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University Preaching Sakti Mathaji’s clients chants Hare Krsna to her son.

We
would like to present some of the lessons that we have
By Nitai Kirtan das learnt from our experience of university preaching, to
hopefully inspire our readers to also find ways of
When I was at school, I remember preaching to others in new and creative ways.
reading in one of Prabhupada’s
books that the modern educational When KC Society first started in Birmingham University,
system was like a slaughterhouse. “He’s up there!”
we called the local devotees from the temple to come
Nitai Kirtan das
To be completely frank, I thought and give the talks. I found they would present the
ahem, scientifically
Srila Prabhupada was exaggerating. locates God to the philosophy as it is, straight up: this material world is
I was thinking, “Its not that bad …a university students Maya, illusion, there is no happiness here, etc etc. We
slaughterhouse? That’s a bit of an found this approach to be not so well received by the
extreme statement!” It’s only until I went to university, and students. They’ve come to university to enjoy their youth,
I saw first-hand the things that go on, did I realise that to enjoy their mind and senses, and then all of a sudden
Prabhupada was in no way exaggerating, he was 108% be told that there is no enjoyment in this world was not
right, as always. what they wanted to hear! This is when we realised
probably the most fundamental point of effective
At that age, they are in the prime of their youth – the preaching: make KC relevant to the person you’re
hormones agitate the senses, their minds are all over the preaching to. The students want to enjoy their mind and
place, and the sexual appetite is very strong. senses – great, so tell them that spiritual life is all about
Slaughterhouse means killing, and at university, most of enjoying nice music, called kirtan, it’s about enjoying nice
the youth are killing their bodies through so much food, called prasadam. Those students who are looking
alcohol, drugs, unrestricted sex life, and irregular eating for peace or to control their minds, teach them to chant
and sleeping habits. But because they are young, their on beads, and develop internal peace through mantra
bodies are able to take it, and they feel invincible! If at meditation. In other words, we learnt to adapt the KC
this age however, they are somehow directed towards philosophy to make it relevant.
spiritual life, and they channel their youthful energy in a
positive way, they can create a revolution in their own “In this way, try to recruit some men
lives and in society.
from the student class for joining us
In the Midlands, we have 4 universities with such as future leaders of our Society.”
students channelling their energies towards creating a
spiritual revolution. We have a Krishna Consciousness –Srila Prabhupada
(KC) Society in DMU (Leicester), Coventry, Aston and
Birmingham Universities. Srila Prabhupada was very KC Society programs are held once a week, with a
keen to make devotees from the university class of different topic each time. The team advertise by putting
people. In one letter, he wrote: “In this way, try to up posters, sending texts and emails, and even flyering
recruit some men from the student class for joining around university campus. Then, at the program, we
us as future leaders of our Society. If we go on present the KC philosophy on that particular topic. Some
expanding and there are no qualified men to lead, of the topics covered include “stress management,”
then everything will be spoiled eventually.” “relationships,” “karma and reincarnation,” etc etc. Once
--Letter of January 5, 1973 we got the students to come to the programme, the next
aspect that we thought about was how to present the
material. The topics are relevant, but if we simply sat
there and lectured for 1.5 hours, how many of them
would really pay attention the whole time, and learn from
it? Many of the students have sat in lectures all day long,
so the last thing they need to finish off their day, is to sit
in another lecture, no matter how interesting the topic.
Another strategy was required. We decided to make the
classes interactive.

