About Study Groups

After listening to a spiritual discourse, or after reading a scriptural text, you may have questions that remain unanswered. You may have not studied or listened to any scriptural discourse, but you are wondering where does life take you from where you are and in what direction? You may not even appreciate the relevance of scriptural study in your daily life. You may have attended the lectures very religiously but you cannot remember anything that you heard from the teacher’s mouth as relevant to you. You have to pursue your own study slowly and consistently by studying texts in Vedanta. The vehicle of study group is designed to not only to bring intellectual knowledge to the earnest student, but also assure the student who is ready to put in the effort can indeed, learn the means for becoming more peaceful, happy, and integrated in one’s life.

CHINMAYA STUDY GROUPS

A Chinmaya study group is a group of five to fifteen people who meet regularly (at least once a week) to discuss one of the textbooks of Vedanta. San Jose Chinmaya Mission has several study groups located in different parts of the Bay Area making it convenient for individuals to attend at least one study group near your place of residence. Each study group has a sevak, male or sevika, female who will guide the discussion among members of the study group and assist members in their study, helping to clear many doubts that may arise. This person acts as the leader of the group and assist individuals with their doubts about any aspect of the study group. Each member in the study group is expected to study and participate fully in the discussion in the group. Each study group starts on time and lasts one and a half hours.

CONDUCTING A STUDY GROUP

The location of the study group is usually at the home of one of the members of the study group. It is always at the same venue and in a location within the home, which is spotlessly clean and orderly. Generally the study group is conducted near an altar with images or symbols of the divine, plus a lamp or a candle to enhance the atmosphere and spiritual study. Arrangements are to be made with sevak or sevika if the members of the house have to be for some reason not available on the study group day. There is no distribution of food at any time during the duration of the study group and none is encouraged either before or after the study group is over. The group leader usually sits near the altar and is responsible for the choice of text to study and all other administrative details such as punctuality, regularity of attendance and the need to come prepared by studying the scripture.

The Study group starts with a prayer led by the leader of the group. An individual in the group will be asked to read the commentary of the verse that is being discussed and each one of the members participate in the discussion about the meaning of the verse. The group leader moderates the discussion, and clarifies any doubts that may arise. He may also take the position of opposition to generate discussion on the topic to clarify everyone’s understanding. The session ends with a peace invocation.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT STUDY GROUPS

1. Who can join a study group?
Any one who has the intellectual acumen and aspiration and is interested in discovering their own true nature can join the study group.
2. What type of commitment I have to make?
You have to make a commitment to study the scriptures and participate regularly each week in the discussion group without giving excuses for non-participation and attendance. Those who claim to have no time in their life for such activity will find in due course that they will have more time not only to their secular duties but also to do them well and manage their time much more efficiently after participating in study group.
3. Do I have to know Sanskrit?
No. If you know, it is of course a good thing since all the scriptures are in that language.But the group leader will explain some words in the Sanskrit language and these may be essential to remember. All chanting in the class will be done in Sanskrit only, since they are readings from the original text, which is written in Sanskrit.
4. Is there a fee to join the study group?
No. There is no fee to join the study group.
5. How can I join a study group?
Please check the information about study groups in and around the bay area by clicking here.
6. I have never studied Vedanta? Can I attend the study classes?
Yes, you can. There are tapes of lectures given by Swamijis in Chinmaya Mission and you can purchase them and listen and come up to speed in any of the scriptural texts.
7. Can I start a study Group in my own home?
You can. If you are interested, please call Uma Aunty at 650-969-4389.
8. Can our youngsters join the study group?
Typically they should be older than 16 years to benefit from this program.
9. Can I join when study group is already started studying several verses of the text?
You can. You have to put a little extra effort to come up to speed with the rest of the members of the group.
10. Who appoints the Sevika or Sevak?
Chinmaya Mission has a number of individuals who have been trained to conduct study groups. Depending on many factors of convenience and availability one of these members will be requested to become the Sevika or Sevak of your group by the resident Acharya.
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