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ISKCON News | South African Children Complete First-ever Bala Bhagavatam Course

(iskconnews.org) – Ratnalekha Devi Dasi, a devotee from South Africa, has successfully organized a Bala Bhagavatam Level One course for children as offered by the Mayapur Institute. The course, which started in August 2022 and ended on January 22, 2023, was initially designed for children in India. However, Mataji approached the Mayapur Institute to allow South African children to take the course. As a result, the program was authorized with the help of her local ISKCON-ZA Education Ministry.

The program involved 19 lessons taught by 25-26 facilitators who the Mayapur Institute had trained. The facilitators used lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, model videos, audio recordings of the shlokas, and summaries of learning plans to assist children in comprehending the course material. After finishing the course, the children underwent a written assessment and an oral recitation of three shlokas to receive their certificates.

Despite the difficulty of pronouncing Sanskrit words and the intensity of the course, the children persevered with the help of their facilitators and parents, who supported them in balancing the demands of school schedules and exams. In addition, the videos and audios provided by the Mayapur Institute were so well presented that the children could recite the Sanskrit verses beautifully.

Some of the most recent course graduates.

The course was a significant success, with 47 children from South Africa completing it. An awards ceremony was held on January 22, 2023, where the children received their certificates and a copy of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is. The organizers were pleased with the course’s success and hope to offer more classes in the future. The parents were also thrilled to see their children learn and grow spiritually. Some even were surprised by their children’s accomplishments.  In a presentation about the initiative, Ratnalekha Devi Dasi said, “I want to also thank our facilitators for the time and effort that they put in to deliver the content of the course to our children and youth. Their diligence week after week has paid dividends beyond our expectations.”  She continued, “Thank you to our children for being brave to do the course and hats off to our parents for giving their little ones this opportunity to develop as future Iskcon leaders.”

Since then, Mataji has also been responsible for coordinating facilitators in various other countries, including the USA, Mauritius, Fiji, India, and France. Additionally, the program has expanded to include a youth and adult initiative with ten classes on the same content from the Mayapur Institute, facilitated by her team of facilitators.

The program aligns well with the Hare Krishna movement’s broader goals and Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, as it seeks to educate children and adults about the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, promoting spiritual growth and understanding.

Overall, the success of the Bala Bhagavatam Level One course and the program’s expansion demonstrate its potential to educate and inspire children, youth, and adults worldwide.

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