Chinmaya Mission

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May 2015, No. 165

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For all photos, click on image to enlarge.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a Quest Teleconferences

 

Regional Gītā Chanting Competitions 2015

 

CM Phoenix Spring Break Kids' Camp and Yajna

 

Rāma Navami Celebrated at CM Boston

 

Swamini Vimalananda's Talks in Atlanta

 

CM Orlando’s Mahashivarātri Observance

 

Mahashivarātri Celebrations in Calgary

 

CM Bakersfield Celebrates Parents' Day

 

CMLA's Massive Colors at Holi

 

Mahashivarātri at CM Houston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a Quest Teleconferences

 

CM centers may get more information on promoting, publicizing, and showing the new biographical movie on Pujya Gurudev, On a Quest, through weekly teleconferences on Tuesdays and Sundays. Contact Sivaprasad for more information.


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Regional Gītā Chanting Competitions 2015

 

Chinmaya Mission centers across North America will be offering regional Gītā chanting competitions. Winners will be eligible to proceed to the national and international competition levels to be held in Chicago and Kolwan (India), respectively, in commemoration of Pujya Gurudev’s birth centenary. To participate, contact the center nearest you. For general information, visit chantgeeta.com.

 

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CM Phoenix Spring Break Kids' Camp and Yajna
by Madhu Lakshmanan and Uma Roy


Excitement was in the air as the CM Phoenix family prepared for its third children’s camp during spring break, March 9-13, at its Chinmaya Goloka ashram. CM Bakersfield members, Ashok and Sudha Bhatt, came to help sevaks plan the camp for the third consecutive year. Swami Prakashananda (CM Trinidad) was the camp acharya, and the camp themes were “Ramayana Characters” for the junior group and “Leadership Qualities of Hanumanji” for the senior group.

Each day began with an assembly in the shrine that included invocation prayers and an inspiring address by Swamiji, who also taught the children to chant the Guru Stotram with Caribbean flair. After the morning classes, snacks and yoga breaks, and sumptuous varied lunches, the afternoons were devoted to arts and crafts, bhajans, and practice for the concluding day’s cultural program for parents.

The teachers, kitchen sevaks, student volunteers, and everyone who worked behind the scenes helped the camp run smoothly. Some unexpected excitement even led to an outdoor picnic for snacks. Swamiji’s presence and Trini chai kept spirits high and brought out the best in everyone.

The week’s Fun Day featured carnival games, a treasure hunt, bounce houses, popcorn, and snow cones, and was held on Thursday. Friday brought the cultural program on stage with skits and bhajans performed by the children for their parents.

Each day after the camp, Chinmaya Goloka resounded with knowledge and devotion as Swamiji offered a jñāna yajña on Sundarakāṇḍa. Swamiji’s emotion-laden singing and humorous stories, and the very beauty of the Rāmacharitamānasa itself, made for unforgettable evenings that left everyone wanting more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rāma Navami Celebrated at CM Boston
by Shanti Pasumarti and Vishwanath Subramaniam


CM Boston’s Chinmaya Bala Vihar students celebrated Lord Rama’s jayanti with overflowing fun and devotion at the Chinmaya Māruti ashram on March 29, 2015. The front lobby was decorated beautifully by volunteers with scenes from the Rāmāyaṇa. The entire ashram showcased Rāmāyaṇa paintings, drawings, and colorings created by the BV students.
 
