Chinmaya Mission

CMW News

September 2015, No. 167






Spiritual Trails








Upcoming Events / Announcements


Previous CMWN Issues





For all photos, click on image to enlarge.









Dream Project for CBCC


In Memoriam: Swami Ramananda


CM Atlanta’s Mūrti Sthāpana


A Joyous Summer at CM Orlando


CMLA Revels in Pujya Guruji's Wisdom and Humor


CM Bakersfield Annual Kids' Summer Camp


Understanding Marriage: A Vedantic Perspective


First Kids' Summer Camp at Chinmaya Niketan


Shiva Saṅkalpa Sūkta in Cleveland





Dream Project for CBCC
Letter to Centers from Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda


Dear All,


Hari Om! Greetings from London!


When establishing the Chinmaya International Foundation, Pujya Gurudev had given certain objectives for it. One of these was to establish a Sanskrit university. A team of devoted Mission members have been working on this concept for some time now. The progress is significant and the Government of India is willing to give approval to establish such a university on the fulfillment of certain conditions, one of them being the creation of a corpus fund of Rs. 25 crores (USD 4.3 million) as approved investments, the interest from which are to be applied in operations of the university.

This project is huge, but most valuable as well. Our Mission members who have come to learn about this project are enthusiastic and have come forward wholeheartedly to give their support. Let us all fulfill Pujya Gurudev’s wish.

Contributions in India may be sent to the Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF), specifying that the donation is for the University Project. Wire transfer details may be obtained from CIF.

Contributions in North America may be sent to Chinmaya Mission West: 1765 Channing Ave., Palo Alto, CA 9430. Contributions in other countries may be collected in one central location for that country.

You may visit Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth to get more details about the university and offer donations online. Additionally, a Powerpoint presentation on the vision of the university can be viewed, downloaded, and shared with those who may be interested to support this dream project of Pujya Gurudev.

With Prem and Om,




In Memoriam: Swami Ramananda


Swami Ramananda, a long-time sevak at the Mission’s Sidhbari ashram (initially serving as K. Pai), left his mortal coil on August 2, 2015. His shoḍashi (16th day) rites took place at Tapovan Kuti in Uttarkashi on August 17. See the article by Anjali Singh in the Reflections section.





CM Atlanta’s Mūrti Sthāpana
by Manhar Valand


CM Atlanta members were blessed to be in the august presence of Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda for the mūrti sthāpana (idol installation) of Lord Rama, Mother Sita, Lakshmaṇa, and Hanuman, and a jñāna yajña on “Bhakti in Rāmāyaṇa” at its Chinmaya Niketan ashram, July 25-27, 2015.

The three-day function commenced with a ribbon-cutting and a welcome by Acharya Geetha Raghu (CM Atlanta). The Vedic rites for the idol installation were held on Saturday and Sunday mornings with more than 500 devotees in attendance. Each day’s ceremonies were conducted for three hours in outdoor tents and a little over one hour in the main shrine. Lunch prasād was served to all devotees on both days.

Pujya Guruji’s evening discourses drew a large and eager audience of devotees longing to hear the glories of bhakta and Bhagavān. In his inimitable simple words, he said true bhakti is unconditional and never fails to melt the Lord’s heart, and it manifests trust, respect, and love. The three-day yajna of discourses was based on the topic of the 14 places where the Lord resides. When Lord Rama asked the advice of Sage Vālmīki as to where to reside during His 14 years of exile, Vālmīki Rishi first replied, “Is there a place where You do not reside?” and then suggested 14 attributes as the 14 places. These 14 represent the qualities for which every devotee and spiritual seeker should strive, and having even one of them will bring the Lord to him. Once the Lord resides in one’s heart, all desires fall to the wayside and the seeker is led to moksha. For a seeker who adopts mūrti pūjā as a spiritual practice, at a higher stage of evolved spiritual growth, he can even choose not to perform mūrti pūjā. It is when devotion becomes a goal, and not just a means, that the seeker does not even desire moksha.

Chinmaya Niketan offers adult study groups, Chinmaya Bala Vihar classes, language classes (including Sanskrit), children’s camps, weekend family camps, satsangs, festival celebrations, and spiritual discourses to the community.

