Swami Chinmayananda conceived the idea of a ‘modern-day gurukula’ to teach the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta to young men and women who would then take the knowledge back to their community. His vision was to build a group of full-time, well-educated trained preachers, without worldly ambitions or vested interests — brave and courageous — who were willing to leave personal ties and concerns behind, for a life of surrender to the Divine through service to mankind.
The purpose of the residential Vedanta Course is to provide an ideal opportunity for all those who want to learn and teach. In this two-year Course, students withdraw fully from worldly life and follow a disciplined schedule of classes and activities in an ashram setting to promote learning, reflection and contemplation. Thereafter, they are encouraged to work in the field as missionaries for their own people, although this is not a stipulation for joining the Course.
All Vedanta Institutes in the Chinmaya Mission are called ‘Sandeepany.’ This was the name selected by Swami Chinmayananda, after the name of Lord Krishna’s Guru – Rishi Sandeepany. The word ‘Sandeepany’ itself stands for ‘That which illumines.’ Sandeepany Sadhanalaya Mumbai was the first residential academy of Advaita Vedanta that opened its doors to the initial batch of thirty students in 1963. Swami Chinmayananda’s direct disciples became Acharyas of forty-seven successive Vedanta Courses in seven Sandeepany Sadhanalayas, setting in motion a multiplier effect with around 850 students graduating over fifty years.