With only 9 more days to go before our Gitanjali fund-raising concert, I am appealing for your help to make this event a great success. As many of you know, we are in desperate need to expand our classroom facilities. We have estimated that it will cost up to $37,000 to add a building to support the expanding Audarya Bhavan (1st-3rd Grade) class.
We have already raised a little over 10% of the money necessary to expand but have an opportunity to cover the majority of this expansion expense through the upcoming fund-raising event on May 1st. Here is how you can help:
Buy a ticket - I hope every one that resides in the Alachua area is planning on attending. You can purchase tickets at the Alachua temple Sunday Feast, school office, or by calling 386-462-2886. Adult tickets are $12. Children tickets (Ages 5-12) are $6.
Put a special message in the Gitanjali Program Guide - We have reserved space in the program guide for families to place special messages to their children. If you have a child, grandchild, nephew, niece, etc. in Bhaktivedanta Academy we encourage you to place a special message to them. 2 types of messages are available: 1/8 page text only for $15; 1/4 page text and picture for $25.
1/4 page with text and image - $25
Buy an advertisement or ask someone you know to place an advertisement in the Gitanjali Program Guide - If you own a business or know someone who does, we have ad space available at very reasonable rates. Ads start at 1/4 page for $25 to full page for only $100.
The deadline for ad and message submissions is Friday, April 24th. Contact Padmaksi Sutherland for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-871-8924.
Make a donation - Direct cash donations are always appreciated. Any funds raised will go directly toward the expansion of Bhaktivedanta Academy.
Ask someone you know to make a donation - Do you know someone who would like to support a great cause? If so, ask them to donate toward the expansion of Bhaktivedanta Academy.
We are counting on your support. With your help we can make this the best fund-raising event in the history of the school!
Visvambhara das Director
Bhakti Bhavan - Pre-K/Kindergarten
by Nataka-candrika dasi
The month of March was filled with a variety of both academic and spiritual activities. Having finished their unit study of Australasia, the students of Bhakti Bhavan were treated to a presentation on Australia by Tulasi’s father, Lindsey. Lindsey travels around the states teaching students about the culture and animals of the “land down under.” He mesmerized the children by playing on a variety of handmade wooden instruments called didgeridoos. The children also had an opportunity to act out a story of the unusual animals of Australia while playing their own wooden rhythm sticks. And as always, they made their own booklets to color and take home.
Karuna works on letter formation.
Grandparents’ Day was celebrated in March with many grandparents coming to spend the morning in our classroom. After singing a song of appreciation for their grandparents, students invited them to explore their classroom environment to see what kinds of activities they do each day. Jahnava Higgins captivated the audience as she gave a dramatic reading of her upcoming book about Narada Muni. She also brought with her the original drawings, which will be in the book.
Knowing that Lord Ramacandra’s Appearance Day was coming up, students of Bhakti Bhavan began early in the month learning about this much loved incarnation of Krsna. Each day they heard another part of the story as well as a song about Lord Rama. Teachers were pleased to hear that the students chose this story for their soon to be published class book. On the actual day of Lord Rama’s appearance, students were surprised by the appearance of special guest Deities: Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman. Everyone admired Their beauty enhanced by decorations of colorful flowers from the school garden. As an offering of devotion to Them, the entire school came together to chant bhajans, lead expertly by assistant director, Navina Shyama Prabhu. Students became so absorbed in remembering Lord Rama that throughout the day, teachers could hear children singing both inside and outside of the classroom. Even during recess, students could be seen acting out the story using sticks and sand toys for improvised bows and arrows. Lord Ramacandra ki jaya!
Spring has finally arrived and the garden area of the playground has been prepared and ready for planting. So far, students have planted a few varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs. Each morning when they come to school, students run to see how their plants are growing. With watering cans in hand they lovingly tend their plants with devotion and care knowing they will be offered to Krsna.
In the upcoming month we will be learning about the continent of Africa, parts of the fish, brass polishing and how to juice oranges. We will also be inviting the fathers to spend a day with us. It should be a busy, hands-on month of learning and devotion!
Audarya Bhavan - Grade 1-3
by Satyaki dasi
Audarya Bhavan welcomed March with music and song in anticipation of the blessed event of Lord Chaitanya’s Appearance.
Mrgakshi practices with the Audarya Bhavan students
Mrgakshi volunteered her time to help us with our Gaura Purnima presentation of the first verse of Shikshastakam. She has been teaching the children important musical components such as rhythm, breathing, timing, and diction. Sri Thakur has also started choir practice. His fist lesson concentrated on breathing techniques and the importance of singing together. We give a special thanks to these devotees who have graciously given their time so that we might serve Lord Krishna better.
Lindsey Dank graciously gave the children lessons on how to play the didgeridoo. Lindsey is an expert on the Australian culture. He taught the children how to drone and vocalize on their didgeridoos.
Lindsey demonstrates the didgeridoo.
On March 11, we celebrated the Vedic New Year 523. Navina Shyama provided sweets, horns, and hats to help us celebrate. Everyone enjoyed the fun activities.
On March 30th we had a special birthday walk for Vishnu. He turned 8 years old. We celebrated with warm thoughts and cupcakes.
