Virpur Khurd Village, P.O. Pashulok
Rishikesh (UA) 249203, India
Philosophy of Education
The Vedic tradition, that continues to be followed to a certain extent up to this day, envisages personal spiritual experience to be the foundation of all education in every area of learning.
Such education can be imparted only under the guidance of an acharya who him/herself has undergone the disciplines and purifications necessary to qualify as a guide.
This is the ideal of a guru-kulam, literally, the Guru's Family. The ancient guru-kulams were forest academies where the children were admitted from the age of five and studied and practiced their disciplines in a celibate state for as long as it took to master an area of knowledge. Even now, the system is followed
(a) in modern gurukulams where, however, the personal relationship with a guru's family is now missing even though some of the other disciplines are still maintained, and
(b) in the homes of the keepers of certain arts, such as music, where the student may reside under a daily discipline for a period of time agreeable to both the teacher and the taught. For example, all modern Masters of Indian music fondly speak of their training in a guru's home.
In the tradition, there are three kinds of graduates (snatakas) ;
Vidya-snataka : those who have graduated with honours in an area of knowledge;
Vrata-snataka : those who may not be brilliant in intellect but may have excelled in disciplines;
Vidya-vrata-snataka : those who have excelled both in learning and in disciplines.
Our goal will be to produce the third category of not only the learned but the wise.
'Swami Rama Dhyana Gurukulam' will follow as much of the practice of (a) this ancient ideal of relationship, and (b) the daily disciplines and methods of learning that may be feasible under the constraints imposed by (i) limits of the time periods available to students, (ii) financial situation, and (iii) the fact that the students from the international backgrounds have a capacity much more limited than those who are born and brought up in the Traditions.
By and large the students will be expected to follow the rules of
(1) etiquettes of humility, egolessness, self control, renunciation and love towards teachers and towards each other,
(2) daily time schedules including the times for prayers and meditation,
(3) dress codes,
(4) celibacy and loyalty to one marriage partner,
(5) disciplines and methods of learning as advised by the teachers and guides, and
(6) any others that may develop from time to time according to the capacity and will of the students as determined by the acharya.
Swami Hariharanand Bharati has been requested to be the director of daily disciplines, with the assistance of Bhagwandev Naik.
The main goal of the Guru-kulam is to prepare
(a) citizens who hold a personal spiritual philosophy of life based on meditative experience and traditions, and will translate it into all areas of life in the world,
(b) teachers and guides (whether swamis or householders) who will give their lives to creating the next generation of such citizens,
(c) a select few of whom may establish or manage and advance the work of pre-established centres for the next several generations, and
(d) who in turn, will train again the teachers and guides for the generations that follow them.
Areas of Learning
1. Meditation, its philosophy, practice and application for daily life in contemporary context, as taught by the Himalayan Tradition and interpreted by Swami Rama of the Himalayas.
2. An understanding of the vast expanse of the meditation methods, their interconnectivity and sequential procedures. This can by no means be completed in one life time, but a general understanding, including the personal experience imparted to the student to the extent of his/her capacity (adhikara) can be given.
3. The ancient texts, such as the Vedas and the Upanishads, that were revealed in the meditative states of the rishis, serve also as guides to meditation. (a) How they depict he meditation methods and the meditative states will be taught in an experiential context. (b) The keys to the interpretation of these texts will be imparted to those with a sufficient background in the language.
4. Sanskrit and related languages such as Pali, at different levels according to demand, for example Sanskrit (a) for international yoga teachers and (b) for advanced students who wish to learn the ways of interpreting the texts.
5. An introduction to a limited number of sciences and arts that have developed out of the meditative traditions, for example ayurveda, phonetic astrology, vastu, Vedic recitation, fundamentals of Indian music and dance, and so forth. Those who desire to specialize in any area of their choice will be given the necessary advice and any available opportunity--after the fundamental courses have been completed.
6. Brief history of the meditative and spiritual traditions of different cultures in all parts of the world, together with selective readings from their texts.
7. How meditation, its practices, philosophy and psychology may be applied to such contemporary concerns as (a) personal and interpersonal emotional problems, (b) psychosomatic illness (c) questions of war and peace (d) social justice (e) spirituality in business, management and administration, and so forth.
