Shanti jal

Shanti Jal – Peace Water
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The water taken from the spot where the worship of Divine Mother Sri Durga was done, known as Shanti Jal. This “Peace Water” is sprinkled on the devotees. Before sprinkling host of Peace Invocations are chanted. During sprinkling three times Peace is recited. And thus the holy Durga Puja comes to an end leaving joyous memories in the hearts of people.
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Adults’ Religious Education

I wrote in my earlier posts about the Religious Education for children. Our Centre has not stopped there. We have Adults’ Courses too. These Courses are called Hindu Studies course and Bhagavad Gita Studies Course.

Deputy Dean Vijaynand Mohanlal with Dean Swami Saradaprabhananda
Deputy Dean Vijaynand Mohanlal with Dean Swami Saradaprabhananda

Exams are conducted by the Faculty of Peace studies, Spirituality and Culture, run by Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa every year and successful students are given Certificates during a Graduation Ceremony.

This year the Graduation Ceremony was held at Nischalananda Hall in HQ on 28 March, 2009 and for the Northern Natal Graduates, it was held at Ladysmith Town Hall on 4 April, 2009. When I heard in person and re-read later the Welcome Address given by Vijaynand Mohanlal who is the Deputy Dean of this Faculty, I thought I should place here some excerpts that will give you an idea in all its glory about this wonderful work.
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Welcome Address by Vijaynand Mohanlal, Deputy Dean:

Revered Swami Vimokshananda, Revered Swami Saradaprabhananda, Pravrajika Ishtaprana Mataji, our Guest of Honour, Dr P L Patel and Mrs Patel, members of the Academic Staff, our successful candidates, Distinguished Guests, members of Sister Organisations, Ladies and Gentlemen
Om Namo Narayanaya!

Ever since his return from India in 1953 till his passing away in 1965, the founder of our Centre, Sri Swami Nischalananda pioneered the course of Vedanta in Southern Africa and initiated a vigorous educational programme by way of lectures and literature to overcome the ignorance among the masses regarding Hinduism. Many Hindu organisations at the time were given an impetus and drew inspiration from the many ideas which Swami Nischalananda had introduced to educate the general Hindu population and others who came into contact with him.

The Ramakrishna Centre of  South Africa continues in this tradition till this day. The offering of the Certificate in Hindu Studies course by the Centre followed by the Certificate in Bhagavad Gita Studies, through distance and supported learning mode has put the study of our great Religious and Cultural heritage within easy reach of many who wanted to study this but who could find no structured programme to follow.

These courses provide a general overview of Hinduism, with its various components such as Hindu scriptures, philosophies, ethics, festivals, deities, symbolism and so on. The minimum duration of each of these programmes is one year, which is divided into two semesters. A written exam in conducted in each semester. Students are also assessed through assignments, a percentage of which contributes towards the final the final mark s for the course.

The cost of these courses has been subsidized by the Centre and includes textbooks, postages costs and examination fees. Students must be in possession of a Matric Certificate to enroll for the Certificate in Hindu Studies course. Admission may also be granted based on recognition of prior learning. The pre-requisite to enroll for the Certificate in Bhagavad Gita Studies is the Certificate in Hindu Studies.

A synopsis of the course is also given in the programme which you have in your possession.

We are beholden to Professor Swami Atmapriyananda, Vice Chancellor of the Vivekananda University, Kolkata for his guidance and blessings for our educational offerings. We also had the support of a highly qualified and competent staff with which we have managed the course.

Once again I am happy to note that the attitude and discipline with which students generally approached their studies made one feel proud. Both the courses were pitched at first year University level and required disciplined work on their part. Their commitment and the eagerness with which they did their work was evident in the quality of their assignments and in their written examinations…

We have looked into supplementing the course material for the Bhagavad Gita Studies to further assist students in understanding the many important concepts and topics covered in the Bhagavad Gita. An added feature in the 2009 Academic year will be self-study exercises for which solution guides will be sent to students. These exercises will be very focussed and will help broaden the students’ knowledge of the syllabus…

A distinguishing feature of our student population was that they represented a cross-section of the community and work force and included bank managers, educators, attorneys, doctors, social workers, accountants, pharmacists, physiotherapists, housewives, technicians and a host of other professions. Many indicated to us the normal pressure in the work environment; however most of the students persevered with their studies. A few of the original entrants had to discontinue or defer their studies due to work pressure, relocation difficulties and other reasons.

We are also striving to take the examination venues as close as possible to our students. This year exams were written at 10 venues throughout the country with the latest venue being Cape Town.

Examinations are written under strict exam conditions and compares with guidelines laid down by higher education institutions.

We are happy to announce that in the 2008 Academic year our students achieved a very high success rate. Of the 48 students who qualified to sit for the Hindu Studies exam, 46 students successfully completed the course giving us a 96% success rate. Of the 61 who qualified to sit for the Bhagavad Gita Studies exam, all students successfully completed the course.
(Ladies and gentlemen I think they deserve a hearty round of applause.)

A new course aimed at Sunday School Teachers is in the preparatory stages and will be offered in the 2010 Academic year. Details regarding this course will be made available during the course of this year.

We have also had enquiries from those not is possession of a Matric Certificate wanting to study courses in Hinduism. We have identified course material for such a course and work has commenced in putting this course together.

Once again, on behalf of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa, I would like to extend our hearty congratulations to all students who successfully completed the Certificate in Hindu Studies course and the Certificate in Bhagavad Gita course. We trust that you will continue to enrich your lives with the study of Hinduism.

To see all the photos of the Graduation Ceremony held at HQ, just click on the below link that will take you to the picasa web album. There click ‘slideshow’, then press F11 in your keyboard for Full screen view, relax and watch!

HQ Graduation Ceremony

To see all the photos of the Graduation Ceremony held at Ladysmith for the Northern Natal Graduates, just click on the below link that will take you to the picasa web album. There click ‘slideshow’, then press F11 in your keyboard for Full screen view, relax and watch!

Northern Natal Graduation Ceremony