Cambodian villages, as we know nowadays, are filled with children, youth, and the younger generations. They are all in great need of attention, especially regarding good training and education, because villages will be in big danger if the younger generation in those villages is not properly educated, both on material and spiritual subjects.
Improper education systems will create the unqualified person, and it can create havoc. Nowadays, the due to modernization and urbanization, most young villagers around the world are being taught only about material subjects. They are allured by economic development and sense gratification and meditating how to move to a modern industrialized city where they will take up an unnatural lifestyle.
Very rare children and youth in the village can get an ideal education in terms of how to become a perfect person, how to become learned both in material duties and spiritual duties so that they can take different responsibility nicely in the village. In this way they don’t have to leave their village, they don’t have to live unnatural ways in the modern industrialist city. That’s why Village Education and Training relating to different duties or what our Vedic culture calls sva-dharma, is very important, especially here in Cambodia.
Cambodia is the fourth largest populated country that only some few years back freed itself from severe civil wars that created all kind of serious social problems. The country lost a lot of intellectual people because of being killed during the war, and some of them fled out the country and never returned. Because of this Cambodian villagers lack qualified teachers and leaders to support their social affairs. Our responsibility along with the local authorities is to revive again this Village Education so that Cambodian Children and Youth can get a better life in the future without having to leave their village, and in the future, they will also become ideal teachers and leaders for their village.
As Hare Krishna devotees here in Cambodia we would like to be on the front line of this mission to give hope light to the Cambodian Children and young generation by organizing both formal and informal village educations. These efforts may not on the big scale initially because we just started from one corner of Siem Reap, Cambodia, at our Yashodapura 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 servants 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 bring them into a better condition of village life by teaching them about cow protection, natural organic farming, village industry skills, norms and religious culture according to Buddhism and Vaisnavism, and the practice of Universal meditation of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.
Our activities at our mainland of Yashodapura Eco Village with children and youth for the months back has to learn how to take care of cows. We usually go to the rice fields to take grass for our two cows. And we try to introduce them the importance of cows and cow products. We teach them to make pure incense (dupa) from cow dung. The cow is very important as mention in this 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”
As we know Gopal or Krishna in Cambodia is known as Preah Keo with his cow Preah Ko. The village people here love and worship Preah Keo Preah Ko, even at some of the Pagoda (Buddhist shrines) they also worship them. We also do go puja on every Purnima day and in this way we can again reconnect the Cambodian villagers to Preah Keo Preah Ko, and get the Lord’s full blessing.
Whenever possible we try to distribute prasadam to these children, youth, and villagers. And every time when our devotees came from the Asrama these children will run and call us “ Hare Krishna, did you bring some cakes for me”? Sometimes they are mad after our prasadam because for them it is very rare they can have cake. Those who stay in the village their snack sometimes is only small fruits grown naturally in the forest. Prasadam distribution is the main emphasis in all of our programs, although sometimes it’s just simple sweet, but children and youth like it very much.
Recently during the Diwali celebration day, we did a program at our Village base, where about 30 Children and Youth joined at that time. We had two types of prasadam sweets, cooked by our devotees with the help of some youths. On that program, we also watched some videos about the Gurukula and Gurukuli students in Mayapur. We explained to them that we are also planning to build such Gurukula here in the future. We also watched Little Krishna. Actually, in that village there is no electricity, we only used our battery. Later on, in the program, we offered lamps to Sri Damodara and we lit many candles to celebrate Diwali. We did kirtan and read the Damodar-astakam in the local Khmer language.
We discussed starting a traditional education system call Pasraman in Indonesia (like Gurukula). We plan to speak with some of the local authorities to introduce the system of Pasraman. It will be like private classes twice a week, to teach children and youth about different skills, arts, and religious principles, as we mentioned in above. Our devotees at Gita Nagari Baru (GNB) in Indonesia have been doing it nicely since about one year now. So we hope we can also start it here very soon. We plan to have two groups of students, one for boys and one for girls. These two groups will be given a different subject to study according to their natural propensity.
We pray for your mercy so that gradually we can establish this program for the benefit of Cambodian villages. Thank you very much for reading this report.
Prepared by Guna Avatara das
Yashodapur Eco Village
Province of Siem Reap