New Teacher at Jiva!
Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies is pleased to announce the joining of Paras Mehta as an Assistant Professor of Gaudiya Vaisnava Studies. Paras Mehta received the Masters degree in Sanskrit with a specialization in Indian Philosophy. He is scheduled to finish his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Mumbai in a few months. His area of research is Gaudiya Vedanta philosophy, with experience in working on the Sushruta project at the University of Alberta, Canada, and Haṭha Pradīpikā project at the EFEO, Pondicherry. He has taught courses on the Sanskrit language and Sanskrit philosophical texts of Vedānta, Nyāya, Sāṅkhya, etc., and also currently teaches the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam with Sanskrit commentaries. He has a blog calledSanskritanuragi where he posts new Sanskrit verses of his composition with translation into English, Hindi, and Gujarati.
There is an abundance of educational activities and service opportunities at Jiva Institute. Some highlights include:
- Courses: After the 5 years Bhakti-tirtha course from 2016 to 2021, we are now conducting the Bhakti-ratna course, which also runs for 6 months from October to the end of March. It is covering the entry-level books of the Sad-darshanas with a detailed study of Bhakti literature. Beside this, there are classes on Srimad Bhagavatam and other classes on request.
- Research and Publication: Jiva Institute is actively engaged in translating and publishing the literature related to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. A present one of the main focuses is in presenting the Sat Sandarbhas of Jiva Gosvami in the English language. Five of the Six Sandarbhas have been already published. The last one, Priti Sandarbha, will be published Another major research work, taken up by Dr. Demian Martin, is discovering the unpublished works of Baladeva Vidyabhusana and translating and printing them. He has already published Tattva Dipika, Siddhanta Darpana, Mula Ramayana, and Gaura-ganasvarupa Tattva Candrika.
- Jiva Grantha Mandira. This repository of texts is a community effort to collect, edit, and make available important and often rare Sanskrit and Bengali texts that belong to the Caitanya Vaisnava tradition. We are transcribing all the major works of our acharyas so that scholars can use them for reference and research. Already over 500 books have been transcribed and digitalized, many with commentaries.
- Vrindavan Today Online Magazine. Jiva Institute also runs an E-newspaper in English and Hindi, which is hosted on our Jīva server (https://vrindavantoday.com). Its purpose is to spread the glories of the Vraja culture.
- Sanskrit School for Indian and international students at its Institute in Vrindavan and its branch in nearby Radha Kunda. Through our partnership with Sampurnananda Sanskrit University in Benares, Jiva’s Sanskrit School offers students the ability to pursue undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees. Classes are taught in English and in Hindi. In addition to studying grammar, scholars from around the world also frequent the Institute to study philosophical scripture under the guidance of Dr. Satyanarayana Dasa.
- Goshala & Cow Service: Feeding cows is very auspicious in Vedic Culture. Caring for and protecting cows is one of the oldest and most important features of Vedic culture. Cows are considered holy in India. They maintain human life by providing milk and tilling the land.
Cows also serve as a practical example of proper conduct for humanity as they work for the welfare of other beings without causing them distress. Goshala means the home of protected cows. Jiva Institute maintains a small Goshala at its facility for residents to interact with India’s sacred animal. Jiva Institute also supports several larger Goshalas in Vrindavan where residents are able to render service to the cows. Jiva ensures its students and residents the opportunity to participate in the timeless tradition of cow service and to benefit from the qualities of humility, compassion and selflessness such work instills in one’s character.
- Organic Farming: Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies believes in the importance of an organic lifestyle and this begins with the food we eat. We own 17 acres of farmland around Vrindavan where it grows the organic grains and vegetables consumed at its Institute. While refraining from using pesticides and chemicals is important, organic farming goes beyond these fundamental principles. It encompasses the environment, agricultural traditions, traditional seeds, animal protection, community, responsible resource use, and resource conservation. Organic agriculture is based on the maintenance of the local community by adhering to its inherent ecological cycles and conditions rather than using external inputs, which ultimately yield adverse effects. Organic farming promotes a high quality of life for all living being involved. India has been steeped in the ancient wisdom of farming since the dawn of human civilization. The enlightened sages living in the forests understood the rhythms of nature and how humans could exist in synergy instead of in opposition to these rhythms. Jiva Institute is committed to preserving this ancient knowledge and integrating it into our lives
- Vedic Psychology. Babaji observed that many devotees suffer from some mental blocks because of which they do not make much progress in spiritual life. They cannot focus while doing japa. To help them, Babaji developed a new field of psychotherapy based on his knowledge of the scriptures. He named it Vedic Psychology. As an experiment, he trained one of his disciples, a licensed psychotherapist, who has been using it for her clients for the past two years with amazing results. Babaji also conducts special sessions with some of her clients. He has also given many talks on it to devotees to understand the functioning of the mind from the Vedic point of view.
Future Plans and Projects
Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies is constantly planning, evolving and improving itself for the future. Our plans include:
1. To create critical editions of the major works of the Gosvamis.
3. To reprint rare and out-of-print books in their original language. This keeps books from going out of existence.
4. Setting up a university that represents the complete conception of Vedic culture in a modern context.
5. Expanding our online courses for promoting Sanskrit language, philosophy, and other Indian sciences, such as astrology and music.
6. To establish an art department for illustrating the books produced at Jiva Institute.
7. Digitalizing all our manuscripts to make them accessible to a wider body of people. We want to make ancient texts, written on mango leaves and tree bark, available on this website in the near future.
8. Babaji’s main project is to create a private university and facilities for guests, students, and professors on the Jīva complex. This serves serval purposes: People who need a degree will be able to study there and later pursue a professional career and students who just come for the sake of learning and pursuing their spiritual practices will be able to just absorb themselves in the studies without having to worry about their livelihood and maintenance. The teachings will be conducted in a traditional way unlike in the Western academy, where an anti-Hindu bias among professors is common. Prominent philosophies like Advaitavāda will be presented by Vaishnavas, which will enable them to comprehend and (refute if needed) this philosophy from a Vaishnava point of view. There will also be a facility for scholars to stay and do research. He plans to have a special unit of Vedic psychology as part of the new project.