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Chinmaya Setukaris (CSK) Retreat in Durham, NC
Chinmaya Setukari (CSK) Retreat in Durham, NC, “Led by Love, Lead by Love”
On President’s Day weekend (Feb 15th-17th, 2019), 67 Chinmaya Setukaris (CSKs) and 33 children participated in a Retreat titled “Led by Love, Lead by Love” conducted by Vivekji, Shankarji and Sumanji. Sumanji and Shankarji graduated from the 2016-2018 Vedanta Course in Trinidad under Swami Prakashananda. The retreat was hosted by Chinmaya Mission-Raleigh Durham and the CSK National Team.
CSKs are the bridge builders between the Yuva Kendra(young adult) and matured. Vivekji expressed the importance of CSKs embracing responsibilities. Through this retreat, attendees came together to learn how to invoke and live this vision. The theme of the retreat suggests that if we bring more love into our life, we will become more loving individuals. This was reflected through studying the Vibishana Gita, written by Sage Tulasidas with commentary by Swami Tejomayananda.
The scene of the Vibishana Gita is set during the Lanka Kanda in the Ramayana. After Ravana’s entire army and relatives are crushed, Bhagawan Rama and Ravana prepare for the final battle. Ravana arrives fully armed with sophisticated weaponry and his special war chariot, the Yuddha-ratha. While Bhagawan Rama arrives with just His quiver, a few bows and arrows and bare feet! Upon seeing this, Ravana’s brother, Vibhishana, is paralyzed with fear. Vibhishana then questions Bhagawan Rama about how He can defeat the physically-strong, well-equipped Ravana.
Bhagawan Rama lovingly imparts the Knowledge of His Dharma-ratha, Chariot of Dharma, to Vibishana. The Dharma-ratha includes all values which allows one to overcome the inner enemies and eventually leads to the true victory of fearlessness and love…
In order to make this knowledge most practical, Vivekji described the components of the Dharma-ratha, what value they represent and a simple take-away sadhana to remember:
|Sauraja (Courage)||Wheel||All your responsibilities are custom designed
|Satya (Honesty)||Flag||Cleanliness outside leads to cleanliness
|Parahita (Caring)||Horse||Selflessness should be
|Khsama (Forgiveness)||Rein||Focus on what others have done, not what
|Bhaja (Depend)||Charioteer||Shift your dependency from the world to
|Birathi (Independence)||Shield||Comparing is a direct insult to the Creator; each person is created
|Buddhi (Intellect)||Lance||Don’t do something for the sake of the action, do something
|Yama (Discipline)||Arrows||Development is not possible without
|Kavacha (Seva, Testing)||Armor||Loving oneself is
In addition to Discourse, Discussion and Dialogue, retreat attendees also participated in skits, activities and athletics which helped them better understand how to incorporate the Vibishana Gita into their lives. One highlight was the “Food Creations Activity.” Participants were tasked with following simple recipes while engaging in an additional challenge (such as blindfolding, using only their dominant hand or chanting Mantras). Then, they discussed the importance of sattvic cooking and the promotion of a simple Indian cookbook facilitated by the CSKs coming out soon.
Overall, attendees learned that by practicing the values of the Vibishana Gita and embracing responsibilities, we can transform from Bishana (fearful) to Vibeshana (fearless) and learn to love what we are doing so we can love who we are becoming…
By: Lavanya Rao.
Sannyasa Deeksha 2019
Swamins, Brahmacharins and Members of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide
in the holy precincts of Pujya Gurudev’s kutia, in Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Mumbai, 4 of our Brahmacharis took the holy vows of Sannyasa. They changed the colour of their robes to orange and dedicated themselves to spread Pujya Gurudev’s message. I am happy to announce their new names:
- Br Sankarshan – Swami Sadashivananda (CM Brahmapur, Odisha)
- Br Garga – Swami Omkarananda (CM Jagatpur, Cuttack, Odisha)
- Br Janardhan – Swami Ramapriyananda (CM Balangir, Odisha)
- Br Piyush – Swami Chidghanananda (CM Bhubaneswar, Odisha)
May Lord Jagadeeshwara and Pujya Gurudev’s grace and blessings be upon one and all.
A small video of the announcement of their new names can be viewed on the YouTube channel of Chinmaya Mission at:
I am also glad to inform that arrangements have been made to do a live webcast of the Aarati of Lord Jagadeeshwara at 6.30pm IST followed by Abhishek and Pujas. The Pujas conclude with Maha Aarati at midnight.
