Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC) recently conducted a 2-day National Workshop on ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Education’ in collaboration with the School of Education (SOE), Pondicherry University (PU). This workshop was held on March 25–26, 2019 at the School of Humanities Building on the Silver Jubilee Campus of the university.
The workshop planning took about a month and SAFIC team worked closely with the Dean’s office of School of Education. The final programme included several important sessions designed to give the participants a meaningful introduction of key aspects of Integral Education. Participants included students enrolled in the B.Ed. programme in several university-affiliated colleges, M.Ed. students and research scholars in the Ph.D. programme, as well as several guest faculty members teaching at the School of Education.
For a full report of the workshop, including summaries of the various sessions, please click HERE.
March 13-17, 2019
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi
“No national awakening is really vital and enduring which confines itself to a single field. It is when the soul awakens that a nation is really alive, and the life will then manifest itself in all the manifold forms of activity in which man seeks to express the strength and the delight of the expansive spirit within.
—Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol 8, p. 61
With the aforementioned words, in an essay titled ‘The Awakening Soul of India’, Sri Aurobindo described the wide and all-encompassing nature of a national awakening, an awakening which is the need of the hour – for India’s future and for the future of the humanity as a whole.
From March 13 to 17, 2019, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC) was one of the organizing partners for the ‘Abhyudaya Conclave’ – a unique multidisciplinary programme organized by Vision India Foundation and supported by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA), Ministry of Culture, designed to express this spirit of a comprehensive national awakening.
Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Associate, SAFIC, was a delegate at the Conclave, which was essentially a 5-day immersive know-and-act programme designed for people interested in deepening their understanding of Indian civilization and also to evolve actionable insights for contemporary challenges.
The Key Idea
The key idea or ideal guiding the entire programme was set during the inaugural keynote address delivered by the esteemed Dr. Bharat Gupta (Member – IGNCA, retired Professor of English from Delhi University, Indian classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist), who with his inimitable intellectual rigour challenged the popular but culturally hollow ‘Idea of India’ and proposed a deeper, culturally rooted and spiritually grounded framework for creating a New Idea of India which is in essence as ancient and eternal as India herself.
The Rich Diversity of Perspectives
The programme included talks, interactive sessions and discussions covering topics that ranged from the Vedic tradition, indigenous knowledge systems, Indian arts and aesthetics, Indian approaches to research methodology, to the current socioeconomic-political needs of the society.
The speakers represented a wide range of backgrounds from those steeped in the Vedic chanting tradition to experts in cultural studies and Vedic poetics, from veteran researcher-activists to lawyers advocating Indic jurisprudence, from accomplished Hindustani classical musicians to writers and thinkers on contemporary social-cultural-political topics and challenges, from experts in Gurukul system of education to those pioneering the field of computational music, from visionary teachers and sadhaks to young researchers in Indian civilizational studies, and a few others.
All the sessions, in their own way, emphasized the need for experiencing India as a living tradition and culture, which is growing, evolving, dynamic and yet rooted in her eternal view of reality and existence. The speakers highlighted that this is what helps inculcate within us the much-needed conceptual frameworks and intellectual clarity to effectively navigate the global challenges from a rooted Indian perspective.
The conclave was successful in providing a holistic view of the Indic worldview by synthesizing the intellectual and the aesthetic dimensions. It also provided the delegates an opportunity to connect the ancient to their modern lives and then take it beyond the personal to creating societal impact.
The delegates attending the programme not only represented a wide range of biological ages; academic, professional and life experiences; but also came from diverse fields of study and work backgrounds such as governance, development studies, political science, law, heritage tourism, information technology, Ayurveda, yogic research, political advocacy, psychological counselling, education, creative writing, programme development, Sanskrit studies, Indological studies and several others.
For a detailed report, including some key insights gained by Dr. Mehra about the role of Indian youth in Indian renaissance, and for more pictures from the Conclave, visit SAFIC’s monthly e-journal, Renaissance.
SAFIC conducted its annual Sanskrit for Beginners course, titled ‘Spandana: Feeling the Pulsation of a Divine Language’ from January 20 to 26, 2019. A group of 18 individuals, from different parts of the country and some from abroad, young and old, diverse and alike, participated for this week-long intensive course conducted at Society House. The course was facilitated by SAFIC Director, Dr. Sampadananda Mishra.
Sessions covered topics such as Learning through Mantras, Learning the Alphabet and Grammar in Creative Ways, Spoken Sanskrit and others.
Some feedback from the workshop:
“The sessions of the workshop are so beautifully planned; we could grasp the basics with great ease.”
“I liked the mantra yoga sessions the most because they helped to calm the mind. The discussion on Chandas helped me appreciate the Sanskrit language at a deeper level.”
“I liked the sessions on root sounds the most. Because I feel this is the origin from where we can understand the whole Sanskrit language.”
“Learning Sanskrit gave me more clarity of thought, sense of direction and deeper experience. I have to travel along this, to go deeper, to integrate it in my life.”
To read the full report, click HERE
On January 9, 2019, SAFIC organised a Special Lecture by Dr. Kundan Singh, titled “Sri Aurobindo and Renaissance in India.” The event was held at the Society Beach Office, and was attended by about 40 participants. This was the fourth edition of the SAFIC Special Lecture Series.
