Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji
Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati blessing Swamini Brahmaprajnananda, March 2015
Please click here to see a tribute to him –
Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1930-2015) was a distinguished, traditional teacher of Vedanta. His depth of understanding and nuanced appreciation of both Eastern and Western cultures made him that rare teacher who could communicate the vision of non-duality to modern listeners. He was able to make one see, with immediacy, the truth of oneself as the whole.
An eminent teacher of Vedanta and an erudite scholar in Sanskrit, Swamiji was well known for his excellent communication skills. Swamiji taught Vedanta in India for more than five decades, and around the world from 1976. In his public talks abroad, Swamiji spoke at many prestigious forums, and addressed international conventions, UNESCO and the United Nations, where he participated in the Millennium Peace Summit.
A teacher of teachers, Swamiji designed and taught six in-depth Vedanta courses, each spanning 30 to 36 months and eight more have been conducted with his guidance. The graduates from these courses are now acharyas, teaching around the world. More than two hundred are sannyasis and are highly respected as scholars and teachers throughout India and abroad. Some of these Swamis and Swaminis have conducted their own long-term residential courses under his guidance and with his assistance.
The Ashrams founded by Swamiji in India are the Arsha Vidya Pitham in Rishikesh, the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam at Annaikatti, Coimbatore and the Arsha Vijnana Gurukulam at Nagpur. In the U.S., Swamiji founded the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam at Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Regular teaching programs in Vedanta, Sanskrit, yoga etc. are being conducted at these institutions. In addition, his students have set up many teaching centers in India and abroad that carry on the tradition of Vedantic teaching.
After teaching Vedanta for over four decades, Swamiji anticipating an erosion of dharma started various initiatives. In order to protect dharma, the person living a life of dharma, the dharmi, who is integral for protecting sanatana dharma needed to be protected. With this vision, Swamiji started the Dharma Rakshana Samiti in 1999, which spreads awareness of the richness of Vedic culture.
In 2000, Swamiji convened the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, an apex body consisting of all the prominent acharyas of various sampradayas of Hinduism to address the need for an official unified voice to represent Sanatanana dharma as a whole. The Sabha actively engages in preserving what is sacred for a Hindu by giving a strong voice to various causes like the Tirupati declaration, Ram Sethu and Tehri dam. The Acharya Sabha also engages with other religions of the world in an effort to promote peace and unity among religions. Swamiji convened two Hindu-Buddhist and Hindu-Jewish dialogues which were instrumental in promoting inter-faith understanding and creating mutual respect among the religions.
Swamiji also initiated and supported various humanitarian efforts for the last forty-five years. A significant one among these is the establishment of All India Movement for Seva in 2000. Awarded consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) by the United Nations in 2005, this organization is devoted to serving people in the remote areas of India, mainly in the field of Education and Health Care. It as an integrated community development program that reaches out to the tribal and rural people living in remote parts of the country, bringing them educational, nutritional, medical and infrastructural assistance. AIM for Seva runs over 120 free student homes for needy students spread all over the country.
In November 2001, Swamiji convened the first World Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity in Delhi, inaugurated by the Dalai Lama and the then Prime Minister Sri A.B. Vajpayee. An important outcome of the Congress was the formation of a Global Commission for the Preservation of Religious Diversity, spearheaded by Swamiji. Swamiji was also active in forming and participating in the Women’s Global Peace Initiative, which was convened at the United Nations in Geneva in October 2002.
Swamiji promoted several international events and participated as a speaker in many global forums, among which are: the United Nations gathering of NGOs, the UNESCO Seoul Global Convention, the United Nations 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Millennium World Peace Summit, the International Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity, the Conference on the Preservation of Sacred Sites, the World Council for Preservation of Religious Diversity, the Youth Peace Summit, the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, a Hindu-Christian dialogue with the World Council of Churches, and the Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit.
In 2006, Swamiji initiated a renewal of the Thirumurai tradition at Siva temples. Through this project, the Oduvars who are the traditional singers of Thirumurai are encouraged and honoured with citation and cash reward.
In 2008, Swamiji represented Hinduism at the International Inter religious Conference at The Netherlands to participate and sign the Faith in Human Rights Statement, a historic document that vouchsafes human rights and fundamental freedom endorsed by the religious leaders of the world.
Some of the other major initiatives started by Pujya Swamiji include:
- Pathashalas for preservation of Vedas and agamas
- Preservation of Temple traditions and cultures
Thirumurai awareness and support – recognition of Oduvars and support for livelihood
- Construction of Ashta DikPalakas and proper offerings at Brhadeesvarar temple
- Thiruvidaimarudur ther (chariot) project
- Promoting Education
- Dayananda education trust offering kindergarten to PhD in a village for over 6000 students
- Krupa by Dayananda- B.D.Goenka seva trust
- Vedic heritage teaching program
- Preservation of arts and music
- Institution of Arsha Kala Bhushanam awards
- Thiruppugazh conference
- Promotion of global harmony and world peace
- Thinkers meet (a forum for thinkers to address Hindu and National issues)
- Digital library project to publish old manuscripts
- International conference on Vedic Sarasvati River and Hindu Civilization (to get the true story of ancient India)
- Fighting Global Warming (by advocating avoidance of red meat)
Swamiji attained Mahasamadhi at Rishikesh by the banks of the Ganga on 23rd September 2015.
Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati was awarded the Padma Bhushan posthumously for his exemplary service to the nation in the field of spiritualism on Jan 25, 2016.
Reproduced from ( http://arshavidya.in/pujya-swamiji/)
Swami Brahmavidananda Saraswati
“Walking into a chance workshop being conducted by Swami Brahmavidananda ji, almost twenty years ago was a turning point in the life of Mrinalini Rao. When she heard Vedanta from Swamiji, she knew she had come home!