The link for the live webcast will be:
At His Feet,
Activities in Bengaluru during Jan 2019
Jnana Yajna in J P Nagar
Pujya Swamini Sampratishthananda of Coimbatore centre conducted a Jnana Yajna in English on Bhagawan Shankaracharya’s Maneesha Panchakam from 30/12/2018 to 06/01/2019 at Sripaadakshetra, J P Nagar. The Yajna was inaugurated by Sri Purandhara Sharma, president of the Mission. The Yajna was organised as a part of the anniversary celebrations of Sripaadakshetra which completed 14 years of service to the spiritual fraternity on 01/01/2019.
Pujya Swamini Sampratishthananda explained how all differences that we perceive are because of delusion where the vision of divinity & oneness is absent and only division is seen. The realised Master sees the whole universe as Brahman alone where He and Brahman are complete – paripoorna with no limitations – The knower, known and knowing form the integrated combination to realise the supreme Truth. Brahman is the canvas on which Maya paints her creation using the three Gunas – Satwa, Rajas and Tamas. Maneesha Panchakam forms the essence of all Upanishads giving a complete analysis of Jiva, Jagat and Ishwara and the relationship through the four Mahavakyas giving complete clarity of the ssssSupreme Truth.
The Yajna was very well attended on all the days.
Gita Jnana Yajna in Nagarabhavi
Pujya Swami Gahanananda of Tumkur centre conducted a Gita Jnana Yajna in Kannada on Bhagavad Gita Chapter-12 at Twinklers’ Vidaniketan, Nagarabhavi from 07/01/2019 to 13/01/2019. The Yajna was inaugurated by noted social reformist and writer Smt Hemalata.
Pujya Swamiji explained that the Bhagavad Gita acts as a manual showing the right path to be followed when confronted with cross roads in life. A sadhak who is confused with respect to choice regarding paths of knowledge and action is given confidence with the fact that both lead to the same Ultimate Truth but prescribed for individuals with different temperaments. What is needed is sincere attempt and attitude of mind with a strong sankalpa to realise the Self. This will calm the mind and the sadhak will view the world with equanimity never getting disturbed by the dualities.
The Yajna was well attended on all days.
Gita Jnana Yajna in N R Colony
Pujya Swami Brahmananda conducted a Gita Jnana Yajna in Kannada on Bhagavad Gita Chapter – 5 from 21/01/2019 to 27/01/2019 at Sri Rama Mandira, N R Colony. The Yajna was inaugurated by well known philanthropist and tabala player Vidwan Sri Venkatatanarayan.
Pujya Swamiji stressed the fact that happiness can never be achieved from the outer world but a state of our own inner Self which is the experience of a calm and serene mind. It is a wrong notion that renunciation of action will lead to realisation. It is necessary to only renounce the feeling of doership and continue performing action benefitting mankind. All Mahatmas led such a life of intense action without being attached to the fruits standing rooted in the fact that they are separate from the body, mind and intellect.
The Yajna was a grand success with several sadhaks deriving benefit.
Annual Balavihar Competition
The Annual Chinmaya Balavihar competition for junior and senior children was held at Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Koramangala on January 6, 2019. Pujya Swamini Sampratishthananda from Coimbatore lit the inaugural lamp for the Junior & Senior competitions. Smt Saroja Sridharan, Principal, Chinmaya Vidyalaya Koramangala graced the occasion.
In her Inaugural address, Swamini Amma spoke about the importance of learning shlokas and Stotrams in our daily life. She stressed that chanting the Shlokas and Stotrams given to us by our Gurus helps us to become pure.
The topics for the competition were Krishnashtakam, Suryashtakam, Pratah Smaranam, Shiva Shadakshara Stotram, Bhagavad Gita Chapter-9, Achyutashtakam, Totakashtakam, Chinmayananda Shatkam, Shivaparadha Kshmapana Stotram, Mankutimmana Kagga and Mantra Pushpam along with Storytelling both in English and Kannada. About 1200 children who participated in all these items left the Judges spellbound with their renditions, chanting and captivating stories.
In the holy presence of Pujya Swami Brahmanandaji, Smt Ranjitha Palanivelu and Smt Jyothi Krishnan, senior Mission members distributed the prizes.
Balavihar winter camp at CM Tirunelveli
Chinmaya Mission Tirunelveli organised the Balavihar winter camp on 23rd and 24th December 2018 at Chinmaya Vidyalaya and Pushpalatha schools. 207 children participated in the camp. During the camp they were introduced to traditional arts like Villupattu, Oyilattam, Olai art, Pottery, Kolattam, Reptile conservation and Cookery. Eminent people from the above fields introduced the arts and guided the children in performing. Also they had story telling and games sessions. Children thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and the feedback was very positive.
For More Camp Picture Click Here.