Over the three days, Acharya G.V. Raghu (CM Atlanta) welcomed and recognized select donors, the Chief of Police of Norcross, the ashram architect and contractor, the exceptional priests who conducted the idol installation ceremonies, and the various volunteer teams that organized and executed the special three-day celebrations.






A Joyous Summer at CM Orlando
by Satish Nagarajan

CM Orlando organized a two-week summer camp for children, ages 4-13 years. In homage to Pujya Gurudev’s birth centenary, the camp theme was Guru Mahimā. The 65 children in the camp were split into three age groups. The children were introduced to the concepts of Guru and Sadguru. They also learned about the lives and teachings of Chinmaya Mission’s Guru Paramparā, namely, Param Pujya Swami Tapovanam, Pujya Swami Sivananda, Pujya Gurudev, and Pujya Guruji. They grasped how these teachings and values could help them become disciplined, dynamic, and successful.

The camp wasn’t all studies, however. In a fun and relaxed atmosphere, the children also learned yoga, Sanskrit chanting, bhajans, dance, and arts & crafts. Select high school students assisted the camp teachers and sevaks. Some of the high schoolers constructed a model of an ashvattha tree during the camp and explained the significance of the tree as outlined by Lord Krishna in Chapter 15 of Bhagavad Gītā. On the last day, the children presented a cultural program showcasing the bhajans and dance they had learnt during the camp.

CM Orlando’s annual Gītā chanting competition saw the largest ever participation in its history. Befitting the special CBCC year, more than 120 children participated in the competition. The children chanted in the Kaivalya hall, standing at the feet of Lord Krishna, facing an audience that had filled the hall to capacity. Many felt that it was a blessing to hear the Lord’s words being chanted by the children. The winners of the respective age groups all agreed to participate in the national competition being hosted by the CM Chicago.

Acharya Shailaja Nadkarni has conducted 45 pādukā pūjās and Gītā satsangs in the homes of various devotees as of July. Earlier this year, she had pledged to conduct 108 such events in commemoration of Pujya Gurudev’s birth centenary.

CM Orlando was honored to commence its part in the Chinmaya Jyoti Yātrā in July.






CMLA Revels in Pujya Guruji's Wisdom and Humor
by Nimmi Ragunathan

For members of Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles and the larger Southern California community interested in Vedanta, the week of June 28-July 4 provided a veritable feast of spiritual wisdom. Hundreds of listeners gathered each evening at the CM Los Angeles Chinmaya Rameshwaram ashram to hear Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda’s exposition on Bhagavad Gītā, Chapter 4.
With a clarity that broke down complex ideas to seem gloriously simple, Pujya Guruji reached out to a diverse audience while zeroing in on the yajna title of “Foster Your Freedom.” He made clear that ultimate freedom lay in liberation from the cycle of life and death. On this Gītā chapter that expounds karma yoga, Guruji spoke of the different kinds of action and their effect on the individual. The true seeker will not be attached to his actions and will be rewarded with a pure mind, he said. Guruji’s talks were studded with humorous nuggets that brought laughter, but unfailingly provided examples of Vedantic truths that easily lingered in the memories of listeners.

Each evening, prior to the discourse, a cultural segment showcased the talent and learning at CMLA. Bala Vihar children, from the near and far surrounding satellites that make up CM in Southern California, presented plays that were well scripted and well enacted. The chosen topics ranged from how students of today approach a guru, the caste system from the time of Adi Shankarāchārya to its distortion today, Lord Krishna’s time at Sāndīpanī ashram, and a summary of the transcendental knowledge of the Gītā. The youth presented a musical on nava-vidhā bhakti and classical dances. Various adult members performed a lilting garbā. Additional performances included the chanting of Gaṇapati Atharvashīrsha and Durga Sūkta by youth, shlokas by adults, and bhajans and songs in praise of the Lord by children, including Pujya Guruji’s musical composition of “Koi Vando, Koi Nindo.” Chinmaya Swaranjali, the adult choir, sang with a full instrumental ensemble, and it was joined by Swami Ishwarananda (CMLA) for a bhajan.

