Chinmaya Mission

CMW News

November 2015, No. 168






Spiritual Trails








Upcoming Events / Announcements


Previous CMWN Issues





For all photos, click on image to enlarge.









Update on Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth


National Gītā Chanting Competition 2015 Winners


CM Chicago Hosts National Gītā Chanting Competition 2015


YEP America 2016


Chinmaya Jyoti Arrives at Badri and CHYKs Strike a CORD


CORD USA Honored as Top-rated Nonprofit in 2015


Houston Chinmaya Bala Vihar Students Pledge, “Unto Him, Our Best”


Yamunotri Ashram Prabhāvali Installation


CHYKS Wake the Sleeping Giant


Swami Prakashananda Visits CM Calgary




Update on Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth
Based on a letter to centers from Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda

Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda recently sent CM centers, trustees, and acharyas worldwide an update on the new launch of “Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth,” which is based on Pujya Gurudev's vision for a Sanskrit university. The prestigious university project was announced on the occasion of Pujya Gurudev’s mahāsamādhi this year in Somerset, New Jersey.

The Government of India registered a new trust in Kerala in the name of Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth on September 18, 2015. The university can have multiple campuses and for now will function out of the Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF). Chinmaya Mission raised the initial required corpus amount of Rs. 25 crores in India itself. The application for a “De Novo Institution Deemed To Be University” was submitted for the government’s approval on October 1. It is hoped that official approval will be received from India’s Department of Higher Education within two to three months.





Congratulations to the Winners of the National Gītā Chanting Competition 2015!

Group A (ages 4-6 years)


First Place: Trisha Shankar (CM Minneapolis)


Second Place: Neha Pandya (CM San Jose)


Third Place: Rasshessh Thakkar (CM Ann Arbor)

Group B (ages 7-9 years)


First Place: Aditi Chaubal (CM Houston)


Second Place: Srinidhi Nagarajan (CM San Jose)


Third Place: Satvika Ramanathan (CM Ann Arbor)

Group C (ages 10-12 years)


First Place: Shruthi Aiyar (CM Los Angeles)


Second Place: Anjana Bharadwaj (CM Chicago)


Third Place: Amrita Vinjamury (CM Los Angeles)

Group D (ages 13-15 years)


First Place: Sruthi Jayanti (CM Chicago)


Second Place: Pavan Prabhala (CM Tri-State)


Third Place: Deepa Kumar (CM Chicago)




CM Chicago Hosts National Gītā Chanting Competition
by Rashmi Mehrotra


"Chant Geeta, Enchant Krishna," the theme of CMW’s national Gītā chanting competition in Pujya Gurudev’s birth centennial, fortified his vision to awaken love and reverence in children for the teachings of Shrīmad Bhagavad Gītā so that one day they come to understand and live the Gītā.

Chinmaya Mission Chicago was honored to host the national competition under the guidance of coordinator, Swami Sharanananda (CM Chicago). The competition was held at the Badri ashram on September 5-6, 2015. The event brought together 165 children from 24 CM centers across the U.S. The auspicious event was held on the weekend of Shrī Krishna Janmāshṭami, during which the prabhāvali at the Yamunotri ashram was also installed.

The finalists of the local and regional Mission centers’ competitions assembled for this historical event. The children were divided into four age groups and competed within their group one at a time. There was a team of 18 judges from different Mission centers. For two days, the ashram was charged with overflowing positive energy from enthusiastic parents, participants, judges, and local sevaks—over 550 people altogether. The meticulously planned event provided an environment for new and renewed friendships among children and families.

The cash prizes awarded to the winners were: First Place $1,000, Second Place $500, Third Place $250. In addition, the First Place winners will receive a free ticket to India to participate in the International Gītā Chanting Competition in December 2015.

In his inaugural address, Swami Ishwarananda (CM Los Angeles) spoke on a line from a verse of Gītā, Chapter 15. He said that this chapter named Purushottama Yoga, held a very dear place in Pujya Gurudev’s heart. He said that we are fortunate to be associated with a Master who is renowned as the foot soldier of the Gītā and who dedicated his life to sharing the message of Bhagavān Shri Krishna. Swamiji also pointed out that September 5 marked  Teachers’ Day, and in this competition, we were blessed to celebrate the Teacher and His message to the world: Kṛshṇam vande jagadgurum.

