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.
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.