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Annual Report 2023-24 On Immersive Retreats

Annual Report 2023-24 On Immersive Retreats

As an Institute for Indian Knowledge Systems, INDICA seeks to provide transformative learning experiences that are unique, authentic, and immersive. We believe that when learning IKS, subjective transformation should be a key goal and that this can only be achieved if the learning is under the guidance of an Acharya, within the environment of a Gurukula, and with an attitude of Shraddha- respect and devotion towards our tradition and our scriptures.

Beginning 2019, INDICA has been at the forefront of offering such immersive learning experiences with various thought retreats titled “Weekend with Wisdom”. Shrikant Talageri, Meenakshi Jain, Michel Danino, Subhash Kak, Vinod Vidwans, Makarand Paranjape were the Acharyas who led these 2 day retreats. 

We have also held Writers Retreats by R. Jaganathan, Sai Swaroopa, Mayuresh Didolkar and Aditi Banerjee. Two residential Carnatic Workshops by Dr Kausalya and 5 residential IKS Workshops by Krishnamurthi Ramasubramanian, Dr B Mahadevan, Madhusudhan Penna, Rajashekar G were also organised over the last couple of years. 

Apart from these retreats and residential workshops we also organised several Yoga and Vedanta retreats. In total we have till date organised 40 plus such immersive learning experiences, under scoring our deep commitment to our vision. 


CMS is a platform for spiritual seekers who are pursuing Moksha or Liberation as per Vedic Scriptures. We feature teachers of Advaita Vedanta from diverse sampradayas. We also feature teachers from other schools of Vedanta and those who trace the source of their teachings to the Vedas and the Upanishads.

CMS held retreats in 2023-24 to help engage with our traditions. Dr Anupama Kylash organised one on the Love songs of the Bhakti poets – Philosophy and Metaphysics. After the period of the three primary Acharyas, Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhwacharya, with the prolific rise of the Bhakti movement, there emerged across the length and breadth of the country, men and women of great strength and realisation who used the languages of the people and the medium of song, to spread intense love and devotion towards an ‘Ishtha Deva’ or a beloved deity. This devotion was both erotic and esoteric at the same time, with emphasis on the aspects of ‘Saguna Parabrahma’ or a deity who was an epitome of beauty and all favourable attributes. These schools of thought came to be known as the Schools of Bhakti Vedanta, with highly developed principles of Theology and Metaphysics.

This retreat explored various compositions of over twenty poets of the Bhakti era, who wrote and sang in different languages and dialects. Beginning with the pioneering Jayadeva Kavi and his Gītagovindam, she discussed the components of theology and metaphysics contained within the songs of poets spanning all four quarters of the Indian Subcontinent, including Annamacharya, Ramadas, Purandaradasa, the Marathi quartet (Gyaneshwar, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram), Surdas, Tulsidas, Mirabai, Bihari, Raskhan, Chandidas, Vidyapati, Narayana Teertha, to name a few.

The second retreat Upadesh Sara of Shri Ramana Maharishi was by Shri Rammohan. The retreat was about the composition Upadesa Sara, where Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi has succeeded in presenting this serious subject in an extremely simple and lucid manner. This is a short text but it contains the highest knowledge. It contains the essence of the Vedantic teaching in a simple and beautiful way. The author talks about all the spiritual Sadhanas in 4 levels in the form of karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Yoga (ashtanga yoga) and jnana yoga. A spiritual seeker has to follow all the 4 yoga compulsorily & systematically and attain spiritual enlightenment. This text will open the eyes of even the Grihastha or Brahma Chari to gain a perfect equipoise in one’s worldly life.

The journey of self-realization, an Introduction to Aparokshanubhuti was held by Swami Chidrupananda, an acharya of Chinmaya Mission Noida. One of the deeper texts of Prakarana Grantha in Vedanta shastra is ‘Aparokshanubhuti’ written by Bhagawan Shri Adi Shankaracharya. A prakriya Grantha is a book of definitions to explain the deep truths given in the Shastras. This text it leads to deeper meditations once we try to internalise the contents of the text.


CYS is a multifaceted Yoga Studies Center that envisions the well-being of all beings. It places a strong emphasis on establishing a profound connection between philosophy, psychology, and practice to fully comprehend yoga as a transformative tool for inner development.  

CYS had a retreat focussing on Antaranga Yoga. While the “antaranga saadhana” (inner practice) is referred to as meditation and has caught the popular imagination, it is also distorted and trivialized as a relaxation or a mind control methodology. The behavioural components of Yoga namely, Yama & Niyama (interpersonal ethics & intrapersonal discipline), pratyAhAra redirecting one’s prANic energies and dhyAna profound attentiveness are often neglected.  Meditation is then reduced to simplistic visualization techniques.  

