Advaita Vision

www.advaita.org.uk

Advaita for the 21st Century

Organizations in the UK & USA

(Note that further organizations appear under the relevant 'Teachers' category)

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UK

There is now a branch of Arsha Vidya in the UK. The teacher is Swamini Atmaprakashananda, a direct disciple of Swami Dayananda. Classes, on such topics as Tattva Bodha and Mundaka Upanishad, take place on most evenings in and around London and are free. Gita Home Study Centers are also scattered about the country.

Shanti Sadan was founded by Hari Prasad Shastri in London in 1929. Free talks are organized on most Wed and Fri Evenings at W11 as well as One-Day Courses at other venues in Central London . They publish a wide range of books, both translations of Advaita classics and original works by Hari Prasad Shastri. These include the six-volume Shankara Source Book, and a quarterly journal, Self-Knowledge.

School of Economic Science
Also known as the School of Practical Philosophy in the US, this is one of the most widespread organizations, with centers in a number of countries around the world, and especially in the UK. There are branches in Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Trinidad, Venezuela and South Africa. The principal emphasis is on karma yoga.

Most of the ideas are presented in the first term of 12 lectures but students are encouraged to continue attendance indefinitely. Eventually, stable groups may form to practice and discuss the philosophy, attending regular 'residential' courses of 2 - 10 days at a time, in addition to their 36 weekly meetings per year, to enable more concentrated practice. Transcendental Meditation is introduced after two years. It is also a world-class center for the study of Sanskrit.

The school provides a valuable introduction to Advaita and can be highly recommended. There are several shortcomings but these only become apparent after some time, namely the absence of a 'residential sage', an obsession with conquering the ego and the confusing of Shankara-based Advaita with teachings from other traditions.

The school is now affiliated with Shri Vasudevananda of Allahabad.

The Study Society was originally founded to continue the methods of P. D. Ouspensky but, in the sixties, became associated (along with SES above) with Sri Shantanand Saraswati. They utilize the same mantra technique of meditation and hold weekly group meetings but on a much more casual basis than SES. They also practice the Sufi 'Mevlevi Turning'. Talks and concerts are also held at their headquarters in London.

The Saraswati Society has held satsang in Sutton, Surrey for the past 15 years. They combine Sufi teaching with Advaita and practice Mevlevi whirling (Sema) to traditional music along with meditation and teaching from the Bhagavad Gita.

School of Meditation
Another organization based in London, this also has branches in several parts of the UK as well as in Greece and Holland. Its origins are in the same tradition from which the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation school derives. It adheres to the tradition however, whereas the TM organization has adapted the original techniques. It is the School of Meditation that 'initiates' members of SES into meditation. The principle of this School used to be a senior member of SES and visited the same Shankaracharya for guidance. Contact is still maintained between these schools along with the Study Society. They hold weekly meetings, primarily to discuss the practice of meditation and its background. Guidance is available for life for all who have learnt meditation with the school. There is also the opportunity to attend two residential weekends each year.

Vedanta Institute UK is effectively the UK branch of the Vedanta Cultural Foundation established in 1976 in India by Sri Parthasarathy. Annual lectures, management seminars, study groups, talks, workshops and retreats are organized. Activities take place in various parts of London, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham.

The UK branch of the Chinmayananda organisation has study groups on the Bhagavad Gita, Atmabodha and on Swami Chinmayananda's own book on Self-Unfoldment at various locations in London. There is also an excellent html-based package for studying the Bhagavad Gita, containing the complete commentaries of Swamiji.

The Oxford Meditation Society organizes meditation courses, drop-in sessions and special events at various Oxford colleges. Their programmes are run by members of the University of Oxford and attended by members of the University. Their aim is to promote meditation in its purest sense, removed from myth and superstition. All events are free of charge.

USA

Arsha Vidya Gurukulam is an institute for the traditional study of Vedanta and Sanskrit, located in the Pocono Mountains, at Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. It offers studies in the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahma-sutras, and other classical Vedic texts. It was established in 1986 by Swami Dayananda Saraswati. There is also a home study course for Bhagavad Gita ($210 in US) and for Sanskrit ($55 in US) and an excellent bookstore. ** See the Traditional Teachers page for details of other teachers around the world who belong to Swami Dayananda's saMpradAya. **

Arsha Bodha Center is a similar organization in central New Jersey founded by Swami Tadatmananda, a disciple of Swami Dayananda. There are regular classes in Vedanta and Sanskrit and numerous other events. Payment is by donation.

Central Chinmaya Mission Trust is an International Non profit Organisation that "helps people bring the essence of Vedanta and Upanishads into their daily lives". It was established by Swami Chinmayananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda and Tapovan Maharaj. Its mission statement is " To provide to individuals, from any background, the wisdom of Vedanta and practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become positive contributors to the society." There are centres in Africa, Australia, France, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Singapore UK, USA, and many more locations. This site provides details of teachers, locations, projects, publications etc.

