- By HG Gunaavtara Das
Cambodian villages are young, where the number of children and youth is of impressive figure. This requires attention to their training and education, lest the villages will face great danger. Misguided youth can endanger a country’s future, both materially and spiritually. Improper education system creates unqualified youth, which can create havoc. The present day situation of modernization and urbanization of village youth and modern education focuses only on material concerns of economic development and sense gratification – training them how to move to a modern industrial city and lead an unnatural life.
It is very rare to see children and youth get an ideal education training them to become a perfect person, to become learned both in the material duties and spiritual duties, so that they can shoulder different responsibilities nicely while being in the village itself, without they having to leave their village, without they having to live an unnatural life in a modern industrial city.
Village education and training in the different duties or sva dharmas is very important, especially in Cambodia. Cambodia is a developing country which has got freedom from wars and all kind of social turmoils not very long ago. The country has lost its intellectual class in the war, as many of them fled the country during the war or were killed. Because of this Cambodian villagers do not have qualified teachers and leaders to support their social concerns. Our responsibility is to revive Village Education along with the local authorities, so that the Cambodian children and youth get better life in the future without having to leave their village. Also in the future they become an ideal teacher and leader for their village.
We, Hare Krishna devotees in Cambodia are on the mission to give hope and light to Cambodian Children and young generation by organizing both formal and informal village educations. These may not be on a big scale in the beginning. We have just started from one corner of Siem Reap, Cambodia, at the Yasodapura Eco Village and our village base at Chub Village, Angkor Thom District. We would like to revive the natural qualities of the children and youth as the servant of Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna, so that they can grow up with all goods qualities such as truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy and austerity. Our main goal is to improve the condition of village life by teaching them about cow protection, natural organic farming, village industry skills, norms and religious culture according to Buddhism and Vaisnavaism, and the practice of Universal meditation of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.
Our activities at the main land of Yasodapura Eco Village with children and youth a few months ago was to teach how to take care of cows. We usually go to the rice field to take grass for our two cows. And we try to introduce them the importance of cows and cow’s product, art of making cow dhupa. A cow is a very important living entity as mentioned in our shastras in the following verse;
gavam kanduyanam kuryad
gosu nityam prasannasu
“One should tickle the cows, feed them and circumambulate them. Gopala is also pleased when the cows are always pleased”
Gauramiya-Tantra (Sloka shared today by Bharat Chandra das)
As we know Gopala or Krishna in Cambodia is known as Preah Keo with his cow Preah Ko, village people here are love and worship Preah Keo Preah Ko even at a few Pagodas as they also worship them. We also do go puja on every purnima, by this we can again reconnect the Cambodian villager to Preah Keo Preah Ko, and get the Lord full blessing.
At every moment we try to distribute persadam to these children, youth and villagers. Every time when our devotees come from Asrama these children run and call on us “ Hare Krishna, did you bring cakes for me”, sometime they made of our prasadam, of course because for them very rare they can have cake, they who stay in the village their snack sometime is only small fruits grown naturally in the forest. Prasadam is the main thing in every of our program, although sometime it’s just simple sweet but Children and youth they like it very much. Recently during the Diwali celebration day we did program at our Village base, there were about 30 Children and Youth join at that time. We had two types of prasadam sweet, cooked by our devotees and help of some youth. In that program we also screened a few videos about the Gurukulas in Mayapur, and we explained how we also plan to build so in the future. We also screened Little Krishna. Interestingly in this village there is no electricity, we have to run all this only on battery. Later we concluded with the offering of lamps to Sri Damodara. We lit number of candles to celebrate Diwali, amidst kirtan and reading of Damodarastakam in Khmer language.
Some discussions about starting a traditional education called pasraman are already being undertaken with the local authority here. Pasraman is like a private class which is conducted twice a week, teaching the children and youth about different skills, arts, and religious principles. Devotees at Gita Nagari Baru, Indonesia have been doing it very nicely. We hope to start it here also very soon. We will have two groups of students – one for boys and the other for the girls. These two groups will be given different subjects to study according to their natural propensities.
Please kindly bestow your mercy so that we also establish this for the benefit of the Cambodian village.