ISKCON Youth Forum (IYF)
IYF has been preaching to youth community in and around Kolkata since 2001 and hundreds of students have participated in different courses. It also has local centers close to the various colleges and companies for offering the systematic spiritual training program to empower the modern youth. These local centers near the colleges are called VOICE (Vedic Oasis for Inspiration, Culture & Education) centers.
VOICE (Vedic Oasis for Inspiration, Culture & Education):
VOICE represents ‘Spiritual Sound of Vedas’, Shabda Brahma’ or ‘Voicing concern’. Modern world is facing great degradation of character, culture and values. For a sincere human being to live a life of pure principles is a great challenge. The ‘Vedic Oasis’ conveys the idea that it is ‘life-giving’ center in a stress –ridden fast-paced rat race society’ that is like a desert. Thus VOICE will provide a facility like an Oasis in the middle of desert to keep oneself surcharged in remembrance of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna always. The inspiration is spiritual inspiration to practice devotion to God with full enthusiasm.
The motto of VOICE is ‘Rekindling Wisdom, Reviving Love’.
Intellectual education influences the head and value – based education influences the heart. In fact, education that does not train the heart can be dangerous. If we want to build character in our offices, homes and society, we must have the wisdom to live a principle – centered life based on honesty, compassion, courage, responsibility etc. The goal of VOICE is to rekindle the innate wisdom about meaning and purpose of life.
Community, security, protection, sharing, care and concern for one another – all these are possible only when people learn to lead a selfless God – centered life. Such a life awakens the dormant love in our hearts that manifests as respect for elders, compassion for youngers, friendliness towards equals and surrender to the laws of God that matures as love for God and towards all.
Objectives of VOICE
- Creating a class of people of high character and competence.
- Saving teenagers from self – destructive habits.
- Creating communities for counseling
- Training in Character and Competence
- Using Arts, Culture, Music and Media to propagate the message of Wisdom literatures
- Creating a class of wise people who respect, trust and love each other.
- Using talents for propagating love of God and love for all, based on word of God.
- Distributing spiritual literature at subsidized prices.
- Training in Science of God, etiquettes and behavior, prayer and practices.
Currently, there are four VOICE centers which are located near:
- Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
- NIT Jamshedpur
- College of Engineering and Management, Kolaghat
- BE College, Kolkata
- Haldia Institute of Technology
- Calcutta Medical College
VOICE offers following training program to the college students:
- Personality Development and Character Build Up:
- Training the students in the application of philosophy, values and principles in their personal life.
- Rising early, sleeping early, morning mantra meditation, GD and interactions
- Training in etiquettes, manners and proper behavior to be followed while living in society.
- Training in dealing with equals, juniors, seniors, elders in the family, parents, teachers.
- Training in integrity, truthfulness, simplicity, trustworthiness, non-envy, maturity, humility etc.
- Training in self-excellence skills giving presentations, conflict resolution, empathic listening etc.
- Yoga, Meditation and Nutritious Diet:
- Vibrant health, peaceful mind, and satisfying loving relationships are essential for a life of quality.
- People poison their digestive tract with meat, alcohol, drugs, sleeping pills and junk-food.
- The purpose of food is to increase the duration of life, purify the mind and aid bodily strength
- At VOICE, the students get Prasadam, sanctified lactovegetarian diet. It is wholesome, nutritious, satisfying and nourishing to body and soul.
- Mantra Meditation:
- Modern man filled with fear, tension, anger, defensive attitude etc leading to stress.
- The adrenaline hormone secretion leads to disorders like indigestion, back pain, blood pressure rise etc.
- Mantra Mediation is a powerful tool to alleviate stress and attain peace of mind.
- It provides one inner strength, patience, tolerance, vigor, confidence, power to make decisions etc.
- VOICE Students regularly perform mantra meditation and lead cheerful stress-free lives.
- Topping in Academics:
- Spirituality and Academics are given equal importance for VOICE students.
- During JAN/FEB/MAR and APR/MAY/JUN, the students study 10-13-16 hours per week.
- They fill Study cards and report to their Counselors for perusal and subsequent instruction.
- The alumni student or professor devotees help the younger students by coaching.
- For a devotee student, his college studies are not material. It is Krishna’s service.
- Public Speaking and Discussion (PSD):
- Students are trained how to deliver lecture presentations
- They are taught to face challenges from the audience without losing temper
- They are assessed on the basis of ten criteria and room for improvements are offered to them
- A seasoned preacher clarifies all the lingering misconceptions
- Team Playing and Synergizing:
- Group Discussion Camps (GDC) teaches the students to work cooperatively in a team.
- They learn to value others opinions, to pool up the talents of many, to be confident etc.
- They prepare one of their team members to give a presentation, make a display, put up a skit etc.
- Devotional Qualifications:
- They are trained in cooking, cleaning, washing, worshipping, performing arati.
- Singing, playing instruments like mridanga, kartals, harmonium.
- Purchasing things from market, handling accounts, managing different departments like kitchen etc.
- This foundational training is greatly helpful now and in the future.
- Personal Care and Counseling:
- Every VOICE student has a Counselor who acts in his life as a Philosopher, Friend and Guide.
- Counselor answers the student’s questions and shares his experiences.
- He helps him tackle physical, mental, and spiritual problems and trains him to face future challenges.
- The counselees fill up a sadhana card that acts as a report card filled up by the candidate.
- The Counselor – counselee meetings are held fortnightly or monthly to bring about a family atmosphere.
- There are committees that extend their help – marriage bureau, placement committee, etc.
- Preaching Activities:
- One time slide show seminars like ‘Stress Management’, ‘Time Management’ for awareness.
- ‘Bring out THE LEADER in you’ Course trains the youth Character and Competence skills.
- Six – session slide show course called ‘Discover Your Self’ for learning basics of spirituality.
- Weekly Study Circles: Three courses, each lasting for 4 months, are offered for the Boys – ‘Spiritual scientist’, ‘Positive Thinker’, ‘Self Manager’.
- Advance courses: Those who complete the above courses can join ‘Proactive leader; and ‘Personality Development’ courses. Beyond this one is eligible to join the ‘Bhakti Sastri’ course.
- Weekend meeting on Saturday evening is open for all boys between 17 to 30 years of age. It is a gathering addressed by special speakers on themes relating to modern world and solution from Vedas.
- Cultural Activities: Dramas, Nam rock, Debates, Music, Dance and Spiritual Camps (like Sankalpa Camp, Sphurti Camp, Utkarsha Camp, etc) and picnics.
- Prerana Youth Festival: The Boys VOCIE organizes a monthly special youth festival for boys called ‘PRERNA’ where over a thousand boys participate in program consisting of a seminar, kirtans, dancing and Prasadam. Special eminent speakers are invited for this program.
YOGA (Youth of Gods Abode)
The local centers of IYF near Software Parks or offices where working youths live together and practice Krishna consciousness are called YOGA (Youth of Gods Abode). Inmates of the YOGA are mostly passed out devotees from VOICEs. YOGA centers arrange preaching in companies as well as in colleges. Currently we have one YOGA center called as Bhaktivedanta YOGA which is presently located in temple premises.