The retreat conducted by Shri Raghu Anantanarayanan helped participants- 

  • Introspect upon and clarify one’s life purpose.
  • Introspect upon the relationship between outer expression and inner processes.
  • Discover practices that will help one discover one’s healing energies.
  • Discover inner energies and potentials and uncover one’s heroic self.
  • Develop a foundation of interpersonal ethics and intrapersonal discipline.
  • Introspect upon the way one holds and gives meaning to spirituality.

In the Inner Srength and Lasting peace retreat, we explored the teachings of Sanat Kumāra in the Chāndogya Upanishad with Swami Chidananda. For both self-development and Self-realization, this portion of the Chāndogya Upanishad from the Sāma-Veda provides valuable insights and instructions. Nārada, the scholarly disciple, first learns many levels of upāsana from Sanat Kumāra, the youthful, illumined sage. These practices take us to greater and greater realization of the potential in us to act effectively. Valuable take-aways included

  • 15 Facets of the Hidden Potential within Our Personality
  • 7 Values that can Bless us with Great Moral Strength
  • A Powerful Insight into the Limits of All Worldly Accomplishments
  • A Simple yet Profound Glimpse of the Source of Real and Lasting Happiness
  • The Place of Right Food as a Catalyst of Spiritual Growth.

The Programme on “Exploring Dimensions of Health and Wellbeing” offered by Sridhar Deshmukh offered insights into 

  • Aetiology: Genetic, Environmental, Nutritional, Physiological & Psychological Factors in Health & Disease.
  • Understanding and managing stress
  • Diet & Nutrition: Aspects of Positive Health and Vitality Quotient.
  • Praxis- Exercise modules, Pranayama and other yogic techniques

The workshop placed the locus of control in the hands of the participants to address his/her issues effectively.


INDICA Courses is a hybrid platform for teachers and seekers who share our belief in the transformative power of Indic wisdom. We create and curate online and offline courses and workshops across multiple disciplines of Indic knowledge systems.

In the retreat on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we explored the Yoga Sutras which are a profound guide to the philosophy and practice of yoga. They lay out a pathway to self-realization, mindfulness, holistic wellbeing, and inner peace. In this workshop, we explore the timeless teachings of the Yoga Sutras and their profound implications in our modern lives. 

In ‘Exploring Indian Knowledge Systems: Concepts & Applications by Prof B Mahadevan, Author of a recently published textbook on IKS’ – we explored the depths of IKS systems. Writes a participant – Ancient Indian Knowledge Systems are still living and very much present around us if we care to look around carefully – the centuries-old temple that we might have visited. The step wells that are found buried in urban debris, the intricate weaves of the sarees that we buy, the complex metallurgical knowledge demonstrated by iron pillars, murtis, and bronze, and brass pieces that we see in different parts of the country…..We do see them but we don’t recognize them as a testimony of our ancient knowledge systems. This is what I learned at the 3-day workshop on Ancient Indian Knowledge Systems. The textbook is an excellent starting point for those who intend to do inter-disciplinary research and multi-disciplinary research.  Or for those who want to make it a part of your curriculum in schools and colleges. 

The Sanskrit and IKS residential weekend workshop by Sanhita Vyas introduces the Sanskrit Language, Literature, and their relevance to Indian knowledge systems. We explored how Sanskrit-rooted ancient wisdom can be applied in modern society. The workshop, on the lines of a faculty development program, was designed to enhance educators’ understanding of Sanskrit and Indian wisdom, and equip them with effective teaching methodologies for these topics.

Participants gain insights into the features, uses, and applications of Indian knowledge systems. This comprehensive approach seeks to bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and its practical applications today, enabling educators to better facilitate this ancient knowledge in modern classrooms.

The Gaṇitaśāstra: Ancient Indian Mathematical Traditions, Contributions, and their Modern Relevance residential workshop delved into ancient Indian mathematical traditions, as manifested in ancient texts like Śulba-sūtra, Chandaśśāstra and Gaṇita-kaumudī.

Objectives were to gain a deep understanding of Indian Mathematics (Bhāratīya Gaṇitaśāstra) and its key principles, To appreciate the significant contributions of ancient Indian scholars to the field of mathematics, To explore the relevance and potential applications of these ancient mathematical traditions.

Participants explore the diverse facets of these (Śulba-sūtra, Chandaśśāstra and Gaṇita-kaumudī ) seminal works, the mathematical principles they enshrine, and their relevance in today’s world. It was a unique opportunity to appreciate the richness of Indian mathematical tradition and understand how Indian mathematical tradition can be incorporated into modern mathematical practices.


Imagine a transformative, face-to-face weekend with a leading intellectual, author, thinker, and scholar—an opportunity that promises to expand your horizons and ignite your intellectual curiosity. This unique experience offers an intimate setting where you can engage directly with a distinguished individual whose ideas have shaped our understanding of India and the world.