Guruji released a book and music CD on different evenings, namely, a commentary by Swami Ishwarananda on Guru Stotram and the Svaramañjari CD by the Chinmaya Swaranjali group. Guruji praised the book saying it was good and a must-read for all.

Pujya Guruji’s arrival on June 28 had been marked by the blowing of conches and a procession into the ashram with the chanting of Guru Stotram and offering of pūrṇa-khumbha by Acharya Mahadev Parameswaran and Viji Mahadevan. This was followed by the opening of the newly built Chinmaya Smrti conference room that also features a photograph exhibit on Pujya Gurudev.

The week-long event was highlighted by Pujya Guruji’s 65th birthday, for which CM members gathered on the morning of June 30 for prayers that began with a traditional Āyusha Homa. Thereafter, children offered a Guru Pādukā Pūjā. In honor of Guruji’s love of music, a musical afternoon followed, where he was regaled by a sitar and vocal concert.

During his visit, Pujya Guruji also spoke at a local temple in Brea on the need and love for God, after which Swagatha Chakraborty offered a vocal recital. Guruji met with members of several different organizations who called on him through the week.

CMLA held a Guru Pādukā Pūjā on the last day of the jñāna yajña, July 4, in which seniors, adults, and children participated. The congregation also chanted “Om Shrī Chinmaya Sadgurave Namaḥ” 108 times and then heard several speakers share their experiences with Pujya Gurudev and his irrevocable impact on them. CMLA devotees left further enlightened and eager for Vedantic wisdom.






CM Bakersfield Annual Kids' Summer Camp
by Komal Desai


This year, CM Bakersfield’s annual kids’ summer camp at its Chinmaya Gokul ashram welcomed Acharya Mahadev Parameswaran (CM Los Angeles) and his wife, a long-time Chinmaya Bala Vihar teacher, Viji Mahadevan, for the camp theme on the first six chapters of Shrīmad Bhagavad Gītā. The camp was held July 20-24, 2015 with around 29 eager children, ages 5-18 years, eager to learn the topic of “YounGītā.”

The older children were introduced to complex concepts such as the ladder of fall, dharma, guṇas, karma yoga, navavidhā bhakti, reincarnation, and equanimity. The younger children learned various basic tenets of the Gītā along with Mahābhārata stories. Yet, the camp was hardly “all work and no play” for the enthusiastic campers. The teaching sessions were followed by yoga, bhajans, arts & crafts, and games. The children created their own True ID badges, Thank You cards to God, camp T-shirt decorations, and wall hangings. The games provided a release of energy and a particular hit was Krishna Stealing Butter (based on Dog & Bone). Additional highlights included an extempore speech competition, Guru Pāduka Pūjā, and the all-time favorite “Fun Day,” which featured an afternoon filled with games such as Pin the Jewel (on Shri Krishna’s crown), a water slide, fresh popcorn, and snow cones.

On the concluding day, the children played a Jeopardy-style game that reviewed all that they had learnt during the camp. This was followed by a five-song music program by campers that was conducted by Mahadevanji, and featured vocals and instrumental accompaniments of violin, flute, clarinet, and harmonium. After hearing “Sing Along, Sing Along, Krishna’s Divine Song,” it is difficult to listen to Jingle Bells with a straight face.

The camp, organized and conducted in true yajña spirit, was indeed a memorable week not only for the children, but also for the teachers, parents, and volunteers.






Understanding Marriage: A Vedantic Perspective
by Deepika Allana

Pujya Guruji once said he had read an interesting quote: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” The second “Understanding Marriage” retreat was held at the Chinmaya Somnath ashram in Chantilly, Virginia over Memorial Day weekend, where Acharya Vivek Gupta (CM Niagara) repeated this quote that resonated with the 40 or so attendees who had chosen to attend the retreat.

The retreat on “The Joy of Giving” served as enriching lessons to navigate any human relationship, not just marriage. Single people and married couples gathered to learn tools to help overcome conflict, find inspiration to strengthen their existing relationships, take advantage of a rare opportunity for a meaningful weekend, and invest in self-development to offer their best self to their partner or partner-to-be.

