The Modern-Hindu Experience
As I looked over the class-schedule for February, I read the title “Modern Hindu Trends” and thought to myself: “Well, I really hope this course won’t be something too vague, but rather help me connect the history of India and Hinduism with what I practice in devotional life…” But soon, as we started our first hours of the course I realized how much wealth there is in studying the history of Hindu thought. Our teacher, Pranava Das, came from India with fresh news on the different scriptures and texts he was able to gain for the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre in Kolkata. His enthusiasm and dedication to contribute to the world by preserving sacred and almost forgotten text of our acharyas was contagious. We were listening to him with wide-opened eyes and ears as he was narrating the intricate stories of meeting different Gaudiya-vaishnavas and trying to get to the various texts.
It was incredible – a whole world of anecdotes, ups and downs, and much more was happening with the Bhaktivedanta Research Centre. And here I was, remembering my initial reservation for the course, and realizing what an incredible opportunity and privilege I have to learn from such a teacher. The course itself was one of the best organized ones, teachings us not only about the history of Indian thought but also about Gaudiya-vaishnavism and its growth from Caitanya’s time until now. Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati Takur and Srila Prabhupada – they became more than acharyas to me, they became living and inspiring examples of one-pointed dedication to Krishna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Here are some of the appreciations students gave:
“Modern Hinduism was an excellent course basically about our founding acarya's historical period and most important the two founders who revived the Bhakti tradition: Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bhaktivedanta Saraswati Thakur. The course is so important for contextualizing our ISKCON society within the greater Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition. Learning out our rich Vaisnava heritage gives hope, and encouragement for the future of ISKCON as well as makes me proud to be in a line of such pure and intelligent devotees.” (Kumari Kunti dd)
"This course with Pranava Prabhu was very interesting. His variety of teaching methods and hands-on knowledge of the material really brought the course to life and discussions became very personal and meaningful throughout the course." (Krishna das)
“This course provides an exceptional background on the history and knowledge of the lives and accomplishments of our acharyas. In fact, as well as receiving an elaborate view on the Vaisnava development within the last several centuries, this course gives you the opportunity to become as ever so close to our parampara by understanding the mission they started and by learning from their actions; thus giving us the key on how to maturely proceed with this most important mission.“ (Manu das)
“When studying for Modern Hinduism I realized how almost everything we’ve studied so far connects in this course!” (Vishwambar Caitanya das)
As every time when a teacher comes to teach, our hearts were moved with not only the knowledge they give us, but also by their personal example in service to Srila Prabhupada. Being a student at Bhaktivedanta College gave me the unique experience of this strong teacher-student bond, where the teachers happily come to give their knowledge and the students are eagerly anticipating to receive it. Such a dynamics makes studying a very personal and spiritually uplifting experience. We are all, therefore, much thankful to Pranava Das for sharing a part of his life and heart with us.