fact that there is a lack of education in ISKCON is regrettable, but not exclusive to women. There are wonderful academic programs available within the society see: Girl's Vaishnava Academy Alachua (Florida) and ISKCON School Hillsborough (North Carolina) — http://www.supersoul.com/newgoloka/school — for a start. The need will always be there for more, but the reality is, devotees attracted to advancing in academics have to go where that's being provided. Again, this is reality for both women and men in ISKCON.
What about the Real Issues?
I am now most amazed to read the host of letters in regard to Sudama's "criticism" of my recent posting. I can assure you all that I am not in the least "hurt" by Sudama's reply. In fact I found it highly amusing. His comments were immature and ill considered and had nothing to say on the issue I raised.
There seems to be concern over my ability to spell. There is no need. In fact, I can spell most brilliantly, most magnificently. No... seriously Prabhus, I spell just about as well as everyone else. Big deal. I just typed pretty quick and rushed off the e-mail without checking it properly. That's all there is to it.
His Snide Retort
Dear Chakra et al.,
I have just seen the piece posted on Chakra from Sudama dasa ["RVC: Watch Your Spelling!" Chakra May 23, 2002], deploring Georgina's spelling. Whether or not Sudama's tone is sexist or not, I beg to ask: if the editor normally spell-checks such things and knows that men also make spelling mistakes, why, pray tell, did he even post Sudama's article? Would it not have been better to silently edit Georgina's piece, and send Sudama a note of thanks?
I have been following, the RVC gender debate with great interest as a devotee completing a post-graduate Diploma of Education and currently writing a major piece of work on the contemporary Vedic education system.
In response to John Nolan, women understand that men have difficulty conceptualising females in ways other than ultimately sexual temptation. We can only hope that men one day can evolve beyond these notions of women as such objects and understand that their fear of temptation is pure psychology.
The point being made by Palika dasi and Georgina, I would suggest, has more to with the complete lack of a women’s program and the exclusive discourse which headlines like "Give your son the highest education" perpetuates. Inherent in such a statement is "give your daughter the lowest... or nothing."
Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I really don't understand why you even uploaded Sudama's response to Georgina. His only intention was to make her look stupid and it really isn't newsworthy. I feel a little disappointed you would put such a letter on your website. It only served to hurt someone.
Thank you for your comment that all devotees make spelling errors and it is not just our unintelligent female brains. I can't help but to be offended by Sudama's letter and I don't even know the girl he was referring to. I feel it was done in a vindictive spirit.
[See "RVC: Watch Your Spelling!" Chakra May 23, 2002]
Thank You, Anonymous
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for your candid and straightforward letter to Chakra. I appreciate it. I am currently in college in Santa Barbara, and I think that your kind of letter is needed in ISKCON. There IS a difference between RVC and a regular university. Obviously. I also think that, as time goes on, devotees should, and hopefully will, fill up the roles of professors at these "karmi" institutions. They are not going to go away from the scene. So why not infiltrate them, as you are doing?
Thank you once again.
Yours in the service of Srila
[See "RVC: As It Is and As It Presents Itself" Chakra May 17, 2002]
A Different Perspective
What actually emerges from the correspondence concerning RVC is a feeling of disappointment that the Movement has not established a real accredited college of its very own; a college that offers the courses and training that any regular college would, while providing a Krishna Conscious atmosphere and a spiritual perspective in its courses.
One cannot blame Danavir Swami for the Movement's lack. If you look at the description of what he is offering, it's evident that the whole thrust of RVC is in theological studies. RVC means to train up ministers, brahmans, preachers, priests, and temple managers. This is certainly an important contribution. So the discussion shouldn't revolve around what RVC is not offering, but rather how can ISKCON facilitate the diverse needs of its members, friends, and supporters.
I have received articles and private e-mails asking why I would post something like Sudama’s critique of Georgina’s spelling ("RVC: Watch Your Spelling!" May 23, 2002). Actually, my first thought was to reject the article, as it is simply a criticism based on gender, but then I had a second thought: If one person is saying this, surely many others are thinking it.
