Gayatri Teerth, Shantikunj is the embodiment of the vision of Yugrishi saint-seer-philosopher par excellence, Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya (Gurudev to his devotees). It is the headquarters of the Global Gayatri Pariwar and has emerged over the years as a unique centre and fountainhead of a global movement for moral, ethical and spiritual regeneration of humanity in the light of the perennial wisdom of the hoary Indian heritage. Gayatri Pariwar has more than one million volunteers and another 100 million persons as followers and wellwishers spread all over the world. The Yugrishi founded Shantikunj in 1971, when he finally bid goodbye to Gayatri Tapobhoomi Mathura at the bidding of his own Master.
The gist of Acharyashri'smessage is the awakening of human consciousness to a higher and nobler realm of light, love and life suffused with peace, harmony and joy. Vandaniya Mata Bhagvati Devi Sharma had been the foremost collaborator and disciple of Gurudev. She contributed immensely in giving concrete shape to the ideals and dreams of her soulmate. After the departure of Gurudev Pt Shriram Sharma Acharya and Vandaniya Mataji to the subtle?causal realms, the mission'sactivities are being directed by Dr. Pranav Pandya and his soulmate Jiji Shailbala Pandya; both playing the roles of mentors of Gayatri Pariwar parijans. The smooth working of this worldwide movement is based on voluntary daily contribution of a minimum of fifty paisa, one handful of grains and one hour'sservice towards furtherance of the aims and objects of the mission by millions of its devotees.
The central thrust of Gayatri Mission'sefforts is the inculcation of national unity, amity and brotherhood and removal of ignorance, outmoded customs, jealousy, hatred, and strife through the popularisation of Gayatri Mantra, Yagya and Vedic Sanskars, amongst the masses, by making them aware of their soul-uplifting significance.
The Shantikunj Ashram Complex broadly runs the following activities:
Brahmavarchas Shodh Sansthan
The founder-patron of the Mission was of the firm view that in this scientific era, spiritual principles and religious rituals and rites can be accepted by the elites as well as the masses only when they are scientifically validated and their relevance for a nobler way of life practically demonstrated. Towards this end, he established a research institute of scientific spirituality, known as Brahmvarchas Shodh Sansthan in 1979. Situated at a distance of less than a kilometer from the main Ashram, on the banks of the holy Ganga, it is a unique center of research. Dedicated to the pursuit of integration of science with spirituality, it conducts fundamental and applied researches in the esoteric realm of Gayatri Mantra?the fundamental fount of cosmic knowledge and energy, which lies dormant in the human psyche. Investigations are made on the beneficial effects on the Sadhak'sbody, mind and intellect of Gayatri Sadhana; herbal and aurvedic medicines; and fumes emitted from the yagya of various medicinal plants. Rigorous research is also conducted on the purificatory effects of yagya fumes on the environment. Scientific principles underlying Yagyopathy are also being analysed. Healing and refining effects of yagya on the physical, subtle and causal bodies, too, are under investigation with a view to scientifically establishing the validity of Yagyopathy as an alternate therapy.
Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya
Another noteworthy contribution of great significance is the establishment in 2002 of a university of its own kind, with the avowed object of imparting integrated education based on scientific spirituality and a refined and noble path of living, which may set an example before the human race of a way of life founded on selflessness, loving kindness, mutual understanding and awakened awareness of interconnectedness of all that exists.
Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya has been developed on the pattern of Takshshila and Nalanda, the two glorious universities of immortal fame of ancient times, initially with four faculties of Sadhana (self-discipline and refinement), Shiksha (education), Swasthya (health and healing) and Swavlamban (self-reliance).
Network of Gayatri Mission
The Mission has a global network of about 4,000 Shaktipeeths-Pragya Peeths, 25,000 Pragya Sansthans, 30,000 Swadhyaya Mandals etc., which regularly organise satsangs, discourses and discussions on various problems in their areas to advance the noble cause of the Mission. They serve as local centres, of which Shantikunj is the headquarters.
