Published on October 29th, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Srila Prabhupada on Gurukul


The children should be trained in early rising, attending mangal arati, some elementary education: arithmetic, alphabet, some of our books, like that. They should go to bed by 8 p.m. and rise by 4 a.m. for mangal arati, getting 8 hours sleep. If they take 8 hours sleep, they will not fall asleep during arati.

Due the the current interest in the ISKCON Gurukul [boarding school] system we have presented an unbiased collection of Srila Prabhupada’s quotes on the Gurukul System. A few quotes are provided below.

To view a bigger selection of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on Gurukul [108 quotes] click here.

70-10-28 Letter: Bhavananda
It is very encouraging that you have got license from the Board of Education to continue our children’s school. Kindly organize it nicely and it shall be a great achievement. We have to concentrate to give them some idea about God–that should be our first business. In art class they should be encouraged to draw pictures of Krsna, Kuruksetra, etc. There are so many subjects for drawing as it is stated in our book Krsna. If they are trained, they will come out nice devotees. It will depend on the process of training. Regarding some misbehavior, that we have to check by training peacefully. Your attitude of tolerance and kindness very nice, so train them in this way. It is Lord Caitanya’s order that we have got to discharge welfare activities on behalf of Lord Caitanya.

71-10-09 Letter: Satsvarupa
Regarding your teacher problem, I have advised Pradyumna to go there and teach students primary Sanskrit lessons at least to learn the alphabet, so that in the future when they go to India they may learn Sanskrit very easily. The students should be taught Sanskrit both in Devanagari and Bengali alphabets. Satyabhama in New Vrindaban has written a nice book for elementary lessons in English. I think this book may be printed immediately. If not the manuscript may be used to teach the students. The important matter is that the children are taken care of nicely. Bhavananda was talking with me that in New Vrindaban students were very much neglected. Therefore they were immediately transferred to New York. Every parent wants to see that their children are taken care of very nicely. That is the first duty. If they are not healthy then how they can prosecute their education? If they are undernourished it is not good for their future activities. They must have sufficient quantity of milk and then dhal, capatis, vegetables, and a little fruit will keep them always fit. There is no need of luxurious fatty foods but milk is essential. A big building is also very good for the children’s health. They can move freely and run and jump.

72-01-00 Letter: Svati
Regarding your other questions: Children may be recommended for initiation when they are twelve years old. We should avoid as far as possible any physical punishment to train children. It is better to use sweet words or if it is absolutely necessary to punish then you may bind with ropes in one place or show the cane, but do not use–like that. I have recently explained to Aniruddha in Dallas school and you may write to him for details. The most important thing however is to see that somehow or other the children are always engaged in some kind of Krsna conscious activity, then they will naturally develop a taste for it and think it great fun even to work very hard for Krsna’s pleasure.

72-01-10 Letter: Aniruddha
The children should be trained in early rising, attending mangal arati, some elementary education: arithmetic, alphabet, some of our books, like that. They should go to bed by 8 p.m. and rise by 4 a.m. for mangal arati, getting 8 hours sleep. If they take 8 hours sleep, they will not fall asleep during arati. When they get up they should wash with a little warm water, at least three times wash face. They may sleep one hour in the afternoon and there is no harm. Encourage them to chant as much japa as possible, but there is no question of force or punishment. If there is need you may shake your finger at them but never physical punishment is allowed. Try as far as possible to discipline them with love and affection, so that they develop a taste for austerity of life and think it great fun to serve Krishna in many ways. Rising early and mangal arati, this is enough austerity. Besides that, let them learn something, chant, dance, eat as much prasadam as they like, and do not mind if they have playful nature–let them also play and run, that is natural. It is nice if they eat often–if children overeat it doesn’t matter, that is no mistake. Boys and girls should be educated separately.

72-02-16 Letter: Chaya
All the children should learn to read and write very nicely, and a little mathematics, so that they will be able to read our books. Cooking, sewing, things like that do not require schooling, they are learned simply by association. There is no question of academic education for either boys or girls–simply a little mathematics and being able to read and write well, that’s all, no universities. Their higher education they will get from our books, and other things they will get from experience, like preaching, SKP, etc. Alongside the regular classes in reading and writing, the other routine programs they should also participate in, like arati, kirtana, preaching, Sankirtana, like that.