Transcendental Meditation
This main site provides details of what TM is, scientific research carried out to validate its benefits and where you can be initiated (you submit an online form and someone from your nearest branch then contacts you). There is information about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the TM program and frequently asked questions and answers. It is very much advertised as a means for achieving relaxation and as a benefit to bodily and mental health, with no obvious references to Advaita or any other philosophy. i.e. it appears to be for 'me', not for realizing the Self. You may also enroll in the Maharishi Open University, which offers Internet Video Broadcasts and courses in 'Yogic Flying' amongst other things.

Meditation Station
The Meditation Society of America has produced these pages, which look likely to contain everything you ever wanted to know about meditation, including descriptions of 108 different techniques, concepts, words of wisdom and a message board. There are also newsletters, CDs... and a t-shirt!

Another site that has information on many aspects of meditation is My Meditation Garden (N.B. This is not an 'organization' and is included in this page as related information only.) The articles are comprehensively categorized in the Site Map and include audio, and video. Note that the expressed aims are almost exclusively concerned with 'worldly' benefits, which of course are ultimately irrelevant from the point of view of advaita. Accordingly, if looking for a technique to use, you should take care to choose one which does not divert you from the single aim of stilling the mind. (The other benefits will still be a side-effect!)

The Advaita Yoga Ashrama was set up to spread the teachings of yoga and advaita according to the lineage of Sri Swami Sivananda. The site introduces many aspects of Advaita and gives details of activities and retreats at affiliated centers throughout the world.

The School of Practical Philosophy - is affiliated to the UK SES organization above. There are classes and weekend retreats. Students are eventually initiated into mantra meditation. There are branches in NYC, Boston and San Francisco.

The Advaita Meditation Center (formerly The Philosophy Foundation) - is a School of Advaita in Waltham , Massachusetts , offering classes, seminars and retreats in Advaita philosophy, meditation and related subjects. The faculty includes senior students who have been studying and practicing together for over 30 years, and welcomes anyone who is interested in Advaita, whether beginner or experienced. The School is affiliated with the Sringeri Sharada Peetham in Sringeri , India , the Southern Seat established in 820 CE by Shankara, and is guided by His Holiness Shri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal.

Swami Satchidananda was the founder of "Integral Yoga", which now has institutes throughout the world. This is a huge site which contains details of his life, work and publications with photos, audio and written extracts of his teaching. Sri Gurudev, as he was known, was the author of the excellent commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - see Recommended Books.
Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville is the international headquarters for Integral Yoga and there are details about the ashram, courses and retreats.
Publications may be ordered here.
(Note that the emphasis throughout is on practical yoga techniques and not primarily Advaita theory, though j~nAna yoga is also addressed.)

AHAM is the 'Association of Happiness for All Mankind' , which has a center in N. Carolina, US and one in Tiruvannamalai, South India. Some meetings are also held at Vancouver Island in Canada. Founded and directed by Arunachala Ramana (Mr. Dee W. Trammell), their purpose is to prepare students for the Self-enquiry method of Ramana Maharshi in a modern manner. The essence of the teaching is described and there are (Flash) guided meditations. There are extracts and quotations from A. Ramana and Ramana Maharshi. There is an extensive book catalogue.

SAT, the Society of Abidance in Truth, has a temple in Santa Cruz, California. Teaching is given by Nome, and is particularly influenced by Ramana Maharshi. There are regular satsangs, as well as retreats and special events. A few books are published by SAT but the bookstore holds many more, as well as music, MP3 downloads, photos of Ramana, etc.

Vedanta Cultural Foundation United States is the USA branch of the organization established in 1976 in India by Swami Parthasarathy. The teacher there is Gautam Jain, who gives regular talks in New York and New Jersey. The site contains details about the organization, Swami Parthasarathy and his books/CDs.

International Congress of Vedanta was established in 1986 by Professor S.S. Rama Rao Pappu in the Department of Philosophy, Miami University in order to bring together scholars specializing in Indian Philosophies and Religions from all over the world for the study and exchange of ideas and to promote research. In recent years, the Congress has been held annually at the Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; the 19th International Congress of Vedanta runs between 27th - 30th July 2010.

Institute of Spiritual Awakening, founded by Anshin, offers teachings from both classical and contemporary non dual teachers, along with the exploration of science in physics and cosmology. There is no price for any of the teachings, in line with the purpose of reaching as many people in the world as possible. The stylish website, with many modern technological features, offers a great resource to anyone interested in nonduality.

Sadhvi Chaitanya is a site dedicated to documenting some of HH Sri Sadhvi Chaitanya�s satsangs and classes, who is herself a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. The site is maintained by her students. The goal is to reproduce whatever was taught without additional commentary using examples and teachings directly from class. The classes are taught in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta and Adi Shankara.

Arsha Vijnana Mandiram is a spiritual retreat center located in Southern Georgia devoted to the study of Vedanta and Sanskrit. Arsha Vijnana Mandiram was founded in March 2006 by Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati. His disciple, Sri Sadhvi Chaitanya, is the resident Acharya of the center.

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Page last updated: 05-Jan-2013