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Archival News/Other News
Swami Swaroopanand’s visit to CM Niagara Falls
Early July 2018, Pujya Swami Swaroopananda visited Chinmaya Dhara in Niagara Falls for the first time ever. This small center, guided by Vivekji and located in a city that serves as a conduit between two great North American nations, was eagerly awaiting Swamiji’s visit.
The mood was festive, buzzing with excitement, yet calmness pervaded. Swamiji spoke for two nights, on the small yet profound Laxman Gita, where Laxmanji speaks to Nishad Raj on the importance of karma, and on how to find joy in daily living. With Bhagawan Krishna and Bhagawati Radha looking on, Swamiji expounded on great truths from our scriptures, in simple ways that resonated with all.
Learning from Swamiji is always a special experience, but even more so is the opportunity to spend time with Swamiji in intimate settings. Many such opportunities presented themselves for devotees, to be with Swamiji and take in the beauty and charm of Niagara Falls. Satsangas by the lake-front, visiting local businesses and other such moments touched us all deeply.
And like the fragrant flower that attracts bees, birds and other creatures, being around Swamiji meant being around other teachers and guides, who flock to Swamiji, like baby ducklings to their mother. Not only was our Vivekji present, but others such as Devji and Ginaji from Toronto, Sachinji from Kitchener, and Rahulji and Priyaji from Washington D.C also travelled to see Swamiji. At the end of the day, the benefit was ours, to be able to learn both in so many ways.
And although the experience was one that none will forget in a hurry, us humans are after all a greedy bunch. The main sentiment going through everyone’s mind as Swamiji left was, why only two days? Why not longer? Of-course, we want Swamiji to return, soon and for longer. In the mean-time, we will endeavor to be worthy of God and Guru’s grace and blessings, by reflecting on Swamiji’s message and living a simple and joyful life.
25th Chinmaya Aradhana at Chinmaya Vidyalaya Tripunithura
Poojya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji’s 25th Aradhana day was observed from 01st August 2018 with all its serenity in the Vidyalaya. Bhajans and mass chanting of 15th Chapter of Bhagwat Gita were conducted. This year being the 25th year of Gurudev’s Maha Samadhi, the Vidyalaya is undertaking 25 Seva projects.
In connection with 25th Aaradhana Day (03/08/18) of our Gurudev Swami Chinmayandaji, Seva activities started on 2nd August 2018. On the auspicious occasion Shri. Theruvoram Murugan was the chief guest. Shri Murugan aroused the students of the need for sharing and caring in human life, the quality which makes an individual a real human being. He also inspired students to respect one’s parents as they are working hard for their upbringing. Students from L.K.G to 12th donated many necessary items including clothes, pulses, grains, and sanitary items for the needy. Students of Std XII contributed an amount to Master Arun Sanu, a chronic kidney patient.
Mahasamadhi Day was observed on 03rd August, 2018 with great reverence. Chinmaya Ashtakam was chanted along with the usual prayers. Sri .K R Nambiar, Former President, Chinmaya Mission, Ernakulam was the Chief Guest. Through his simple and lucid words, he motivated the students and teachers, to spend quality time to learn scriptures and make life a better and pleasant experience. He also shared his fond memories with Gurudev and expressed his immense pleasure to step in the Vidyalaya on this great day. An exhibition of the News Letters, based on the life, works and contributions of Gurudev, prepared by students of various classes were inaugurated by the Chief Guest. Students of various classes spoke on the mission and vision of Swami Chinmayananda.
A seminar on the topic ‘ The Incomparable Contributions of Swami Chinmayananda on Indian Culture and Spirituality’ was conducted. Selected students from classes V- XII participated in it. Students of the KG, Primary and Middle sections offered their Pranams at the lotus feet of Gurudev by presenting skits and bhajans. A student of class VII declaimed Swamiji’s famous speech ‘ Service Above Self’. The Principal Mrs.Priya C. Pillai addressed the students. All the students of the Vidyalaya offered their humble Pranams to Gurudev and received Prasadam. Bulletin boards were adorned by beautiful charts highlighting his quotes.
