Chinmaya Mission's Dharma Sevak Course is a two-week or six-week residential Vedanta course primarily for householders interested in intensive scriptural studies.
Aimed at individual inner transformation, the course enables students to learn spiritual knowledge and share it with society as dedicated sevaks of dharma, for "dharmena dharyate lokah". Through each course, each covering different texts, students also develop skills to conduct Chinmaya Study Groups better.
During the course, students live the disciplined life of a disciple, as one would in a gurukula (ashram for spiritual study).
Dharma has countless definitions, usages, and connotations in Sanskrit, but is generally understood as that which 'upholds, nourishes, sustains, integrates'.
The most popular example of dharma is as 'the essence or substratum of a thing,' as in, sweetness is the dharma or substratum of sugar, for without sweetness it would not be called sugar.
Values uphold one's character, nourish one's daily interactions, sustain joy, give a deeper meaning to life as a whole, and integrate the society. Therefore, values are sometimes referred to as dharma.
On a more profound level, the supreme Lord is called Dharma, for He is the essence, sustenance, and nourishment of the universe and all its names and forms.
The Dharma Sevak is thus the spiritual aspirant who ardently seeks the Lord within, courageously lives noble values, and humbly serves humanity as worship.
The Dharma Sevak Course is conducted in a Chinmaya Mission ashram at various times and places. Unless otherwise indicated, the course is taught in English.
During the course, students live the simple, stress-free, and serene life of a disciple in a gurukula. In the ashram, students learn Vedanta through the integral practice of:
The Dharma Sevak Course gives clarity in the understanding of intensive spiritual practices, or sadhana. Some of the courses also offer guided teachings in japa, pujas, and homas.
- Jnana Yoga: the study of the Upanishads, Shrimad Bhagawad Gita, and introductory Vedantic texts
- Bhakti Yoga: the study of devotional texts such as Ramayana or Shrimad Bhagavatam
- Karma Yoga: service in the ashram and growth in one's vision of dedicated service to the world.
Other course highlights include:
- Guided meditation
- Group discussions on spiritual topics
- Sanskrit and Vedic chanting
- Basic or advanced Sanskrit language classes
- Guidance on being a Chinmaya Mission sevak for Chinmaya Bala Vihar, Yuva Kendra, or Study Group.
Pujya Swami Chinmayananda introduced the first Dharma Sevak Course at the Mission's Mumbai ashram, in 1991. The course was offered for many years as a two-month retreat. It was inspired by, and based on, Chinmaya Mission's Dharma Veer Course, which had been conceived, and was being conducted in Andhra Pradesh at the time, by Pujya Swamini Saradapriyananda.
Dharma Sevak Course 2011 (English) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India