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Adi Shakti: A Webinar Series

Day 1 (7 November 2020): ‘Vedantic Interpretation of Devi Mahatmya’

‘Adi Shakti: Philosophy and Narratives of the Feminine Divine’ webinar series was inaugurated on an auspicious note. The programme opened with Dr. Vishaka Venkat, Assistant Professor from Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV)’s School of Linguistics and Literary Studies, welcoming the participants and inviting Dr. Prabhavathy P. N., Assistant  Professor for Carnatic Music at CVV’s School of Kalayoga, for the prayer. The prayer, a beautiful Devi stuti, was followed by the inaugural address by Prof. Gauri Mahulikar, Dean of Faculty, CVV, wherein she also introduced Swami Sharadananda, the speaker for the day.

Post the inauguration, Swami Sharadananda’s pre-recorded talk on the ‘Vedantic Interpretation of Devi Mahatmya’, a lucid narration of the Durga Saptashati along with its symbolism and Vedantic insights, was played. The talk was attended with rapt attention by one and all. 100 out of the 130 registered participants attended the talk live.

  


Day 2 (8 November 2020): Devi Mahalakshmi as a form of Shakti and Her significance as Shri in the Dharmic traditions

The session began with an invocation on the Devi by Kum. Srinidhi, a CVV student from the third-year B.A. Applied Psychology programme. Dr. Vishaka Venkat introduced and welcomed the day’s speaker, Dr. L. Sampath Kumar, Head and Assistant Professor at CVV’s School of Linguistics and Literary Studies.

Dr. Sampath Kumar introduced Devi Mahalakshmi as a form of Shakti and Her significance as ‘Shri’ in the Dharmic traditions. While pointing out the stress of the Shastras on understanding the ‘Shri’ tatva, he quoted various examples and anecdotes from the Vaishnava Sampradaya.

The talk was well received and was followed by a brief question and answer session.

  


Day 3 (9 November 2020): Lalita Devi: Origin, Form and Narratives by Dr. Vishaka Venkat

Smt. Pramodini Rao, Director of Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth’s Chinmaya Nada Bindu Gurukula, recited a beautiful Devi stuti to start the session of the webinar series. Prof. Gauri Mahulikar, Dean of Faculty, introduced and welcomed Dr. Vishaka Venkat, the speaker for the day.

Dr. Vishaka, Assistant Professor from the School of Linguistics and Literary Studies, introduced and described Lalita Devi sankalpa and the many narratives related to it. She also threw light on around 50 epithets of Lalita Devi as mentioned in Shri Lalita Sahasranama, Saundarya Lahari and Lalita Pancharatnam. The talk was well received and was followed by an active ten minutes of a question and answer session. 95 participants attended the webinar.

  


Day 4 (10 November 2020) : Stories of the Feminine Divine by Dr. Arundhati Sundar

The session began with the rendition of a beautiful bhajan by Tanishq Arora, a student of Chinmaya Naada Bindu Campus. Dr. Vishaka Venkat introduced and welcomed Dr. Arundhati Sundar, the speaker for the day. In the talk, Dr. Arundhati talked about the stories of the feminine divine. She began with the story of Satyavan-Savitri and the famous dialogue with Yama, the God of death. The lecture took us through some of the Shakthi peethas especially in the regions of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The talk also showcased the importance of Navratri and Garbha. The talk was well received and was followed by an active ten minutes of Question and Answers. The session had around 100 participants.

  


Day 5 (11 November 2020): Shri Kurumba: Maha-Kali Pratishtha-s of Kerala by Shri Srinath Mohandas

The session started with a beautiful bhajan composed by Smt. Pramodini Rao, Director of CVV’s Chinmaya Naada Bindu Gurukula. ‘Dean of CVV, Dr. Gauri Mahulikar introduced and welcomed Shri Srinath Mohandas, the speaker for the day. In the talk, Srinath vividly described the etymology and forms of Goddess Kali. The talk took the audience through the sthalapurana of Kodungallur Devi temple and the story of Daruka vadha. Further, Shri Srinath explained how the Goddess is also associated with Kannagi through the text Chilappathikaram. The talk ended with a discussion on considering Goddess Kali as Paradevata and how she is seen as a warrior goddess in Kalaripayattu. The talk was well received and was followed by an active Q&A session. Around 90 people attended the webinar.

  


Day 6 (12 November 2020): Meditations on Abhirami Anthadi: A Sublime Hymn in Praise of Shakti by Shri Jataayu

Day 6 started with an invocation of the Devi by Sudha Bhat (First-year, M.A. Hindustani Vocal). Assistant Professor Shri Srinath Mohandas introduced and welcomed Shri Jataayu, the speaker for the day. The talk introduced the beautiful 100 verses from the Tamil hymn Abhirāmi Antādi and explored the legend surrounding its composition, and delved deep into the philosophy and symbolism of the Shakta and Sri Vidya traditions. 90 registered participants attended the talk, which was followed by an interesting question and answer session.

  


Day 7 (13 November 2020): Devi Dhyanam: A Seeker's Reflections on Devi as Shakti by Shri Ramachandra Roddam

The last session in the series began with an invocation of the Devi by Shri Swapnil Chaphekar, Assistant Professor and Head of Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth’s School of the Kalayoga. Assistant Professor Shri Srinath Mohandas introduced and welcomed Shri Ramachandra Roddam, the speaker for the day.

The talk mainly consisted of the speaker's reflections on three meditations as ways to connect to the Divine Mother and thus exhort us to live a life filled with her grace, as seekers. The speaker shared numerous anecdotes from his life and sadhana that enabled the audience to understand and appreciate the spiritual ideas. It was followed by an active question and answer session.

 


Valedictory Function

Being the last day of the series, the session was extended by 15 minutes for the felicitation ceremony. Prof. Nagaraj Neerchal, Vice Chancellor of Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, was the Chief Guest. In his speech, he touched upon the importance of such webinars and the need to articulate the philosophical aspects of the culture and religion in ways and means appreciated by the general public. The session concluded at 7.15 p.m. after a brief reading of the report of the seven-day programme by Dr. Vishaka Venkat. 95 registered participants attended the session.

 

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