Summary of the Vedanta in Ramayana (ViRa) Course
On September 11, 2016, a group of eager and devoted Chinmaya Mission Centres across North America began a journey to learn the vedantic teachings contained within the Ramayana. Led by Vivekji from Chinmaya Mission Niagara Falls, the Centres began their two and half year online study (approximately 70 classes), where they explored the key facets of the Ramayana.
Using Tulsidasji’s exquisite poetry of Ramacaritamanasa as the basis of the teachings, the glories of Lord Rama were studied in depth. Every Sunday for one hour, key verses of each of the seven kanda’s (chapters) were reviewed, analysed, interpreted and practical implications to our daily lives were shared.
Students learned that the virtues possessed by Lord Rama are a blessing to this world. Lord Rama is Infinite. Infinite are His virtues and the depth of His story is immeasurable. Those whose thoughts are pure will feel no surprise when they hear it. Ramayana is an epic. Its purpose is to guide society. We learn how to be a good child, a dedicated student, a wonderful sibling, a loving caring spouse, a supportive friend, a defender of virtues, a noble contributing member of society and a great leader by studying its message. Various dharmas are taught in Ramayana and that is the reason why we need to study this great epic, so that we can better understand our own dharmas. Dharma brings everything together. One who follows dharma is protected. For all of us, dharma is by design. Each of us has a unique dharma designed by God. Currently, we live in our fears and insecurities, preventing us from seeing our dharma more clearly. By quieting the mind, turning inward, and following our dharma, we can be serene and strong. Dharma will protect us and others. Whatever your purpose is, dedicate yourself to that purpose. These were some of the main messages expounded in our study.
When the meaning of the name of Lord Rama is interpreted, we learned that the Ramayana is happening in ‘Our Own Body’. ‘Ra’ means light, ‘Ma’ means within me, in my heart. So, Rama means the Light within Me. When we bring the vedantic teachings of the Ramayana to ourselves, we learn that our soul is Rama, our mind is Sita, our breath or Life-Force (Prana) is Hanuman, our awareness is Lakshmana and our ego is Ravana.
When the mind (Sita), is stolen by the ego (Ravana), then the Soul (Rama) gets restless. Now the soul (Rama) cannot reach the mind (Sita) on its own. It has to take the help of the breath, the prana (Hanuman) by being in awareness (Lakshmana). With the help of the prana (Hanuman) and awareness (Lakshmana), the mind (Sita) is reunited with the soul (Rama) and the ego (Ravana) vanishes.
Students realized that those who have faith understand fate more fully. The more faith we have, the more fate reveals itself. There is an eternal debate about free will versus God’s will. For those who are less faithful, there is free will. For those who are more faithful, there is God’s will. When you become so faithful that you trust God’s will, you become unshakable. Even in an uncontrolled environment, one will be balanced and happy. Offer all that one has to Lord Rama with utmost sincerity. Hold on to the Divine, as Lord Rama assures us that whenever we remember Him, He will be with us.
There is from a powerful doha which highlights the importance of satsanga, “Binu satsanga na hari katha tehi binu moha na bhaga“. Without satsanga, there is no remembering Bhagavan. If we cannot bring Bhagavan into our lives, then moha (delusion) cannot run away. With sincere and steady prioritization of satsang and study of Ramayana, moha has no choice but to run away.
Om Tat Sat.
Chinmaya Inspiration Yatra XII
Devi Culture Study Group Satsanga
On the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, July 27th, 2018, Devi Culture Study group started the study of Guru Stotram. The Devi Satsanga was held on a Friday once a month from 7.30 PM to 9.00 PM EST via Zoom under the guidance of Shri Vivek Gupta. Thirteen study groups with approximately six Devis per group participated from USA and Canada.
Each session started with 30 minutes of discourse, followed by a 30 minutes session of Q&A with Vivekji. After which, the individual Devi group discussed the two questions assigned by Vivekji among themselves. Reflection Adventure of the Month (RAM) was assigned after each session to reflect and engage upon.
Devis learnt the inner meaning of the Guru Stotram which emphasized the importance of a Guru in one’s life. The first semester ended on Dec 14th, 2018 with each center giving a presentation describing the philosophy and the implementation aspects of each shloka in the Guru Stotram.
The study group was a fun filled means for the Devis to relax, reflect and discuss ways to resolve their everyday challenges using the knowledge gained. The Devis developed a sense of community, that enabled them to fortify the practical application of what was taught, into their day to day life. The Devi Culture Study Group will continue the study of Jagadish Arati in 2019.
Cyber-Bullying Workshop in CM-Raleigh, NC.