72-02-16 Letter: Satsvarupa
One thing, if Aniruddha is shaky in his Krishna Consciousness, how he can teach the children? Unless one is firmly convinced about Krishna Consciousness, I don’t think the children will learn properly from such a person. Other experienced teachers may be called from other centers if they are required, that you should discuss with the GBC. If you are only a few persons, and if the place is so big, how you can manage? Especially I don’t think you will be able to worship Radha-Krishna deities at the very high standard until later time. Better reserve all your workers for managing other things until many devotees are there. When I shall come there later on, I will see everything, how it is going on.

72-02-28 Letter: Satsvarupa
Sanskrit should be compulsory for all our children to learn, and anyone who has elementary knowledge of alphabet and grammar can begin to teach it. In addition, English reading and writing, a little mathematics, history and geography or we shall be thought fools if we do not know–that’s all. Main thing is that by attendance of our routine programme, that is, rising early, cleansing, chanting, eating Krsna prasada, street Sankirtana, looking at books, etc., in this way, if the children associate with their elders in the regular schedule of devotional practices, that is best way to train. Otherwise, hygienic principles must be very much practiced. The future preachers of KC Movement must learn to be suci, absolutely pure in all respects, & for this, practical cleansing is the basic teaching, e.g., not touching anything dirty to mouth. Mouth is dirtiest part, and infection can spread very easily by the mouth. There is word visa-kanya, or the policy of gradually poisoning a beautiful girl so she will adapt ad not be affected, then she will have the potency to assassinate by passing infection by mouth to some enemy. Water itself is most antiseptic, so soap is not always required. The boys should be taught, and also all devotees should also be taught to wash own dishes, hands, mouth–that means always washing. They should be given only what they will eat, so that nothing is left over, and while bathing they can wash their own cloth. Your country, America, will become so much degraded that they will appreciate if we are revolutionary clean. Our revolutionary medicine will be experimented on these children, and it will be seen in America to be the cure. So make your program in this way, and encourage nondevotees or outsiders to enroll their children with us for some minimum fee, and you will do the greatest service to your country and its citizens by introducing this.

72-05-20 Letter: Dayananda
I have seen your wife Nandarani dasi here in Los Angeles and she is doing very well. I want that she shall help me improve the conditions at our Dallas school by going there and teaching the children. If children are allowed to play just like Krishna was playing with his cowherd boyfriends, then little ABC, then see the deity and have arati, then take little prasadam; in this way if they are always diversified, they will be always jolly and become fixed-up devotees at young age. And small children, they learn better these things from their mother and women in general. So I thing that some mothers of our children should go to Dallas and take charge of teaching the children, especially how to play nicely the pastimes of young Krishna. If you ask one child to be a tree, he will immediately hold out his arms “Just see I am a tree.” If you ask him to be a cow he will walk on his hands and knees immediately and you can hit him with a stick and say “hut, hut.” And if they will not take prasadam you can say “Now you are a cow and you must eat the grass” and immediately they will stand on hands and legs and eat prasadam like cow eating grass. So in this way our children in Dallas school should be trained because I want that a new generation of devotees shall carry on this great mission successfully.

73-05-21 Letter: Ekendra, Shawn, Christina, Dvarakadhisa, Kimi, Tonya, Joe, John, Candramukhi,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your very nice Isopanisad papers, with sanskrit, transliteration, translation and purport. You are all very nice devotees. You are very, very fortunate to have the opportunity to be going to this Gurukula. It is the only one of its kind in the world. You are the first students and you must set a good example for the others, always being very enthusiastic to learn from your teachers, offering all respects to your teachers, leading the kirtanas with exuberance. In future you will be the leaders of this Krsna Consciousness Movement, so now you must take this training preparation very seriously.

74-12-28 Letter: Jagadisa
Regarding Gurukula I am very happy to hear that the financial crisis has passed. That is very good. This is real management. As far as the children are concerned, people are accusing us sometimes that our children are undernourished, underfed and not cared for properly. So it is good that you are seeing that they are happy and healthy. They should be given milk at least 8 ounces a day if possible 16 ounces a day. Dahl, capati, rice, vegetable this will keep them fit. If possible a little bit of fruit also. As for fixing up the Deity house in Dallas with marble altars, this is not necessary for now. We shall see later on. For the time being organize the health, education and care of the children and continue the Deity worship as it is going nicely now. Deities are satisfied with bhakti not marble. Therefore try to increase the bhakti.

75-02-02 Letter: Candramukhi
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated nil and have noted the contents. I am very happy to see that you are learning our philosophy so nicely. You will grow up to be a great devotee of Krishna. You are very fortunate to have the opportunity of attending Gurukula, so don’t waste this opportunity. Take full advantage of it by always rising early, attending arati, classes and chanting at least 16 rounds daily without fail. These things will make you very strong in Krishna Consciousness. Thank you for appreciating my books. Read them carefully and you will preach very nicely.

