Full report of the Workshop
Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC), an initiative of Sri Aurobindo Society, organized its annual SVADHYAYA workshop for facilitating the study of the Gita, Upanishads and the Vedas. The object of this workshop was not a scholastic or academic scrutiny of the theories of the scriptures, but to approach these for help, guidance and inner light. The aim was to distinguish the essential and living messages and insights, all that which humanity has to seize for its perfection and its highest spiritual welfare; to seek the living truth that these scriptures contain; and to extract all the values and wisdom that could help the participants and the world at large.
In 2013, a 12-day workshop on the Bhagavad Gita was carried out under SVADHYAYA, during which the entire Gita was covered—word by word. This year, SAFIC organized a four-day intensive workshop on the Upanishads for helping the genuine aspirants enter into the spirit of these scriptures and live the truths expounded therein. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Sampadananda Mishra, Director, SAFIC.
The objectives of the workshop were as follows:
- To help in self-awareness and understand the higher meaning of life.
- To explain the meaning of true spirituality and the spiritual genius of India.
- To help understand the nature of intuitive poetry.
- To explain the power of expression.
- To help understanding the contents of spiritual education, relation between teacher and the student, and ways and means of delivering the contents of education.
- To help knowing and realizing one’s higher nature.
- To explain the true meaning of spirituality and uniqueness of Indian spirituality.
In different sessions, the facilitator explained the importance of the study of the Upanishads and gave a general introduction to the contents of the principal Upanishads. In two sessions a set of keywords of the Upanishads were explained to help the participants enter into the content and the spirit of the scriptures. In the sessions titled ‘Upanishads through Stories’, Dr Mishra narrated the stories of Satyakama, Shvetaketu, Ajatashatru, Yajnavalkya, Bhrigu and Varuna, Uma Haimavati, Uddalaka and Pravahana, quarreling of the senses, etc. The meditative exercises called ‘vidyas’ in the Upanishads were elaborately explained during one of the sessions. All ‘shantipathas’ or peace invocations and a few important mantras were chosen for contemplation and recitation as the concluding sessions of the first two days. On the third day, the entire Ishopanishad was taken for the study and on the last day the subject was Kathopanishad. The workshop ended with the feedback from the participants and concluding remark of the facilitator in which a brief summary of the workshop was presented.