The main feature of the celebrations was the presentations by the BV students. The “Parade of Rāmāyaṇa Characters” was presented by first graders who had donned Rāmāyaṇa costumes and excitedly involved the audience by quizzing them. An endearing “Rāma Dhun & Dāṇḍiyā Fun” was performed by the kindergarten students. The second graders dressed up as monkeys and chanted Lord Rama invocations and select verses of Hanumān Chālīsā. The fifth graders took it to the next level by enacting small skits on symbolism in the Rāmāyaṇa and the practice of Rāmāyaṇa teachings in daily life. The sixth graders graciously danced to a bhajan adoring baby Shri Rama, while the seventh graders danced with devotion on the glory of Lord Rama and recited a poem (based on their P.O. Box Mr. God curriculum) to a popular tune and added modern dance movements. The teens enacted a modern Rāmāyaṇa skit titled, “Ayodhya Chemicals.” The program ended with youth singing the famous Mīrābāi bhajan on Lord Rama and the renowned composition on Lord Rama by Bhadrachala Ramadas.
 
Included in the day’s celebrations were games for all ages based on the Rāmāyaṇa. The Jeopardy-style game, in particular, was a learning experience for many. The day concluded with prasād for all and ice cream for the children.
 
The same day, the resident temple priests conducted the wedding ceremony of Shri Rama and Devi Sita. It was truly a community event with numerous volunteers pitching in the whole week. The program began at 9:30 a.m. with Gaurī Pūjā offered by ladies to Mother Sita. The bride and groom were taken in individual palanquins outside, where the snow flurries felt like showers from the Milky Ocean. A mangala-sūtra, clothes, jewels, and 20 different kinds of sweets were prepared for, and offered to, the divine couple. Garlands were exchanged between the two. The idols of various devas were gathered and everyone proceeded to the auditorium, where the wedding was conducted.
 
After the sankalpa, the wedding rituals continued. The pravaram, or ancestry of the bride and groom, were read to announce their greatness to the world. The priests explained this in detail to the wedding guests, stating that the purpose of a divine wedding like this was for the welfare of the whole universe. Instead of “mama jīvana hetunā,” the prayer said was “jagata rakshaka hetunā,” for the divine couple to protect the entire universe. The ceremony was interspersed with beautiful music, sung with each step. An archanā was offered to Shri Rama and Mother Sita. This was followed by ashṭāṅga sevā, which included instrumental music and a dance performance, along with Vedic mantras. The ceremony concluded with mantra pushpam, namaskāram and shānti mantras.
 
The grand wedding feast that was offered and served as prasad consisted of more than 15 items that were prepared in-house by volunteers. The delicious traditional South Indian wedding feast was served by volunteers on a banana leaf to over 300 devotees. Most of the local community pitched in, buying groceries, making sweets, cutting vegetables, setting up the dais, or preparing the gifts and bags for the sponsors. Everyone was in a divine mood and did not complain about the wait when the dining hall was full.

 

 

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Swamini Vimalananda's Talks in Atlanta
by Anu Nathan

 

CM Atlanta hosted a jñāna yajña by Swamini Vimalananda (CM Coimbatore) at its Chinmaya Niketan ashram, March 21-24, 2015. The evening lectures on SMS, “Sure Mantras for Success,” featured select Gītā verses on leadership, and the nature and power of the mantras. Swaminiji shared her own simple and meaningful mantras, such as, “Don’t bang your head against closed walls; walk out through the open doors,” and encouraged everyone to create a personal mantra for themselves. Swaminiji’s style of delivery made the meaning and application of most profound mantras easy to understand. 

In the morning talks on the “Theory and Practice of Rituals,” Swaminiji wonderfully explained that pujas and rituals are the time-tested methods to focus the mind, and that they are to be performed with bhāva, or deep sanctity. These empowering lectures were attended by over 100 devotees. Swaminiji will return to Atlanta for talks on Shiva Sankalpa Sūktam, May 6-8, 2015.

 

 

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CM Orlando’s Mahashivarātri Observance
by Satish Nagarajan


CM Orlando observed Mahashivarātri with devotional fervor, starting the festivities a couple of days early. The Mahāmṛtyunjaya Havan was performed on February 15 for Bala Vihar students to participate. Each child sat at the havan kuṇḍa and offered oblations into the fire while the priests and other devotees chanted the Mṛtyunjaya Mantra.  