Dr. Kundan Singh opened his lecture with a brief general introduction to the place India and the unique and distinct spiritual character of Indian civilization and culture held in Sri Aurobindo’s larger vision for the humanity and the world. Quoting some of the key insights from Sri Aurobindo’s essays titled ‘The Renaissance in India’, he highlighted what he thinks may be understood by Sri Aurobindo’s emphasis on the ‘recovery of the old spiritual knowledge and experience in all its splendour, depth and fullness’ as the first and most essential work that must be done for a renewal of India’s unique civilizational spirit. He spoke about some of the existing ideologically-driven narratives on India and Indian culture which hamper the much-needed intellectual process of a sincere quest for the truth about India.
Speaking on the necessity of a deeper educational rethinking in India, Dr. Singh emphasized the need for nurturing and unleashing the power of thought in a way that uplifts the consciousness of students.
For a full report, click HERE.
Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director, SAFIC, delivered the M. L. Mehta Memorial Lecture organized by the Vigyan Samiti, Udaipur, Rajasthan on December 5, 2018. The talk titled ‘Adhyatmik Jeevan Drishti’ was delivered in Hindi. The main focus of the talk was that in order to be truly happy man must aspire to grow in consciousness. It’s in the vastness of consciousness there is happiness—‘यो वै भूमा तत् सुखम्…’ The limited human consciousness is the source of all unhappiness—‘नाल्पे सुखमस्ति…’
Dr. Mishra explained in a simple language how to live a spiritual life by following certain inner disciplines. Sri Aurobindo’s famous statement ‘All Life is Yoga’ was elaborated in the talk. This talk was attended by many dignitaries and elites connected with Vigyan Samiti, Udaipur, and members of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Udaipur.
On December 6, 2018, Dr. Mishra delivered a lecture on the ‘Principles of Integral Education’ for the students and faculty of Nimbark Teachers’ Training College, Udaipur. Dr. Mishra explained about the greatness of ancient Indian education system, the principles of Integral Education, and how Integral Education experiment is taking place at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Puducherry. The examples and stories Dr. Mishra shared with the participants to make them clear about various facets of Integral Education were highly appreciated by the participants.
At a Satsang (spiritual congregation) organized at the Sri Aurobindo Society, Jaipur Branch on December 9, Dr. Sampadananda Mishra spoke on the ‘Practical Aspects of Integral Yoga’. Living one life in the midst of many lives, constant remembrance of the Divine, performing all actions with the right attitude, purity and intensity in aspiration, surrender, opening oneself to the Divine, these were few major points that Dr. Mishra elucidated on for the members present.
Dr. Sampadananda Mishra conducted a six-day Sanskrit intensive course for some of the active members of Vision India Foundation from December 25 and 30, 2018. The course venue was at the Keshav Srushti campus, Thane. In this beautiful campus of 300 acres, it was a delight to be immersed in the dissemination of the divine language Sanskrit. The participants were mostly brilliant young minds aspiring to be the future leaders, bureaucrats, policymakers and change makers. In these six days, they were exposed to various facets of Sanskrit such as its creative power, magic and logic, chandas, scriptures, stories, rhyming songs, mantras, conversational Sanskrit, etc. Most of the participants felt happy to get a holistic understanding of the Sanskrit and Indian culture through this workshop.
On December 28, 2018, Dr. Beloo Mehra, Research Associate, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC) presented a talk on “Sri Aurobindo and Indian Culture” to a group of about 20 visitors from West Bengal who were attending a study camp organized by Sri Aurobindo Action, West Bengal chapter.
The natural and serene ambience of the open-air, under-the-tree setting at Udavi School, Auroville provided the relaxed backdrop for an almost 3-hour-long session, divided into two smaller sessions with a tea break in between. Beloo organized her presentation in an interactive format with a brief introduction of the topic as she interpreted it, and then encouraging the participants to share their thoughts and insights on some of the questions she raised for discussion.
Read the full report here.
A one-day retreat for a group of about 25 senior managers and management executives from iLink Systems – an ISO 9001:2008 Certified Global IT company – was organized by Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC) on December 20, 2018. The programme was conducted at the Society House of Sri Aurobindo Society.
Date: December 20, 2018
Venue: Society House of Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry
For more information, click here.
The Samskrita Bala-Sahitya Parishad, an initiative of Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), and Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidhyalaya (SCSVMV), are jointly organizing a three day National Seminar titled “Children’s Literature in Sanskrit” from April 4 – 6, 2018 to generate ideas related to the topic and to understand how Sanskrit can be brought to children in various innovative ways through literature.
Date: April 4 to April 6, 2018
Venue: Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati Vishwa Mahavidhyalaya (SCSVM), Enathur, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
For more information please click here.
Sacred scriptures comprise only 12-15% of all the Sanskrit literature available from the Vedic to the pre-modern times. Nonetheless, they form the bedrock of Indian culture and spirituality. To approach the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita not from a scholastic point of view, but rather to understand the living message pulsating in their words is the aim of this workshop. By plunging into the philosophy of these scriptures, by gleaning their symbolism, and through a focused understanding of some of the significant words, verses and stories mentioned in these scriptures, the participants can begin to appreciate the significance of the Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita in the modern day and how they can guide us in our day-to-day living.
Date: May 6 to May 12, 2018
Venue: Madhuban campsite, Talla Ramgarh, Nainital district, Uttarakhand
For a list of all the past events of SAFIC, click here.