HISTORY OF DARSANA INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY
Sawangi Meghe, Wardha, Maharashtra, 442 004
The Vision and the Ideal
These lines are jotted down with the hope that they will shed some light on the ideals, orientations, history, activities, and hopes of Darsana Institute of Philosophy, Wardha.
Darsana Institute of Philosophy is the Mission Philosophate of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. This Institute was started in 1983 in order to give a contextualized formation to the younger members of the Congregation, according to the spirit of the II Vatican Council (cf. Optatam Totius : Introduction and No. 1) and the Charter of Priestly Formation for India (Published by CBCI, 1988, No. 1: 1& 2). Although Darsana was meant mainly for the students who opt for the five North Indian Mission Provinces, from the early years Darsana was also having students belonging to the South Indian Provinces and other religious Congregations.
Right from the beginning, Darsana has three basic orientations: Missionary, Rural and Indian. Among them the missionary orientation is of course the most basic one, the other two being its specifications with reference to the particular context of our vocation. The founding fathers of Darsana wanted to see the traditional Indian system of Gurukula as the model for Darsana. Darsana is the Gurukula, where Jesus Christ is the Guru. All members, the staff and students alike, are the sisyas. Being sisyas, all are antevasins, i.e. the insiders of the Guru’s family. The programme of training at the Gurukula is an integrated one and not merely intellectual training. It concerns the growth of the whole person, i.e., the spiritual, intellectual, cultural and physical development of the individual.
The motto of Darsana reads in Sanskrit: Pavitrataya Devadarsanam, or in Hindi, Pavitrata se Devadarsan. It means “vision of God through purity.” The basis of this motto is the sixth beatitude as it is found in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the pure in the heart, fort they shall see God.” As the name suggests, Darsana, the Gurukula, aims at Devadarsan for the antevasisns. And the means for it is the purity of heart.
Darsana stands for an unambiguous and unconditional commitment to Christ. Naturally, the proclamation of Christ and his Gospel is the central concern and purpose of its existence. The special and distinctive feature of Darsana is of presenting Christ to India in indegenous terms and life style. It has always tried to strike a balance between the age old Christian tradition and exigencies of the modern times. The setting of Darsana is such that it makes our presence relevant and meaningful in our living context.
The initial reflections about the nature of Darsana clearly envisioned that the general layout, living quarters and other structures of the Campus and the daily routine of life should be a happy blending of the ideal of simple life and the rural situation at Wardha. Wardha was chosen to be the appropriate place for the realization of this vision as it is the centre of the Gandhian ideals as well as the living model of Ashram life and the spiritual traditions of Paunar Ashram of Vinobha Bhave. Situated predominantly in a non-Christian context and living among the people who are devoutly religious, it is all the more necessary that the training programme in the institute is drawn in the tenor of the exhortation of the Church given in Nostra Aetate to acknowledge, preserve and promote all that is spiritually and morally good in our culture and various religions of India. Hence the ideals to be followed in the formation are the following: 1) a deep commitment to one’s own religion; 2) an openness to truth in other religions. The students should be formed and strengthened in their unambiguous and unconditional commitment to Christ with a facility to acknowledge, appreciate and accept all that is true in other religions and to integrate them in their Christian faith. This ideal should be recognized and witnessed by the staff in their teaching as well as living.
In setting the atmosphere and the programme of formation, the Indian formative ideal of astanga yoga for physical, social, mental discipline (sadhana), the practice of silence (maunam), preservation of a sense of constant contemplation of the word of God, and selfless activities (nishkamakarma) are to be taken into special consideration. A permanent feature of the nature of Darsana is the rural orientation with well articulated, simple and practical programmes.
Realization of the Ideal in The Course of Time
The pioneering work of Darsana was undertaken with the paternal blessings of late Bp. Januarius and the farsightedness of Rev. Fr. Thomas Aykara, the then Prior General. Fr. George Pullankavil, during his term as the parish priest of St. Antony’s Parish Church, Wardha, helped for seeking, selecting and reaching a final agreement regarding the land of Darsana. But the final transactions of the land were done during the term of his successor, late Fr. Eugene Thomas. The structure and building style of Darsana was planned by Rev. Frs. Jose Palathara, Thomas Kochumuttam and Joy Elamkunnapuzha in such a way that there should be a greater simplicity and functional efficiency. This idea of the founding fathers of a simple and functionally effective house with style suited for the rural setting was materialized with the hard work of Fr. Callistus Chavarnanickal, Fr. Probus Perumalil and Fr. Jose Palathara.
