Sunday School is formed with an idea of teaching young kids at their very early age the importance of spirituality in one's life. It is said in the scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam that right from the very young age, children have to be raised and trained in spiritual knowledge. We have ways and means to make the content fun and interesting to the kids and the kids will want to keep coming every time. Our teachers have very high qualification necessary for understanding and teaching these spiritual topics. The idea is to inculcate the rich spiritual heritage of India (with messages from Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam) into the children so that they can have fun at the same time learn the most important spiritual knowledge to enable them lead a meaningful life.
We have several classes in our school. Kids from 3-5 years, 6-8 and 9-11 years. Content is specially designed by our experienced devotee professionals and well acclaimed by all parents.
Every week about 20 children attend the Hare Krishna Temple’s Sunday school program from 5pm to 6.45pm where Krishna is the centre of all the activities. The children learn more about spiritual values and practices whilst engaging in class activities that include stories, quizzes, games, drama, movies, arts & craft. After each class the children take dinner Prasadam together. The children have become really good friends and you can often see them playing together around the temple. Many of them also took part in a dance presentation for the Krishna Janmastami festival in 2011.
The program in its 3rd year, was started by Vilasa Manjari Devi Dasi, a disciple of HH Indradyumna Swami as she saw a need for such a program for children who come to the temple with their parents (although some of the children do joke that it is they who bring their parents to the temple). Vilasa Manjari besides running the program, also teaches one of the classes. The other classes are taught by Raga Manjari Devi Dasi and Prananatha Das.
The children are divided into 3 classes depending on their age and the ages range from 5 to 15. There is a small fee per child for each term. All the teachers for the children are all initiated disciples of ISKCON and the program is based on the Hare Krishna Sunday School Curriculum, which has been used successfully in Alachua, USA (the site of a huge Hare Krishna Community) for many years.
Education of children was especially dear to ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Founder Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, who inspired the first ISKCON Gurukula for children in the early 1970’s in the USA. Indeed Srila Prabhupada would say many a time that these children who are born to devotees are very fortunate and are not ordinary children. He stressed the importance of teaching the children from an early age in Krishna consciousness (from a Srimad Bhagavatam lecture 1974 in LA). Srila Prabhupada many times would comment also in his books that the children should be given the opportunity to learn how to chant, dance, and know more about Krishna so that when they are grown up they will not change but instead will make further progress in spiritual life. (Science of Self Realisation Ch5).
We have all heard the saying, “children are our future”, so we encourage all of you with children to please send your children along to the Sunday school so that they can learn more about Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Chaitanya and many more wonderful spiritual personalities, along with spiritual values and practices.
The program’s main benefit is that it shows students practical ways to apply Krishna consciousness to their daily lives and we have seen that as children become more enthusiastic, then parents become encouraged to modify their lifestyle to accommodate the spiritual advancement of their children.
In this way, ISKCON’s congregation is expanding around the globe to ultimately in future fulfill the prophecy of Lord Chaitanya that the holy names of God will be spread to every town and village around the world.
On behalf of the teaching staff, I (Prananatha Das) would like to thank the ISKCON Sydney Temple President Vara Nayaka Das for giving us his blessings for the classes and for allowing us to use the facilities of the temple. And I would also like to thank the parents and their children for giving us this fantastic opportunity to serve the children. And besides sometimes the children teach us a thing or two.