Sanskrit Weekend at Waterperry House

Written by John Hay, a student in attendance of the weekend.

The focus of the retreat was the Gayatri mantra.

Twenty-two of us met together at Waterperry House in Oxfordshire for the last weekend in November under the guidance of Warwick and Elena Jessup. It was arranged so that complete beginners as well as those with previous experience of Sanskrit could access the study. With grammatical analysis and regular chanting, the profound meanings of the mantra began to unfold for us. 

The Gayatri mantra is very ancient. It comes from the first of the Vedas, the Rig Veda. This mantra is regarded, next to Om, as the most powerful in the whole Vedic tradition.  

Our focused study revealed the message of the mantra, namely that the Divine Essence permeates and upholds all levels of creation. The various tones and measures of each of the component sounds in the mantra need to be accurate in order for the full potential of the mantra to be realised. Over the weekend we became more proficient at sounding all parts of the mantra. A real sense of unity developed amongst us and our spirits were uplifted.  

Waterperry House, owned by the School of Philosophy, is warm, spacious and comfortable. It sits in 81 acres of Oxford countryside. In our breaks we were able to walk in the grounds and visit the adjoining garden centre where there was a Christmas market. It was suggested to us that we ‘take the mantra with us’ in our activities. Some of us helped with the catering and necessary cleaning, having the mantra as our companion. All agreed how good the vegetarian food was.  

New contacts were made and friendships developed over the weekend. Many said how they would like to continue the study and even perhaps come to the same event next year.  

 Some comments made by those attending the weekend