25th Chinmaya Aradhana at ParamDham
Marking 25th year of Pujya Gurudev’s Mahasamadhi, Chinmaya Mission Ahmedabad family took up a Sankalpa of offering 25 minutes of Sadhana every day for 25 days starting from 10th July to 3rd August 2018. The Sadhana involved performing Surya Namaskar or Likhita Japa for the physical level, chanting of Pujya Gurudev’s 108 names for the mental level and reading and reflection on a suggested portion of Pujya Gurudev’s commentary on the Bhagavad Geeta for intellectual level of one’s personality. Thus many Sadhakas from Ahmedabad and other cities while expressing their love and gratitude rededicated themselves on the path shown by Pujya Gurudev.
The Sadhana culminated on 3rd August, when all the Sadhakas gathered at ParamDham and performed Pujya Gurudev’s Paduka Puja which included a reading of the last portion of the Holy Geeta as a part of the Rajopachara. All these tiny rivulets of sadhana merged with the ocean that is Pujya Gurudev Himself through an uplifting video Satsang with Him. Ready to serve with a newly found dynamism, the devotees dispersed with the prasad of lofty thoughts in their heads and deep fulfillment in their hearts.
CHYK camp – Fun and Insightful Reflections at Chinmaya Mission Houston
Carrying the tradition of imparting Vedantic wisdom to the youth, which was very close to the heart of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, Chinmaya Mission Houston(CMH) conducted a power-packed intense summer camp for CHYK. From June 15th to 17th, 35 youngsters aged 17-28 had a reflective weekend guided by the dynamic Shri Vivek Gupta of CM Niagara Falls and inspiring Brni. Shweta Chaitanya of CMH.
Themed aptly as “Evolution Within – From Prosperity to Peace,” the camp introduced the participants to their own minds. Shri Vivekji and Brni. Shweta Chaitanya, through interesting exercises, interactive sessions, insightful workshops and enlightening discourses, empowered the participants to observe their own minds. At the end of the camp, all were able to make a paradigm shift in making the normally distracted or even negative mind to be trained as focused, creative and constructive.
Vivekji elaborated on the six sacred verses of the Siva Sankalpa Suktam, the Vedic hymn that highlighted the way toward an auspicious mind. The participants unraveled the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of their thinking faculty. As Shri Vivekji and Brni. Shweta Chaitanya distilled the Truth of the text into simple, practicable and easy-to-remember messages, they also guided the attentive youth into deep introspection.
The participants played exciting games like “Ego Erasers” which helped them to see their similarities with others whilst respecting the differences. Every day, each participant completed the “Reflective Activity of the Day” (RAD) which made them examine their own minds deeply. Complementing the talks that raised questions like “What is willpower?,” and “How can you develop willpower?” the reflective excursions into the mind gave an opportunity to not only apply the wisdom but also internalize it.
More reflective time was interspersed between discourse sessions through mounam (silence) and meditation. While the focus was intense, fun did not take a back seat during the camp. From watching Incredibles 2 movie to building towers of cards, the enjoyment was palpable. Open Mic Night gave the youth a perfect platform to showcase their talents like standup comedy, singing/dancing to bhajans and social commentary. The powerful message of the camp got assimilated into the young minds as they resolved to slow down, step back, see more, and smile more as they take firm steps in their spiritual evolution.
Both Shri Vivekji and Brni.Shweta Chaitanya helped the youth translate rich ancient philosophy into practice by giving them a variety of tools to transform mindlessness to mindfulness, apathy to empathy, and prosperity to peace. As the attendees left with a firm resolve to work on their self development goals, their subtle minds were naturally filled with gratitude for the countless volunteers behind the scenes and the amazing legacy of Shri Gaurangji and Darshana Nanavatyji. Jayakrishna Gundamaraju’s extraordinary coordination made the camp a real success. This article was sourced with reports from excited camp attendees, Suriya Sharma and Saaketh Rao.