(a) Contemporary scientific investigations into meditation and related disciplines (b) the areas of scientific and medical concern where further research may be undertaken.
8. How to teach in different cultures and for that purpose acquiring skills in intercultural communication, establish centres, train teachers, and so forth,
9. Training the minds to bear that in an ever changing world the methods, languages and terminologies of the teaching will need to be resilient enough to alter these according to the needs of the times, but never changing the underlying principles and the purity of the spiritual experience.
It is expected that there will be different categories of students.
(1) Those who come for a self transformation program of limited duration in modules of one month each, for spiritual guidance and study of the teachings of Swami Rama of the Himalayas.
(2) Young students who come for a minimum two year period, primarily for developing and cultivating the foundations of a spiritual ideal for life.
(a) They are invited to come after completing their 12 years of basic school education.
(b) On the other hand, some may like to come as part of an (i) independent study program arranged with their own university, or (ii) when taking time off from university studies for the purpose of self-exploration.
Those coming from the categories (b) (i) and (ii) may be accepted at the Gurukulam for shorter periods.
(3) Those who have already progressed in life, in areas of family, education and profession, and wish to add a spiritual dimension in depth in order to serve others in their communities when they return.
(4) Sanyasins and would-be sanyasins who wish to give their entire life to the Supreme Reality and to humanity.
Swami Rama of the Himalayas.
The traditional philosophy of meditation does not accept the current economic systems as spiritually valid. It believes that the five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and space, as well as knowledge, are universal patrimony and all their products are for the benefit of all living beings in a system of equitable distribution within the context of spiritual and renunciatory personal philosophies of life.
With this view, there cannot be a fixed 'pricing' system for knowledge. This philosophy believes in the principles of diksha and dakshina, initiation and an offering of service.
Because we are operating within the existing economic systems, we are subject to the tyranny of the 'pricing' philosophy. So a balance has to develop between
A student's capacity and need according to his/her background.
It is felt that the students in categories (1) to (3) of from well developed countries should be asked to commit as obligatory
Euros five hundred (US $ 500) as registration offering ( seven hundred and fifty for married couples), and
three hundred euros (US $ 300) per month (variable according to the level of the economy of various areas of the world),
plus a love offering according to their level of resources, love and gratitude.
An offering can be made in several ways (a) Monthly, (b) each year at Guru-purnima (c) upon departure after a course of studies, (d) a life long commitment to serve and support the acharya's work throughout life, following the eastern and western tradition of tithing, giving ten per cent of one's income ( or as little as one per cent--all depending on resources, love and the level of gratitude felt).
The students from the same (1) to (3) categories from weaker economies are not all from the weaker sections of their communities. Their contribution depends on their personal capacity as well as the level of the local economy.
In other words, those from stronger sections of the weaker countries should treat themselves as being at par with those of the strong economies. Similarly, (a) those from weaker sections of strong economies, or (b) those who have given considerable service to a spiritual cause and have not created a personal income base for that reason only, may contribute the maximum that they can within their capacity. What constitutes 'considerable service' depends of the acharya alone.
In spiritual relationships, it is the sentiment that counts. Even the 'obligatory contribution' should be seen as an offering given for the love of the teaching : so the teaching may be facilitated and the guru-kulam may flourish. A student's duty is to help ensure that the teaching continues, that the teacher(s) do not suffer. A student should undertake tapas to generate material resources to help support the guru-kulam; its continuity and success should be his/her primary sentiment. Any financial relationship is to be seen only in that context. No 'amount' is a 'price' paid for knowledge.
A sanyasin will not be asked for an obligatory contribution. If, however, he has any resources, then the tradition dictates that he lays these resources at the feet of the acharya. The acharya, at his discretion, may, or may not, accept a certain part of that offering.
A student will be admitted after being examined for the right attitudes.
The tradition dictates that the acharya will feed, clothe, nurture and teach a student from his own resources if the student is an adhikarin. One who demands is not an adhikarin.
The courses offered may be divided into following categories as part of the overall programme of Sadhaka Grama and Sadhana Mandir Trust (Swami Rama's Ashram).
1. The courses primarily centred at Swami Rama's Ashram which may be credited towards the Gurukulam program of studies.
2. Independent courses offered by general invitation to temporary visiting students, such as ayurveda, vastu, Vedic recitation, Sanskrit for Yoga teachers, study of the Zoroastrian spiritual traditions, study of the Pali text on Mindfulness, and such, at present being offered for 2003-2004, and so on into future years. These will also form part of the Gurukulam offerings for permanent students.