I first got the inspiration to do interactive talks when I


attended a class by my Guru Maharaja, His Holiness
At the recent Retreat to the Manor, the Jayapataka Swami. He was doing a talk in the temple
Midlands university Girls visit the Goshalla room at the Manor about congregational preaching, and
then all of a sudden, he split the whole audience up into
By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy, we have developed a team groups and we had a competition to see who could come
of university preachers who are responsible for training up with the most ideas of how to preach KC. I found it
the students in KC at each university. Our team has such a fun way to learn. Not only did I have to actively
developed a lot of experience, learnt through creative think about the topic, but it also gave me a chance to
thinking, and through trial and error. Preaching KC is interact with other members of the group. So we have
what makes this movement a movement. It’s moving, introduced this method into our university presentations.
expanding, and maturing, and it’s exciting. In whatever Sometimes we have group dramas, and sometimes
walk of life we are in, we can spread the glories of the group discussions or different exercises, and in this way
Holy Name. We have already seen in previous issues of the presentation engages their minds and channels that
this magazine how Nilesh Prabhu’s Prabhupada CD youthful energy into thinking deeply about spirituality.
touched the lives of so many people, and how one of Lila
3
Another source of inspiration came from His Grace Jay Srila Prabhupada ki jay!
Kripamoya Prabhu, when he gave a class at the Manor to
some of the Midlands Panadava Sena. He explained how On behalf of the University Preaching team in the
KC should always be packaged according to the Midlands, your worthless servant, Nitai Kirtan das
audience. The message is eternal – it will always stay the
same – but the package must be changed to suit the If you want to help with the preaching in any way, either
audience. This is where we have to use our intelligence through donations, cooking for programmes, or doing
and creativity to find different ways and means to posters, or anything else, please contact the local
broadcast the message of KC. And especially to the university preachers:
youth, the message must be packaged up to be attractive
to their mind and senses – it must be fun and  Aston (Birmingham) University KC Soc:
entertaining. Shammi astonkcsoc@gmail.com
 Birmingham University KC Soc:
Finally, I feel it is important to mention another principle Chaitanya Priya bhamkcsoc@googlemail.com
that is very much prevalent in the mood of the preaching  Coventry (University of Warwick) KC Soc:
team: we are not out to “convert” people. In today’s multi- Priya cov_kcsoc@hotmail.com
cultural, multi-faith society, one outstanding quality of the  Leicester DeMontfort University KC Soc:
KC philosophy is the fact that as devotees, we respect all Radha kcsoc@hotmail.com
traditions and all faiths. In fact, our previous acaryas  Team Co-ordinator:
have mentioned that we adore Jesus Christ. In many of Nitai Kirtan das 0787 794 1399
the university KC societies we have people from other
faiths coming and participating. The messages carried in Memories from Uni Preaching: The
the talks are generally very universal, and anyone from
any religious background, can take inspiration to help “Good” the “Bad” and the “Ugly”
them in their spiritual journey. Sometimes, we even quote
from other scriptures where appropriate. Our aim is to One of the “good” moments this year was when we took some of
awaken people’s natural love for God, and elevate their the Birmingham and Aston University students to the ISKCON
consciousness, whatever path they choose to follow. Birmingham temple for a cooking lesson. Jagannath Ram Prabhu
Srila Prabhupada said that he has built a house in which showed off his culinary skills: he made paneer from fresh milk,
the whole world can live very peacefully. And the vegetable subji, and puris. It was a wonderful experience,
university societies are small examples of this truth. especially the eating bit!
Over the years that university preaching has been going One of the “baddest” moments this year was at the Divali
on in the Midlands, it is amazing to see so many programme at Aston University: The fire alarm went off in the
wonderful transformations. With some people, when they building and so we had to eat prasadam outside in the courtyard.
first start coming to the programmes, we may think, “This After eating, while waiting for the rain to stop, we spontaneously
person will never become a devotee.” But we should started to have a kirtan. There were no instruments, just clapping
never judge a book by its cover. We know there was one
and singing, and we ended up dancing around in a big circle.
boy who had been coming to KC Soc at DMU for 4 years.
Many students living in the accommodation heard the holy name.
At the beginning he was a typical “rude boy” into the
typical student things. But one retreat to the Manor
changed his life – he crossed that line, where you can
never really go back to the material world, the line of
faith. And now, after graduating, he decided to go on the
KC Sabbatical to Chowpatty, India. It just goes to show
how we never know. I remember the first time I saw him
at the Manor in dhoti and shaven head and sikha, I was
completely amazed, and was thinking, “Is this that same
boy from 4 years ago?” I don’t think anyone could have
imagined that he would become like the gentle and loving
devotee that he is now. Aston University’s first harinam on campus!

What is evident to me from university preaching, is that It was the first Aston University Harinama!
Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada’s mercy is still very
much flowing down from the spiritual world. We just have One of the “ugliest” moments this year was at the very first
to be sincere and try our best to be instruments for that program at Birmingham University. At the end of the presentation,
mercy to flow through us and into the hearts of this the conclusion explained how every one of us have spiritual
misguided population. And throughout the years, I’ve needs. At that point, one of the students put his hand up and said,
realised never give up hope with anybody. I’ve seen “No, you’re wrong, we don’t have spiritual needs.” The whole
some people take up KC in less than a year, and others atmosphere changed and the presentation seemed to go pear
may take many years. And with some people, they come shaped – and it was our first programme! The amazing thing was,
and go, and we may never see the result. But the seed after eating prasadam, that same boy joined the society, took a
has been planted, and one day, one life, when they are book and has become one of our regular members. It just goes to
ready, that seed will grow in their hearts and they will join show the potency of prasadam, how it can change even the most
Lord Caitanya’s family and go back home, back to stubborn hearts.
Godhead. We just have to play our part, and leave the
rest up to the Supreme Controller, Lord Sri Krsna. See also Nitai Kirtan’s previous article, VC vol. 9 issue 2