India, will one day, be remembered as the land where the most sublime wisdom arose. Wisdom which elucidates the preciousness of human rebirth and its spiritual potential. Wisdom that established the profound teachings on shunyata and pratityasamutpada. In this land where the Buddha Shakyamuni walked, there flourished a tradition of study, contemplation and practice, rooted in discipline and courage.
Our wisdom and traditions went east to flourish, forming the foundation of several Asian cultures. While in India, they were conquered, diluted, broken or mentally exiled, creating a vacuum in our own identity. Millennia ago, sages prophesised that the greatest misfortune of this degenerate era will be the elusiveness of true wisdom. That the mind would be trapped by obscuration, overwhelmed by habit and unaware of its own ignorance.
Vidyaloke means wisdom and light. Our vision is to revive Indian Wisdom in contemporary India. Not as a spiritual organisation or movement or philosophy – but as a facilitator for those seeking the greatest living teachers of ancient Indian wisdom. Through teachings, talks, interactions and virtual resources we aspire to provide shishyas the opportunity to study and learn from the greatest teachers of our time. Drawing from the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni and from sacred sutras and texts, we will focus on wisdom that is authentic, revered and at least 2000 years old.
The Buddha was born a prince, named Siddhartha Gautama. As a young man, he chose to find a solution to suffering for the benefit of all beings. He studied, contemplated and practiced inexhaustibly till he reached enlightenment. He then taught the truth in many ways to suit the capacities of all beings. His wisdom and life became an inextricable part of India’s wisdom, beyond the notions of form, space and time.
While the wisdom of India subtly found its way into the fabric of everyday life, there is a palpable need to revive the tradition of its study and practice. We live in an era marked by uncertainty, negative emotions and false views. We fall prey to the seduction of savvy imports plagiarised from our own wisdom traditions. We allow ourselves to become trapped in blind devotion born out of desperation or greed. We despair in the apparent pointlessness and fatality of our existence, causing suffering to ourselves and others. Seeking to go beyond such phenomena, Vidyaloke is an Indian Wisdom initiative for the curious, the confused, the courageous, the committed, the ordinary, the extraordinary and the romantic.
Vidyaloke will only make teaching requests to gurus with lineage, accountable to a legacy and with the highest levels of personal practice and accomplishment. Beyond the opportunities that Vidyaloke provides, each shishya must chart out a journey. While each shishya’s journey might be unique, it is essential to know that the mind deludes itself, projecting what it wishes to see, think and feel. There is no replacing the guru to point out the truth, to pull the rug from underneath one’s feet and to do what books cannot do. This understanding is the basis of the guru-shishya parampara and must provoke a careful search of whom we might see as our guide. All wisdom traditions also stress the importance of sangha, to help encourage our practice and efface egocentrism. It is our hope that through Vidyaloke, shishyas find their own sangha and the support that it provides.
We believe in living a full and eclectic life but ask interested shishyas to have genuine commitment to their own journey and practice. This includes study before teachings, attending activities in their entirety and putting in effort afterwards. It is said that selfless devotion to all sentient beings is the only way to find happiness for oneself, therefore genuine motivation to benefit others is highly encouraged.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is Vidyaloke’s first torchbearer, for which we will be forever indebted. His boundless compassion, concern for India and her legacy, motivate him to give us his invaluable time. For more than 1500 years, the Buddha’s teachings have been preserved and practiced by the highest scholars, practitioners and teachers to India’s east. Perhaps it is India’s karma, that it is once again a point of confluence for the greatest living teachers of ancient wisdom.
Vidyaloke believes it must focus on the relatively young. Private Teachings are intended for those between 16 and 40 years of age, however Public Talks and other Vidyaloke formats are open to all ages. While one’s spiritual journey is independent of age, we feel there is a heightened need to spiritually nourish India’s youth.
Our ambition is to organise teachings and talks with increasing frequency and in different places across India. Vidyaloke will eventually need to be supported by shishyas themselves, as part of their own evolving journey and in service to those making new beginnings.
We feel that personal motivation to develop a more enlightened view and an understanding of our spiritual interdependence might be India’s only avenue to peace and happiness, one that it might some day offer to the world. So as it is written in the Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra, “Go, go beyond, go still further and establish your enlightenment.”
| REVIVING INDIAN WISDOM IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA |
Vidyaloke is an initiative by Vana Foundation with the blessings of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and patronage from Analjit Singh & Family.
May the light in one’s mind grow steadily brighter,
the darkness of unknowing be fearlessly removed.
May the beauty of compassion find its place within,
the mind’s horizon forever expanding.
May this be my greatest prayer,
that wisdom’s flame be kindled for all.
A journey so irreversible may I find,
till I reside simply in emptiness.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the very young age of two, the child who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time, was recognised as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognised for his concern for global environmental problems.
His Holiness effortlessly distils the essence of complex Buddhist teachings and juxtaposes them with causes and conditions relevant to our times. His mastery and passion for Indian wisdom is unparalleled and he is perhaps its foremost torchbearer in the world today. India and its youth are areas of deep interest and genuine concern for His Holiness.
Vidyaloke steps into the world guided by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as its founding teacher and we seek in him, wisdom and inspiration.
Vana Foundation aspires to create a paradigm shift in people’s minds and the society in which we live. Our relationship with the self, one’s community, nature and our culture is increasingly diluted. Through its foundation, Vana hopes to in some way reverse this and be of service and benefit to all beings.
As a beginning, its activities include the planning and execution of the Siddhartha Festival, Vidyaloke, creating the Vana Food Network and exploring initiatives in cultural and creative areas.
Veer Singh, Vana’s Founder, believes that Vana is a manifestation of his principles and a desire to be of service and enhance wellbeing, a vision his family and team stand firmly behind. Vana Foundation, Therapiya and Vanaveda are extensions of this contemporary vision, finding their roots in Indian wisdom and tradition.
Analjit Singh is the Founder & Chairman Emeritus of the Max Group. His entrepreneurial journey reflects his creativity, avant-garde thinking and desire to positively impact people and society. Healthcare, Life Insurance, Health Insurance and Senior Living have been areas of his pioneering work and all represent enterprises of social good. He is a deeply spiritual person and has always helped facilitate learning and inner development for others.
Vana Foundation is grateful to Analjit Singh & Family for their wholehearted, generous patronage and support for Vidyaloke.