3. Courses specially designed for the permanent students.
The present faculty complement available is as follows :
Swami Veda Bharati
Dr. Prakash Dixit
Pandit Sundarlal Dabral
Other faculty to be invited
Visiting Faculty :
Ma Tapasya Bharati
Dr. Hari Shankar Dabral
Dr. Stoma Parker
Dr. Vinod and Mrs. Upadhyaya
Yet to be asked :
Helen Choe and Dr. Mark Choe
Dr. Paul Emerson
Wong Yoong Khiang
Dr. David Alkalay
Dr. Ron Valle
Leonard and Jenness Perlmutter
Swami Jaidev Bharati
Lee Sun and Kwak
Dr. Renu Kapoor
Audio-visual Resources (a) audio and videocassettes of Swami Rama (b) same of Swami Veda and other teachers will be widely utilized. Michael Smith and Stephen Hodges will help provide the resources for this part of the teaching.
Himalayan Hospitals faculty to be invited
Special lecturers to be invited from time to time
Time availability of the Faculty
The 2nd year teaching program will start on October 5, 2004.
Dr. Prakash Dixit will be the registrar of the Gurukulam, available permanently.
Swami Veda Bharati is committed to teaching at the Gurukulam October 15, 2004 to April 24, 2005 (with few short absences within India). As funding becomes available and Swami Veda does not have to depend on the income from his lectures to maintain the institution, he will spend more time at the Gurukulam.
Anne Glazier, throughout the year, with a two months' summer break.
Pandit Ananta, six months of the year. As the Meditaiton Center in Minneapolis becomes less dependent on his presence, he will spend more time at the Gurukulam.
Pandit Sundarlal Dabral will be available throughout the year to guide and supervise the work of the teachers of Sanskrit language and texts.
Dana Marie Anderson will be available full time.
Aravind Bahuguna, Harshanand Uniyal and Bhagabandev Naik will be available permanently.
Sushil Naidoo is available at least six months of the year; the exact dates to be checked with him.
The time availability of other (a) permanent faculty (b) part time faculty (c) visiting faculty (d) Himalayan Hospital faculty and (e) visiting lecturers is still being determined. It will vary from two-three months to two-three weeks per year.
Faculty areas of teaching
Faculty training :
Swami Veda Bharati, (1) as usual, will teach Zero, which is the core of the teaching. (2) All faculty will remain in training with him especially in the areas to be taught. (3) Swami Veda Bharati will also cover the areas of knowledge for which no other faculty is available. (4) He will be responsible for each faculty member's and student's progress in meditation.
Swami Hariharananda Bharati will be the director of discipline, with the assistance of Bhagvandev Naik.
Prof. Dixit, together with Anne Glazier, will train the faculty in planning the curricula and maintaining the sequence and the content of the courses to complete in allotted time.
Acharya Sundarlal Dabral will guide the teachers of Sanskrit language and texts. Anne Glazier will train the faculty in how to teach the non-Indian students in the areas of Sanskrit language and texts.
Atem Ramsundersingh will guide the faculty in modern teaching tools of the electronic age.
The above trainers (with the exception of Acharya Dabral) will jointly guide the non-English-speaking faculty to train in the English language.
Faculty Topics :
Traditional Sanskrit Grammar ( for Indian students and any other long term students who may be interested) : Acharya Dabral. This will be done only to show the "mind" of the ancient Sanskrit grammarian and not for the mastery of the total Paninian system. Anne Glazier will work on helping select the areas of the philosophy and practice of phonetics and grammar and its implications in moksha.
Spoken Sanskrit : Bhagabandev and Harshanand, under the direction of Anne Glazier.
Selections from meditation texts (1) In translation until the students have direct access to the texts , and (b) original texts thereafter : SVB, Anne Glazier, Dr. Stoma Parker.
Dr. and Mrs Upadhyaya : ayurvedic texts selected with the help of Anne Glazier.