It was a grand and powerful experience for all when, at the conclusion of the event, the entire congregation of over 500 people chanted together the entire 15th chapter of Shrīmad Bhagavad Gītā.






YEP America 2016
Submitted by CHYK West


CHYK West is pleased to announce that registration for YEP America 2016 is open. YEP (the Youth Empowerment Program) is an initiative of CHYK (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra), the global youth wing of Chinmaya Mission. YEP was designed and conducted in 2003 in India for young adults to learn the principles of Vedanta, serve the community, and grow as dynamic, positive contributors to society.

YEP students graduate as Yuva Veers. Inspired by YEP India, YEP America was initiated in 2013. Since 2003, more than 350 Yuva Veers have graduated from YEP in India; 51 have graduated from YEP America. In both India and the US, the YEP program has followed the ancient gurukula system of learning, where students live and learn in the ashram with their teachers.

With the guidance and blessings of Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda (Head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide), YEP will be conducted June 6-July 27, 2016 at Chinmaya Mangalam, near Dallas, Texas. YEP America 2016 will be conducted by Swami Sarveshananda (CHYK National Director), Swami Ramakrishnananda (CIF), Acharya Vivek Gupta (CHYK Deputy Director), and visiting acharyas of CMW and management experts.

The course is open to adults, ages 18-28 years and online registration is open. For those who choose to serve full-time for 10 months in India after the course, there will be no charge for attending the course. For those who choose to serve part-time in North America, the cost is $2,000 per student. The final registration deadline is May 31, 2016. Refunds will not be given after April 2, 2016. Questions? Contact us.


YEP 2013 & 2014 batches:






Chinmaya Jyoti Arrives at Badri and CHYKs Strike a CORD
by Rashmi Mehrotra

CM Chicago was blessed and honored to welcome one of the four Chinmaya Jyoti lamps traveling in the various zones of the U.S. Symbolizing the light of spiritual knowledge that Pujya Gurudev spread across the world. The Chinmaya Jyoti was received from CM Northwest Indiana in September. The Jyoti was brought on a bus full of devotees, and reverently welcomed at the Badri ashram by CM Chicago acharyas Swami Sharanananda, Shanker Pillai, Dhiren Khatri, and Jetindra and Swapna Nayar. The Jyoti was led in a festive procession and accompanied by Swami Ramakrishnananda (CIF). Chinmaya Bala Vihar children lined the ashram walkway with Om flags. Children and adults performed dances as the Jyoti was taken into the ashram amid chanting, bhajans, and fireworks. After crossing the threshold of the ashram, the Jyoti was received with the traditional Vedic welcome of a pūrṇa kumbha. An elaborate Guru Pādukā Pūjā was offered, in which children led the chanting of Pujya Gurudev’s 108 names and a beautiful bhajan on Pujya Gurudev that was composed by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda. Adults offered an auspicious dance from Kerala. The inspiration and energy of the day were remarkable. The celebration was attended by over 400 children and adults.

CM Chicago CHYKS organized a five-mile walkathon on August 8, 2015, in which Dr. Kshama Metre (CORD National Director) and over 100 local attendees participated. The event raised $12,000 for CORD. The CHYKs also organized a CORD banquet on August 9 to give an opportunity to Chicago Mission members to meet Kshamaji, Gauri Mahenthiran (CORD Sri Lanka), and Mona Malkani (CORD Secretary). Kshamaji inspired everyone with her engaging presentation about Pujya Gurudev’s vision for CORD and the events that led her to dedicate her life’s work to CORD. She also explained how Pujya Guruji’s vision and leadership came to transform the early roots of the “Sidhbari Project” into CORD, an internationally recognized and acclaimed service program. She congratulated the local CHYKs with gratitude for organizing a wonderful event. The evening featured entertainment by the CHYKs and a delicious dinner. The evening was attended by over 400 people and raised over $100,000 for CORD.






