Milestones of Sameeksha

Founders of Sameeksha

Founders of Sameeksha

Fr. Sebastian Painadath S J (1942 – )

Br. Varkey Mampilly S J (1924 – 2017)

A 2-acre plot on the banks of Poorna River was purchased in March 1986 to establish the ashram. It is situated in the small village Chengal (Kanjoor Panchayat) next to Kalady, the birthplace of Sree Sankaracharya, the Philosopher par excellence of India. Sameeksha located this spot at Kalady because the association with the memory of Sankaracharya would be helpful for pursuing the spiritual objectives of the Centre. Kalady is pretty well known in India and is acclaimed as a pilgrim centre. The Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University adds to the name and fame of Kalady.

The Kerala Jesuit Province entrusted the work of Sameeksha to Fr. Sebastian Painadath, SJ and Bro. Varkey Mampilly, SJ, both members of the Kerala Jesuit Province. In 1986 a few small cottages and a kitchen were put up. On 1st January 1987, at the dawn of the New Year Fr. Sebastian and Bro. Varkey celebrated Eucharist on the premises of Sameeksha and started living there. This marked the formal beginning of the Sameeksha Ashram. In the subsequent months a small class room and the Inter-faith Meditation Hall were constructed.

On the Christmas eve, 24th Dec. 1987, the Inter-faith Meditation Hall on the banks of the Poorna River was blessed at an inter-religious prayer meeting. The seven wicks of the central lamp were lit by the Hindu Monk of the local Ramakrishna Ashram, the Vicar of the Catholic parish, a Muslim friend, Fr. Sebastian, Bro. Varkey and two labourers who built the hall. This was the blessing ritual. At the tea that followed Fr. Sebastian Painadath (Director of Sameeksha) presented Sameeksha to the village and said: “This is your home; all are always welcome here. Feel at home with us.” The villagers responded well. Over the years Sameeksha has been well integrated to the life and culture of the village.

In the years which followed three guest cottages were put up to accommodate 12 / 24 participants of programmes. With the classroom, kitchen cum dining room, and the three living cottages Sameeksha got the infrastructure to conduct seminars and courses. We started with retreats based on the Bhagavad Gita and other Indian classics, retreats with the Gospel of John, seminars on themes on inter-religious harmony, youth programmes etc. In a few months´ time Sameeksha got well known and was accepted by the people of different religions in the region.

In 1989 Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Theological Faculty in Pune, recognized Sameeksha as an Extension Centre of the Faculty. A group of Jesuit scholastics belonging to the Kerala Province began doing their theological studies here. The objective is to offer formation in the living context of the people. This programme continued till 2011 with a new batch joining every year.

In 2001 Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, approved an off-campus programme of theological formation for the laity at Sameekha. The theological formation for lay women / men leading to a Certificate in Theology from Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth lasts for two years: every month they come here for a three day intensive course on one theme of theology. The programme with a new batch beginning the course in October every year is received well.

In 2007 Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, recognized Sameeksha as a Research Centre in Philosophy. Research scholars with a Masters could register here for doctoral studies. Two members of the Sameeksha faculty are approved as guides. Under the auspices of the Research Centre, research seminars are organized at Sameeksha.

In January 2012 Sameeksha launched a project for helping teenagers in life orientation ( Atmamitra ). A competent Jesuit with professionally trained counselors offer effective orientation programmes and personal counseling in schools. Camps are being organized for teenagers and college students during the vacations.

In January 2012 Sameeksha opened a cell to care for the needs of the migrant labourers coming from the northern parts of India to Kerala. A professionally trained Jesuit is involved in responding to their needs and issues.

The research library at Sameeksha has over 40,000 volumes and 30 subscribed journals. The main topics of the collection are: World Religions, Dialogue of religions, Spirituality East-West, Christian Theology and Malayalam literature. The books are in English, German, French, Italian and Malayalam.

Sameeksha has been publishing a series of booklets to promote in schools a respectful study of religions and formation in ethical values. The members of the faculty are involved very much in publishing articles in various journals. Over 50 books on themes related to inter-religious dialogue, spirituality, value education and religious formation have been published by the members of the Sameeksha faculty.