Rich Literary Legacy of Gurudev? Subject-wise Classification
Gurudev was also blessed with an exceptional gift of literary talent, which is evident in more than 3000 books written by him. These are in the process of compilation into 108 volumes of ?Vangmaya?, 70 of which have already been published. His writings encompass the whole gamut of moral, cultural, ethical and spiritual heritage of India especially and of humanity in general. He initially started a monthly magazine ?Akhand Joyti? in 1937 in Hindi with a humble beginning of 250 copies, circulation of which has now risen to 6.5 lakhs per month. It contains articles on moral, cultural, spiritual, ethical and social topics, national integration, amity, and brotherhood. There is hardly any subject of human well-being and interest from the most mundane to the highest level of spirituality, which remains untouched by this magazine. Akhand Jyoti is now also being published in Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and English.
After the magnificent 1008 Kundi Maha Yagya in 1958 performed at Gayatri Tapobhoomi, Mathura, the Mission performed 24 similar Gayatri Mahayagyas in various parts of India between 1958-1970 in each of which two to three lakh persons participated. Besides these, 28 Ashwamedha Yagyas (in India and abroad) were also organised between 1993-95 for global awakening of people, in each of which 10 to 15 lakh people took part. Two Yug Sandhi Mahapurashcharanahuti yagyas were also organised: first in 1995 at the birthplace of Revered Gurudev at village Anwalkhera, Agra, in which millions of people participated and the second at Hardwar in 2000 in which almost ten million devotees participated.
Besides the performance of gigantic Yagyas, more than 250 Samskar Mahotsawas were also organised in different parts of the country for revival of the ancient practice of Samskaras in the most elegant manner, which converted hundreds of hard-core criminals into refined human beings. In this way, the Mission has been serving as a unique spiritual sanatorium for people of all walks of life in India and abroad.
Training and Sadhana Camps / Retreats
For inculcation of the moral, cultural, spiritual and ethical values, national integration and development of the youth, various training camps /retreats are organised regularly. Amongst these, 9-day training camp of Sanjeewani Vidya, one-month training camp of Yug Shilpis and Paribrajaks, three-month training for proficiency in Music have been the regular features of the training activities of the Mission. Occasional trainings of officers and employees of central and state governments, local bodies, corporations, banks, factories etc. are also organised on ?Art of Living?, organisational management, efficient working methodology, work culture, dignity of labour, health, behavioral science, value of time, inculcation of discipline, duty consciousness, national integration, etc.
Temples of Prakhar Pragya and Sajal Shraddha
The splendid Prakhar Pragya and Sajal Shraddha, two tiny temples made of marble, near the main entrance of Shantikunj contain the marble footprints of Param Poojya Gurudev and Vandaniya Mataji respectively. These are sources of inspiration for self- enlightenment and fulfillment of noble aspirations for thousands of men, women, newly-wed couples and children who daily offer their prayers at these temples for peace, prosperity and success in their lives. Just in front of these tiny temples is the Samadhisthal of Gurudev and Mataji made of sparkling granite stone, which is suffused with celestial vibrations of the two divinised beings, who are revered as spiritual guides by millions of their devotees.
Owing to enormous increase of visitors and devotees, the Ashram has expanded its residential and other facility manifold during the last one decade. Many new buildings have been constructed. Three commodious canopies for performing Havan have been constructed which present a memorable sight in the morning hours, when thousands of saffron-clad devotees perform yagya in the blazing flames of yagya kundas with chanting of Mantras. All the Samskaras are also performed in morning time, in various canopies and buildings in the Ashram complex, free of cost.
Well-equipped dispensaries of Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Allopathy are run in the Ashram, where qualified doctors render free service. Medicines are also supplied free of cost as per medical prescriptions. They also render free advice for maintenance of sound health and improvement of natural immunity of the body organism.
(Dev Sanskruti Vishwavidyalaya, Gayatrikunj, Shantikunj Extn.) Haridwar, Uttarakhand. Phone: 01334-261367