Tradition steeped in wisdom, diffused with fun is the norm at Chinmaya Mission Houston, located at Chinmaya Prabha, 10353, Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX-77498. For more information, visit www.chinmayahouston.org or call Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059.
“Vedanta in…?” Chinmaya Yuva Kendra Pittsburgh’s Third Retreat
June 1st 2018 marked Chinmaya Yuva Kendra Pittsburgh’s third retreat for young adults in the last six years, guided by Vivekji of Niagara Falls, Canada. The retreat, entitled “Vedanta in…?: Finding Purpose in Everyday Life,” was designed to help young adults apply Vedantic principles in their day-to-day lives. The retreat entailed a series of workshops and Satsangs based on daily encounters in life, to help youth understand their relationship with family and friends, work and school, mental and physical health, and relationship with God. During workshops, participants engaged in activities that simulated real-life dilemmas, thought through how to handle these situations, and engaged in deep discussions about how best to bring lessons from the Shastras into their actions and thoughts. Vivekji debriefed participants on the purpose of the workshops and guided students in navigating difficult questions that arose.
Having a workshop-based retreat was a newer retreat model that most participants were not familiar with, as the usual model entails primarily discourses and Satsangs. This workshop-based model, however, was participant driven and was guided by Vivekji. As a participant put it, “[The workshops] forced everyone to think deeply about their lives, share their thoughts, and to come up with tactile improvement points specifically suited to their needs.” The workshops enabled participants to take lessons learned from the retreat and apply it to their lives after the retreat. In this way, this dynamic weekend was a great way to continue self-development and connect with the Self.
Exciting and Enlightening 2018 JCHYK camp at Chinmaya Mission Houston
One of the greatest enduring legacies of Gurudev Pujya Swami Chinmayananda is to establish an amazing system to continuously infuse practical Vedic and Vedantic wisdom in the society. Amongst the various activities of the Chinmaya Mission world over, perhaps the one that touches the youth the most is the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHY) camps. Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) played host to a power packed, an enlightening summer camp for five days from June 11th through 15th of June, which helped the youth (ages 14-17) to build their skills to introspect within. Vivekji transformed the minds of the participants with a themed message – The Efficient, the effective, the enlightened – an exploration of the Bhagavad Gita along with Br. Shweta Chaitanyaji, a living proof of CMH’s immense contributions.
Every participant felt Vivekji’s message was simple, easy to remember and practicable. Both Vivekji and Br. Shweta Chaitanyaji kept the theme around Sthitha Pragña Lakshana. Ten values distilled as characteristics of a wise person from Bhagavad Gita were emphasized. They include – being content, balanced, independent, fearless, accepting all situations, disciplined, devoted, awareness, knowledge and humility. The camp engaged the body, mind and intellect through a myriad of activities. Though the camp was laced with numerous discourses about each value, it was the workshops, fun activities, assignments to learn about oneself through introspection which kept the excitement of the camp. Both Vivekji and Br. Shweta Chaitanyaji, due to their Chinmaya Mission legacy, were able to reach deep into the psyche of the youth and transfer their wisdom in a fun way, as they related to the kids at every level.
The intense, yet fun camp, through powerful reiteration brought the kids to face their own mind and challenge themselves to ascend along the path of these ten values. Vivekji had a 24 hour challenge, Reflection Adventure Day (RAD) to transform the imparted wisdom as their new habits. Shwetaji’s game centered approach to impart a value was a big hit among the participants. Introducing the young minds to Mouna and having them introspect and analyze their own mind was a wonderful experience the kids had. Though it appeared challenging to the novice, by the end of the camp, they were able to master it, to work as their strengths.
