Vedanta camps are intensive retreats for a few days with the aim being to provide a calm and contemplative environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life. These camps focus on the unfoldment of a Vedanta text along with equipping the student to face life cheerfully and effectively.
A camp also focuses on psychological approaches and meditative practices in an indepth manner for the participant to discover the meditator as well as focus on select aspects of their personal and interpersonal growth.
REPORT OF JAN 2020 CAMP
Far from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai is Keshav Srushti, amidst the lush greenery, a quiet and an ideal place for camps and workshops. The Vedanta Camp from 24th to 26th January, 2020 drew around 50 participants from Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, London and Sydney. Three topics, namely Meditation, Tejabindu Upanishad and Conflict Resolution, were unfolded in the camp.
The camp began with a simple puja, followed by Swamini Brahmaprajnananda ji guiding the students through meditative work. Our relationship with the mind evolves through three stages. The first stage being – My mind is a problem, I need to manage it”. Second stage – My mind is an instrument, I use it as and when required. It is a vibhuti or glory of Ishvara. Stage three – I illumine my mind and do not judge myself on the basis of the conditions of my mind. This is the journey an individual makes. Beginning with relaxation as a preparatory step, she gently guided the participants to visualize and re-parent those fragmented parts that were hurt. The inner child work helped us to see ourselves as acceptable. Can we see ourselves without judgments and reactions? Generally known as ‘mirror work’, we looked at our own faces on the mobile phone on selfie mode. We observed ourselves without any reaction, without judging and bringing ourselves to accept and love our faces just the way they are. This is first step in developing a healthy relationship with our own mind. Vedanta is a word mirror to discover what is already achieved. Swaminiji took us through the guided mediation sessions with much expertise. Japa dhyanam is mainly for steadiness and to be with oneself. While chanting the different names of Lord Ganesha, each one of us mentally offered flowers at his feet. In Vishvarupa dhyanam, one could see that everything is pervaded by Isvara just like one sustains the whole dream. Sakshi dhyanam helped us to see ‘I’, the conscious being illumines everything. In the nidhidhyasanam, we took at word from the Tejabindu Upanishad and contemplated on it.
The Tejabindu Upanishad, from the Atharva-Veda was simultaneously unfolded by Swami Brahmavidananada ji in his characteristic eloquent style, spicing it with humorous jokes, anecdotes and illustrations. He began with saying that the source or the core of everything is the bindu; the tejas. Tejabindu refers to Brahman, which is of the nature of all-illuminating consciousness, which is Me. To appreciate this one needs 3-fold initiation to prepare the mind to contemplate on the tejabindu. One gains this knowledge and mastery of the mind by viveka, vairagya and guru bhakti. When one commands such a mastered mind, he/she can go along with the words by the Guru which will eventually help in seeing that I alone am the tejabindu.
The third topic of the camp showed active participation by all present. There were many role-plays of conflict situations that most members face in their daily lives. The topic was ‘Conflict Resolution’, facilitated by both Swamiji and Swaminiji, which highlighted the need for empathy and assertiveness in handling conflicting situations in a mature way. To summarize, here are the steps involved in conflict resolution:
- Clarify what the disagreement is.
- Establish a common goal for both parties
- Discuss ways to meet the common goals.
- Determine the barriers to meet the common goals.
- Work out the best way to overcome the barriers and resolve the conflict.
- Have clarity on the solution that is agreed upon and on the responsibilities.
Students fondly shared their insights,
The camp was very well organised in terms of the venue and staying facilities. The sessions were well structured, spaced and timed and very engaging. The subject matters focused were very dear and useful to me – both meditation and the workshops. – Prashanth Mohan, Sydney.
I took back valuable insights from all three topics covered in the camp. From the Upanishad classes I got more clarity in my understanding of myself. The journey to understanding the truth of myself as limitlessness is a process of knocking off concepts that I have built up which are now in the way. Swamiji stressed on the importance of developing a contemplative mind and on shravanam (and then mananam and nidhidhyasanam) as knowledge is gained in shravanam – I understand that these will help me progress in my journey. Swaminiji’s theory and practice lessons on meditation helped me understand how a contemplative and focused mind can be mine. I also go back with a renewed sense of commitment to both developing karma yoga buddhi (for neutralizing the mala of raga/dvesha) and to regularly practice mantra japa dhyanam (to deal with vikeshepaha which are the distractions of the mind). The conflict resolution workshop sessions gave me practical tools to better handle conflicts in my life. As my children grow up, I feel these tools will be very useful. With a focus on empathy and assertiveness, conflicts can be handled without anyone feeling like a victim. – Varsha Shankar, Bengaluru.
Meditation class by Swaminiji is of immense pleasure. Swamiji appropriately choose Tejabindu Upanishad completely new which is short and sweet having profound meaning. Workshop would definitely help us in different roles we play. Specific to say that the learning from workshop is to give human touch in every behaviour. – Nanda Kishore, Mumbai.
Being an online student for couple of years, this is my 3rd camp and has been one of the best experience learning live in the classroom. I was amazed at the complete harmony by both teachers on the topic of meditation. The interactive workshops on “Empathy” and “Assertiveness” benefitted me a lot when I was asked to role play with a few other satsanghas who encouraged me. It also helped build my confidence in knowing how to communicate better to my students as I am a Yoga teacher. The kinds of meditation was an eye opener. I look forward to this camp on my annual vacation visiting from London. The venue is very scenic and a great spot for long walks in between the classes. My takeway from Swamiji: “Knowledge can take place only through Sravanam. Complete surrender to the teachings is a must.” My takeaway from Swaminiji: Saakshi Dhyaanam – “Watch your thoughts for 5 minutes a day and you will be centered.” – Nirmala Iyer, UK.
Enjoyed different types of meditation, concept of Prasada buddi, being empathetic and responding in an assertive manner. – Jyoti Mahesh Patil, Mumbai.
Ishwara is all pervading. We have to keep on increasing our love for Ishwara through nama japa, nidhidhyasana. This will help us control ahamkara, mamakara, raga dhvesha and build objectivity towards love. Shravana is very important. The words are all pointers to infinite. Omkara bindu is the I, our atma is all pervading. I am Ananda. – Sudha Ramachandran, Mumbai.
The Vedanta camp was all about knowing your Mind and making it your friend by developing healthy relationships with our mind. For which we went through many types of meditations. Which helped in paying attention to the voice and accommodating the voice. The workshop on conflict resolution was very hands on and pragmatic. The discourse on Tejabindupanishad was all about self the Bindu.
Swamiji’s worldly wisdom and Swamini’s expertise in human psychology very much enhanced our experience. We learnt that empathy and assertiveness are important to get a win-win solution. At the end, all of us fully understood the application of these principles. This will help us resolve conflicts in our daily lives. – Ganesh Pai, Mumbai.
Our humble pranams to Swami ji and Swamini ji who made the knowledge very simple and clear. It was indeed a very wonderful and fulfilling weekend towards one’s inward journey!!
Article by Rashmi Kaikini
For more information on the camp, click here :
For details please click here – Vedanta camp Aug 2018
Vedanta camp in Anaikatti, Coimbatore, January 2018
Also watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQw-4VCRNRI
Vedanta camp in Rishikesh, August 2016