The Dance of Shiva: A Pilgrimage to South India with Andrew Harvey – July 28 – 31, 2021

  • Faculty: Andrew Harvey
  • Virtual Intensive
  • Content Category: Knowledge, Self-Mastery
  • Academic Credit: 2 Credits

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5 Lessons

Photo credit: Calen Rayne

Summer Trilogy
Relationships in a Time of COVID


This is the second course in our Summer Trilogy – Relationships in the Time of COVID. You may purchase each course separately, or you can purchase all three at a 10% discount by following this link to the Trilogy registration page.

Dates: July 28 – 31, 2021
Location:  On Zoom from 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon PT
All sessions will be recorded, so you can access the replay if you are not able to join the live sessions.
Faculty: Andrew Harvey
Academic Credit: Bachelors, Masters and  Doctoral – 2 credits. Can also be audited for no credit.
Email for more information


The Dance of Shiva: A Pilgrimage to South India with Andrew Harvey

Join author and teacher Andrew Harvey on a virtual pilgrimage in honor of Lord Shiva to some of the great temple sites and spiritual power places of South India. This virtual pilgrimage is the second of our Summer Trilogy examining the radical transformation of gender, sexuality, and relationships in our time and how new forms can transform our identity and capacity to heal and love.

We will take a magical journey in the footsteps of the great mystics Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo whose lives were dedicated to and paved the way for the birth of the new human where all forms of gender and relationship are united into a higher synthesis. This is the work that Andrew Harvey has been dedicated to throughout his life through his books, documentaries, and seminars and most potently through pilgrimages. Through this virtual format, Andrew will be bringing you teachings and initiations for your own internal transformation and growth.


Shiva’s Dancing Ground

The land of South India is a holy land that has given birth to many saints and sages who have in return impregnated the world’s soul with their sacredness. There are many shrines, temples, and natural monuments in the mountains, lakes, and earth formations dedicated to Shiva. This is the land where India’s great avatar Lord Krishna walked, where Sri Ramana Maharshi made his home, Sri Aurobindo’s disciples established Auroville, and Andrew Harvey’s own beloved teacher Father Bede Griffiths created his ashram and lived out his days.

Photo credit: Andris Barblan


Andrew Harvey has his roots and soul in South India. He was born and spent his formative years here, with its temples and sacred sites as his childhood playgrounds. The South of India is distinct from the North. Sheltered from foreign invaders until the British Raj, it is the true bastion of Hindu traditions. In South India, the caste system was much less strictly enforced resulting in a far friendlier and more balanced society.

Through this exquisitely crafted virtual pilgrimage, Andrew will guide us through some of South India’s sites and temples, shrines of stunning beauty, where he will introduce us to a series of deep spiritual practices imparted to him by his own teachers and practiced throughout his life.

The journey begins in Mahabalipuram with its magnificent Shore Temple and other marvels, before moving on to the former French territory of Pondicherry (Puducherry), with its distinctive colonial heritage, and home to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. From here we will visit the progressive, experimental town of Auroville, a manifestation of Sri Aurobindo’s vision, and then on to Chidambaram, the Capital of the Cholas, with its famous Natraja Temple. In Tanjore (Thanjavur) we will visit the Brihadeshwara Temple, a brilliant example of the major heights achieved by Chola temple architecture. In nearby Tannirpalli is the Shantivanam Ashram of the Christian Mystic Father Bede Griffiths. We complete our journey in Tiruvannamalai where Sri Ramana Maharshi lived and meditated for 54 years. Here we will make a virtual visit to the Arunachaleswarar temple and Mount Arunachala.

Andrew will share the fruit of his 40-year journey into Hindu mysticism, especially Saivism and its astounding vision of God the dancer, as well as diving deep into the evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo, and into the expansive universal vision of Christ consciousness that Father Bede Griffiths, the greatest Christian mystic of the 20th century, gave to the world.

Andrew will be giving essential and very powerful practices from both Hindu and Christian traditions that will profoundly deepen our experience of sacred India.


Mahabalipuram, much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as Mamallapuram, is famous for its Shore Temple. It was also the second capital and a bustling seaport during the time of the Pallava Kings of Kanchipuram. Ravaged by wind and sea, the temple complex was built in 700-728AD by the Pallava Dynasty, retains its alluring beauty, with its intricate rock carvings and monuments such as the Descent of the Ganges and the Arjuna’s Penance relief, depicting animals, deities, and other semi-divine creatures.


Photo credit: Andris Barblan

Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is considered the French Riviera of the east, with its French-style avenues and many colonial buildings. It is home to one of the most important Ashrams in India, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the former home of Mother Mirra and Sri Aurobindo. We will learn about the history and continued spiritual importance of this coastal city.