The kids recounted their gained knowledge with the quote, they learnt at the camp – “Nothing to gain, so nothing to lose; nothing to lose, so nothing to fear; nothing to fear, so everything is love”. Camps like these leave lifelong impressions of Vedanta on the young minds and help one lead a life rooted in the ancient wisdom. CMH is proudly dedicated to transplanting the young minds in the fertile soil of practical Vedantic wisdom one at a time, constantly watered by the love and dedication of Vivekji and Br. Shweta Chaitanyaji, under the constant radiance of the Sun of Gurudev’s vision to revive a dharmic society.
Tradition steeped in wisdom, diffused with fun is the norm at Chinmaya Mission Houston, located at Chinmaya Prabha, 10353, Synott Road, Sugar Land, TX-77498. For more information, visit www.chinmayahouston.org or call Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059.
Swami Prameyananda attains samadhi
Swamins, Brahmacharins and Members of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide
Swami Prameyananda of Chinmaya Mission Adoni took final refuge at the feet of Pujya Gurudev, Swami Chinmayanandaji, early this morning, 30th June 2018, at 5.30 am. He had completed the Vedanta Course at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, Powai in 1998. Thereafter, he was posted in Chinmaya Mission centres at Guntur, Aakiveedu, and Adoni in Andhra Pradesh where he worked with dedication and inspiration.
Under his stewardship over the last four years, the Adoni centre spearheaded different Mission activities and programmes. The Geeta Chanting Competitions with the assistance of Mission members increased and reached out to approximately 3000 children in the area. Geeta and Upanishad talks at the Mission Centre were also a regular feature. This year, under his able guidance, Chinmaya Mission Adoni planned to host the state level finals of the Geeta chanting competition.
On the occasion of Pujya Gurudev’s 25th Aradhana year, from April to 3rd August 2018, Chinmaya Mission Adoni under his leadership started Chinmaya Aradhana Sravanthi daily. Amongst other activities, this includes Pujya Gurudev’s Paduka Puja.
Swami Prameyananda’s warmth and humility were a source of inspiration to the many who came in contact with him.
Our respectful homage to Swami Prameyananda.
At His Feet,
Grounded Together, Growing Together: Inspiration Yatra 10
“A yatra is an outward expression of an inward journey.”
Since 2011, this simple phrase has kicked off ten such journeys across Bharat, Trinidad, and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Spearheaded by Vivekji of Chinmaya Mission Niagara, the 10 Chinmaya Inspiration Yatras have brought together 300 Yatris from 60 cities and 4 countries for unforgettable adventures and indescribable self-development.
Commemorating this milestone, the alumni of all 10 Chinmaya Inspiration Yatras gathered in Niagara Falls, Canada, for a reunion retreat in July. Although the Yatris were brimming with shared memories and laughter, all energy of the reunion was focused on raising funds for a new school being built in Trinidad by Swami Prakashananda and Chinmaya Mission Trinidad and Tobago.
In the past, Yatris have contributed over USD $100,000 to the Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development (CORD) Siruvani and Thamaraipakkam centers. These resources have allowed CORD to further invest and expand in its women’s empowerment, child development, health, income generation, and construction programs. Founded on similar principles, the proposed Chinmaya Vidyalaya project in Trinidad will equip children with the skills needed to become self-sufficient, empowered members of their families, communities, and country.
With this Seva grounding the retreat, a weekend of inspired discourse and inward exploration continued. Vivekji delivered the retreat’s discourses focused on Ramayana’s Sundarakanda, carefully unfolding the lessons learned from Hanumanji’s own journey to Lanka and Vibhisana’s journey to Lord Rama’s feet. Swami Prakashananda even joined the retreat virtually to congratulate the Yatris for their efforts to support the new school. With his infectious smile and gentle humor, Swamiji observed how remarkable it was to raise resources for children one may never meet.
