“Love is to the human heart what sunshine is to flowers,”
said the visionary spiritual master, Swami Chinmayananda. Anticipating the need of the modern world for both sunshine and love, he formulated and developed every loving, inspiring, and nurturing facet of what stands today as the world's most renowned and systematic Vedantic learning forum for children: Chinmaya Bala Vihar.
Swami Chinmayananda believed that just as the strength of a wall depends on the quality of each brick, so too, the health of a society depends on its individual citizens. If the individuals are healthy, the society is healthy. Bala Vihar children are encouraged to be responsible, alert and sensitive
His strategy for building a new society was to "catch them young."
|“To help children Learn Values with fun,
To delight like the moon And shine like the sun”
|- Swami Tejomayananda
Motto: Keep smiling
The Chinmaya Bala Vihar (BV) program offers weekly spiritual Vedanta classes for children in their formidable and moulding years (5-12 years). The classes are categorised by varying age groups, start and end with Sanskrit prayers, and include chanting, bhajans, stories of devotion and morals, interactive discussions, and creative games.Conducted worldwide, the 90-minute classes are based on specially designed syllabi, with the aim of accomplishing the BV rationale set by Swami Chinmayananda:
- To inculcate in our children and youth a reverence for our ancient culture, and inspire them to live up to it with correct understanding
- To create self-confidence so that they are able to serve and act cheerfully
- To generate personal discipline, dynamic leadership, and true affection in all their contacts
- To mould their capacity to brilliantly express their individuality
- To bring out their dormant faculties and detect defects so that they can cultivate and improve their creative abilities
- To help our children and youth develop a healthy resistance against temptations in the atmosphere in which they grow
- To provide an atmosphere of growth that is filled with noble ideals, healthy emotions, and physical discipline.
In promoting and teaching the universal philosophy of Oneness (Advaita Vedanta), children are made to understand that although Hinduism may appear to have many Gods, the Truth (God) is the one ultimate Reality, and thus it is one God appearing as many forms, as all things, as beings, and as the entire universe.
In the weekly classes, and at special events and festival celebrations, both the children and the sevaks/sevikas (teachers and administrators) learn the art of living in a loving, nurturing environment of discipline, where their personalities spontaneously blossom on physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual levels. The interactive classes, through absorbing stories, games, plays, and songs, impress the teachings and practices of karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga-all for the making of an integrated personality.
A special feature of Chinmaya Mission centres worldwide are their organized, residential and non-residential spiritual camps for children during school holidays, with fun, thought-provoking themes and subjects. Fostering teamwork, friendship, and leadership, the camps are highly interactive and specifically fashioned for the attending age groups. The Chinmaya Camp schedule typically includes Vedanta classes, Sanskrit chanting, meditation, yoga, group discussions, creative workshops, bhajans (devotional songs), sports and recreation (treks, movies, talent shows, etc).
Click here to find an upcoming camp near you.
The Chinmaya Bala Vihar curriculum includes various devotional, philosophical, and ethical texts and topics, focussing in the early years on developing love for God, in the elementary years on learning and practising value-based living, and in the teenage years on understanding spirituality and fundamental Vedantic principles.
The intensive syllabus covers topics and texts from Hinduism's Vedas, Puranas, and Itihasas. The syllabus is child-friendly in approach and taught on age-appropriate levels.
A typical curriculum includes:
- ABC of Vedanta
- Shrimad Bhagavatam
- Symbolism in Hinduism
- Hanuman Chalisa
- India and Festivals of India
- Values from Shrimad Bhagavad Gita and Ramacharitamanasa
- Characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata
- Hindu Culture
- Introduction to Shrimad Bhagavad Gita
Additional topics are developed and taught at Chinmaya Bala Vihar camps.
For Bala Vihar Teachers
Chinmaya Bala Vihar, the largest of the Chinmaya Mission's grass-root level activities, has the most well-established resource network, complete with training materials, teaching guides, artistic presentation (dance/drama) and workshop templates, activity guides, experienced coordinators, and administrative advisors.