The teachings were multi-dimensional and given through spiritual discourses, communication exercises, and small group discussions on insightful questions. The weekend’s intensive learning was interwoven with relaxation through a ballroom dance lesson, a picnic lunch “date,” a playful game of soccer, and entertaining bhajans. Participants were blessed to have the presence of five CM acharyas— Acharya Vivek Gupta, Swami Dheerananda (on videoconference), Acharya Vilasini Balakrishnan, and Acharyas Rahul and Priya Maini; the latter four are all from CM Washington D.C.

While the participants enjoyed the retreat, their children enjoyed the games and activities organized by dedicated sevaks in other rooms.

Vivekji, brought alive the Vedantic interpretation of the meaning of marriage with his trademark, lucid discourses that were carefully crafted to resound with modern-day challenges. He wove in examples from sacred texts, pop culture, and personal experiences to make his point understandable, entertaining, and informative. Vivekji helped participants understand that marriage has a deeper purpose of exhausting vāsanās, and said marriage is training and an opportunity to develop virtues. How does one develop such virtues? He said, “By giving, giving, giving more than what we take. It is not that the grass is always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where we water it.” With such concepts in laser focus, the attendees felt inspired to dig deeper and find the motivation to water the grass every day!

Acharya Vilasiniji’s warm and inviting manner enveloped the room as she invoked both her Vedantic seeker side and her psychiatric counselor side to skillfully pair marriage philosophy and optimal relationship communication. Many spouses said this session forged for them a new territory in communication style and depth. The general consensus was that these exercises provided a worthwhile and golden opportunity to venture beyond one’s comfort zone.

To quote Pujya Gurudev, “What we have is God’s gift to us. What we do with what we have is our gift to God.” Indeed, all the attendees received precious gifts, for which they expressed much gratitude to all the retreat acharyas, volunteers, and organizers.






First Kids' Summer Camp at Chinmaya Niketan
by Meenal Vashishat

CM Atlanta’s new Chinmaya Niketan ashram opened its doors to the first-ever kids’ camp this summer. The camp on “Saints and Temples of India” began with a prayer assembly, from which kids dispersed into classes categorized by age groups.

The camp classes were well supplemented with fun activities for the children, including yoga, volleyball, basketball, and water play, which was enjoyed by all students, teachers, and volunteers. Each day concluded with an assembly wherein Acharya Geetha Raghu (CM Atlanta) asked all the children whether they had fun and infallibly received an enthusiastic reply of “Yes!”

The meals and snacks menu created for the campers was healthy and child-friendly. The food served daily was fresh and enjoyed by all children. In addition to the other camp activities, all the campers also participated in meditation sessions and likhita japa, which they placed at the main shrine altar of Shri Rama. Throughout the week, they worked on an art project of building and decorating a temple of their own. Each camper was supplied all the materials as needed.

The camp was successful and the children and volunteers learned a lot. The attendees are already looking forward to next year’s camp, especially for more water play!






Shiva Saṅkalpa Sūkta in Cleveland
by Sidharth Kaw

Chinmaya Mission devotees welcomed Swamini Vimalananda to Cleveland, Ohio for discourses on Shiva Saṅkalpa Sūkta, April 22-24. This marked a Mission swami’s first jñāna yajña organized by Cleveland devotees since Mission activities began in January 2014. 

The audience of more than 100 not only included attendees completely new to Chinmaya Mission and Vedanta, but also those who were attending talks for the first time in several decades. In her inimitable wit and style, Swaminiji engaged the audience with practical examples and frequently asked questions about the mind.
She gave the classic analogy of electricity and the bulb in relation to God and our equipments, respectively. Yet, rather than having the audience accept such statements, she made them think about the limitations of analogies and examples, and said, “Does a rock have a mind? No. Does God exist in the rock?”  
In addition to the evening talks, Swaminiji also conducted morning satsangs on “Happy Parenting” and “Mind in Harmony.” Acharya Vivek Gupta (CM Niagara), who helped start CM activities in Cleveland, accompanied Swaminiji on this trip.





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