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In his early twenties, Athavale began to deliver discourses on the Bhagavad Gita in Mumbai , India . The movement's aim is to better the human condition by fostering an understanding of Vedic scriptures. The largestcommunity of followers is located in the state of Gujarat .
The Swadhyay Movement (self-study) movement started in Mumbai after, Athavale was influenced when he was invitedin 1954 to the Second World Religious Conference in Japan . Here he expounded on the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita and linked them to modern life.He discussed the idea of an in-dwelling God and contended that the ego is a gift from God and thus, rather than being removed, should be sublimed with God.
When Athavale was speaking on the Gita and its application to modern life, he was asked whether there was a single village in India practising the ideals of the Gita. Athavale could not answer this question. This made him determined to return to India to rejuvenatethe ancient concept of Swadhyay . At the conference, Athavale met Arthur Holly Compton , the 1927 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics . Impressed by Athavale, Compton invited the young man to the United States and suggested that the concepts of the Gita could solve their problems. Athavale politely declined and suggested that he would rather put the ideas to use in India before the West, and hence started The Swadhyay Movement .

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