BAPS Research Institute launched in Sydney

Vedic literature to be nurtured at the new BAPS Institute, alongside interfaith dialogue and public engagement

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BAPS Sydney has joined its sister centres worldwide to launch the BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute.

Formally inaugurated in Sydney in late July, it will commit to the teaching of Sanskrit, classical Vedic literature and Hindu beliefs, values, affiliated languages, and practices. It will nurture interfaith dialogue, public engagement, and academic discourse as it generates opportunities for the highest level of value-based education, innovative research, and creative expression.

Founded on the pillars of “practical spirituality”, BAPS (Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) is a global organisation that has constantly strived to promote global harmony through deep faith, nurture of Vedic knowledge and unwavering commitment to serve society.

Fulfilling the vision of its fifth spiritual leader His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016), the Research Institute is being launched worldwide as part of his centenary celebrations this year.

The Sydney launch took place with the blessings of the current spiritual leader of BAPS His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, and in the presence of visiting BAPS Sadhu Mahopadhyay Bhadreshdas Swamiji.

On the occasion, the BAPS community was joined by over 80 representatives from 41 cultural and religious organisations, language schools and academics.

In his virtual address from India, Mahant Swami Maharaj stated, “In the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, let us reach out to extend the circle of global harmony. May students excel in their studies and work together to serve society, expanding the circle of unity across the world. Yogiji Maharaj had envisioned such an institute and was passionate about youth learning and discoursing in Sanskrit.”

BAPS Swami Mahant in India
HH Mahant Swami Maharaj in India, watching over the proceedings at Sydney

In a beautiful gesture, representatives from various organisations were invited on stage amidst the chanting of Asatoma Sat Gamaya to collectively light the lamp and carry forward this legacy.

women light candles

Describing Bharat as a Shikshaa ka Desh and the Vedas as Gyaan ka Mahaasaagar, Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami invited all attendees to join forces to foster a new generation of abhyasis who would converse and debate with confidence in Sanskrit.

“If we want to preserve our traditions, we first need to understand its roots. And shiksha begins with bhaasha. The institute will provide opportunities to discuss religion and explore spirituality, to study linguistics, arts and culture. We have a blank canvas and urge you to script a new future,” he elaborated during his inaugural address.

An erudite scholar, Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami is the author of the Sanskrit commentary and philosophical texts, the Swaminarayan-Bhashyamam and the Swaminarayan Siddhanta-Sudha. He is the first author in 1,200 years to write a traditional Sanskrit commentary (“Bhashyam”) on all texts of the Prasthanatrayi – three foundational and leading scriptures of the Hindu faith comprising the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita.

Elaborating on Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision, he encouraged children and youth to explore their interests in the areas of arts and Hindu philosophy.

kids chanting prayers

Earlier in the evening, BAPS Balaks and Yuvas showcased their prowess and gave insights into how the centre will nurture future generations to learn about Sanskrit, Vedic philosophy and Hindu culture.

kids recite Hindu prayers

BAPS spokesperson Praful Jethwa said, “This launch is very promising for the future of scholarship and training for youth. This institute will provide structure, pathways and means for young people to learn the texts and languages from experts in India in traditional Gurukul style.”

Nihal Agar of the Hindu Council of Australia said the launch of BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute in Australia comes at a critical time for the Hindu community in the country. “As the community continues to grow it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our heritage, our culture, our languages and our values which are derived from Hindu Sanskriti, continue on,” he said. “The research institute will create the ability to support each other to unite and ensure that our rich Vedic philosophy is nurtured.”

The courses at the Institute include Sanskrit language studies, a Diploma in Shrimad Bhagavat Gītā and its Sanskrit Commentaries, and two Brahmavidya Adhyayans (Introduction to the Vedas and Upanishads, and Introduction to the Puranas and Shastras).

With lectures, assignments and assessments, the courses will be delivered virtually by BAPS scholars worldwide through already established state-of-the-art Research Institute facilities established in Akshardham temples in Delhi, Gandhinagar and Sarangpur in India.

Sanskrit studies for kids 8-13 has been a particularly popular ongoing course at Sydney. An online program for global BAPS children, it has rigorous prerequisites, such as the kanth path (recitation) of 900 shlokas or hymns. 34 of the 90 kids are from Sydney, Praful Jethwa revealed.

Besides, there are online music lessons in the Indian instruments of tabla, sitar, bansuri and harmonium.

BAPS Swaminarayan Research Institute Sydney welcomes all to its courses, even those outside its fold.

“As Swami Mahant Maharaj says, we must make the circle of unity larger,” Praful Jethwa said.

READ ALSO: BAPS Sydney launches centenary celebrations of spiritual founder

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