CORD USA Honored as Top-rated Nonprofit in 2015
by Subha Pathial

CORD USA has been honored with a prestigious 2015 Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations. CORD USA has now been on their top-rated list for four years in a row. The award is based on the number of positive reviews CORD USA received—reviews written by volunteers, donors, and clients. This year, CORD USA also received a grant from the Hindu American Foundation for its Bhutanese Refugees Empowerment Program (BREP).
One review stated, “CORD USA is a wonderful organization that is full of dedicated members who donate their time, resources, and energy for nothing more than the possibility of empowering others. Their mission of not only helping communities in need, but also teaching communities how to be self-sustaining and independent is inspiring. I would recommend anyone who is looking for a nonprofit group to volunteer with to contact CORD USA. I know they would appreciate it and I speak from experience [when I say that] the time you donate to CORD USA gifts you with so much wisdom and compassion.”
Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits, writes, “Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever. People with direct experience with CORD USA have voted that the organization is making a real difference.”
Being on the Top-Rated list gives donors and volunteers more confidence about the credibility of a nonprofit. The reviews by volunteers, clients, and donors show the on-the-ground results of the nonprofit. The award is thus a form of recognition by the community. GreatNonprofits is the leading site for donors and volunteers to find reviews and ratings of nonprofits. It is estimated that reviews on the site influence 30 million donation decisions a year.





Houston Chinmaya Bala Vihar Students Pledge, “Unto Him Our Best”
by Padmashree Rao


They said it with words and music. They showed it with symbols. Spoken or symbolic, the essence was pure love. With happy faces, bright colors, beautiful flowers, glowing lamps, a poetic pledge, and a spirited presentation, the members of CM Houston welcomed another new year of Chinmaya Bala Vihar on September13, 2015. It was a memorable celebration highlighting the birth centenary of an ageless spiritual Master, Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.

Shobha Ravishankar, a lead BV teacher, welcomed all the families and spoke of a rare gift that could fill our hearts even when opened a hundred years later, a precious gift that always held the key to timeless happiness. When children and adults saw the majestic image of Pujya Gurudev emerge in the PowerPoint presentation, the thrill felt was unmistakable. Just seeing his many images during his quest to bring true happiness to all captured the imagination of both young and old, and brought alive the wonder of his unconditional love. His magical and touching images revealed that the path to happiness is paved with the universal spirit of caring and giving.

It is human instinct to reciprocate love that has no strings attached. So, when it was time for all the students, teachers, and their families to celebrate the love that Pujya Gurudev personifies, they pledged to give their best. Echoing the worldwide motto of his centennial, everyone recited the poem written by BV teacher, Uma Aggarwal. Each student held close a symbol of a hand that had the words, “Unto Him My Best,” and recited as follows:

Unto him our best
We are ready to take the test
Gurudev, you are different from the rest
Early in your life, you started your quest
You made the Himalayas your temporary nest
But returned with full spiritual zest
The Gītā was in your hand every day of your life
Listening to your wisdom we rise above our strife
Bala Vihar and Study Groups are your creation
Where we learn about God and our relation
Invaluable is to the world your holy gift
Following your words gives us a spiritual lift
Gurudev, you are indeed the best
We are ready to take the test
Unto him our best

The entire congregation was then led by Acharyas Gaurang and Darshana Nanavaty to seek Pujya Gurudev’s blessings for this year of studies. In his opening address, Gaurangji spoke on man’s universal quest for happiness. He drew examples from many facets of life and pointed out that searching also features endless wanting as the background of action. Calling for careful introspection on what really happens in the pursuit of happiness, he set the background for the adults on the studies they would be undertaking while their children attended Bala Vihar. The inaugural session also featured the birthday celebration of the CM Houston family’s beloved Darshanaji, who is the guiding force for Houston’s Chinmaya Bala Vihar.






Yamunotri Ashram Prabhāvali Installation
by Shubi Mansukhani

Devotees of Chinmaya Mission Chicago’s Yamunotri ashram adorned the shrine with a decorative prabhāvali arch for the presiding deities of Shri Radha-Krishna. The sacred installation was performed during Shri Krishna Janmāshṭami celebrations, in which over 300 families participated and offered a 16-step puja. CM Chicago acharyas—Swami Sharanananda, Shanker Pillai, and Jetindraji and Swapna Nayar—and Swami Ishwarananda (CM LosAngeles) unveiled the prabhāvali on September 5, 2015.