Philosophy of Hatha Yoga and mantra meditation, japa, purashcharana, purifications : Pandit Ananta
How to guide a meditation : Pandit Ananta
Integrating meditative states with daily life : Pandit Ananta
Psychology of meditation and Purification of Emotion, its application in (a) personal philosophy of life (b) setting the course of one's life (c) success in marital and other interpersonal relationships (d) counselling in general life situations (e) in illness during hospitalilzation and otherwise (f) conquest of physical and emotional pain, and such related topics : Wolfgang Bischoff, Dr. Stoma Parker.
Stillness in movement; emotional disturbances in observing personal disciplines; meditation and the martial arts; relationship of the oriental martial arts with yoga : Ingo Beardi
History of western spiritual philosophy : Dana Marie Anderson
Further topics :
As the faculty to be invited accepts the invitation, the following topics will be developed.
Ma Tapasya Bharati : Chinese meditative and medicinal traditions and their interconnectivity with yoga.
Dr. HS Dabral : to be asked.
Idriss Ouadraogo with Stoma Parker : Philosophy and history of spirituality in Indigenous Traditions and its parallels in yoga.
Helen Choe (teaches only in Korean): philosophy of hatha yoga in practice; teacher disciple relationship in oriental traditions.
Dr. Mark Choe : Medical perspectives on yoga; how to integrate daily Christian life with yoga in an oriental society.
Wolfgang Bischoff, Margo Balog, Savitri Jugdeo, Pandit Ananta : How to be a teacher; how to train teachers.
Margo Balog : yoga in therapy.
Manish Dixit, Wolfgang Bischoff, Atem, Alata-shanti : Spirituality in Business, management and administration
Nina Johnson : How to teach yoga
Dr. Paul Emerson : contemporary scientific and medical research in yoga and other meditation systems
Wong Yoong Khiang : how to teach yoga; maintaining a personal balance in emotional situations
Dr. David Alkalay : Jewish meditative and healing traditions
Dr. Ron Valle : history of western contemplative philosophies
Leonard and Jenness Perlmutter : application of yoga and meditation teaching and practice in modern problems on individual, social and world scale; study of Bhagavad-gita in that perspective.
Perlmutters and Atem R. : commentary on SVB's views on "What is right with the world".
Lee Sun and Kwak : History of Korean spirituality, a bridge between Chinese, Indian and Japanese spiritual traditions.
Dr. Renu Kapoor : Philosophy of Self and modern psychology, together with Dr. Stoma Parker on Vedantic meditative methods.
Dr. Ganasan : medical applications of yoga.
Local faculty will be invited to teach the topics such as (a) introduction to ayurveda, (b) vastu, (c) Vedic recitation, (d) phonetic astrology, and such other topics for special courses directed towards temporary visiting students, but available to the guru-kulam students also.
The Lamas from the Sakya Institute, Dehradun, may be invited to lecture on Tibetan Buddhist meditation and other spiritual traditions.
The first year's curriculum will include :
English for non-English speaking faculty and students
Sanskrit alphabet and its phonetics, relationship with mantra science.
Daily prayers ( to be memorised).
Basic works of Swami Rama, Swami Veda and other faculty, on meditation and its practice.
Starting the spoken Sanskrit.
Recitations and memorising of select Vedic hymns, first chapter of the Yoga-sutras, Shabdanushasana, first and last mantras of each Veda, shanti-patha of each Upanishad, first three sutras of each system of philosophy, basic prayers and creeds of select religions (Hindu. Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Christian, Muslim, Jaina, Sikh , and so forth--with translations and brief explanation.
How to memorise the texts and discover sciences in yoga-nidra.
A general history of the cultural background wherein yoga and meditation developed.
Overview of the Indian yoga literature, selections from two texts to be studied in-depth (Yoga-sutras and Visuddhi-magga)
Overview of world spiritual history selections from one text to be studied in-depth (the Zoroastrian texts) .
Internal dialogue and journal writing; principles of self-purification; confession and apology; Buddhist Vinaya principles; pashchattapa (acknowledging one's failure) and prayashchitta ( penitence).
Traditional and indigenous sports not commonly known in the modern world.
Living as an art form.
The teachers and the students will be expected to practice the ancient methods of teaching and learning through concentration, and not merely note-taking.
MY LAST DREAM FOR THIS LIFE, by Swami Veda
THE FUTURE OF OUR TEACHING, by Swami Veda
Copyright 2004 West-Art, Prometheus 93/2004