Madhurya Bhavan - Grade 4-6
by Krishna Priya dasi
Absorbing Ourselves in the Lord’s Lila
Under the direction of Kaliyaphani Prabhu, the students of Bhaktivedanta Academy geared up for another play. This one - a slow and sober mime of the appearance of Lord Rama. The unique feature this time around is that Audarya Bhavan and Madhurya Bhavan worked together. With the older students contributing their experience and the younger ones contributing their enthusiasm, the results were transcendental magic!
Ram Navami Performance
Multi-Media Bhagavada-Gita Classes
Laxmimoni Prabhu asked the students, “Have any of you ever felt bored or dissatisfied?” Everyone raised their hands. Projecting a picture of a heart onto the screen with a black hole at its center, she explained that everyone has an emptiness they’re always striving to fill. With a click of button, pictures of cellphones, cars, and toys went into the heart and faded, leaving the hole unfilled. Students discussed how they try to enjoy material objects but how such things never give them happiness that lasts. After further discussion, Laxmimoni moved a picture of Krsna into the hole in the heart. This time the picture did not fade. The lesson was simple, but profound: we feel complete when we fill our heart with Krsna. Thank you Laxmimoni for such an enriching presentation.
Naryani portrays Mary Lou
This month we finished reading Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. As a final project, students read excerpts from the diaries they have been keeping, each from the perspective of a different character. Afterwards, another student interviewed the character and we videotaped the presentations. The students also analyzed the different qualities the novel’s characters exhibited. They looked for examples of honesty, respect, and courage, as well as examples of opposite traits. They then discussed the consequences of these different qualities on the characters’ future lives. In this way, we all learned how developing qualities like those we focus on at Bhaktivedanta Academy can make a real difference, both in our material and spiritual lives.
Reflections on Parenting
by Nataka-candrika dasi
Krishna Swarup with his son Purushottama.
Recently, I was asked by a young parent if I had any ideas for her regarding raising a happy, responsible, Krsna conscious child. Reflecting back to the late 70’s and 80’s when my own three children were young, I thought about the essence of my own experience as a parent. Of course, things have changed and most devotee parents today do not live and work at the temple like we did. In many families, both the husband and wife must work outside the home in order to make ends meet. By the end of the day, most admit they have little time or energy left to devote to their children. At best, they try to ask them about their day and, those who are able to, eat a family meal together. So how do we perform our Krsna Conscious duty and still balance our everyday lives? The following points may be helpful for those parents who are trying to be both good devotees and responsible parents:
ACCEPT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY...It is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.5.18, “One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod.” When you invite a spirit soul into your lives, you are accepting responsibility in all areas of the child’s life for the next 20 or so years. This not only means that you will provide the basic necessities for the child but will also give the child a Krsna Conscious foundation on which to build his or her own life.
LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY...Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter to Satyabhama dasi (3-23-73) “Why should parents not feel attachment for their children? That is natural. But our affection is not simply sentimental; we offer our children the highest opportunity to become trained up in Krsna Consciousness very early so as to assure their success in this life to go back to Godhead for sure. That is real affection, to make sure my child gets back to Godhead; that is my real responsibility as a parent.” There will be times when our children will make the wrong choices in life and we will need to be there for them when they do. Let them know that you may not approve of their behavior but that you will always love them.
SET THE RIGHT EXAMPLE...As a parent you are the first and most important teacher in your child’s life. But often the development of character is left to the school in hopes that teachers will impart to the child the discipline and respect the parents couldn’t. Never underestimate the impact your example has on him or her. The impressions from the early years (especially the first 5 years) are the ones that shape the future of your child’s beliefs and personality. A strong family unit and a home filled with love and caring will have a life-long impact on the child and his own future family. If you want them to grow up as devotees of the Lord, let them see you chanting your rounds, reading the scriptures, engaging in practical devotional service in your home and they will get the right impression. Just as Srila Prabhupada said in a Srimad-Bhagavatam lecture in 1972 in L.A.,
“Children’s nature is to imitate, because they have to learn. So, nature has given them the propensity to imitate. So, the first imitation begins from the parents. If the parent is nice Krishna devotee, naturally the children become devotees. That is the opportunity of taking birth in a Vaisnava family. So you are all Vaisnavas. If your children do not become Vaisnava in the future, then it is a great, I mean to say, fault on your part. So you should be very cautious, careful, that children are not going astray, they are becoming Krsna conscious. That means you have to imitate, you have to be devotee, and they will imitate. By imitation, imitation, imitation, they will come to Krishna consciousness. Then they will never give it up.”
TAKE TIME TO TEACH THEM...Young children need guidance in all aspects of their lives. They look to their parents to see what kinds of values they should have and what is right or wrong behavior. Education is an on-going process. In this world, they are going to be exposed to many evils and in spite of all your efforts to keep them protected, there will be times when you find you have no other shelter than prayer and the words of Sri Krsna to guide you.
Part of your teaching should include what you have allowed them to view and read, and with whom and how they spend their time. They should be taught to be patient, tolerant and how to respect others. They should also be taught that cleanliness is next to Godliness. That is the responsibility of each family. This may not be an easy process, but the results will be well worth the time you spent teaching these lessons.
