The Vedic Tradition is the most ancient living tradition of spiritual and practical knowledge and wisdom. The sciences of Yoga, Ayurveda, Mantras and Yagyas, and the ancient practices and ceremonies offer solutions for many problems the world is facing today.
Inspired and guided by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Art of Living through its Vaidic Dharma Sansthan Trust works to revive and preserve the vast wisdom, ancient practices and cultural traditions of the Vedic Tradition that have been handed down to us by the tradition of Masters from time immemorial. Swami Purnachaitanya conducts various programs such as pujas, homes, discourses, blessing programs and Samuhik Upanayanas as part of this endeavour.
Puja is an innocent playful process reciprocating the supreme love of nature or the Divine. The word ‘puja’ is Sanskrit and it is defined in the scriptures as 'purnaat jayate iti puja', which means 'that which is born (jayate) out of fullness (purnaat)'. Puja therefore means the spontaneous happening that is born out of the fullness and contentment of the Self. The state of mind with which the puja is performed, the various materials (samaghri) used and the chanting (mantras) that is done, all have a profound effect on the environment. The vibrations purify the place and people present.
Puja is a meditation, it is a yoga. The feeling of oneness of the worshipper and the worshipped is the realization of the true nature of the Self.
Homa, or Havan, is the most ancient and sacred ceremony in the Vedic tradition. It is a fire ritual, and when it is done on a bigger scale, it is also referred to as Yajna. In the presence of the fire element, Agni, the forms of the divine are invoked by the power of mantras and profound spiritual intention (sankalpa). Special offerings are cast into the fire while Sanskrit mantras are chanted. The vibrations created by the Havan have a profound effect on the atmosphere and surroundings. The element of fire is associated with the upward motion of the divine energy and is considered to be the most powerful purifying element.
Any Havan is performed with an intention of universal happiness and peace 'loka samastha sukhino bhavantu, Om shanti shanti shanti', which means 'may everyone and all the beings be happy, may there be peace everywhere. Apart from this, every specific homa will have a specific effect or benefits, depending on the type of energy the homa invokes and enhances (the ‘devata’ or divinity invoked).
The Vedic Traditions contains an ocean of timeless wisdom, practical knowledge and profound scientific solutions for many challenges that we face in our lives today. To create more awareness of this beautiful knowledge and to make some of this ancient wisdom available in a practical way, Swami Purnachaitanya gives discourses on a wide range of topics. Apart from other themes such as Yoga, Meditation, Mantras and Ayurveda, he has spoken on various ancient scriptures, such as the Upanishads, Puranas, Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Narada Bhakti Sutras, Yoga Vasistha and Bhagavad Gita, as well as various topics related to Vedic wisdom.
Swami Purnachaitanya is also known for his ‘Stories from the Upanishads’ discourses, where together with the public he explores the deeper meaning and symbolism hidden in some of the stories that are found in the Upanishads and the Puranas. These stories, which sometimes sound incredible or are difficult to understand, are often full of profound lessons and deep wisdom, if only one is able to recognize the symbolism they contain.
The more our mind becomes peaceful and free from craving and aversion, and the more contented and grateful we become, we are able to tap into the vast powers of the consciousness and connect to the Divine that is all-pervading and present in us as well. In the Vedic tradition there is a beautiful word for this phenomenon: anugraha or grace.
The word ‘anugraha’ is explained in the scriptures as ‘anusritya ghrinati iti anugraha’, which could be translated as ‘that which follows you wherever you go and holds you together’. It is such an amazing and beautiful definition! And it is this power that we seek, whenever we ask blessings, whether it is from our parents or elders, a priest in a temple or church, or the God we worship. Inspired by his Master, Swami Purnachaitanya has conducted blessing programs (Anugrahotsav) in various parts of India and abroad. Many thousands of people have already experienced the beauty and healing power of these blessings.
Upanayanam is one of the traditional samskaras, or 'purificatory rites', that are part of the Vedic way of life. These samskaras, sixteen of which are considered as most important, mark the turning points, where we enter a new stage of our life. The samskaras are said to make us eligible for attaining the highest good, which is self-realisation, in two ways: they remove the impurities we have acquired, and they bestow on us beneficial qualities.
Upanayanam is a Sanskrit word, that literally means 'moving closer'. Moving closer to what? To the knowledge, to the Master. The upanayana samskara marked the end of childhood, and the beginning of studies, for a child. The upanayanam is also called gayatri upadesha or brahmopadesha, which mean 'initiation into the gayatri mantra' and 'initiation into the Brahman' respectively. This refers to one part of the ceremony, where the disciple receives the gayatri mantra from the Guru. This mantra is said to be the essence of the Vedas, and to lead a faithful practitioner to realize the supreme consciousness (Brahman). The teaching of the gayatri mantra to the disciple in this ceremony signifies the beginning of the Vedic studies that were to continue in the following years that the disciple would spend in the gurukul with the Master.
Another interesting thing is that those that have completed the upanayana samskara, are referred to as dvija, or 'twice-born'. This is because the upanayanam is considered as a second birth for the disciple, the first being through the mother and the father, and the second being through the gayatri mantra (mother) and the Master (father). The disciple is born again through the knowledge, and is now eligible to study the Vedas and to participate in the various rituals and ceremonies that are part of the Vedic life. As a part of the initiation, the student is given a sacred thread to wear, called the yajnopavita or janeo.
To make this precious knowledge available once more for the sincere seekers, Samuhik (group) Upanayanas are organized where anyone above 8 years old with a sincere desire to follow these practices can be initiated into this beautiful and ancient tradition.