Nowadays it is common to hear the word "discrimination" in ISKCON society. When the word "discrimination" is used, it is often done to accuse one or more persons of being unfair to another person or group of persons, and this unfairness happens to almost always have something to do with gender. If women do not have political representation, that is called "discrimination," or that "the men" are oppressing women. If a guru-kula happens to take only male students, and not female students, then there are complaints and accusations that the heads of the guru-kula are "discriminating"—or that they are oppressing women and venting their hate on them. Or if we are feeling a little benevolent, we can dismiss them as merely ignorant and in want of a better understanding. So there is a women’s movement in ISKCON to right these wrongs, so to speak. But the so-called oppression of women that we are trying to rectify are things we will find all over the Vedas, and specifically in Srila Prabhupada’s books.
Degrees Not Valid in UK
Although RVC may be a wonderful
institution to learn about Krsna, sadly
the "degree" awarded at the
end of the period of study would never
be recognised in any UK academic
institution. I teach Religious Education
to students ranging from the ages of
11-18. In order to do this, I completed
a 3-year degree in Theology and
Religious Studies and then had to
complete a further year in Post Graduate
Certificate of Education.
Watch Your Spelling!
While espousing the glories of the female brain, you made some spelling errors:
arguement = argument
You may wish to run the spell checker in your email program before you make a post about women's intelligence.
[Editor's note: I usually run the spell checker before posting an article, but sometimes in the rush of things, one gets past me, as in Georgina’s case. But believe me, the men don’t do any better. I spend much more time correcting the articles than laying them out, and most of them are written by men, so I don’t think it’s fair to make fun of Georgina when hers just happened to be the one that slipped through, although Sudama most likely did not know this.]
[See "RVC: Why Only Your Son?" Chakra May 19, 2002]
Dear Palika Dasi
I don't agree with your criticism of the RVC. It appears to me that the principle of Danavir Goswami is that celibacy is made easier for those who wish to achieve it by not being in daily contact with members of the opposite sex. You should be aware that monasteries have always maintained this type of discipline, as they do to this day particularly in the Far East, i.e India. In years gone by this was also a principle of Christian monastic life.
By Danavir Goswami
In my last posting, ("Response to RVC Ad: Critical Consumers Needed") there was a misunderstanding on my part regarding two issues brought up by Madhusudani Radha. My apologies for unintended errors. I will try to clarify them here.
1) The first misunderstanding was in Madhusudani Radha’s use of the term "registration." I incorrectly thought she was inquiring about RVC’s registration process for its students and I replied accordingly. Actually she was asking if RVC’s being registered with the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education (MCBHE) in 1998 implies anything regarding the quality of education provided at RVC. Or, she questioned, Is perhaps "registration" no more than the filling out of a form and paying a fee?
Reply: Yes, it seems to be ambiguous. I will write to the MCBHE and ask them to clarify whether the fact that RVC is a registered college with them "implies anything regarding the quality of education provided at RVC." Then we will pass on that information. In this way, hopefully, the other devotee’s concern about RVC’s claiming its degrees are "recognized" will simultaneously be addressed. He acknowledges that "recognized" is a neutral term, but he feels it is misleading.
Why Only Your Son?
As an ex-temple devotee, now a teacher (of psychology at sixth form) and currently also studing for my MSc in Psychology, I am disheartened by the "give your son the highest eduation" slogan. Once again ISKCON sidelines women.
As a teacher of psychology I can only laugh at such a fallacy as the "small brain" theory recently debated on CHAKRA. The weight of someone’s brain has nothing to do with levels of intelligence. Nor are women "naturally" interested in "mundane" concerns as opposed to philisophical debate. Such ideas are absurd!
Let's therefore leave aside such futile arguements.
Dear Maharajas and prabhus,
Koti koti dandavats.
I was working with Madhusudani Radha dd about the time she was preparing her piece for Chakra. We were trying to get our heads round the technical limitations of the website, including why certain pages would not appear and where certain information was. So that no one is under any illusions, I would like to state that since the time she penned her article, the website has changed its format and contents. I do not want to minimise or criticize Danavir Maharaja's response to her, but it should be borne in mind that some of the questions (and answers) hinge on the previous layout, etc.
Why the Discrimination?
Dear Danavir Gosvami,
I’d just like to comment on your article "Give Your Son the Highest Education." As soon as I saw the title I almost cried. For my whole life I’ve wanted to study at a Vaishnava gurukula but due to the gender bias present within ISKCON was forced to attend regular school.
