2023.07.31 (Vrindavan Today News): By VT News Desk

Recognition and Honor

We are pleased to share the news that Shri Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji has been bestowed with the prestigious “Grateful to Gurus 2023” award, an extraordinary recognition on the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima. This esteemed award is presented by Indica, a renowned institute for Indian knowledge systems. Indica’s vision for this award is truly commendable, as it seeks to “pay tribute to scholars, artists, leaders and activists who have dedicated decades of their lives to preserving and promoting our culture, while resisting the growing assaults on our Dharmic spaces, traditions, Gurus, and the essence of Sanatana Dharma itself.”  We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Shri Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji for this well-deserved honor and commend Indica for their efforts in celebrating the living legends who continue to inspire and guide us on our spiritual and cultural journey.

Babaji’s Persona: A Kind-Hearted Scholar

Shri Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji, fondly known as “Babaji,” embodies a rare combination of scholarly excellence and genuine warmth that immediately endears him to all who have the privilege of meeting him. A devoted practitioner and erudite scholar of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Babaji’s intellectual achievements are awe-inspiring, with a PhD in Sanskrit, a degree in law, and a Bachelor’s and Master’s from the prestigious IIT in Mechanical Engineering. In 1994, Babaji was honored by Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the President of India, for his translation of Tattva Sandarbha. In 2013, he was honored by the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, for his extraordinary contribution in presenting Indian culture and philosophy to students and audiences in India and abroad. Babaji has been honored by the IIT Delhi Alumni Association for his outstanding contribution to social welfare.

Despite his formidable academic background which has enabled him to write numerous books and original academic research papers, Babaji exudes an approachable and amiable demeanor that makes everyone feel as though they have just encountered a kind-hearted neighbor. Engaging in a conversation with Babaji, one might forget that one is speaking with one of the foremost authorities on Chaitanya Vaishnavism alive today. In the presence of Babaji, one experiences not only the wisdom of a great scholar but also the warmth of a kind-hearted and genuine person.

Contributions to Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Babaji richly deserves this award for dedicating a significant part of his adult life to learning and teaching the traditional knowledge and practices of Sanatana Dharma. He learned from illustrious Vrajavasis, including his guru Shri Haridas Shastri Maharajji and Svami Shyama Sharana Maharaja. Maharaj ji, Babaji’s guru, was himself a towering scholar of Gaudiya Vaishnava who wrote over 60 books, including Hindi translations of several Gaudiya Sanskrit books and his own commentaries on them.

One of Babaji’s monumental achievements is his English translation of the Sandarbhas originally written by Sri Jiva Gosvami, a great teacher of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. These texts are extremely challenging to access due to their complex Sanskrit and the need for an unbroken teacher-disciple lineage that can provide proper interpretation and context. Babaji established the Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies in Vrindavan to preserve this valuable tradition and make it accessible to the modern mind.

The Jiva Institute: A Hub for Learning and Research

The Jiva Institute, located in a serene part of Vrindavan, comprises three buildings dedicated to the study and promotion of Indian culture and philosophy. Comfortable lodging facilities are available for students at the Institute. The primary focus of the institute is providing education on the theory and practice of bhakti yoga to both national and international students.  A six-month Bhakti-tirtha course has been running at the Institute since 2016, along with various short seminars on a variety of topics, and a three-week Hinduism course for students from Rutgers University, USA.

 These courses cover an impressive array of topics, including Advaita Vedanta, Alankara and Rasa Shastra, Ayurveda, Sankhya, Sanskrit, Purva Mimamsa, Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedanta, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Hindu Philosophy, and Yoga. Additionally, Babaji has introduced a groundbreaking approach to psychology called Vedic Psychology, which is being actively explored by Dr. Jessica Richmond, who recently completed her PhD on this subject, and is applying these methods to help patients.

Dr. Satyanarayan a Das ji with his Guru Shri Haridas Babaji Shastri ji Maharaj

The Institute boasts an extensive library, containing over 10,000 books, including rare and invaluable manuscripts written on palm leaves and handmade paper. Scholars frequently visit the Institute for their research endeavors. Furthermore, the Institute is currently working on developing online e-courses, focusing on the Sandarbhas and related subjects, to extend the reach of this valuable knowledge to a wider audience.

Recognizing Babaji’s adherence to the Vaishnava dharma and dedication to studying and teaching shastras, in 2015 the Catuh Sampradaya Virakta Vaishnava Parishad (“Association of the Renounced Vaishnavas of the Four Sampradayas”) awarded him a position of a Mahanta of Jiva Institute of Vrindavan.

Other literary contributions

In addition to his significant accomplishment of translating the Sandarbhas, Babaji has authored several other noteworthy books. One of his acclaimed works is a collaboration with the renowned thinker Rajiv Malhotra, entitled “Sanskrit Non-Translatables—The Importance of Sanskritizing English,” which explores the importance of retaining the unique essence of Sanskrit while using English as a medium of expression.

Babaji’s scholarly prowess is evident in his brilliantly original book entitled “The Yoga of Dejection,” a profound exploration of the first chapter of the “Bhagavad Gita.” This work delves into the concepts of misconceived and real identities, and how a misconceived identity is at the root of all dejection. As such, dejection can be a steppingstone to yoga, dejection defined as discovery of the true self and its communion with the Absolute.

Furthermore, Babaji’s translation and commentary on the Indian classic “Hitopadesha” has garnered popularity among readers. His insightful interpretation brings this timeless tale to life, making it accessible and meaningful for contemporary audiences.

Through these literary contributions, Babaji continues to enrich the understanding and appreciation of Indian culture, philosophy, and spiritual wisdom for a broader audience.

Empowering Children’s Education

Besides catering to adults, Babaji has also made a significant impact on children’s education. Together with his elder brother Shri Rishipalji Chauhan and younger brother Shri Partapji Chauhan, he founded the highly sought-after Jiva Public School in Faridabad, which currently enrolls two thousand students. The school’s unique program identifies students’ talents and inclinations, providing them with a customized and nurturing educational experience. This approach has made Jiva Public School a beacon of excellence in education, reflecting Babaji’s commitment to empowering the younger generation.

Babaji is also involved with Jiva Ayurveda, which is headed by his brother Shri Partapji Chauhan. Jiva Ayurveda seeks to revive and preserve the traditional Indian medical system, and to make it available to people at their home using telemedicine. Jiva Ayurveda represents a beneficial combination of modern technology with the ancient knowledge of India.

A Vision for the Future: Jiva University

Babaji’s visionary plan is to create a Jiva University campus that will serve as a bastion of traditional education in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. This extraordinary initiative presents a unique opportunity for like-minded individuals to unite and actively contribute towards turning this dream into a tangible reality.

The proposed Jiva University campus will be a hub of learning, preserving and promoting the rich and timeless tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism with an emphasis on the foundational books of the tradition, Shri Jiva Gosvami’s Sandarbhas. The university will play a pivotal role in imparting wisdom, knowledge, and values to the next generation.

The ambitious project will need the wholehearted support and collaboration of individuals who share Babaji’s desire for preserving Gaudiya Vaishnavism’s cultural roots. We welcome all to join us on this inspiring journey as we work towards building a place of knowledge, spirituality, and enlightenment—a beacon that will shine brightly for generations to come.

HH Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami handing over the award to Dr. Satyanarayan Das Babaji

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