Yes Vedanta purpose is to protect and elaborate the original message of Advaita Vedanta — and how to sensibly apply it in modern times.
Vedanta is a tradition sourced in Vedas — revealing the depth of non-dual teachings in scriptures like Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras, Vivekachudamani, Tattva Bodha, Aparokshanubhuti, Panchadasi, etc.
Vedanta is not a philosophy. Not a school of thought. Not a system of beliefs which can be negated from different angles. Not a set of contentions.
It remains independent of your thoughts about it. Just how your existence remains independent of whether you verbally acknowledge your existence or not.
It is a means of knowledge (pramana) which establishes absolute clarity of reality. Which comes through your own self-inquiry in light of the methodology — carefully unfolded by the teacher.
The methodology reveals the truth of self which we miss owning to beginningless ignorance (avidya).
Avidya causes us to seek reality as though it's separate from me. Thus one attempts hundreds of practices for decades, hoping to discover something bigger.
It's like never finding the pen because it's sought everywhere but it's one true source, the ear. It was never away from me.
Similarly, no amount of effort can reveal the absolute reality (Brahman). Because effort or technique implies “I am not the reality right now, and I need to DO something to become the reality”.
Imagine a chair meditating for years, hoping to discover itself as the wood. Yet it's entire being is made out of the wood which is also the reality of the entire wooden universe.
Nor can the word become the ink. Because it's already pervaded by the ink. Thus any word's attempt to attain the ink will fail. For this reason, the final reality can only be pointed out by an ācārya through Vedānta pramāṇa.
For this reason,, our classes are taught according to traditional Vedanta — as originally expounded by Adi Shankara.
And frequent use of Sanskrit words is employed for preserving the Vedantic Indian tradition. Because advaita (non-two) taught in English-only is insufficient to communicate the full vision of oneness.
Why else aren't spiritual seekers progressing fast enough? A beginner often has a need to get involved in multiple schools of thought. This creates contradictions about various terminologies and promotes an intellectual pursuit, rather then actual life transformation. Mixing schools is like a 5 year old left alone in a candy store.
Yes Vedanta is not an institution, nor a business, nor donation-dependent. All classes are free. Teacher is financially self-supported.
No race, gender, religion or nationality is excluded. Only your sincerity, regular attendance and attention is required.
Teaching and language usage is based on Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya) lineage, most prominently Swami Paramarthananda. I've also studied from Chinmaya International Foundation (Kerala), specifically Swami Advayananda.
Other personal teachers studied from…
My first introduction into proper Advaita methodology was through James Swartz. He is king of cleaning up the spiritual mess constructed by confounded non-dualists and spiritual “know it all” Einsteins. Both (despite best efforts) contributed in derailing sincere seekers into realms of quick-fix. Thus James Swartz major contribution to the Western world is restoring purity of traditional unspoiled Advaita Vedanta and protecting the unbroken lineage from being blurred with dysfunctional new-age views of oneness.
Neema Majmudar excels in applying the Vedic wisdom into modern down-to-earth practical living. Her strength is a fine balance between intellectual need to firmly grasp, and the emotional need to “feel” the knowledge in one's life.
“Shortly after achieving financial freedom by early twenties, an unsettling inquiry grew pertaining to impermanence of financial security, friendship, world exploration and self-help. “How will more make more difference and to whom?“, I thought. Nature of questions eventually turned to the subject ‘I'. One day an urge compelled me to visit Arunachala to pay respect to Ramana Maharshi. Attracted to a 25 day program nearby on Bhagavad Gītā by James Swartz – and unceasingly persisting with prescribed inquiry for months later – the first dawn of self-knowledge ensued. Clarity was further elucidated through participation in Chinmaya International Foundation (Kerala, India). Finally meeting Neema Majmudar (of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya) – her style meticulously expounded the vision of Reality and meaning of not-two (advaita). The definition of ‘guru' came fully alive upon meeting her. My sole life purpose is to protect and disseminate the saṃpradāya of Advaita Vedānta as highlighted by Ādi Śaṅkara.”
“ After finishing school – personal improvement and psychology was love-at-first-sight. A treasure which had to be explored. Possibility of becoming better was irresistible. It supported the vision of family's tradition: find a wife, have children and provide them a safe happy environment.
Although looking back, exploration was motivated out of insecurity. Silent voice of inadequacy was the foundation. Either way, it was enough to cultivate analytical and creative thinking. Leading to early financial independence.
However decent success in early 20's raised suspicion in form of inquiry. I began to notice the impermanence of financial security, friendship and self-help benefits.
All of it was like a high that wore off quickly.
So I thought, “There seems to be no ending to any of this. Why this constant drive to achieve more? Why am I not at peace with what already gotten? How will MORE, make more difference, and to whom?”
Thus began “symphony of endless inquiry” whose questions eventually started targeting the subject “I”.
This was the entry point into the vast ocean of spirituality that was pursued for next 8 years.
Again, just like the former years of worldly successes, peak performance and inner psychology… the underlining unfulfilled-I, didn't go away even in spirituality. Meditation and practices quickly wore off upon re-entry into atmosphere of ordinary day-to-day living.
Eventually an urge compelled me to visit Arunachala to pay respect to Ramana Maharshi. There I came across James Swartz who was unfolding essence of Vedanta for 25 days. Program was about 70h in total.
After hearing the program magnificently expounded step-by-step… I stuck with it by mere faith that what Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads are saying — must be true. Despite initially having no proof that Vedic authority was superior to other methodologies.
Returning home, I invested another 900+ rigorous hours for the next 8 months in uninterrupted immersion… studying in detail and inquiring into the teachings of the B.Gita as taught earlier.
Self-knowledge that took place with absolute clarity was further elucidated through involvement in Chinmaya International Foundation (Kerala, India) courses for the next 2 years.
At the same time I was introduced to Neema Majmudar. Her style meticulously expounded the vision of Reality and meaning of not-two (advaita). Upon meeting her, the definition of “guru” came fully alive for first time in my life. Only then I understood the infinite value of the guru-śiṣya-paramparā (teacher-student relationship).
Today, my average day consists of 10-15 hours of Vedānta/Sanskrit study.
Immediate or gradual?
Clarity doesn't occur instantaneously as falsely imagined. For example, do you get a promotion in company overnight OR it's result of years of prior hard work?
If nature bypasses a season… the food chain collapses.
There's no skipping inherent laws which can't be broken.
A mind yet to understanding the bigger picture of life alone entertains “I want to bypass!”.
For this reason, ongoing self-inquiry and continued study of śāstra (vedic scriptures) is required to remove false notions denying happiness.
Most dislike hearing this because mind holds the portrayed image of “Buddha sitting under a shady tree who attained Enlightenment in one extended sitting session“.
Matter of fact, it's symbolic of his immense PRIOR EFFORT and BURNING DESIRE for liberation.
Whereas majority seekers, secretly keep one foot in world and another in Liberation. Then lament, “I'm not the chosen one. I'm not up to this. It isn't working for me! Not in this lifetime”.
Maturity and mind-purification takes years!
Even after gaining self-knowledge from guru/teacher… dissatisfaction may and likely will arise from childhood love-issues and lifetimes of impressions.
Moksha (liberation) is not like winning the lottery. Such false ideas are nowhere mentioned in Vedic literature.
Therefore only with patience and perseverance is one's success mathematically predictable.
Random pictures of events:
uttiṣṭhata. jāgrata. prāpya varān nibodhata
“Arise! Awaken! And Realize the Truth!”
– Kaṭhopanisad 1.3.14