Maharaja, sorry, but I was not clear. At the end, what is the conclusion?
Is it good that they charge money for spiritual education or not because all Bhaktivedanta schools have tuition fees. Same Bhakti sastri and Pada Padma of Vrindavan. Then, should they not set quotas?
I’d like that things were always so simple that could be explained with a yes or with a no.
To put it simple:
I’ve received positive feedback from some people who have participated in several of those courses. So, my advice is, yes, go study in those courses even if there is some fee to pay.
At the same time, it’s important to know a few concepts.
First of all, the principle is that Brahmanas should not ask for payment for their teachings. This I already said.
But, why sometimes even very sincere and renounced devotees have to do that (asking money for their teachings)?
Because even Brahmanas need the means to survive. They have to go to the store to buy their food like anyone else, and they cannot say to the cashier,
“Look, I am a Brahmana, I am not supposed to pay.”
They would have to have money like everyone else.
During Vedic times, and even recently in India, there was the culture to give donations to Brahmanas. But unfortunately, this culture is basically absent in the West.
During Srila Prabhupada’s times and sometime after, we had so many brahmacaris all over the world distributing books and making much money. Our temples were rich, but now all this is gone. The new generations of devotees do not have this type of sense of sacrifice.
We have said that the principle is that we should not put a price for the prasadam, and this is true.
But again, when the devotees go to the store to buy food for the Sunday feast, they have to pay for it. And during the feast, very few give donations, and it is not enough. One of my disciples just told me that it was the third Sunday in a row that he had to pay for the entire Sunday feast because nobody was giving anything.
So, my question is, what’s the problem with giving a few dollars or pesos in donation? Even the poorest person can share something. If you had to eat in your house, wouldn’t you have to pay for your food? The poor can give 1 dollar, and the richer can give more.
It is unfortunate that this culture of donating is not present enough.
There are preachers who have been giving thousands of conferences, writing articles, and answering questions to so many people for decades but had never received any donations from anyone.
It makes one wonder, how do devotees and people in general think these preachers are supposed to survive? Give them 1 dollar. If 10 people come to a conference, the preacher would get 10 dollars that he could use to buy some fruits and vegetables for his Deities, offer Them bhoga that would become prasadam, feed himself, and prepare for the next conference that will give spiritual knowledge, which is the main need of society.
This is why Brahmanas ask for money for the courses. They have no choice.
If the devotees were more Krishna conscious there would be no need for this unpleasant thing of putting fees.
However, one should make sure that those who give the courses are learned devotees. We don’t want to hear neither from professional teachers nor from people who teach to make money. We want to learn from people who teach because they want to share the knowledge.
Asking for fees is only a side necessity.
There is a big difference between the two cases.
This is a section of the book “A Sidelong Glance”.
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