Over the course of the weekend, thought-provoking discussions, lively debates, and interactive sessions were held that delve deep into the author’s areas of expertise. Through their captivating interactions, filled with personal anecdotes, participants gained insights into their research, innovative theories, ways of thinking and writing.

This extraordinary opportunity goes beyond a typical lecture or seminar. It provides an environment where you can engage in meaningful conversations, seek clarification on complex concepts, and explore the intellectual’s latest works in an informal setting. The small group size ensured ample opportunities for personal interaction and a chance to have your burning questions answered directly by the intellectuals themselves.

This Retreat had the added advantage of being a Writers Workshop in miniature. Participants asked Professor Makarand R. Paranjape questions relating to their own writing ambitions and on how to find publishers or avenues for their work.

RETREAT in USA with Professor Kak

INDICA USA conducted a Weekend with Wisdom, an Immersive Consciousness retreat with Professor Subhash Kak. Retreat activities included 1. Yoga-Pranayam and meditation 2. Group discussions on consciousness. 3. Open session on Kashmiri Shaivism 4. Open discussion on Darshana and Shastras.

INDICA MetaRetreats

INDICA MetaRetreat is an immersive exploration of the foundational principles/forms of a subject of Cultural/Civilizational importance for the Bharateeya Parampara. Based on the triple-principle of Acharya-Ambience-Attitude, the Meta-Retreats are intellectual, scholarly, immersive retreats offering transformational experiences, where a closed group explores an aspect of Bharateeya Civilization. It is a 2-day residential program led by an Acharya, in the Ambience of a Gurukula and with an Attitude of Shraddha towards the Parampara, Sanskriti and the Vishaya (the Subject). The Acharya is an embodiment of an aspect of our Sanskriti seeking to explore a specific topic/discipline/domain and its future. Participants of a MetaRetreat are curated by an Acharya and INDICA who have the right experience and Shraddha towards the domain and subject of exploration. The carefully curated cohort comes together with an Upanishadic Attitude of learning through immersion and introspection seeking a new future for the discipline through transformation. All INDICA MetaRetreats are situated in carefully curated Retreats with an Ambience of a Gurukula.

INDICA launched its first MetaRetreat on a pilot basis in Nov-2023 and since then made 4 offerings of the MetaRetreats anchored by 5 Acharyas and 40 participants.

Sr. No Meta Retreat Subject Acharya # Participants
1 Towards a Self-Conscious Nation State Shivakumar GV


11 Akshay Alladi, Kalyan Halley, Manish Maheshwari, Dr. Nagaraj Paturi, Nithin Sridhar, Raghava Krishna, Rinkoo Wadhera, Dr. Srinivas J, Surendranath Chandranath
2 Hinduism – The Hope of Philosophy Dr. Joydeep Bagchi 9 Amritanshu Pandey, Dr. Pingali Gopal, Megh Kalyanasundaram, Prof. Ramesh G, Dr. Suryanarayana J, Shrikant Ramdas, Shrinivas Udumudi, Vinay Kulkarni
3 Oral Storytelling Traditions – The Road Ahead Deepa Kiran 10 Dr. Diti Vyas, Dr. Janardhan Ghosh, Kavita Meegama, Lavanya Prasad, Lavanya Srinivas, Vikram Sridhar, Surya Swapna, Tarini Chandrashekhar, Varada Shambhus
4 Tech for Dharma, Tech with Dharma Surendranath C

Ajit Padmanabh


10 Prof. Dr. Arnab Chakraborty, Anugraha Nagaich, Dhrupad Vipat, Prof. Dr. Mohan Raghavan, Nikhilesh Ghushe, Ratul Sinha, Subramaniam Vishwanathan, Subramaniyan Chidambaran

All the MetaRetreats were conducted at Bilvam Foundation, Tiruvannamalai hosted by Ajay and Maithreyi. The 2-Day program broadly has 8 sessions which are organised around the following elements weaving together an immersive and transformative experience.

  •       Invocation of Devatas
  •       Cohort Introduction and Concerns around the subject
  •       A Stock Taking of the Present
  •       A Deep Dive into the Past to understand the Present
  •       Problems, Concerns, Conflicts that require Resolution
  •       The Emergence and the Opportunities
  •       Desired Future
  •       How do we get to the Desired Future
  •       The Next Steps

 The Evenings are spent in informal conversations around the subject with a mandatory visit to the Arunachala Shiva Temple and Ramana Maharshi Ashram. Our intellectual pursuits need spiritual immersion and guidance.

The MetaRetreat report was written by Shri Shivakumar GV, Director Guru-Sadhaka-Sachiva