BV's standardised syllabi, disciplined classes, innovative activities, and unique special events continue to inspire and keep inspired BV students, parents, program directors, regional coordinators, volunteer teachers, and administrators alike. Thriving on mutual support and feedback, BV continues to rapidly multiply around the world. A major Chinmaya Mission centre outside of India typically has over 1,000 participating children.
For Bala Vihar teaching guides or other materials, contact your nearest Chinmaya Mission centre.
For Bala Vihar Students
The most significant of BV resources are Chinmaya Mission's publications for children. Ranging from pictorial storybooks, to colouring books, to activity books, to complementary textbooks and workbooks, to chanting and bhajan CDs, to interactive CD-ROMs, to an international monthly magazine, these publications are skillfully prepared by Chinmaya Mission's ingenious volunteers who have mastered the art of combining learning with fun, and fun with learning. The publications provide useful teaching tools for parents, and simplify, in an appealing style and language for kids, the concepts of friendship, love, responsibility, and righteous living.
Popular Chinmaya publications for children include the Tarangini Series, the Balvihar Series, the Chinmaya Bala Katha Series and Tell me a Story Series.
Through BV students, BV parents are the lucky recipients of many a car-ride spill of knowledge, home-based chanting marathons, festival puja guidance and offerings, reminders for value-based and stress-free living, and blessed children who indulge in karma yoga-bhakti yoga-jnana yoga practices. It has been seen the world over how BV children have motivated their parents to join Chinmaya Study Groups and live true to the motto, "The family that prays together, stays together." With complemented spiritual studies and unfoldment, the transformations in such households have been wondrous, to say the least.
While extracurricular BV activities of Indian cultural arts (classical dance, music, and bhajan groups) have greatly benefitted BV families, today's techno age has also given BV kids a tremendous learning forum with Chinmaya Mission's worldwide Bala Vihar website: http://chinmayakids.org, where kids surf, play, interact, learn, and have an all-round good time.
Balvihar has grown over the years to become a prominent and acclaimed children's international monthly magazine, which is read and adored by readers worldwide. Presented in full-colour and chock-a-block with fascinating factoids, inspiring stories, telltale messages, original poems, wise quotations, engaging articles, absorbing trivia, cool puzzles, brain-teasing riddles, and a joke corner, Balvihar has it all!
Filled with Hindu culture and its sacred lore, Balvihar has been serving children (and parents and grandparents) for over 38 years. Its annual subscription and life subscription offers are ideal gifts for every child in every city, town, and village, in every country around the world!
Swami Chinmayananda wrote in the 1969 inaugural issue of Balvihar:
"The Chinmaya Bala Vihar children are planning this as our exclusive magazine, and we shall be mutually contacting each other through this monthly publication.
We shall, through this journal, throw bridges of love and understanding among children everywhere, and we shall learn to create a greater world out of what our parents have given us. Such children shall grow to be great men and women-true leaders in the world-to lead and guide people everywhere to live a life of deep love, true affection, right understanding, and intimate brotherhood."
Subscription details and procedure
A unique program that began as a BV activity, but expanded to include the participation of all age groups, is the Chinmaya Gita Chanting Competition. Swami Chinmayananda's brainchild to motivate children around the world to open the Gita and learn to chant its verses came with the progressive strategy to chant-study-know-live the Gita. Children, parents, and grandparents have thus been encouraging each other to participate in this healthy competition, of which the underlying goal is spiritual evolution.
Today, while there are many local organizations that conduct a similar event, none can match the vision, knowledge, love, and training that Mission acharyas and sevaks bring to the table. Over the years, this competition also has been held on various levels: regional, city, state, national, and international (during the 50th-Year Celebrations of the Chinmaya Movement). From inception in the early 1980s to date, the Chinmaya Gita Chanting Competition, annually conducted in regional Mission centres around the world, has seen over six million participants.
To participate in a Chinmaya Gita Chanting Competition, contact your nearest Chinmaya Mission centre.