It was a blessing to attend the many Vedanta classes conducted by him alongside work for close to twelve years, not in an ashram but in the thick and thin of busy Bombay life.
It was a blessing to have Swamiji’s support, guidance and mentoring for many tricky situations in life.
Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji, his own teacher called him a ‘significant Mahatma’.
It was a blessing to see a Mahatma at close quarters whose greatness lay ever so lightly on his shoulders as he lives as normal a life, travelling through crowded local Mumbai trains, claiming no special treatment.
It was a blessing to see what simplicity of life and what living a life of freedom really means.
It was a blessing to see and revel in the depth of his knowledge from Prakarana Grantha-s to Siddhi Grantha-s to where one gets the best ‘batata vada’ to how to physically defend yourself if you are being attacked(because of his martial arts background).
They say ‘count your blessings’. Where does one start and where/ when does one stop?
Swami Brahmavidananda ji along with Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji was instrumental in the (as though) transformation of Mrinalini Rao to Swamini Brahmaprajnananda Saraswati.
Now, it is a blessing, an honor and a privilege to work with Swami Brahmavidananda ji as we conduct camps and several events of Aarsha Vidya foundation, from time to time. “
– Swamini Brahmaprajnananda
More about Swami Brahmavidananda ji – http://vedicwisdom.in
Youtube – Aarsha Vidya foundation channel
Swami Brahmavidananda Saraswati has been teaching Vedanta for more than thirty years in Mumbai and India. He is traditional and contemporary. Contrary to popular belief, Swamiji asserts that, “Vedanta is not only for sanyaasis or sadhus but very much for people who are living life to the fullest and who want more from life.”
For more than 3 decades, Swamiji, armed with this belief, has reached out to different groups of people– students of Vedanta, seekers, youth, corporates, professionals etc. With no compromise on traditional teaching, Swamiji does recognize that `different folks need different strokes’, and structures his various programmes – spiritual unfoldment classes, spiritual enhancement camps, spiritual retreats, corporate programmes in Mumbai and India.
Spiritual Unfoldment Classes reveal in-depth knowledge of self and reality and based on the wisdom of Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Brahmasutras. He has taught the Prasthana trayi five times.
Swamiji ‘s Spiritual Enhancement Camps blend psychological approaches and spiritual knowledge in lectures, discussions and meditative practices to focus on select aspects of personal and interpersonal growth of participants.
Work with corporates: Swamiji has conducted workshops and training programmes for companies like Hindalco and Grasim, Tata Infotech, Voltas, Essar Shipping, and Tata Liebert, multinationals include Siemens, Countrywide GE. In the government sector, he has run programmes for the Indian Navy, Airport Authorities of India, Indian Oil, National Association of direct taxes, insurance companies etc. Modules for workshops and retreats on several themes that he has conducted straddle a wide range of topics:
• Strategy and Building leadership – Organisational Vision and Mission, Managing change, Conflict resolution, Creative Problem solving, Leadership and Team Building, Motivating Self and Others
• Focus on personal growth and effectiveness – Self-esteem & Personal Effectiveness, Setting priorities and value clarification, Time management skills, Communication skills, Interpersonal skills, Decision making skills, Stress management, Nurturing family relationships
• Skill building and deep personal transformation – Transactional Analysis, Assertiveness Training, Recovery from Grief and personal loss, Freedom in love and relationships.
• People management – Handling Competition, Group dynamics in Management Worker Interface, Handling Emotions at Workplace, Counselling skills for Executives.
• Spiritual wisdom in management – Wisdom of Martial arts in management, Role of ethics in business, Indian ethos of management, Role of Culture
Work with educational institutions: He has lectured bank training colleges, schools and colleges in Mumbai, senior citizen Groups, Moral Re-armament Centre, Panchgani, Tata Institute of Social Sciences on various topics regarding personal growth, philosophy and management . Swamiji also conducts courses in Indian Ethos and Management for Bachelor of Management Studies, BMS and MBA students.
Swamiji is affiliated to various organisations; he is the founder of the Aarsha Vidya foundation, a non-profit trust to further the knowledge of Vedanta and organise activities aimed for fulfilling social responsibilities. He is a member of the Medical Ethics Committee of Jaslok Hospital, one of the premier hospitals in Mumbai. He is also a life member of the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, a reputed institution for the spread of Indian philosophy and culture, and a member of the Universal Martial Arts Research Centre, India.
Swamiji is in fact proof that spirituality is not limiting but liberating; for over 30 years, Swamiji has taken an active interest in martial arts (Karate, Shaolin tradition of martial arts and Tai Chi Chuan). He speaks as authoritatively on political conditions, the latest technological advances etc as he does on spirituality. Contrary to the popular image of grim, solemn-looking people associated with spirituality, Swamiji is a fun-loving person with an infectious zest for life.
Formerly a marine engineer, Swamiji studied the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Brahmasutras and other scriptures under H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji at the Sandeepany Sadhanalaya (Chinmaya Mission Ashram) at Powai, Mumbai in the 1976 course. As a youth, he was inspired by H.H.Swami Chinmayanandaji. He then spent seven years at Rishikesh in the Himalayas, doing advanced studies in Vedanta under various traditional teachers like Swami Tarananda Giri and Swami Hari Hara Teertha.
For seven years, from 1979 onwards, he adopted the lifestyle of an austere monk in an ashram in Rishikesh, where he studied Vedic and non-Vedic schools of thought and also an analytical study of Sanskrit through Panini Sutras. He has also studied the various schools of Indian and Western philosophy including yoga and ancient Indian scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Brahma-Sutras.