Nityananda Institute is the division of the Movement Center dedicated to the exploration, documentation, and preservation of ancient traditions of religion, art and healing. Its main interest is the tantric traditions of spiritual practice in Asia, particularly the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, which originated in northern India and made its way to Nepal.
For the past forty years, under the leadership of Swami Chetanananda, Nityananda Institute has supported scholarly research on the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. Swamiji and his students have worked with practitioners and scholars on translations of important philosophical and ritual texts. Many prominent scholars of Shaivism have lectured at Nityananda Institute programs. The publishing division of the Movement Center, Rudra Press, has published several books on the philosophy of Shaivism.
Nityananda Institute has also actively investigated the practices of other traditions in India, Tibet and Nepal, including the Shi-je tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the tradition of the karmacharyas of Bhaktapur (in Nepal's Kathmandu valley), and Shaiva tantric healers.
- Karmacharyas of Bhaktapur: Nityananda Institute sponsored a visit to Portland by Surendravir Karmacharya Shrestha, part of a family of tantric priests from Bhaktapur, in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. Surendravir shared and performed pujas from an ancient Newari tradition.
- Art of the Chod: Nityananda Institute received a $5,000 grant to produce a documentary about the art and iconography of Chöd called "Art of the Chöd. The film focuses on the imagery and ritual implements used in the practice, using both old and modern examples. It explains and de-mystifies the powerful symbolism of Chöd for those unacquainted with the practice. The idea for the film arose because the imagery associated with Chöd is graphic and the deities invoked can appear menacing to the uninitiated, who are not aware of the purpose of the practice. By explaining the purpose of the ritual, the documentary promotes understanding of these images and the nature of the practice among a wider audience.
The documentary was produced in DVD format and features footage of Lama Wangdu performing the practice, passages from the text practiced at the Movement Center and Lama Wangdu’s and Swamiji’s commentary, and paintings, sculpture and ritual implements from public and private collections, including collections of students at the Movement Center. It is available for purchase through the TMC Stote.
- The Rudi Statue: Nityananda Institute commissioned a life-sized statue of Swami Rudrananda (Rudi) by Nityananda Institute student Karla Refojo and Ravindra Jyapoo, a well-known Newari sculptor/bronze caster in Kathmandu. The statue was cast using the traditional "lost wax" or cire perdu method used in Nepal for centuries. The traditional process is complicated and time-consuming, but allows the artisan to achieve very fine detail. The Rudi statue was completed in the spring of 2006 and was installed in the meditation hall at the Movement Center during a traditional pranapatistha ceremony in July 2006.