About Us – Our Story

The challenges

Teaching Hinduism is not always easy.  Teachers and students face so many challenges: unfamiliar concepts, foreign terms, cultural differences, the “one God or many” conundrum, general misconceptions, and misleading stereotypes.  Apart from these, there is no one leader, no one founder, no clear starting point, and what’s more – how do you define Hinduism anyway?  We cannot simply squeeze Hinduism into a framework based on more familiar religious traditions; we require a fresh perspective in order to understand it in context, enriched by those who live it.

In the beginning

In 1990 Rasamandala sent a mailout to all schools in England, Wales and Scotland – “Would they like help in teaching Hinduism?”  The replies came pouring in in the thousands – an astounding 11% reply rate.  From necessity ISKCON Educational Services was born!  Rasa was soon joined by his brother Indriyesha, and along with a few volunteers they were soon serving two hundred schools per year.  With raw enthusiasm and a policy that “RE is about understanding, not belief”, they developed new activities, workshops and lesson plans as they went along.  Their pioneering work was sometimes challenging, oftentimes scary, but always exciting!  

Avesha Presentations Hinduism Workshops for Schools

With the help of teachers, RE advisers and other professionals, IES grew and established itself further by producing resources and publishing books.  Then in 2007 Krishna, Indri’s wife, started Avesha Presentations Hinduism Workshops for Schools.  Seeing how the growing demand from schools in the home counties for visits to Bhaktivedanta Manor was occupying the temple to capacity, she became inspired to offer guest speaker visits to schools on a comprehensive scale all over the UK.

Hinduism Education Services

In Spring 2015, after twenty-five years of service, Indri, wishing to concentrate on teaching rather than management, retired from IES to join Krishna in Avesha Presentations.  Subsequently in 2016, after moving to the East Midlands, the husband and wife team expanded their remit and renamed the organisation Hinduism Education Services.   

Indri and Krishna continue to serve the RE community nationally with the aim of showing that Hinduism is easily understandable, accessible and relevant – and, of course, exciting.  Teaching Hinduism is not always easy . . . but sometimes it can be.

A note on the term ‘Hinduism’

Some scholars conjecture that the term ‘Hindu’ was first employed around the eighth century CE referring to those people inhabiting the eastern side of the River Indus.  Initially the word was used in a cultural, political, or geographical sense.  Some claim that the term was used much earlier.  Most agree, however, that the word only took on more specific religious connotations later on, especially from the 19th century.  Many academics call Hinduism a “family of religions”, each member being unique, yet having distinctive family features. Nonetheless, definitions of Hindu and Hinduism are still somewhat arbitrary.

In our profession we use Hinduism in the generally understood colloquial sense of the term.  At the same time, from a higher perspective we prefer the widely used – and more accurate – term ‘sanatana-dharma’, which can be translated as “the eternal truth”.  Whereas the appellation Hinduism might suggest, or even be used to promote, a narrow or sectarian standpoint, “sanatana-dharma” implies a universally applicable truth, which accommodates the principle of “unity with diversity”.

Therefore, although our own members subscribe to the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, we teach all aspects of Hinduism, honouring all denominations and communities.  Our presenters are explicit if we do refer to our own views and practices, maintaining both authenticity and academic rigour by keeping a balance between the subjective and objective.

Naturally we can if required, especially at higher academic levels, focus on our own philosophy, practices and values, either on their own or against the background of the tradition as a whole.  This approach lends contextual weight to the learning process and is indeed a requirement by some examination boards.  It is also relevant when studying Hinduism in the UK.

If you would like to make a no-obligation booking request for an educational event for students or teachers, please use our booking request form.

If you have a general enquiry or would like to ask about any of our other services, please use our contact form.