Snapchat, Instagram, Kik Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and so on. This list is endless – Apps that provide a means for communication and can also provide negative experiences. In the hopes of gaining popularity, watching inappropriate videos and seeking approval, our children are unknowingly encouraging the “Rise of the Social Cyber-Bully”. A workshop held in November by Chinmaya Mission Raleigh-Durham(CMRDU) with the objective to bring awareness to parents and teenagers of the pressing threats of social media and gaming apps.
Our guest Natalie Wood Riché, an outreach specialist from the North Carolina Department of Justice revealed the numerous apps that target children. Dating apps such as Yubo and Tinder are where Cyber Predators, not always adults, find their prey. They aim to groom, control behaviors, and ultimately play with the minds of this young population. Amongst others that are harmful for teens are Vaulty and Hicalculator where kids can hide all their pictures and videos. Ms Natalie encouraged parents on how to monitor their kids by not allowing devices in the child’s room, take devices away from time to time to investigate usage and set boundaries such as time usage on their devices. Free resources for parents to monitor were also shared including Circle with Disney, Outpact, App Circle and Kids Place.
The workshop continued with CMRDU’s Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYKs) – young adults who graduated from the Balvihar Program in Raleigh. They echoed Swami Chinmayananda’s words “Culture is taught and not caught”. Neel Mandavilli, Hiren Gihwala and Lavanya Rao expressed the significance of what being exposed to the spiritual culture in Balvihar meant for them. Facing fears, gaining confidence, not needing to gain approval and being content with one’s image were what they learned from this culture and was an instrumental part of their lives to deal with social issues such as bullying.
Our final speaker, Vivekji, Niagara Canada, highlighted that Cyber-Bullies are isolated individuals. We, the community, should understand that these individuals did not have good role models. He encouraged us to be that role model to others in the community and help them grow. Most discussion in the workshop was on the ways to maintain healthy habits with social media and gaming. These include these six sutras, or thread of words:
1) Use social media in the moral am (3am – 9am) when our intellect is most productive.
2) Use social media in public, not alone or isolated.
3) Use social media as a pre-paid means. Keep track of how much time you spend with social media. Our usage will be much more disciplined.
4) Distract the mind with reading. Choose reading instead of socializing on media.
5) Distract the body with walking. Choose walking to relax your body.
6) Use text for planning, not for socializing.
A warm heartfelt thanks went out to our speakers for spending their time on imparting this invaluable knowledge.
Stay tuned for our next workshop soon.
Chinmaya Mission Raleigh, NC.
Chinmaya Setukari West Virtual Satsanga
On the last Sunday of each of the past six months (July to December 2018), Chinmaya Setukaris from the corners of North America met virtually to discuss essays from the Mananam publication “Peace in a Restless World”. The discussions were led by Vivekji on the online video conferencing platform, Zoom.
A common challenge of adults in the Setukari age range of 25-45, is balancing their various responsibilities to family, career, society, etc. How does one cultivate and maintain peace in this restless world of responsibilities? This was the main theme explored by the roughly 50 Setukaris that attended the monthly online discussions. The online nature of the discussions allowed Setukaris from all over North America to participate, from Vancouver to New York and Los Angeles to Toronto.
Each discussion explored three of the eighteen essays from the Mananam book. After a 30 minute summary and analysis from Vivekji, the participants would be sent to virtual break-out rooms of 7-10 people each to discuss a key theme of that month’s reading. The satsanga would end with a 15 minute question-and-answer session with Vivekji and a RAM: reflection adventure of the month, a thought-provoking activity to be continued on one’s own over the following month.
Setukaris will continue these monthly Zoom discussions with Vivekji over the next six months (January to June 2019) based on the Mananam publication “Embracing Love”. These online discussions will be complemented with a Setukari retreat in Raleigh, North Carolina from February 15-17, 2019 where the topic will be “Led by Love, Lead by Love” based on the Vibhishana Geeta portion of Tulsi Ramayana
Gita jayanthi Tapovan jayanthi at CM Sriperumbudur
We celebrated Bhagavad Gita jayanthi and Swami. Tapovan Maharaj jayanthi on 8th Dec 2018.
Former Assistant Registrar Mr. Munusamy from University of Madras inaugurated the programme with lighting the lamp. Around 200 devotees participated in the programme.
Prayer song sung by Balvihar students. All devotees chanted selected verses from 18th chapter of Bhagavad Gita.
Brni. Bharati Chaitanya gave a talk about importance of Bhagavad Gita and Guru.
Our kids gave wonderful talk about Bhagavad Gita. Everyone enjoyed the talks of kids. Our Chyk students chanted 108 names of Bhagvad Gita and we concluded the programme with Bhagavad Gita Aarthi and Prasad. Attached some photographs of the programme along with this mail.