PRABHUPADA’S EXAMINATION SYSTEM
Please accept my most humble obeisances. Srila Prabhupada has requested me to write you in regard to the above examinations, which he wishes to institute. Here in India many persons often criticize our sannyāsīs and brāhma as as being unqualified due to insufficient knowledge of the scriptures. Factually, there are numerous instances when our sannyāsīs and brāhma as have fallen down often due to insufficient understanding of the philosophy. This should not be a point of criticism nor a reason for fall down, since Srila Prabhupada has mercifully made the most essential scriptures available to us in his books. The problem is that not all the devotees are carefully studying the books, the result being a fall down, or at least unsteadiness.
His Divine Grace therefore wishes to institute examinations to be given to all prospective candidates for sannyāsa and brāhmana initiation. In addition, he wishes that all present sannyāsīs and brāhmanas also pass the examinations. Awarding of these titles will be based upon the following books:
Bhakti-śāstrī — Bhagavad-gītā, Nectar of Devotion, Nectar of Instruction, Īśopanisad, Easy Journey To Other Planets, and all other small paperbacks, as well as Arcanā-paddhati (a book to be compiled by Nitai Prabhu based on Hari-bhakti-vilāsa on Deity worship).
Bhakti-vaibhava — All of the above plus the first six cantos of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Bhakti-vedānta — All of the above plus cantos 7 through 12 of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
Bhakti-sarvabhauma – All the above plus the entire Caitanya-caritāmta.
Anyone wishing to be initiated as a brāhma a will have to pass the Bhakti-śāstrī exam, and anyone wishing to take sannyāsa will have to pass the Bhakti-vaibhava examination as well. This will prevent our society from degrading to the level of so many other institutions where, in order to maintain the temple, they accept all third class men as brāhmanas. Any sannyāsīs or brāhmanas already initiated who fail to pass the exams will be considered low class or less qualified. Anyone wishing to be second initiated will sit for examination once a year at Mayapur. Answers will be in essay form and authoritative quotations will be given a bigger score. During the exams, books may not be consulted.
Srila Prabhupada wishes to begin this program at this year’s Mayapur meeting. He requests that you all send your opinions and comments here immediately so that everything may be prepared in time.
Hoping this meets you in the best of health and Krishna consciousness.
Approved: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Your servant, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Personal Secretary — Letter to all Governing Body Commissioners, Nellore, South India, 6 January 1976
– An expert from Sri Krishna-kathamrta Bindu, a free bi-monthly magazine service provided by Gopal Jiu Publications.