Monk Life provides all sincere spiritual seekers with an opportunity to experience a monastic life based on the Bhagavad-gita and other sacred texts of ancient India. The Gita teaches the science of Krishna Consciousness (bhakti yoga), and it has been expertly translated into English by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is the foremost authority on Vedic literature in modern times.The Be a Monk initiative is dedicated to training young men in spiritual values and equipping them with the skills needed to live an authentic, transcendental life. This is known in Sanskrit as bhakti-yoga, or Krishna consciousness. We train spiritual seekers in foundational principles of spiritual wellness to solidify their understanding of the Absolute Truth, or the ultimate source of all energies.
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PHILOSOPHY OF KRISHNA
WHAT IS IT?
Krishna consciousness, also known as bhakti-yoga, is more than just a religion, but a way of life. Krishna consciousness refers to the living being’s original state of consciousness – eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. In this state of spiritual perfection, the living entity no longer identifies himself with the temporary body and the fleeting happiness derived from unnatural association with the material but is in situated in complete knowledge of the self and God, Krishna. Such a self-realized soul has transcended the cycle of birth, death and karma, and has reawakened his eternal loving relationship with Krishna and experiences a life of never-ending spiritual happiness – the immortal nectar of Krishna consciousness that all beings ultimately seek.
Monk Life is rooted in the ancient Vaishnava traditions of Vedic India, specifically Gaudiya Vaishnavism, also known as Hare Krishna. The knowledge that is presented in this program is based on the teachings of the ancient texts of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, is has been handed down for over 5000 years from gurus to disciples through an unbroken system of disciplic succession. The culture of Krishna consciousness is therefore backed by volumes of profound spiritual literature, wisdom of great teachers (gurus) and the inspiring history of countless souls from all walks of life and backgrounds achieving spiritual perfection.
Today we live in a peaceless world that is beset by confusion and chaos, where the pursuit of happiness through conquest of the weak and poor is destroying both mankind and nature, and where both science and religion have failed to promote an environment of genuine inquiry towards the nature of this world, purpose of life, and the source of all existence. Krishna consciousness presents the timeless wisdom of Bhagavad-gita that goes to the root of all the confusion in society today – forgetfulness of our real spiritual identity as a part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. When a sincere soul understands his true spiritual nature, he immediately transcends the misery and chaos of this world and becomes equipoised towards pain and pleasure. Thus, the relevance and need of Krishna consciousness in today’s world cannot be understated. This is the real formula for peace & happiness – both individually and collectively. Armed with the ability to control one’s senses and mind, a graduate of the Monk Life program is gifted with a clear understanding of one’s purpose in life as a servant of Krishna (God) and orients his life to ultimately break free from the cycle of karma and achieve pure love of God.
WHO IS SRILA PRABHUPADA?
Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami (AC Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada) was born on 1 September 1896 in Calcutta. Often referred to as Srila Prabhupada, his birth name was Abhay Charan De. He was also called Nandulāl. His parents, Gour Mohan De and Rajani De, were devout Vaishnavas and resided at 6 Sitakanta Banerjee Lane, Calcutta.His name Abhay Charan means he who is protected and reveres the feet of Lord Krishna. That was also because he was born on Krishna Janmashtami day.
Studies and Marriage
In 1916 Prabhupada began studies at Calcutta's Scottish Churches' College, where he majored in English, philosophy, and economics. Yet after completing his degree, Prabhupada refused to accept his diploma. He did this to register his protest against British rule of India, for he had become sympathetic to Mahatma Gandhi's Indian independence movement. During his college years Prabhupada's father arranged for his marriage to Radharani Datta. After marrying, Prabhupada gained employment as a manager in a pharmaceutical firm in Calcutta to support his wife and family.