Now, at the age of 18 and planning on going to university next year, seeing that the male youth have the opportunity to get a Vaishnava degree but that the matajis are sadly overlooked makes me really angry. I find this very disappointing due to the fact that ISKCON is actually losing out on the respect of the female youth as well as their services. It’s time that the leaders understood that spiritual intelligence is based not on the body but on the devotion of the practitioner.
As It Is and
Before entering the debate between His Holiness Srila Danavir Maharaja and Mother Madhusudani Radha devi dasi, I would like to shortly introduce myself: I am teaching at a major state university, and I aspire to be a devotee (or the other way round).
Marrying science (and I mean proper and real, not just fringe science) and devotional service is not an easy task, as some of the more academically inclined devotees here will most probably know. Thus, it was with great interest and pleasure that I read about the RVC. But I, too, was rather disappointed when I looked closer at what RVC claims to be in contrast to what it actually is.
Why? First of all, I should say that I think it is perfectly okay that RVC is an organization that will be recognized mainly, if not only, in the big small ISKCON world.
Response to "RVC Ad:
Critical Consumers Needed"
By Danavir Goswami
I sincerely apologize for any shortcomings in the RVC website which Madhusudani Radha devi dasi pointed out. I am sorry that she and perhaps others were frustrated with it. To be honest, that website has been frustrating for me also. We humbly request patience as we work hard to update it and improve its format.
Several questions raised by Madhusudani Radha devi dasi are, however, answered in the ad which she responded to, entitled: "Give Your Son the Highest Education."
Namely: the type of degrees offered, the present list of faculty members and statements from non-devotee university academicians.
In reply to other questions Madhusudani Radha devi dasi asks from the website:
She asks, "Does ‘registration’ imply anything regarding the quality of education provided? Or perhaps ‘registration’ is no more than the filling out of a form and paying a fee?"
Reply: "Registration" refers to filling out a form or applying to become a student at RVC but there are no fees.
I request Madhusudani Radha Mataji and also the person whoever posted her article to visit the RVC website one more time. It is really a wonderful effort by His Holiness Danavira Goswami and his team. The prospectus contains course description, subjects, credits, everything in a systematic way. This is there for Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral courses. Also, there is a wonderful line up of the visiting faculty. The ratio of teacher to students is 1:2 or even better for the current strength in college now. This is better than any other school or college I attended or know of.
Looking for some really quality stuff, on your real estate, such as HH Vipramukhya Swami, HH Indradyumna Swami, HH Kavicandra Swami' s articles. These articles really give joy to the reader and increase one's faith in Vaisnavas, Guru, and Krishna.
All glories to these able generals of Srila Prabhupada's army.
Your humble servant,
[See "RVC Ad: Critical Consumers Needed," Chakra, May 10, 2002]
At first glance, the description of the Rupanuga Vedic College in Missouri sounds like a dream. The advertisement encourages parents to send their boys to RVC to be educated in accordance with Prabhupada’s wishes. There is a beautiful picture and several testimonials, both from academics and ISKCON members and the header "accreditation and registration" suggests that this institution is even accredited. It all seems very impressive — until one looks more closely.
The first thing most parents want to read about are specific course offerings and degree requirements, so I clicked on the "Prospectus" link, only to get a white screen with the text: "The page cannot be displayed." Fortunately, there was also a link to "ACADEMIC DEPARTMENTS AND PROGRAMS," so I clicked there instead. It states: "RVC offers a wealth of transcendental, applicable knowledge, unavailable elsewhere. Just as river water remains fresh by receiving a constant supply of incoming water so Vedic knowledge is restored when put into practice." OK. That sounds good, but how exactly is this done? Unfortunately, one never finds out.
Your Son the Highest Education
April 20, 2002 (Krishna Era 5229)
The primary duty of parents is to deliver their offspring from the cycle of birth and death (mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum.)
How will you best fulfill that obligation?
Consider the Rupanuga Vedic College:
ISKCON's degree-awarding college in
Kansas City, USA.
Your son (eighteen years and older) will be eligible to earn Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates degrees in Vaisnava Philosophy and related fields. These are theological degrees (also known as divinity degrees) recognized by the Missouri Board of Higher Education (sections 173.600 through 173.619 RSMo)
Students also receive ISKCON Vaisnava titles: Bhakti-sastri, Bhakti-vaibhava, Bhakti-vedanta and Bhakti-sarvabhauma.
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