75-03-14 Letter: Tirthanga
Regarding sending children to Gurukula, that is also optional, not compulsory. The most important things are that you follow very carefully all of the rules and regulations such as rising early, and having mangala arati and classes, etc. and that you chant at least 16 rounds daily without fail. These things are most essential for your spiritual advancement and then everything will be alright.

75-05-14 Letter: Yadunandana
Please accept my blessings. I have just been informed by my servant, Srutakirti, that the young children, under twelve, are not allowed to use their japa beads while chanting. This policy is not good. Why this change has been made? I never said they should not use their beads. That is our business. They must be taught how to respect their beads. How they can learn unless they use them? That is the trouble with you westerners, always changing. No changes should be made without first consulting with my GBC representative. So, the children should immediately be allowed to chant on their japa beads.

76-01-20 Letter: Jayatirtha
Therefore how can they accept our school system which teaches that the young men must undergo tapasya to become purified? Tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam suddhyed yasmad brahma saukhyam tv anantam. They will never accept that one must undergo austerities to break the influence of the modes of material nature upon the living entity in order that he may experience the transcendental bliss on the platform of pure goodness. Therefore they see our school as a threat and a cruel punishment to the children. If we were to run our school as it was actually to be run, they would close it down, and factually they will place more and more codes and restrictions as the school develops to water down the process until it becomes unrecognizable and useless.

76-01-20 Letter: Jayatirtha
We cannot be forced to follow the standards of the mlecchas and yavanas. One may build so many buildings to follow this and that code, but the basic principle of such codes is sense gratification which we are against. There are so many thousands of buildings in the west which are filled with illegalities, but how is it that we must come to a perfect standard or be closed down? This is not the standard of law, but prosecution. If in illusion we think that we must spend money to come to that standard what guarantee is there that they will not simply find another standard for us to follow which will cause so much more trouble and cost so much more money and ultimately they will pass some law making the gurukula illegal.

76-01-20 Letter: Jayatirtha
Therefore the school should be moved to India, specifically to our new gurukula project in Vrindaban, where the facility will be just to our needs and the needs of the brahmacari to develop spiritually because it is based on authentic scripture. To live in Vrindaban is the highest perfection and to grow up in Vrindaban the greatest fortune. Who can compare Vrindaban to the nasty western culture? Even to live in Mathura-mandala for a fortnight guarantees one liberation. In Vrindaban no one will place restrictions on the school and it will be encouraged by the government. The people will see such a school and the example will encourage thousands to send their children there to be trained as human beings and devotees. The cost for maintaining such a place is minimal and when compared with the exchange rate in dollars, a very substantial savings. Some have objected to the cost of transport to India for the child, but children ride at a very reduced rate and require no visa. The one way fare can be arranged at a very small cost which will be made up in no time. For the child it costs $100 per month in the USA, but in India the cost will be a fraction of that amount. The average Indian makes about Rs.400 per month ($50) and supports an entire family nicely. The savings will more than compensate for the ticket and maintenance, and once in a year, during the hot season of April, May and June, the child may return to the parents. Certainly the government will give cheap rates on a return ticket once they find out about the program. This is much cheaper than altering the present building or building a new one to meet the so-called codes.

76-01-20 Letter: Jayatirtha
The atmosphere in Vrindaban is beyond compare and the teachers are far more experienced as we have many men willing to work there who are retired and qualified professors, what to speak of our own scholars who are living in Vrindaban and starting this gurukula project. Many people will contribute to expand this program and the Krishna-Balarama Mandir is the finest in the world. All the devotees in Vrindaban, especially the children are in fine health and their needs are being guaranteed by the members. They can even beg from door to door and collect enough to feed themselves nicely. This is the system. This is the required training. But if this is done in America, they will accuse us of child cruelty although this is actually the saving grace of the child and he becomes very blissful. Therefore in all ways it is obvious that the best place to have this gurukula is in Vrindaban and this should be done before the US Government starts to cause a disturbance which will harm us, and before we have to waste large sums of money on a risky endeavor which may turn out to be a complete failure.

