Swami Chinmayananda - Greatness personified!
“The day you take up the policy of giving love instead of demanding it - that day you will have rewritten your entire future destiny - Swami Chinmayananda”
Chinmayananda, widely hailed as the second Vivekananda, has done a tremendous contribution to spread the real essence of Sanatana Dharma among Hindus. He used English as the main language to communicate his message to the English speaking educated class who were increasingly becoming averse to Hinduism due to their misconceptions. He wrote excellent commentaries on several Hindu scriptures including Bhagavadgita and Upanishads. His vision of making the "family" as a member of the mission and not just the individual, is perhaps his master-stroke. Chinmaya Mission is unique in having thoughtfully designed Balavihar classes for children (Pre-K to 12th grade) and study groups for adults along with many Satsangs and Seva activities. This distinguishes them from similar organizations like Rama Krishna Mission, which are mainly focused on individuals.
I first heard of Chinmayananda during my B.Tech days (possibly year 2000) when I met a Brahmachari (Uddava Chaitanyananda Ji, now Swami Sarvesananda) of the mission along with a friend who is a CHYK (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra) member. I was very impressed by the brilliance and wit of the Brahmachari. At that time, Chinmaya Mission conducted a Bhagavadgita competition which involves reading Chinmayananda's commentary on the Gita and answering a multiple-choice questions test! It is a sweet memory for me to participate in that competition. It is also my first tryst with the Gita. I got a good understanding of what it says and was inspired by the overall message. Before that, I read a lot of Vivekananda's works and became his great fan! I found Chinmayananda to be equally wonderful. Yet, I did not read much of Chinmayananda after the Gita competition (for that matter, even Vivekananda! It was at this time that I started exploring modern and non-traditional spiritual personalities such as Jiddu Krishnamurti).
After moving to San Diego in 2012, I again heard of Chinmaya Mission when a friend casually mentioned that their kids to go to Chinamaya's Balavihar. I googled and learnt that San Diego is special because Chinmayananda left his body here. There is an aptly named center "Chinmaya Jyoti" in existence here for a long time. I was fortunate to visit Chinmaya Jyoti soon after this to attend a Satsang with Guruji Tejomayananda who is the current head of the Chinmaya Mission Worldwide. I was very impressed by the beautiful ashram with its serene surroundings and by the divine simplicity of Tejomayananda and the nectar of his wisdom. Now my daughter goes to Balavihar and learns about our culture in the Chinmaya way and I benefit from the study groups and the Satsangs. At Chinmaya I am learning about Vedanta, the essential Hindu philosophy, which for me is a continuation of what I started to learn with Vivekananda.
As with Isha Foundation (another organization I am associated with), I find very nice people at Chinmaya too. Their devotion to their Guru and the organization is most touching to me, though personally I do not get too attached to any organization/Guru. I have no doubt that both these organizations are doing a great service in their own way by spreading the Sanatana Dharma. I feel fortunate to have been associated with them!
To offer our thanks to Gurudev on his 100th anniversary, we are offering a pledge in the spirit of "Unto Him Our Best". Here is my pledge -
"I will strive to uplift myself by myself through the guidance of the eternal Vedantic ideals whose glory is shown to me by the great Gurus!"
With profound pranams to Gurudev on his 100th anniversary...