The Infant Mission Scholasticate -Darsana - started functioning on June 20, 1983 with 19 students and three members of the staff. It was housed temporarily at the Centre for Spiritual Realization (CSR) Pariyaram, Kerala and then it was shifted to Poornodaya Mission Institute, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh in the same year on 13 July. Finally, on June 5, 1986, Darsana Institute of Philosophy was established in its permanent campus at Wardha. Darsana Mandir, the beautiful chapel of Darsana, designed by Rev. Fr. Joy Elankunnapuzha and Fr. Thomas Kochumuttam, was blessed and consecrated on December 8, 1990. The Particular Statues of Darsana was drafted, approved and promulgated in 2002. The blessing of Matrudham, the Marian shrine, on June 27, 2004 was another step towards genuine inculturation and the fulfillment of the spiritual aspirations of the people. Silver Jubilee of the beginning of Darsana in 1983 was celebrated on Feb. 10, 2008 and an auditorium, Chavara, was constructed as jubilee memorial and inaugurated on the jubilee day under the able leadership of Rev. Fr. Varghese Puthuparambil and his team.
“A Formative Course in Spirituality and Religious Life” – Atmadarsan - for the Postulants of different missionary Women’s Congregations was established in 2002 with the aim of providing a more relevant and contextual formation.
To fill the deficiency of the class room facilities for the brothers, the foundation stone was blessed and laid for the construction of a new wing of 2 classrooms, a seminar hall and a multi-media room on April 25, 2013 by Rev. Fr. Thomas Muppathinchira, the then Rector.
Another golden day marked in the annals of Darsana’s history is the beginning of Sant Chavara School at Salod for giving the quality education for the children of the vicinity with a special intention of providing opportunities for quality education for the talented children from the interior villages. The foundation stone for the School was blessed on June 26, 2013 by Very Rev. Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil cmi, the Prior General in the presence of Rev. Fr. Jose Kuriedath, the General Councillor for Education. The first academic year of the school was inaugurated by Rev. Fr. Anto Pudussery, the General Auditor on July 1, 2013. The construction work was started with the prayerful event of Bhoomi Poojan (blessing of the construction site) by Rev. Fr. Joy Pudussery, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Chanda on September 02, 2013.
The young Mission Philosophate realized its goals and ideals to a great extent under the paternal and able guidance of Rev. Frs. Thomas Kadankavil, Thomas Kochumuttom, Alex Thannippara, Late Mathew Kaniamparampil, Varghese Kottoor, Varghese Puthuparampil, Augustine Keemattam and Thomas Muppathinchira.
Darsana Institute of Philosophy is academically an Extension Centre of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), the Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy and Theology, Bangalore. It offers a two year course in Philosophy, both Eastern and Western, including the Philosophy of Non-Christian religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Taking into consideration the larger numbers of Adivasi and Tribal populations in our mission areas, courses in the philosophy of indigenous peoples are provided. Analysis of the Indian society, Social Doctrine of the Church, Communication Skills, Mass Media and Information Technology are some of the other useful and practical courses offered. Literary and Cultural Activities form part of the co-curricular activities. Extension Lecture on current and relevant issues, Village Exposure Programmes conducted during the semester holidays etc. are geared to sound mission oriented formation. Important documents of the magisterium such as Papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortations related to religious life, priestly ministry and the missions are made familiar to the students through lectures and seminars. The students of Darsana were getting B. Ph. degree from DVK after the successful completion of two years of philosophical training. However, since 2011 after the promulgation of the new degree on formation and seminary training, the students are given only a Diploma in Philosophy at the end of two years of philosophical training since degree needs three years (six semesters) training.
The content of the curriculum, as a whole should be in consonance with the guidelines given by Sapientia Christiana in order that the training imparted at the Institute may be deeply rooted in the existing Christian philosophical tradition. Darsana is a common study house of our Congregation directly under the Prior General. The staff members are from the different provinces of our congregation and are appointed by Fr. Prior General himself.
Darsana magnifies the Lord, for the Great One has done marvelous things to this Institute all through its existence during the last 23 years. The Lord of the Darsana Mandir had been the Guru of this Institute who enabled each of the antevasins to sing the santimantra with the tunes of love and notes of concerted and creative endeavours.