The School of Indian Heritage will focus on the following four areas to start with:
- Vedanta philosophy in all its aspects and in its liberal universal and rational form, showing its harmony with modern scientific knowledge and discoveries, particularly in the light of Swami Vivekananda’s vision of Vedanta as the future universal religion of all thinking humanity.
- Physics-philosophy, science-religion interface.
- Ramakrishna-Vivekananda thought vis-a-vis modern socio-political thought current, in the light of which the ancient books need to be liberally interpreted and re-interpreted.
- Indian scientific heritage, both ancient and modern—right from the Vedic times through Aryabhata and Brahmagupta, upto Jagadis Chandra Bose, Satyendranath Bose, CV Raman, Harish Chandra etc.
Study of Sanskrit in its pure classical form–both the language, literature and philosophical texts–as well as in the context of modern developments like Natural Language Processing (NLP), language teaching techniques using Information and Communication Technology (ICT), online Sanskrit Language Teaching (SLT) etc.
The regular courses are mainly focused on Sanskrit Studies—Sanskrit language and literature as well as Sanskrit-related studies like study of ancient texts, both philosophical and scientific.
The courses are aimed at creating a band of scholars who will be adequately equipped to conduct meaningful research in Indian Heritage in its multifarious aspects.
At present, the School of Indian Heritage runs a 5-year integrated M.A. course in Sanskrit Studies (3-year B.A. Hons + 2-year M.A.). This course is conducted fully in Sanskrit medium, with all the students and teachers speaking and writing only in Sanskrit. Besides Sanskrit, these boys are taught the following as subsidiary subjects: Computer Applications and English. Hindi is taught as a compulsory language.
Belur Math already runs a Vivekananda Veda Vidyalaya in which residential students study Sanskrit intensely from Classes 9 to 12. These students could be the feeder-students to the 5-year Integrated MA course, and those passing out of this MA course will in turn be feeder-scholars to the MPhil and PhD programmes.
With the knowledge of both English and Computer Applications, these boys specializing in Sanskrit studies should be Swamiji’s soldiers in integrating ancient Indian wisdom with modern scientific knowledge and research into ancient Indian scientific heritage.
Natural Language Processing (NLP), particularly in the context of Panini’s Sanskrit grammar, is the subject of study and research by scholars in certain institutes in India and therefore it is relevant in the modern context for the students to undergo education and training in Computer Applications and English, apart from their intense study of Sanskrit language and literature.
In this modern gurukula (4 years at Vivekananda Veda Vidyalaya at Belur Math plus 5 years of integrated MA study at Vivekananda University plus 4 years of PhD at Vivekananda University), these residential students will pursue intense study and research with focused minds for (4 + 5 + 4)= 13 years, as in ancient times.
The vision is to create a band of at least 10 scholars in a year, who, with their scholarship in Sanskrit, English and Computer Applications would prove to be great assets to the country.
Diploma & Certificate Courses
Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute, in the hallowed name of Swami Vivekananda considers a bounden duty to expose and sensitize the present generations of Indians to the Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of India. With this in view, the School of Indian Heritage is running the following courses at the diploma and certificate levels:
- Diploma in ‘Indian Spiritual Heritage’
- Diploma in ‘Bhagavad-Gita: Ancient and Modern Interpretations’
- Certificate course in ‘Studies on Swami Vivekananda’
- Certificate course on the Kathopanishad
The following write up gives the basic vision behind these spiritual heritage courses.
Diploma Course in ‘Essentials of Indian Spiritual Heritage’:
Part I—Scriptures and Saints
Swami Vivekananda said: “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.”
On another occasion he said:
“For a complete civilization the world is waiting, waiting for the treasures to come out of India, waiting for the marvelous spiritual inheritance of that race, which, through decades of degradation and misery, the nation has still clutched to her breast. The world is waiting for that treasure; little do you know how much of hunger and of thirst there is outside of India for these wonderful treasures of our forefathers. We talk here, we quarrel with each other, we laugh at and we ridicule everything sacred, till it has become almost a national vice to ridicule everything holy. Little do we understand the heart-pangs of millions waiting outside the walls, stretching forth their hands for a little sip of that nectar which our forefathers have preserved in this land of India.”
It behoves us, therefore, to reverentially study the glorious spiritual and cultural heritage of our own country before we can distribute ‘that nectar’ to others.
Our University established by Ramakrishna Mission in the hallowed name of Swami Vivekananda feels that it is its bounden duty to expose and sensitize the present generation of Indians to the spiritual and cultural heritage of India. During January to December 2007, we ran a postgraduate diploma course intended to provide such an exposure. The response to the course was overwhelming, which reflects the thirst that people at large feel to learn about India’s glorious heritage. Based on our experience in running this course for one year (twice a week, nearly three hours each day), we re-conceptualized our scheme and tentatively decided to have a three-part series—Part I dealing with ‘Scriptures and Saints’, Part II with ‘Philosophy and Practice’ and Part III with ‘Mythology and Rituals’. The first part of the series, namely, ‘Scriptures and Saints’ begins in January 2008 and is expected to be completed by December 2009. The course will be taught at Belur Campus and by the monks of Ramakrishna Order for the most part.
Diploma Course on Meditation and Spiritual Life
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 traveled 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.”
- Sanskrit Studies
- Indian Cultural and Spiritual Heritage with Value Education