On the sacred day of Mahashivarātri, February 17, the kalasha sthapanā and Shri Ganapati Homam were performed at 6 a.m. These were followed by a Mahāmṛtyunjaya Havan, Laghu-rudra Pūjā,and Shiva Sahasranāma Archanā. After a brief break in the afternoon, devotees lined up in the evening in large numbers to perform abhishekam of the Shiva-lingam amid the Vedic chanting of Rudram 11 times by a local priest and various devotees. At the conclusion of the chanting, the Lord Shiva’s idol was bathed with due rituals and waters from the consecrated kalashas. While the officiating priests decorated the Lord’s idol and Shiva-lingam behind closed curtains, the hall beyond resonated with bhajans by devotees.

When the clock struck midnight, the curtains parted and devotees waiting with bated breath were blessed to see the Lord, a sight to which words cannot do justice. After the final ārti, everyone was served prasad. Devotees left that night with sacred chants ringing in their ears and the Lord’s vision imprinted in their minds.


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A three-day camp on “Foundations for Success: What do you stand on?” was conducted March 13-15 for children in grades 8-12. The overnight camp was held at CM Orlando’s Kaivalya ashram. It featured spiritual discourses by Acharya Shailaja Nadkarni (CM Orlando), and yoga, meditation, chanting, and spiritually uplifting group activities conducted by CM sevaks. These were interspersed with movie night, outdoor and indoor sports and games, and telescopic stargazing. Even as the flame of knowledge was kindled in young minds through these enlightening and wholesome activities, a campfire was lit for children to gather, roast vegan marshmallows and s’mores, and share stories. The camp was a grand success and there is already talk of organizing more in the future.


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CM Orlando’s Acharya Shailaja Nadkarni’s pledge to conduct 108 Guru Pādukā Pūjās and Gītā jñāna yajñas in devotees’ homes in commemoration of Pujya Gurudev’s birth centenary is well underway and proving to be very popular. As of mid-April, there have been 26 such events conducted and most weekends have been booked for the next several months.

In addition, another initiative undertaken to raise awareness is the production of short film clips showcasing portraits, locales, and events related to Pujya Gurudev, accompanied by a background narration. These short 7-10 minute clips are watched by all devotees at the start of every Sunday Chinmaya Bala Vihar session.

 

 

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Mahashivarātri Celebrations in Calgary
by Aishwarya Ilangovan


CM Calgary celebrated Mahashivarātri on February 15, 2015, commencing with invocation prayers and a Lord Ganesha stotram. Milk and flowers were then offered to the Shiva-lingam, during which Liṅgashṭakam and Shiva-panchākshari Stotram were chanted. Select Chinmaya Bala Vihar students then chanted the Shiva Shaḍ-akshara Stotram. The event came to conclusion after the recitation of Shiva bhajans, Chinmaya Ārti, the Chinmaya Mission Pledge, and closing prayers. The fruits offered to Lord Shiva were distributed to everyone as prasād.

 

 

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CM Bakersfield Celebrates Parents' Day
by Ambika Thampi

 

CM Bakersfield’s Chinmaya Bala Vihar students celebrated Parents’ Day on March 22, 2015 at the Chinmaya Gokul ashram with cheerful excitement, transforming themselves into singers, dancers, actors, playwrights, and audio-visual technicians for their parents, grandparents, and friends.

The program began with the chanting group of students reciting the opening prayers and Gītā, Chapter 15. This was followed by a song with movements by the Shishu Vihar children dressed up as various forms of God. The pre-junior and junior classes sang bhajans, filling the stage with little Lord Shivas and little Lord Krishnas, their costumes and jewelry sparkling throughout their performance. The intermediate class sang a medley of bhajans and spoke on symbolism in Hinduism. The senior students performed plays, including a video-recorded play by CHYKs. The play depicting the life of Pujya Gurudev by the senior group was well received by the audience. Students from the Hindi class recited poetry, and the Gujarati class performed a short skit.

