Swadhyay Parivar: Wikis

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The Swadhyay Parivar is a group of people in a family setting who study the Vedic scriptures and carry out various activities of self development (swadhyaya literally means study of self for a spiritual quest) in a devotional way. Pandurang Shastri Athavale worked throughout his life, going hut to hut and heart to heart, bringing thoughts of Geeta and unexpectational love, meeting the people of all walks of life to share proper understanding of Vedic scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Vedas and the Upanishads. He treated fellow humans as brothers and sisters and motivated them to understand the relationship that one has with others due to presence of indwelling God in each and every one of them. His followers go house to house with an outlook of divinity in all and the message of Bhagavad Gita to develop brotherly relations by. For his efforts he was awarded the Templeton Prize in 1997 at the Westminister abby in London, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership and India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 1999 [1].

Contents

History

In his early twenties, Athawale began to deliver discourses on the Bhagavad Gita in Mumbai, India. The movement's aim is better the human condition by fostering an understanding of Vedic scriptures.

The Swadhyay Movement (self-study) movement started in the 1950s in Mumbai. Athavale was influenced when he was invited in 1954 to the Second World Religious Conference in Japan. Here he expounded on the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita and linked them to modern life. He discussed the idea of an in-dwelling God and contended that the ego is a gift from God and thus, rather than being removed, should be sublimed with God.

When Athavale was speaking on the Gita and its application to modern life, he was asked whether there was a single village in India practising the ideals of the Gita. Athavale could not answer this question.[2] This made him determined to return to India to rejuvenate the ancient concept of Swadhyay. At the conference, Athavale met Arthur Holly Compton, the 1927 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics. Impressed by Athavale, Compton invited the young man to the United States and suggested that the concepts of the Gita could solve their problems [3] Athavale politely declined and suggested that he would rather put the ideas to use in India before the West.

Overview

Swadhyay literally means the study, knowledge, and discovery of the self. According to proponents, it is a "journey to work out a unity in a multiverse of cultures and world views, of harmonizing the self with a network of relationships, of creating and maintaining vital connections between self, society, and God, of knowing and enriching human action with sacredness."[4] The understanding of an in-dwelling God imbibed into Swadhyayees (practitioners of Swadhyay) by Athavale is claimed to motivate them towards true expression of devotion (Bhakti).[5] The concept of devotion has two important aspects in Swadhyay: one of self-exploration, with a view to becoming closer to God (Bhav Bhakti), and an active and creative principle of devotion to promote communal good (kruti bhakti). Athavale taught that a series of practical steps and programmes facilitates the awareness that God is in-dwelling.

Per Athavale, "In human society, there are many kinds of barriers such as caste, color, status, religion etc. that separate man from man. What is the way to unite the human race in spite of these barriers? The differences do exist from person to person. But there is a common factor which binds all of us. Our Creator is one and our Operator is one. This is the only factor which can unite the human race in spite of multitude of differences. Today, crude hedonism and materialism are on the ascent. As a result of these isms, modern man is becoming heartless. Human life without noble feelings and higher sentiments is dry, dull and mechanical. The consciousness of God within will promote self-respect and respect for the whole of humanity and creation. The essence of devotion is an understanding of nearness of God. In conclusion, I would like to assert that Devotion to God is a force for the individual, a force for social harmony and a force for international unity." [6]

Athavale introduced educational institutions, developed wealth redistribution measures and social welfare projects.[7] Athavale has shown that individual transformation eventually can lead to wider social change.[8] Devotion, he says, can be turned into a social force. "Since God is with us and within us, he is a partner in all our transactions. Naturally, he has his share..."[9] God's part of our wealth, Athavale suggests, can be redistributed among the poor and needy.[10] Athavale presented the idea of Yogeshwar Krishi (divine farming) to the farming community. In this social experiment, a Swadhyayee gives a piece of land for use for a season as God's farm. Thereafter each person subsequently, one day a month, works/devotes their efficiency for its cultivation.[11] Seen as God's plot, the income thus generated is called "impersonal wealth" and belongs to no one but God. The wealth is consecrated in the local temple (called Amritalayam) and later disbursed to those in need as prasad or divinely blessed food. Swadhyay emphasizes "graceful giving" where "the help to the needy family's house is taken in the middle of the night so that others may not know that the family concerned has received help from the community."[12]

Activities

Swadhyay says its activities differ from social development projects due to the incorporation of bhakti, or devotion to God, in its work. Swadhyay teaches that no human being is superior or inferior to any other.[13] According to Swadhyay, When wealthy Swadhyayees participate in movement activities, they should not look upon poorer Swadhyayees as 'the other person' in need of public assistance, but as children of the same Creator.

Athavale has also set up a range of educational institutions. In the Bal Sanskar Kendras, children are instilled with a love of Indian culture and values through stories and tales, and in the Tatvajnana Vidyapeeth (philosophical university) at Thane students are taught Indian and western philosophy, comparative religion, logic, Sanskrit, Vedic rites and rituals. Athavale has also taught Sanskrit in the form of verses to illiterate villagers and trained many people of all castes in the Vedic rites of priesthood.[14]

See also

Reference and Notes

  1. ^ Padma Vibhushan Official listings Govt. of India website.
  2. ^ 1. Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  3. ^ Biography Ramon Magsaysay Award website.
  4. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  5. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  6. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  7. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  8. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  9. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN
  10. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  11. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  12. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  13. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  14. ^ Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.
  • Swadhyay Movement Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World's Faiths, by Mary Pat Fisher. Published by I.B.Tauris, 1996. ISBN 1860641482, Page 109.
  • Swadhyaya: A Movement Experience in India - August 2003 Visions of Development: Faith-based Initiatives, by Wendy Tyndale. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. ISBN 0754656233. Page 1.
  • Self-Development and Social Transformations?: The Vision and Practice of the Self-Study Mobilization of Swadhyaya, by Ananta Kumar Giri. Lexington Books. 2008. ISBN 0739111981.
  • Role of the swadhyaya parivar in socioeconomic changes among the tribals of Khedasan: A case study, by Vimal P Shah. Gujarat Institute of Development Research, 1998. ISBN 8185820538.
  • Vital Connections: Self, Society, God : Perspectives on Swadhyaya, by Raj Krishan Srivastava. 1998; Weatherhill, ISBN 0834804085.

External links

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