The prabhāvali, or rows of glory, represents the unending glory and grandeur of the infinite Supreme. In his address, Swami Ishwarananda explained the significance of the prabhāvali as surrendering to the Lord. He said, “Oh, my mind, which is flying here and there like a bird looking for happiness everywhere, find your rest in the nest of the Lord’s feet.” He emphasized that we have to train our mind to remember the Lord at all times and with this understanding, invoke the Lord on this auspicious day. He said Lord Krishna was born in the dark of night, which signifies the darkness we feel in our lives. Just as the Lord’s manifestation brought light into this world, so, too, we seek to invoke the light of knowledge in our lives. Swamiji said, “To this Lord we should surrender, so that we may be guided on the right path, for the Lord is the very source of Joy and Bliss.”

After Swamiji’s address, Chinmaya Bala Vihar children, under the guidance of Swapnaji, enacted a play on the birth of Lord Krishna. The play had impressive high tech effects, such as Lord Krishna descending from the sky and the opening of the prison bars. The play concluded with the safe arrival of baby Krishna in Gokul.

In a day of joyful celebrations, the prabhāvali installation will be treasured by the Yamunotri ashram devotees as a message of surrender and peace.





CHYKS Wake the Sleeping Giant
by Naveen Pattisapu

Houston CHYKs organized a CHYK retreat in June on “Meditation and Life: Wake the Sleeping Giant,” hosting over 40 youth from across the country. The retreat, conducted by CHYK West Deputy Director Acharya Vivek Gupta (CM Niagara) and Swami Shivatmananda (CM Austin), focused on practicing meditation, studying Vedantic scriptures, nurturing devotion, fostering reflection, and giving up body attachment. The attendees were challenged to spend time in silence, reflect on personal inner growth, and apply Vedanta to their academic and professional lives.

The camp commenced with the traditional pūrṇa kumbha welcome of acharyas and the offering of Rudrābhishekam. A vibrant discussion with Swamiji had ensued over the significance of these rituals in modern life. Every morning, Swamiji introduced a new approach to contemplation. Through his gentle guidance, campers learned how challenging yet achievable and rewarding daily meditative practice is. A vibrant and often controversial discussion on Bhaja Govindam followed. One day, the group was split into deva and devi groups to discuss body image, dating, and marriage.

In the afternoon, campers applied scriptural teachings to daily life through dynamic workshops, including a sattvic cooking workshop wherein campers prepared a meal, a workshop on how Vedanta has been applied in western medicine, and a Vedanta in pop culture workshop.

The evening talks were open to the public and attended by hundreds of Mission devotees. Therein, Vivekji delivered 40 “Tactile Points” on Bhagavān Ādi Shankarāchārya’s Sādhanā Panchakam. In the weeks post-camp, students made posters and reported to their “accountability buddies” about their consistency in sadhana.

Throughout the day, campers were challenged to leave their comfort zone. Whether it was making up a sport every morning or dancing like no one was watching, campers challenged their body identification. Moreover, they sought to replace such identification with love for God through daily ārti, bhajans, and sevā. The campers reflected silently by the temple daily and many noted that their most powerful revelations arose during silent reflection. Above all else, the acharyas wanted campers to remember the fundamental message of striving for Self-realization.

Everyone left positively charged. The following week, Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda visited CM Houston to find CHYKs swarming the front rows of the auditorium. Daily, these engaged youth posted notes, hosted dinners, and conducted nightly discussions on social media. CHYKs in Houston are blessed to have record membership and an energized base, and look forward to the June 2016 retreat.






Swami Prakashananda Visits CM Calgary
by Abhimanyu Singh

CM Calgary was pleased to welcome Swami Prakashananda (CM Trinidad) this past summer for a jñāna yajña on Tulasi Rāmāyaṇa. The morning talks featured Shrī Rāma Gītā and the evenings featured talks on Ayodhyā-kāṇḍa. These inspiring discourses were attended by many community members, in addition to CM Calgary devotees. Swamiji captivated the audience with melodious bhajans, poignant humor, and teachings of wisdom.

Swamiji’s evening discourses focused on Bharatji’s journey to meet Lord Rama in Chitrakoot. Swamiji shared a lesser known perspective to the popular story as he explained its tattva. He pointed out some obstacles a seeker can face on the spiritual path and added that they can be overcome easily with deep devotion to God. CM Calgary members were appreciative and thankful for Swamiji’s time and loving inspiration.





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