Chinmaya Mission’s Vedanta institutes for spiritual studies were named by founder Swami Chinmayananda as ‘Sandeepany’-s (pronounced saan-dee-panee). He said, ‘Sandeepany symbolizes the perfect kindling and the kindling of Perfection in the hearts of men.’ In ancient times, the great sage, Maharishi Sandeepani, headed a gurukula, where spiritual knowledge, scriptural teachings, martial arts, and all aspects of learning were imparted to resident disciples. Gurukulas were much more than today’s boarding school and the students stayed under the tutelage, protection, and nurturing of their guru for approximately ten years. Students and their guru resided together as a family. Maharishi Sandeepani’s most famed disciple was none other than Lord Krishna. Swami Chinmayananda thus chose ‘Sandeepany’ as Chinmaya Mission’s first Vedantic learning and spiritual training academy in Mumbai, India. This title later came to be used generically for all of the Mission’s Vedantic institutes, which sprouted in various parts of India and offer two-year residential training in the respective regional languages.
Vedanta Course Curriculum
Swami Chinmayananda established seminaries for the study of Vedanta where students could learn not only the concepts in the scriptures, but could also withdraw temporarily from worldly life, internalise the teaching for a few years, and prepare themselves for passing on the practical application of Vedanta to others. 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, i.e. the major Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, and the Brahma Sutras. These texts are studied based on the respective commentary by Adi Shankaracharya. Studies include Sanskrit grammar, Vedic chanting, select Vedantic introductory texts, devotional masterpieces, and original compositions of various spiritual masters.
Vedanta Course Eligibility
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.
|Mumbai:||Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Powai, Mumbai was the first institute of Vedanta formed by Swami Chinmayananda in 1963.
It commenced with Swami Chinmayananda himself as the Acharya (teacher). The two-year residential Vedanta course in English now commences and concludes at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya on the auspicious day of Ganesha Chaturthi. A year after its conclusion, another course begins. The 16th batch of spiritual students graduated on September 5, 2016.
With more students wanting to join in India, including students from outside its borders, the English Vedanta course was permanently established in the one location of Sandeepany in Mumbai.
|Kolhapur:||Chinmaya Sandeepany, Kolhapur is situated between Toap & Sambhapur villages, about 13 km away from the main city of Kolhapur, in Maharashtra.
In January 1991, Swami Purushottamananda met Swami Chinmayananda in Mumbai to seek blessings and guidance to develop the land for a regional Sandeepany in Marathi. Though Gurudev could not physically inaugurate it, the ashram, spread over eight acres, became the Vedanta gurukula in Marathi. The first Vedanta course was inaugurated on the auspicious Guru Poornima day in July 2008.
|Sidhbari:||Sandeepany in the Himalayas was named by Swami Chinmayananda as 'Sandeepany HIM.' Situated and administered by Chinmaya Tapovan Trust in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh, this is the second of Chinmaya Mission's Vedantic institutes in India. All other course factors remaining the same, the only difference here is the language, teaching medium being Hindi instead of English. The Sandeepany HIM Vedanta course thus trains students to serve Mission centres in Hindi-speaking areas. Swami Tejomayananda (then Brahmachari Vivek Chaitanya) was the Acharya of Sandeepany HIM's first Vedanta course, which was inaugurated in April 1981.|
|Sandeepany West |
|Sandeepany West, also known as Krishnalaya, conducted the two-year Vedanta course in English in 1979. Administered by Chinmaya Mission West (CMW) in its scenic headquarters and ashram in Piercy, in Northern California, it was the first course of its kind outside of India.|
|Others||It was Swami Chinmayananda’s vision to have a chain of academies similar to Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Mumbai, all over India. He felt that the students should be able to give discourses in the native languages of the region. Inspired by this vision, Swamini Sharadapriyananda started Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Chinmayaranyam in Telugu and English, but with a difference. The duration of the Course varied from three and a half to four years. When any seeker approached Swamini Sharadapriyananda, she would take them in and start teaching. She would cover all training within four years. Sometimes, some of the brahmacharis would accompany her during her Yajnas in other parts of India, while the rest would stay in the ashrama. All students were exposed to seva (service), upasana (worship) and sravanam (listening and learning) during the Course. 'Chinmayaranyam' in Andhra Pradesh also conducted a highly successful 11-month course called the Dharma Veera Course, for empowering householders to teach Vedanta. This concept has been replicated and is being offered in Chinmaya Mission as the Dharma Sevak Course. On April 14, 1985, Sandeepany Prayag was born at Allahabad. Br. Vishal Chaitanya (now Swami Subodhananda) who had just completed the first Hindi Course at Sandeepany Himalayas, was appointed the Acharya. The Course, in Hindi consisted of seven students and was completed on March 31, 1987. On Mahashivaratri Day, February 16, 1988, Sandeepany Kerala came into existence at Kasaragod, at the northern tip of Kerala. This was the fifth Sandeepany institute to be opened in India by Swami Chinmayananda. Twenty-one students participated in the first Course, which was conducted between 1988 and 1990. In 1994, Sandeepany Kerala was shifted to the Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF) at Adi Sankara Nilayam, Kochi, where the second Course ran from 1994 to 1997. On May 8, 1988, Swami Chinmayanada inaugurated Sandeepany Tamil Nadu at Chinmaya Gardens, Coimbatore. Since then, several Vedanta courses have been successfully held here catering to Tamil-speaking students. Sandeepany Karnataka was the seventh Vedanta institute in India. In his inaugural message on May 10, 1988, Swami Chinmayananda referred to the efforts of Adi Shankaracharya who brought about spiritual revival by setting up the organisational branches in the different parts of the country. Sandeepany Karnataka now functions from Chokkahalli, a beautiful retreat that also houses a grand temple of Lord Shiva. Chinmaya Mission, South Africa launched a six-month Vedanta course in March 2011. It was the first time in the history of Chinmaya Mission that a course of this type was held. Eleven devotees took advantage of the rare opportunity to study Vedantic scriptures under the guidance of Swami Abhedananda of CM Durban. Texts covered were Tattva Bodh, Upadesha Sara, Pramana Vichar, Ishavasya Upanishad and the Bhagavad-gita. In addition, students learnt meditation, Sanskrit and Vedic chanting as well as how to conduct various pujas and havans and organise Bala Vihar and CHYK camps.|