76-09-18 Letter: Dixit
So far our Gurukula is concerned, we require some practical assistant who can teach the boys how to be controlled in the mind and senses, how to rise early in the morning, chant the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra, go to the Yamuna for bathing, then study some Vedic literatures like the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam, remain always for the benefit of the guru, and work for him as a menial servant. These things are recommended for the brahmacari. You will find the statement in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Seven, Chapter Twelve as follows, brahmacari gurukulae vasandanto gururohitam. I want my gurukula should be in that way, we don’t want big big scholars, for doing research work; what research work they will do? Everything is in perfect order in the Vedic scriptures summarised so beautifully in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita is the primal study.

77-04-06 Letter: Jagadisa
Our students should be taught English and Sanskrit so in the future they can read our books. That will make them MA, PHD. That much I want. Other things are external. And their behavior and character must also be most upstanding. Now you are all senior intelligent men so yourself, Yasodanandana Maharaja and Aksayananda Maharaja cooperatively do everything.

760714i2.ny Conversations
Prabhupada: No, there are different types of education. Just like in the material world. There is education for medical man. There is education for engineer. There is education for so many other departments. Similarly, there is education how to make one man spiritual. So we are going to give education how to become spiritually advanced. That is our purpose.

760731rc.par Conversations
Prabhupada: Vasan danto guror hitam. The beginning of life is how to become cent percent obedient to guru. That is Gurukula. That training should be given. The whole process is that our life will be successful when we strictly follow guru and Krsna. Guru means Krsna; Krsna means guru. Not Mayavada, but guru means one who follows Krsna, he is guru. Saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih. So guru is directly God, saksad-hari. Saksad means directly. So saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastrair uktas, in every sastra it is said the guru is one, Krsna. So, it is stated in the sastra and it is accepted by authorities. Not that it is simply stated. Samasta-sastrair, uktas. You understand little Sanskrit?

760803r2.par Conversations
Prabhupada: Yes. This is not possible for us. We welcome. But we must be well organized to utilize these poor souls for becoming first-class devotees. That should be done. Otherwise, sex life and the by-product, that is always troublesome, either you take this way or that way, it is troublesome. If it is not troublesome, why they are killing their own children? To avoid trouble. This is psychology. They want to avoid trouble. But our process is, if you want to avoid trouble, then don’t marry, remain brahmacari. If you cannot, then, all right, have legal wife, get children and raise them very nicely, make them Vaisnavas, take the responsibility. So we are organizing this society, we welcome. Some way or other we shall arrange for shelter. But to take care of the children, to educate them, that will depend on their parents. Now our Pradyumna was complaining that in the Gurukula, his child was not educated to count one, two, three, four. So I have told him that “You educate your child. Let the mother educate in English, and you educate him in Sanskrit.” Who can take care? So similarly every father, mother should take care that in future they may not be a batch of unwanted children. We can welcome hundreds and thousands of children. There is no question of economic problem. We know that. But the father, mother must take care at least. Properly trained up, they should be always engaged. That is brahmacari gurukula. Brahmacari guru-kule vasan danto guror hitam. From the very beginning they should be trained up. From the body, they should be trained up how to take bath, how to chant Hare Krsna or some Vedic mantra, go to the temple, offer obeisances, prayer, then take their lunch… In this way, they should be always engaged. Then they’ll be trained up. Simple thing. We don’t want to train them as big grammarians. No. That is not wanted. That anyone, if he has got some inclination, he can do it personally. There is no harm. General training is that he must be a devotee, a pure devotee of Krsna. That should be introduced. Otherwise, the gurukula will be… Otherwise Jyotirmayi was suggesting the biology. What they’ll do with biology? Don’t introduce unnecessary nonsense things. Simple life. Simply to understand Krsna. Simply let them be convinced that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is our duty to serve Him, that’s all. Huh? (indistinct) What is that? mayar bose, jaccho bhese’ khaccho habudubu bhai jiv krsna-das ei biswas korle to ar duhkho nai. So organize. If you have got sufficient place, sufficient scope, let them be trained up very nicely. If some four, five centers like this there are in Europe, the whole face will be changed. Important places like Germany, France, England. Now we are getting place. I like that place, German, on account of this. It has got scope. Conversations
Prabhupada: They should be stopped, this practice of prostitution. This is a very bad system in Europe and America. The boys and girls, they are educated–coeducation. From the very beginning of their life they become prostitutes. And they encourage. Conversations
Prabhupada: They distribute pills. I have seen the boys and girls dancing together, embracing, in the school film. That ruins the career. Both of them are ruined. That is very regrettable. Then you shall require this sterilization, pills, another big program. They are creating animal civilization, and when the animals are disturbing, they are trying to find out some other means. This is their program. First of all create animals. Then, when the animals behave like animals, then another program. Why do you create animal? Woman brahmacarini, this is artificial.

HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

12 Responses to Srila Prabhupada on Gurukul

  1. Harish Kumar says:

    can u post me the syllabus and educational pattern, how students are treated in gurukulas,if u can i will be very very thankful

    • Hare Krishna Harish

      Gurukul has been practically disbanded by ISKCON now. It turned out to be a great disaster because of teachers exploiting and abusing students. They still have a “gurukul” in Vrindavan but teach all mundane subjects and there is a big focus on succeeding in sports and practically no Krishna consciousness at all.

      So I don’t think you will be able to find a proper gurukul now.

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • Sean says:

        Can i know what is an ideal gurukul like? Like what type of education is there? From about subjects like Math and all to about knowledge pertaining to Krsna Consciousness,etc.

        • Gurukula means spiritual education. It means studying the scriptures under the direction of the guru. It is spiritual education, not material education. However if one actually studies Srimad-Bhagavatam all material knowledge is automatically included. So there is no need for material education. If one is actually spiritually educated then he will automatically be materially proficient also.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

      • suvi says:

        hare krishna prabhuji
        in gurukula if one not following prabupada nd teaching the philosophy of prabhupada then wat wl b the result of thi on student.

        • Hare Krishna Suvi

          If one is pretending to be a follower of Srila Prabhupada but not actually surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and really is following some different ideas he is ‘kali-chela’. He is a disciple of the Kali-yuga, not a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. So his future is very dark. No one can become Krishna conscious, no one can advance spiritually without actual surrender and service to a pure devotee of Krishna. So if one is pretending to be a follower of Srila Prabhupada but is not actually following Srila Prabhupada then he will not receive the result of spiritual advancement.

          Of course in the beginning one may sincerely want to surrender to Srila Prabhupada, to follow Srila Prabhupada, but because of our bad association and bad training, we may fall down, we may fail in so many ways. This is a different thing. If one is actually very sincerely trying to follow Srila Prabhupada but fails for so many reasons, then he is on the path of Krishna consciousness and as Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita “api cet sudaracho bhajate ananya bhak’– that such a sincere devotee should not be derided and his failures should not be taken as very important and very soon he will be properly situated on the platform of Krishna consciousness.

          So it may be hard to tell externally if a devotee is sincere but just failing because of his inability to follow or if he has no intention whatsoever of surrendering and is just trying to use Krishna consciousness or ISKCON for his own personal benefit with no idea at all of surrendering to Srila Prabhupada.

          It is the internal mood of the devotee that is important. If internally he is sincerely trying to surrender to and serve Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, even though externally he appears to be falling down in so many ways, he will advance rapidly in Krishna consciousness and very soon he will become properly situated in spritual life and all his problems will disappear. Of course if internally the ‘devotee’ is a demon and is really working for some material purpose, he wants fame, profit, adoration and distinction, he wants money, sex, etc. He wants something for his personal benefit, then he has completely missed the point of surrendering to and serving Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and will not end up at the correct destination.

          So the summary is it is not easy and not important to try and work out what is the position of others. What is important is to work out what is our own personal position and to correct our own personal problems. We can control our own personal situation. We can become pure devotees of Krishna ourselves. There is absolutely nothing stopping us from personally becoming pure devotees of Krishna ourselves. So we should just concentrate on that. Then, when we are pure devotees of Krishna ourselves, we will be able to see how we can help others also advance to the platform of pure devotional service.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

  2. Niranjan says:

    why dont we have schools along with temple site just like a convent school always attached with a church.

  3. Manjari says:

    I am a former gurukuli and now I am an educator. I now can understand why the children of Iskcon were treated the way we were. I am sickened by these letters. There was no care for our futures. It is no wonder that many of us are still struggling due to the substandard care and education we received in the gurukula.

    • Millie says:

      Hare Krishna Manjari!

      Can you please tell me more about your experience of learning under the gurukul system?

      I hope you do not take this as an imposition or a transgression, but I would really like to know more regarding your opinion.

      Thanks! Millie

  4. mahendra krishna raut says:

    how can tran to 12 to 15 yrs.boys about krishna. what is the techniqes. what is the education type?

  5. My brother is studying in 5th standard and i want him to join i want to knw abt the education criteria…i hope u can help me out…

    • Mohini says:

      There is a new centre that has opened and there will be Gurukul class. i want to have guidelines because am responsible for Gurukul.

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