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The School of Indian Heritage

Diploma Course on Meditation and Spiritual Life

Introduction

One of the major thrust areas of the newly formed deemed university in the hallowed name of Swami Vivekananda is 'Indian Cultural and Spiritual Heritage including Value Education'. Swami Vivekananda spoke of 'man making' as the ideal of all education. "We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas", he said. On another occasion he said, "By education I do not mean the present system, but something in the line of positive teaching. Mere book-learning won't do. We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet. What we want is western science coupled with Vedanta, brahmacharya as the guiding motto, and also shraddha and faith in one's own Self." The methodology suggested by Swamiji was to sensitize and expose the men and women of our country to the glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India. In his powerful words, "My whole ambition in life is to set in motion a machinery which will bring noble ideas to the door of everybody, and then let men and women settle their own fate. Let them know what our forefathers as well as other nations have thought on the most momentous questions of life."

One of the important activities of the university in Swami Vivekananda's name is, therefore, to awaken humanity in general and Indians in particular to the great ideas embedded in India's rich cultural and spiritual heritage. To this end, a humble beginning is being made to introduce a Diploma Level Course on Meditation and Spiritual Life, with Swami Yatiswaranandaji's excellent book on this subject as the text-book. Meditation, according to Swami Vivekananda, is the key to higher chambers of the mind, leading ultimately to the realization of the higher Self. Swamiji was never tired of emphasizing the value of meditation. "Do not spend your energy in talking but meditate in silence; and do not let the rush of the outside world disturb you... Accumulate power in silence, and become a dynamo of spirituality" were his memorable words.

Although 'meditation' has become a buzz word in the modern times, we feel that an authentic conception of what meditation really means, particularly understood in the light of the ancient scriptures, the experiences of the saints of the world religions, and of ancient Indian science of yoga as well as modern western psychology, is an urgent need. Meditation and Spiritual Life, Swami Yatiswaranandaji's magnum opus, is ideally suited to fulfil this need. We do hope that our humble experiment in trying to impart some core concepts in the fundamentals of meditation and spiritual life through this four-semester diploma course, to be taught by monks of Ramakrishna Order for the most part, would prove a fruitful, illuminating and elevating experience for the learners.

The Bhagavad-Gita and the Kathopanishad courses have been started with a similar vision. Swami Vivekananda constantly exhorted us to "go back to the Upanishads". He felt that the study of the Upanishads and living an Upanishadic way of life would re-usher a new age: the Upanishadic age as contradistinguished with the Puranic age. He wanted the strength of the Gitacharya Sri Krishna to flow into our nation's youth. He also said that "the Gita is the commentary on the Upanishads". His powerful exhortation to us to 'go back to the Upanishads' are found in the following words:

"What we want is strength, so believe in yourselves. We have become weak, and that is why occultism and mysticism come to us -- these creepy things; there may be great truths in them, but they have nearly destroyed us. Make your nerves strong. What we want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel. We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. It is a man - making religion that we want. It is man - making theories that we want. It is man - making education all round that we want. And here is the test of truth -- anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it, it cannot be true. Truth is strengthening. Truth is purity, truth is all - knowledge; truth must be strengthening, must be enlightening, must be invigorating. These mysticisms, in spite of some grains of truth in them, are generally weakening. Believe me, I have a lifelong experience of it, and the one conclusion that I draw is that it is weakening. I have travelled all over India, searched almost every cave here, and lived in the Himalayas. I know people who lived there all their lives. I love my nation, I cannot see you degraded, weakened any more than you are now. Therefore I am bound for your sake and for truth's sake to cry, 'Hold!' and to raise my voice against this degradation of my race. Give up these weakening mysticisms and be strong. Go back to your Upanishads -- the shining, the strengthening, the bright philosophy -- and part from all these mysterious things, all these weakening things. Take up this philosophy; the greatest truths are the simplest things in the world, simple as your own existence. The truths of the Upanishads are before you. Take them up, live up to them, and the salvation of India will be at hand."

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