CM Bakersfield president, Anil Mehta, addressed the audience, and spoke about Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda’s visit to Bakersfield in June 2015. This was followed by the screening of a short film on Guruji’s inspirational life.

The program ended with the recitation of the Chinmaya Mission Pledge, ārti, closing prayers, and delicious lunch prasād for all.

 

 

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CMLA's Massive Colors at Holi
by Sonal Ladva


A section of Miles Square Park in Fountain Valley was awash in yellow with youth and adults clad in t-shirts that announced them as participants in CM Los Angeles’s (CM LA’s) annual CORD walkathon and Holi picnic on March 8. The event saw a turnout of over 1,000 people.

CM LA’s resident acharya Swami Ishwarananda led the group of walkers for the first five miles. The walk path wound around various stations that featured, for example, kids’ activities, Ayurveda, herbal teas, yoga, and more.

While the crowds continued to swell across the site, volunteers served a healthy and hearty lunch that catered to the taste buds of young and old, contemporary and traditional. The attendees lunched in glorious weather while volunteers scurried around giving out CM LA t-shirts. At the designated hour, there was a mad rush, handled ably by the volunteers, toward the tables where colored powders were being distributed. 

Swamiji and Acharya Mahadev Parameswaran (CM LA), began the color-fest with a loud “Holi hai!” and released a fistful of color into the air. In no time, the air was filled with a riot of colors, and hundreds of people running around, squealing in delight at being caught by a friend who they barely recognized. 

The event brought together the Chinmaya Family of Southern California, and people came from the ashram neighborhood of Tustin as well as from the distant satellites of Brea, South Bay, San Gabriel Valley, and Northridge, among others. 

The numbers started to recede by mid-afternoon, but the hardworking volunteer teams continued their service of distributing water, preparing food to-go packets, and serving chai. Another set of volunteers went about cleaning up, leaving the park clean, though more colorful, as it was that morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mahashivarātri at CM Houston
by Rajesh Thatte


Chinmaya Mission Houston’s grand celebrations of Mahashivarātri were held February 15-17, 2015. The celebrations were organized to perfection. Hundreds of dedicated and devoted volunteers lent helping hands in every aspect, from the kitchen, to audio-visual, to decorations, to parking.

In spite of cold weather on February 17, thousands of devotees flocked into its Saumyakāshi Shivālaya temple to experience bliss, offer prayers, and receive blessings. The celebrations commenced on February 15 with a Mahāmṛtyunjaya Homa that was performed for the good health and well-being of all. The resident priest conducted the homam in two sessions on stage, with Acharyas Gaurang and Darshana Nanavaty (CM Houston) as yajamāns. Each family was provided with all the necessary items to participate in the homam, which also included the chanting of the Mahāmṛtyunjaya Mantra 108 times, the japa of “Om namaha Shivāya,” and ārti.

The puja of Lord Shiva’s utsava mūrti was held in the basement of temple, which was decorated as Mount Kailash, Lord Shiva’s abode. Here, offered milk abhishekam to the Shiva-lingam and Lord Shiva’s mūrti throughout the day until late night. It was wonderful to see families bringing their children to offer abhishekam and the little ones wanting to make the offering themselves.

Rudrābhishekam was offered in the main temple in the morning and evening. The evening of February 17 brought in many more devotees. At dusk, the temple glittered with thousands of lights. As devotees waited patiently to offer milk abhishekam, the puja being performed in the main temple was projected on two screens in the courtyard. Devotees received darshan and prasād in the temple sanctum. Ārti was offered after the final Rudrābhishekam.

Pujya Gurudev has said, “The process of constructive destruction is Shiva, the annihilator. Shivarātri is the destruction of the ego in the discovery of the Self.” The final hour and half of celebration aptly consisted of the chanting of “Om namaha Shivāya” and silent meditation.

 

 

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