DISCIPLINE WITH LOVE...Srila Prabhupada explains in the Caitanya-caritamrta, (Adi-lila, Vol. One, Preface, p.xi),
“A child can be stopped from engaging in nonsense by being engaged in superior activities.”
Parents can take advantage of the association of other like-minded parents to engage their children in meaningful activities. Many temple communities offer social and cultural opportunities for the children and youth such as drama, music and dance. I have seen practically how these kinds of engagements, coupled with a strong focus on devotional service in one’s own family, can help during the most challenging years. According to Canakya Pandit,
“Lalane bahavo dosah. If you become lenient, there will be many faults.”
Discipline through force and chastisement is the lazy way. Love is the opposite of laziness. Discipline with love means you are constantly endeavoring to redirect deviant behavior through immersing the child in more positive, beneficial activities. If you are committing to the above four points, you are already demonstrating a tremendous amount of love. I believe this is the crux of Srila Prabhupada's system.
Although these guidelines may be helpful to parents, no one thing assures success in raising Krsna Conscious children. There are no magic formulas, just a lot of prayers and plain old-fashioned hard work!
Dedicated to the the service of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Thanks to the following "Mahajans" for volunteering their time, talent or treasure to the school:
Bali: The Givers of Charity
Bhaja Govinda and Manusamhita for beads, masks and other drama supplies.
Brajasundari’s family for a brand new vacuum cleaner for Bhakti, Audarya and Madhurya Bhavans.
Chandramukhi’s family for lending her Australian plush animals for the month.
Gaura Sakti (Krishangi’s father) for toothbrushes for all students.
Gopa and Damodara from New Vrindavana for donating towards a paper organizer for Madhurya Bhavan.
Harini and Krsnaya’s family for basmati rice for Bhakti Bhavan lunchtime.
The families of Harini, Krsnaya, Lali, Radhe and Tulasi for starter plants for the Bhakti Bhavan garden.
Hladini’s family for an electric sweeper for Bhakti Bhavan.
Krishna Bhava (Krishna Priya’s mother) for a new projection screen.
Nadia’s family for butter for practical work.
Sri Rupa and Sacinandana for a box full of markers, ribbons and other art supplies.
Vrindavani’s family for crackers for practical work.
Bhishma: The Dutiful Bhaktas
All the parents and community members who helped with the production of our Gaura Purnima performances, including Indrani (Narottama’s mother), Jahnavi (Balarama’s mother), Krsna Vallabha (Syamali and Nayana’s mother), Mahakirti (Abhimnayu’s father), Mrkanda (Vrindavanai and Madhuri’s father), Vrindavanesvari (Bhakti Bhavan teacher), Manu, Bhakta Dustin, Bhakta Joe, Abhay, Vidyananda, Nitai Prana, Luz Marina, and others.
Kumaras: Assisting the Instruction of Your Kumaras and Kumaris
Gaura Purnima (Jalangi’s “Alachua mother”) for single-handedly renovating the temple costume shed from dingy dump to diva dressing room. Wow!
Maury (Lali’s grandfather) for turning over and fertilizing the Bhakti Bhavan garden.
Mrgaksi (Madhuri, Vrindavani and Abhimanyu’s grandmother) for creating props for Madhurya Bhavan’s play.
Narada Muni: The Visiting Teachers
Jahnava Higgins for a dramatic reading of her new book to Bhakti Bhavan during Gradnparents’ Day.
Kaliyaphani for once again directing Madhurya Bhavan in a wonderful festival play. This time around it was “The Kazi’s Insignia.”
Krishna Bhakta (Krsnaya and Harini’s father) for reading to Bhakti Bhavan.
Lindsey (Tulasi’s father) for instructing Audarya and Madhurya Bhavans in intermiediate didgeridoo playing and for teaching Bhakti Bhavan about the aboriginal origins of this fascinating instrument.
Mrgaksi for conducting and providing musical accompaniment to Bhakti and Audarya Bhavan’s performances at Gaura Purnima.
Pani Bhusana for reciting Caitanya Lila to Madhurya Bhavan.
Prahlada: Creating the Right Conditions to Learn
Mahavisnupriya for counseling some of our students and helping them to better manage their emotions.
Siva: Keeping Ignorance Under Control
Pani Bhusana for fixing some of our signage.
We need the following services for the upcoming month:
Bali: The Givers of Charity
Bags of oranges for practical life work.
Starter plants (not seeds) for the Bhakti Bhavan garden.
Kapila: Parents and Children Helping Each Other Learn
The quality for April is tolerance, something stressed by Lord Caitanya Himself. Some ideas for engaging children in this virtue include discussing the value of diversity and demonstrating the importance of remaining undisturbed even when provoked.
Prahlada: Creating the Right Conditions to Learn
Please make sure Bhakti Bhavan children come in closed-toed shows that they can take on and off themselves. Flip-flops and sandals are disallowed by state regulation, and hard-to-tie shoes can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience for the children.
Bhaktivedanta Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and any other school-administered programs or activities.