Elective Selection

Please note that electives are optional. However, to ensure group continuity, every student that opts to attend an elective is asked to commit to attend all the sessions of that elective and not to change between electives as the week progresses.

The Electives are as follows:

1. How to use a Saṃskṛta Dictionary

This elective will give an overview of:

  • the Monier Williams Sanskrit/English Dictionary, its structure, its indicatory meta language, etc.
  • how to select meanings of words in the texts being studied based on the type of word, context, etc.

A freely available online dictionary will be used.

2. Sounding

There are many indications in the śruti and the words of the wise that indicate the power of sound to transform and transcend.

In verse 18 of “The Eternal Way” it is said that the sound of the words of the Upaniṣads has a power that surpasses all thought and that from these words alone comes direct realisation, just as one who is asleep is woken by sound.

His Holiness Śrī Śāntānanda Sarasvatī Mahārāj in the 1971 conversations reveals how pure words with pure sounds have the capacity to create puṇya, good essence. This is the substance through which laws are regulated and is in addition to the actual meaning of the words themselves.

This elective will explore the nature of sound, breath, listening and pure vowels, drawing on the words of His Holiness, Mr Maclaren, Marsilio Ficino and others.

3. Ādi Śaṃkara - His Life, Times and Works

Our understanding of advaita comes, via the Śaṃkarācarya, from the Holy Seat founded by Ādi Śaṃkara.

His Holiness has urged us to become more familiar with the tradition - the beautifully inspiring story of the Divine Incarnation is an auspicious start.

This elective is an exploration into why Ādi Śaṃkara incarnated and the episodes in his life.

We shall discover how he re-established advaita as pre-eminent amongst the vedic schools of philosophy. 

The study will include penetration into the Dakṣ̣iṇāmūrti Stotram, one of Ādi Śaṃkara's works.

4. Akṣarāṇi - The Imperishable Letters

The sounds (or letters) of the Saṃskṛta alphabet are called the akṣarāṇi – which means ‘imperishable, unchangeable’ (among many other fascinating things!).

We will be looking at some fundamental aspects of the application of these sounds in a light but penetrating study of several facets of typing, writing and reading.

This will include:

  • Installing and using the SanskritPro font.
  • Typing of devanāgarī as well as different transliteration formats.
  • Writing with ease by applying correct proportion and stroke movements.
  • New approaches to reading and refining those tricky sounds (letters) with ease!
  • Light will be shed on seldom-touched-upon but essential nuances of reading and writing.

Please note that use of a computer/laptop is essential for this elective.

By no means exhaustive or challenging, each of these will be looked at in a way that will bring new perspective on established manner, thus all students – whether with much past experience or none at all – are most welcome.

5. Vedic Astrology

Jyotiṣa or Vedic Astrology is known as the Science of light.  Like Vyākaraṇa or Sanskrit Grammar it is one of the six limbs of the Veda. Vyākaraṇa shows how language works. Jyotiṣa shows how the entire natural world works in space and time.  There are a great many rules in Jyotiṣa, but they all come from simple principles, many of which will be familiar to students of grammar.  We will use these simple principles to explore the science of Jyotiṣa.

If you would like to sign up for an elective, please make your selection below:

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