Meets his future spiritual master
Srila Prabhupada and his friend both bowed down on the floor before Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati for the first time. While the two young men were still rising and preparing to sit, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta immediately said to them "You are educated young men. Why don’t you preach the message of Krishna all over the world? Srila Prabhupada could hardly believe what he had just heard.He asked him "But who will hear your message, so long as we are a dependent country? First India must become independent. How can we spread our Indian culture if we are under British rule"? Srila Bhaktisiddhanta replied "The message of Krishna cannot wait for a change in Indian politics. It is not dependent on who ruled. The teachings of Bhagavad-gita are so important – so exclusively important – that it cannot wait".
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta called for Abhay to come forward and receive initiation by accepting his japa, or prayer, beads. After offering prostrated obeisances, Abhay extended his right hand and accepted the strand of japa beads from the hand of his spiritual master. At the same time, he also received the sacred brahminical thread, signifying second initiation. Now Abhay was a full-fledged disciple, a brahmana, who could perform sacrifices, such as this fire yajna for initiation; he could worship the Deity in the temple and would be expected to discourse widely. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta added aravinda, “lotus,” to his name; now he was Abhay Charanaravinda.
Visits his spiritual master
In November 1935 Srila Prabhupada had traveled from Bombay to Vrndavana, near Delhi, to see his spiritual master. As they had walked on the bank of the sacred pond Radha-kunda, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had suddenly turned to his disciple and given him an essential instruction: "I had a desire to print some books. If you ever get money, print books." Now, nearly a decade later, Srila Prabhupada was still without substantial funds. But his Krsna conscious message was too urgent to wait. So he began BACK TO GODHEAD magazine.
Receives title ‘Bhaktivedanta’
In later years, after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Prabhupada was engaged in writing articles for a Bengali journal published by his Godbrother, Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja — Goswami Maharaja and other leading Vaisnavas of the time were so impressed with the writing and preaching capabilities of our Guru Maharaja that Goswami Maharaja conferred upon our Guru Maharaja the name/title “Bhaktivedanta".
In 1950 Srila Prabhupada left his household life and began preaching in different parts of India but quickly settled in Vrindavan. Prabhupada accepted the order of sannyasa from Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja on September 17, 1959 at the Kesavaji Math in Mathura. After entering the renounced order of life he began translating the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Voyage to the USA
Srila Prabhupada set out for America. He got a free ticket to travel to New York.He was the only passenger on board that small weathered cargo ship named Jaladuta. Srila Prabhupada sat in his stuffy cabin which rolled back and forth with the motion of the sea. He suffered from sea sickness, dizziness and vomiting. He also had two heart-attacks but survived by the mercy of Lord Krishna.When the Jaladuta arrived in New York Harbor thirty-seven days later, Srila Prabhupada was utterly alone. He had come to America knowing no one, with absolutely no visible means of support, and with only the meager handful of possessions he had carried on board the ship. He had no money, no friends, no followers, not his youth, good health or even a clear idea of how he would accomplish his far-reaching objective to present the spiritual knowledge of the Vedas to the entire Western society.
Establishes the Krishna Consciousness Movement
Although seemingly penniless, he had with him the greatest treasure of all, the holy names of Krishna and transcendental literatures describing the names, forms, qualities and pastimes of Krishna. After endeavouring very hard and almost losing hope on a few occasions, in the year 1966 he was able to fulfilled the desire of his spiritual master and the prophecy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by legally establishing ISKCON in New York. With the help and support of his dedicated disciples, Srila Prabhupad preached and propagated Krishna Conciousness throughout the world, establishing 108 temples and covering the entire globe 14 times, tirelessly taking the movement forward.
Establishes the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
He formed the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust as the exclusive publisher of all literature containing his teachings, writings and lectures. He intended the proceeds from sale of his books to be divided equally for printing new books and establishing temples—centers of spiritual education and culture.
Departure from the material world
At 7:20 p.m. on November 14, 1977, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, departed from this world. At the time, he was in his quarters at the Krsna-Balarama temple in Vrndavana, India, surrounded by loving disciples chanting the Hare Krsna mantra while translating the tenth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
A PROJECT OF KRISHNA LIFE
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