The Vedanta Center is strongly committed to two core ideas: spiritual development and social service. All the activities at the center are directed towards these twin ideals. Below is a brief summary of our various activities.
Study Circle (Weekly)
During our busy day-to-day work schedules, it is often difficult to give much thought to spiritual ideas or devote time to spiritual practices. The study circle provides a forum for motivated individuals to jointly learn and practice the invigorating ideas of Vedanta.
The weekly study circle is held every Sunday at 10am and usually lasts a little under two hours. The program starts with devotional singing and a short period of meditation. The main discussion usually lasts about an hour, following which (as time permits) a video elucidating certain principles of Vedanta or pertaining to related religious topics may be screened. The program ends with Arati, after which Prasadam (consecrated food, usually snacks or a light meal) is served.
The topics discussed during study circle varies widely, depending on interest of the members. Recent discussions have focused on the Bhagavad Gita, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, lectures and other works of Swami Vivekananda, Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother (Sri Sarada Devi), etc.
Service for the homeless (Monthly)
Swami Vivekananda prescribes "serving God within human beings" as one of the most effective ways for achieving spiritual progress and fulfillment in our lives. Our monthly service for the homeless is designed to give us an opportunity to serve God in the form of the poor and needy residents of our city. On one weekend every month, typically the third Saturday, we prepare and distribute food/snack packets and sometimes other useful items such as warm clothing for winter. A unique feature of this activity is that it is made possible by the enthusiastic participation of our school-going volunteers who take care of most of the organization as well as the implementation.
Spiritual Retreats and special lectures
About 8-10 times a year, the Vedanta Center hosts distinguished visitors who hold spiritual retreats or lectures on topics related to Vedanta. Our visitors are usually monks of the Ramakrishna Order of India, serving as spiritual leaders of Vedanta Societies in various parts of the United States and also abroad (Sri Lanka, India, Canada, etc.). Occasionally we have guests belonging to other spiritual traditions as well. Lectures in the past have covered topics including the harmony of religions, karma yoga (the science of work), introduction to Vedanta, practicing Vedanta, bhakti (devotion), Upanishads (scriptures containing the philosophy of Vedanta), etc.
Our retreats and lectures are free and open to the general public. Anyone with an open mind interested in learning more about the Vedanta philosophy and its practice is welcome to attend these programs and be benefited.
It is traditional in the Indian subcontinent to celebrate important events with religious and spiritual significance throughout the year. The Vedanta Center follows this rich tradition by holding celebrations on a number of special occasions, including Kalpataru day (New Year), birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda, Krishna Janmashtami, Christmas, etc. The program varies depending on the occasion, and may involve Puja (ceremonial worship), discussion on special relevant topics (eg: Christmas or Kalpataru day), devotional singing, special meditation session, etc.
As with our other events, those in the general public who are interested in participating in these celebrations are welcome to join us. Please be advised that it is better to contact the Vedanta Center before making a first time visit.
Canned Food Drive
Once a year (usually in the month of November), the Vedanta Center organizes a canned food drive. Members contribute canned food items to our collection over a period of a few weeks after which the collected food is donated to charity.
Other service activities
The Center supports a variety of different community service activities inside and outside of Austin. Many members occasionally volunteer to maintain the center.