The study of Vedanta is a sacred and ancient tradition, imparted in a gurukula setting. In Sanskrit 'kula' means family and 'guru' means teacher. A gurukula is a place where the students and the guru reside together and form a family. This system of constant interaction between them enables the students to learn, not only from the words of their teacher but also the teacher's daily living example.
All Vedanta Institutes in Chinmaya Mission are called 'Sandeepany'. This was a name selected by Pujya Swami Chinmayananda.
Studies at a Sandeepany institute are intense and intensive to say the least. Fully dedicated to the disciples' spiritual education and growth, the two-year residential course is standard in its syllabus and traditional in its teaching method.
Disciples learn Advaita Vedanta based on various scriptural texts, the primary three being the Prasthana-traya, or the major Upanishads, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras. These texts are studied based on the respective commentary by Adi Shankaracharya. Also studied are Sanskrit grammar, Vedic chanting, and select Vedantic introductory texts, devotional masterpieces, and original compositions of various spiritual master
Sanskrit and Sanskrit subhashitas (wise sayings)
Introductory Texts: Tattva Bodha, Bhaja Govindam, Atma Bodha, Upadesha Sarah, Sadhana Panchakam, Panchadashi (Ch. 5, 10, 15), Vivekachudamani, Drg-Drshya Viveka, Aparokshanubhuti, Vakya Vritti, Advaita Makaranda, Vedanta Sarah, Sad-Darshanam, Vedanta Dindima, Hastamalaka Stotram, Nirvana Shatkam, Maneesha Panchakam, Shivapradhakshamapana Stotram, and Dakshinamurti Stotram
Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (Ch. 1-18)
The Upanishads: Kena, Katha, Isha, Mundaka, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Prashna, Mandukya with Karika, Chandogya (Ch. 6-8), Brhadaranyaka, Kaivalya, Amrta-Bindu, Shvetashvatara, and Maha-Narayana
Brahma Sutras (Sutras 1-4)
Devotional Texts and Hymns (some studied in-depth; some in general, with select verses): Shrimad Bhagavatam, Tulsi Ramayana (Ramacharitamanasa), Adhyatma Ramayana, Valmiki Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranama, Narada Bhakti Sutra, Hanuman Chalisa, Mukunda Mala, and Madhurashtakam
Other Texts: Yoga Vasishtha, Tapovana Shatkam, Purusha Suktam, Jivanmuktananda Lahari, Manah Shodhanam, Bhakti Sudha, Dhyanasvarupam, Maya Panchakam, Kaupina Panchakam, Svarupa Anusandhana Ashtakam, and Dhanyashtakam
Spiritual seekers, regardless of their upbringing and faith, are carefully selected and interviewed before being accepted to undergo the intensive, residential training in Vedic literature. A university degree is a mandatory prerequisite. Married students must have their spouse's permission to join, and unmarried students must have their parents' permission to join.
Life in the Gurukula
During this term, the residential students fully withdraw from worldly life, internalize the teachings, and prepare themselves to eventually spread these Vedantic teachings to the world at large. For two years, these spiritual seekers stay at Sandeepany within the Mission's strict gurukula guidelines, following a rigid, disciplined schedule of classes and activities that promotes their spiritual learning, reflection, and contemplation.
Throughout the course, students are required to wear white clothes (saree for women and lungi/kurta for men) and follow a very sattvika diet. Students also serve and participate in the celebrations of all the major Hindu festivals each year.
The Ashram provides free lodging and board for all Indian residents. Students accepted from outside of India are asked to pay a nominal amount for their stay. Lodging and board is separate for men and women, and usually consists of a room for one or two students and communal bathrooms and showers. Medical care, study materials (textbooks, notebooks, desks, pens, etc.) and basic daily requirements are provided to all students free of cost.
After the Vedanta Course
While it is not mandatory, it is welcomed and hoped, that at the end of his/her course, each student will choose to be initiated into Chinmaya Mission's monastic order as a brahmacharin (yellow cloth) in order to follow in the guru's lineage (guru-shishya parampara) by serving at a Mission centre. In due time, Mission brahmacharins are initiated into sannyasa (ochre robe of a swami or swamini).
Countless spiritual seekers, some from specific spiritual organizations, have walked through the portals of Sandeepany institutes. While many opted to join the Mission's monastic order, others went back into worldly life to serve the Mission in white clothes or as householders; and others went on to serve their family or another spiritual organization. Of those who were initiated into the Chinmaya Mission order, and who continue to fulfill the wishes of their spiritual master by spreading the scriptural message of Self-realization, is Swami Tejomayananda, now the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide.
Vedanta Institutes of Chinmaya Mission
Established in 1963, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Powai, Mumbai was the first institute of Vedanta formed by Swami Chinmayananda. It commenced with Swami Chinmayananda himself as the Acharya (teacher). The two-year residential Vedanta course is conducted in English at Mumbai.
Sandeepany Himalayas (Sandeepany HIM) in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh conducts the Vedanta course in Hindi so that the students are trained to serve Mission centres in Hindi-speaking areas.
Sandeepany institutes sprang up in various regions of India because of the need for spiritual seekers and teachers there. Thus began the same two-year residential Vedanta course in different regional languages. These courses continue to date and their frequency is dependent on the number of interested and committed students.
Contact a Sandeepany