The Vedanta movement has been around for 35 years, but now it gets a place to call its own
Adelaide now has a Vedanta Centre, a place where vedantins can gather to pray, meditate and reflect upon the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda and all other spiritual leaders of the world.
What started as a dream in the minds of a number of followers some years ago has now come to fruition. Swami Shridharananda, President of the Vedanta Society of Australia and New Zealand was the torch bearer and guide in achieving this goal.
What is Vedanta? As explained by the Swamiji, Veda literally means knowledge, and anta in this context means pinnacle. Together, Vedanta means pinnacle of knowledge. Swamiji emphasised the teaching of the Vedanta that the world we see and live in is diverse in nature but there is one reality behind this diversity. Different faiths call it by different names – God, Allah, Jesus Christ, Brahman. In Vedanta Centres throughout the world, five portraits are kept on the shrine and worshipped through daily prayers – these are Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sharada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ. This is symbolic of respecting all religions and acknowledging that they all lead to the same goal.
The new Vedanta Centre in Adelaide was launched with a beautiful two-day program encompassing spiritual, religious and cultural aspects. The first day saw Bhumi puja, Vastu puja and puja to the Hindu deity Ganesha which is customary at the beginning of any event or occasion. This was beautifully conducted by Sri Skandarajah Kurrukkal, the chief priest of the Ganesha Temple of Adelaide. This was followed by bhajans and kirtans and distribution of prasad as lunch for all those who attended. There was also an evening program with bhajans and a meal. On 21 May, for the inauguration, Swami Atmeshananda of Brisbane Vedanta Centre and Brahmacharis from the Sydney Centre conducted the puja ceremony in the Vedic style and the five portraits were officially installed. That evening there was a cultural program held at the Goodwood Institute before a gathering of approximately 200 people. A pleasing mix of classical dance and music performances representing all major traditions of India were presented. Swami Shridharananda spoke brilliantly about the Vedanta philosophy and asked the people of Adelaide to join hands in promoting the Vedanta movement in Adelaide.
Enquiring about the Vedanta Society, I learnt from a few vedantins that the Vedanta movement in Adelaide has been in existence for over 35 years. Various monks of the Ramakrishna Order visited Adelaide and presented teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Sri Shridharanandaji has been visiting Adelaide since 2001 on a monthly basis and has been presenting discourses on the Bhagavad-Gita and Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
They said that during his monthly discourses, Swami Shridharandandaji would often say that spirituality does not mean that you have to renounce everything and become a sannyasin. Instead, continue with what you do, only do it with an attitudinal correction.
“Convert every action as an offering to God. This will gradually transform you from being ego-centric to divine centric,” he says. During his address to the gathering at the cultural program Swamiji explained that Vedanta asserts that there are many ways to reach God. The practice of music, dance or any performing art is one of those. Artists practise their art to such an extent that they carry the audience with them to a different level. For a short time, we are one with the music or the dance which is a spiritual experience.
The Vedanta Centre is located at 506 Glynburn Rd, Burnside and was bought through the generous financial support of the devotees.