Arsha Vidya Center Presents
Discourses on Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 17
By Swami Viditatmananda
Monday, June 24th to Thursday, June 27th
7:30 to 9:00 PM
Jain Bhawan, 722 S Main Street, Milpitas
Shri Vijay Kapoor on Swami Viditatmananda

Note: A mahatma is one who has gained the ultimate goal of all human beings, that of total joy and immortality through a clear vision of oneself. Such an extraordinary - termed in Kathopanisad and Bhagavad Gita as आश्चर्य - vision is gained with much effort and wisdom by rare individuals. I consider Swami Viditatmananda to be such a rare mahatma. It is said in our शास्त्र that this vision can be gained by all individuals, but requires personal contact with mahatmas. In the old days, mahatmas tended to be stationary and people had to travel long distances to learn from them. In our times, this has got reversed. But, instead of seeing this as a rare gift from Isvara, we sometimes ignore it – we may be too busy, or perhaps thinking there may be other occasions or teachers in the future.

In this newsletter, and the next, I would like to introduce Swami Viditatmanandaji’s extraordinary journey from being an engineer in US, just like many of us, to where he is today, one of the most highly accomplished and respected spiritual teachers – indeed a rare mahatma. And in doing so, I urge you to avail of this opportunity of receiving this timeless wisdom from Swamiji, here for a short visit soon.

 I remember first hearing about Swamiji in 1979 from Carol Whitfield (aka Radha), a senior student of Swami Dayanandaji. I was admiring her wisdom when she remarked to me “wait till you meet Swaroop Chaitanya (Swamiji’s name as a then brahmachari)” Carol and Sri Swaroop were both students at the Vedanta course in 1976, under Swami Dayananda.

Like many of us, Swamiji came to the US for higher studies. He obtained MS in mechanical engineering from North Dakota, and was working in New York when he attended talks by Swami Chinmayanandaji. The young man was so taken by the vision of Vedanta that against the wishes of his loving family, he gave up his job and enrolled in the 2½ year course in Sandeepany in Mumbai. After the course, Swami Dayanandaji asked Sri Swaroop to move to Ahmedabad as a brahmachari and start teaching the local people. In 1983, he obtained diksha to become Swami Viditamananda.

I first met Swamiji in 1990. By then I too had completed the 2 ½ year course of study under Swami Dayananda, and was asked to be the secretary of the newly formed Arsha Vidya Pitham. The gurukulam in Saylorsburg was fully functional, and Pujya Swamiji wanted Swami Viditatmananda to be the first acarya to assist him in teaching the US students. I was given the honor of introducing Swamiji to his first audience in the ashram. We were all struck by his thorough grasp and clear explanation of the principles of Vedanta. There and then, I requested him to grace us by visiting the San Francisco Bay area. Although it took some time, this became a reality over time.

For the last 20 years, we have been fortunate to have him for one week every year. The bond between the students and teachers is mutual. Since the teacher has no agenda other than to find students who are worthy of learning, we are happy Swamiji finds students here fill that criteria. In addition to learning from Swamiji, my family has been most fortunate to have Swamiji stay in our home for the last dozen year or so (since last year, that honor goes to Kumud and Kishore Singhal in Milpitas, much closer to the talks). This has meant many heart-to-heart talks, with enhanced mananam and nididhyasanam for me.

As many of us discovered, one of Swamiji’s special qualities is how he relates to individuals – totally non-judgmental and loving. I see him giving advice to students on day-to-day problems that are very helpful. When we started adding retreats to the schedule of talks, this quality became obvious. Early in the retreat he learns people’s names, and their backgrounds, and gets to know them personally. Similarly, during satsangs and bhikshas, he tirelessly answers questions in a practical manner, keeping the questioner in mind. And yet, if you attend his bhashya classes at the ashram, you are struck by his erudition and insight into the subtle truth. He imbibes this quality to tailoring the teaching to the level of the students from our guru, Pujya Swami Dayanandaji. 

I had the privilege of editing the transcription of his retreat talks on Kaivalya Upanisad. During this time, I discovered his clarity of difficult concepts and his precision with words. In the process I learnt the art of converting talks into books (you may know that Swamiji performed the same function for our guru, Swami Dayanandaji in publishing the now famous book called ‘The Teaching of Bhagavad Gita’)

In the next newsletter, we will give some details about some of his accomplishments, including establishing a significant ashram near Ahmedabad, and publishing scores of books, CDs and videos.

We are looking forward to seeing you all at these talks.   Visit https://arshavidyacenter.org for details of Swamiji's visit and any updates. Harih Om

Vijay Kapoor

Liveimpact
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