ISCON Leads On With All-India Training Program

By Madhava Smullen on 16 Apr 2010
When Bhakti Brihat Bhagavat Swami started the ISKCON LEADS training program in March 2009, on the recommendation of the GBC succession committee, it was with Srila Prabhupada’s words reverberating clearly in his mind.

Currently offered only in India, the ISKCON LEADS training program includes three modules and 17 courses, all taught at regional divisions in Mumbai, Delhi, Tirupati, and Mayapur.

When Bhakti Brihat Bhagavat Swami started the ISKCON LEADS training program in March 2009, on the recommendation of the GBC succession committee, it was with Srila Prabhupada’s words reverberating clearly in his mind.

“Just as all parts of the body cooperate to keep the body fit, in the ideal state all sections of society cooperate under the leadership of the brahmanas,” wrote the ISKCON Founder in his book Beyond Illusion and Doubt. “At present this Krishna consciousness movement is training brahmanas. If the administrators take our advice and conduct the state in a Krishna conscious way, there will be an ideal society throughout the world.”

Now at the end of its first year of three, ISKCON LEADS’ mission is to systematically train and educate dynamic, cultured, and effective spiritual leaders who will inspire devotees to take ISKCON to the position of world prominence that Srila Prabhupada envisioned.

“ISKCON LEADS—or ISKCON Leadership Education And Development System—is an effective acronym because it conveys the ethos of our leadership training both in the acronym and the full name,” explains secretary Vamsi Vadana Dasa.

Currently offered only in India, the ISKCON LEADS training program includes three modules and 17 courses, all taught at regional divisions in Mumbai, Delhi, Tirupati, and Mayapur.

“The five courses of Module One, Interpersonal Spiritual Development, each cover one of the “Five Most Potent Forms of Devotional Service” described in the Caitanya-caritamrta,” Vamsi Vadana says. “Which are associating with devotees, chanting the holy name of the Lord, hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, residing in a holy place, and worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration.”

Taught by qualified facilitators such as Lokanatha Swami and ISKCON LEADS chairman Brihat Bhagavat Swami, the courses corresponding to these services are Bhakti Sadacara (Krishna Conscious Behavior); Kirtan and Japa Retreat; a course on Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto One; a course on Srila Prabhupada’s biography; and a course on the basic standards of Deity Worship.

Meanwhile Module Two, Missionary and Family Spirit Development, includes courses on book distribution, devotee care, fundraising, college preaching, congregational development, and farm community development. Once again, these are taught by illustrious teachers such as ISKCON’s Rural Development Ministry director Bhakti Raghava Swami, Devotee CARE director Revati Ramana Dasa, and book distribution expert Navina Nirada Dasa.

The final module of the LEADS program opens with an administrative course on basic accounting, legal procedures, and ISKCON’s organizational structure. This is followed by courses on teacher training, leadership and management, communications, and conflict resolution, once again offered by leaders in their fields such as ISKCON Resolve director Braja Bihari Dasa and ISKCON Communications Director Anuttama Dasa.

“This module, ISKCON Institutional Development, is very important,” Vamsi Vadana Dasa comments. “As Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Your love for me will be shown by how much you cooperate to keep this institution together after I am gone.’”

Students so far have been very appreciative of the knowledge and practical guidance they’ve received from ISKCON LEADS, and the training program is growing steadily, with about 200 devotees currently enrolled.

New candidates wishing to apply for the training program must follow ISKCON’s four regulative principles, chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily, and fully accept following ISKCON’s line of spiritual and managerial authority, amongst other criteria.
Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a Diploma s a Leader in ISKCON.

“Our goal is to train as many effective, spiritual leaders as possible,” Vamsi Vadana say

Posted in In the News.