Sri Aurobindo was born in Kolkata in the North East of India in 1872. He was a poet, philosopher, yogi, and guru who was an advocate for Indian independence from British rule. Aurobindo, who passed over in 1950, wrote many important books including theses on human unity, yoga, and “the life divine.” He established the ashram at Pondicherry in 1926, welcoming students from around the world.

We will also learn about Auroville, “The City of Dawn”, an intriguing experimental town. Founded by Mother Mirra Richard in 1968, Auroville manifests Sri Aurobindo’s vision by creating a “universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize “human unity.” The Matrimandir is a striking 30-meter high golden metal globe in the center of the town, conceived as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection.”

Photo credit: Andris Barblan; 


Chidambaram was the Capital of the Cholas from AD 907 to 1310. Chidambaram means sky infused with an atmosphere of intelligence and wisdom derived from the words “chit” and “ambaram.” Chidambaram has been ruled, at different times, by the Pallavas until the 9th century, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Marathas, and the British. According to mythology, it was the precise spot where the Hindu god Shiva had once danced in a grove of Tillai trees.

We will hear about the famous Nataraja Temple, dedicated to the dancing Lord Shiva, a favorite deity of the Chola Kings. One legend surrounding its construction suggests that it was built by “the golden-colored Emperor” Hiranya Varna Chakravati, who suffered from leprosy. He came to Chidambaram on a pilgrimage from Kashmir in about AD 500. After bathing in the temple tank he was reputed to have recovered from the disease. As a thanks-offering, he rebuilt and enlarged the temple. Today the temple is still active with colorful ceremonies.

Photo credit: Andris Barblan


Tiruvannamalai is where Sri Ramana Maharshi lived and meditated for 54 years. Ramana Maharshi is widely acknowledged as the outstanding Hindu guru of the modern age. He was born in Tamil Nadu in 1879 and made his way to Arunachala at the age of sixteen, not leaving the sacred mountain until his spirit united with the holy mountain in 1950. Many people witnessed his light enter Arunachala as life left his body.

We will learn about the Sri Ramana Maharshi ashram, home to the Samadhi shrine of Ramana Maharshi, and the place where he attained Mahasamadhi (left his mortal coil.) It is also the Samadhi shrine of his mother, known as the Matribhuteshwara Temple. We will also hear about the Virupaksha cave where Ramana Maharshi lived and meditated from 1899 to 1916.

Photo credit: Andris Barblan

The Arunachaleswarar temple is thought to be the largest temple in the world dedicated to Shiva and one of the most captivating temple sites in India, dating from the 11th century. This major pilgrimage center lies in a striking setting at the foot of the rocky Arunachala Hill and is one of the holiest towns in Tamil Nadu. It is considered the home of Shiva and his consort Parvati.

In ancient times, the circumambulation of Mount Arunachala, known as Pradakshana (“pra” signifies the removal of all sins, “da” the fulfillment of all desires, “shan a” the freedom from the cycle of rebirth) was a popular pilgrimage route. Even though the city has built up around the mountain, still today offerings are made at shrines and temples, and many sadhus make their way along this sacred pilgrimage route.


Andrew Harvey  was born in South India where he lived until the age of nine, a period he credits with shaping his vision of the inner unity of all religions. He left India to attend private school in England, and entered Oxford University in 1970 to study history on a scholarship. At the age of 21, he became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Fellow of All Souls College, England’s highest academic honor.

In 1977, Harvey became disillusioned with life at Oxford and returned to India, which he considers his “soul’s home,” to begin his spiritual search, beginning with the Bengali mystic Sri Aurobindo, and later the Tibetan Buddhist master Thuksey Rinpoche, and later still, the great Christian mystic Bede Griffiths. He has since lived in London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, continuing to study a variety of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Harvey has written and edited over 30 books. Honors he has received include the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind Body Spirit Award (both for Mary’s Vineyard: Daily Readings, Meditations, and Revelations), and the Christmas Humphries Award for A Journey In Ladakh.
Among Harvey’s other well-known titles are: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, edited with Patrick Gaffney and Sogyal Rinpoche; Dialogues with a Modern Mystic; The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi; Hidden Journey; The Essential Gay Mystics; and Son of Man.

Harvey is Founder and Director of the Institute for Sacred Activism, an international organization focused on inviting concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective and practical agents of institutional and systemic change, in order to create peace and sustainability.


Photo credit: Andris Barblan


Required Reading – Choose at least two of the following (for students taking the class for academic credit):

  • R. Champakalakshmi – “Religion, Tradition, and Ideology: Pre-Colonial South India”
  • Joyce Burkhalter Fluedkiger – “When the World Becomes Female: Guises of a South Indian Goddess”
  • Bede Griffiths – “A New Vision of Reality”
  • Sri Aurobindo – “The Renaissance in India”
  • Satprem – “Adventure of Consciousness”


  • BA Level: $200
  • MA Level: $400
  • PhD Level: $600
  • Audit-No Credit: $190

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