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Review: Ancient India and Swami Vivekananda

Ellie Robinson-Carter gives four stars to this birds-eye view of Indian culture at the Norman Rea

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photocredit: Ellie Robinson-Carter
photocredit: Ellie Robinson-Carter


For ten months, the exhibition has been touring the country, reflecting upon Swami Vivekananda's life and philosophy, and has recently been presented in Norman Rea Gallery. 2013 marks 150 years since the birth of the individual who gave up all he had, traveling to the west with the desire to share his heritage and message of Hindu philosophy.

The introductory speeches quickly made me feel inspired by Swami Vivekanada's philosophy, revolving around self-searching and the idea of everyone being full of infinite possibilities. He promoted the idea that humanity's unconditional love extends to all people, regardless of caste, class, race or religion, conveying the all-inclusive nature of his philosophy.

The opening ceremony was beautifully conducted; starting with music from Manasamitra, the pieces mediated on age-old traditional techniques of Indian music and its fusion with western methods. Consisting of a singer, cellist, pianist and flute player, the group created a spiritual and calming atmosphere, mirroring the spiritual essence of the philosophy. Dancers from Taal collaboration, a student group based in Manchester, presented a colourful and creative response to a traditional religious story.

photocredit: Ellie Robinson-Carter
photocredit: Ellie Robinson-Carter

The ceremony involved two speakers who uniquely gleaned on Hindu philosophy and Swami Vivekanada's inspiration. Nicola Brown shared her discovery of Hindu philosophy and how her journey was initiated by the Upanishads. She explained how relevant it is to us in the modern world, which is something Swami Vivekanada promotes: "My Faith is in the Younger Generation, the Modern Generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problem, like Lions".

Dr Sachin Nandha, PgDip, Ph.D, then spoke about 'Science, Spirituality and Philosophy'. Specialising in philosophy and politics, Nandha presented a fascinating mediation on consciousness, engaging directly with the audience and making us question our perceptions. He discussed that the trick to practicing Hindu philosophy is in embracing the uncertainty of life, rather than striving to discover certainty, which he held not to exist. He stated that if we truly do this for a minute, we will be practicing Hindu philosophy, and opening ourselves up spiritually.

Moving up to the exhibition at Norman Rea Gallery, numerous posters with various details about Ancient Indian civilisation were explained. It was soon evident how much Hindu philosophy has contributed to mathematics and science, Yoga and Ayurveda medicine and the arts, as well as Swami Vivekanada's life, whose journeys to the west resulted in the introduction of Yoga in America and their knowledge of his philosophy, spirituality and science. The exhibition covered a huge array of schools of thought, enhancing my knowledge about the impact Hindu philosophy has made on the world.

Overall, the opening ceremony and exhibition was a very special event, enabling a better grasp on Hindu philosophy through the various perspectives and displays. The evening mirrored Swami's Vivekanada's message of reflection, spirituality and inspiration very creatively and thoughtfully.

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