To further bring these lessons to life, the Niagara Chyks crafted experiences that matched verbs describing aspects of the original Chinmaya Inspiration Yatras (e.g., “wonder,” “cooperate,” “adventure”). In one such activity, retreat participants jotted down their reflections on paper leaves that were later joined together to form a growing “tree.” The simple exercise underscored how although each Yatri had their own different, unique trajectories of growth, they were all “rooted” in the same vision and direction, towards the Higher. In another activity, Yatris ate their dinners blindfolded—a challenge to think beyond the “likes” and “dislikes” that color people’s lives.
From intense soccer matches and illuminating visits to Buddhist monasteries, to silent hikes and planting squash on an organic farm, Yatris of all ages engaged in activities that engaged their bodies, minds, and intellects. One night culminated with an open mic full of song, poetry, and dance that centered on lessons from the yatra; another wrapped up with a lighthearted improv comedy game. The Yatris even joined the broader Chinmaya Niagara community for their graduation ceremony.
The highlight for many, however, was quietly watching the sunrise over the majestic Niagara Falls—taking time to ruminate over the weekend of Satsang and Seva as the sun’s early rays infused the mist with a frothy pink glow. For the Yatris, the indefinable magic of the morning was made even more precious knowing that they had achieved their goal of contributing more than USD $100,000 for the new Chinmaya Vidyalaya in Trinidad. Unto Him Our Best.
Srimad Bhagwat Mahapuran Gyan Yajna at CM Jaipur
Chinmaya Mission Jaipur organised Gyan Yajna on Srimad Bhagwat Mahapuran at Gulab Udhyan by Pujya Br. Om Chaitanya Ji (Incharge Chinmaya Mission Jodhpur) from 2nd June to 7th June. Yajna was ceremoniously inaugurated at sharp 7 pm with Shanti path and lighting of the lamp. Vice President Sh. M. L. Gupta Ji welcomed Pujya Br.Ji and all the seekers. Br.Ji covered the mahatmya and 9 chapters of the 1st canto. All seekers were deeply engrossed in divine discourses all the six days. On a concluding day Smt. Sangeeta Gupta conveyed the thanks note. It was a blessed event.
Pujya Swami Abhedanandaji’s Visit to Chinmaya Mission Cape Town
By the grace of Pujya Gurudev and Lord’s blessings, Chinmaya Mission South Africa (CMSA) has been on an expansion spree under the able guidance of Pujya Swami Abhedanandaji in the last one decade. With the magnificent Chinmaya Shivam temple and residential ashram expansion in Durban already in place; now CMSA is expanding geographically across various other cities of South Africa. The newly established centre of Chinmaya Mission in Cape Town came abuzz with Pujya Swami Abhedanandaji’s maiden visit to this hugely sought-after tourist destination. From 17th to 22nd May, Swami Abhedanandaji packed his visit with numerous programs across Cape Town, connecting with people from all walks of life, thus ensuring that maximum devotees and new people come in close contact with Chinmaya Mission and Pujya Gurudev’s divine vision. Aside from his deep knowledge and spiritual wisdom, people felt immensely touched by his overwhelming love and craved for more by the end of Pujya Swamiji’s visit.
On 17th May Pujya Swamiji addressed devotees of Satya Sai Organzaton at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School premises on the topic “Importance of Seva and Sadhana in Daily Life”. Citing the examples of great masters like Satya Sai Baba, Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj and our Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji, Pujya Swamiji beautifully explained how we can make our lives truly purposeful by adding the dimension of Seva (service of others). He explained that service should be done with the sole purpose of pleasing the Guru or Lord, and not for self-gratification of the Ego. He elaborated how only a person who is truly happy within himself is capable of serving others. For being a good sevak, one must be devoid of ego, anger and sorrow. These 3 negativities deprive us of our opportunity to serve. Pujya Swamiji emphasised that Seva is possible only when we love all, and accept everyone inspite of any faults or imperfections. In Seva, we feed others more with our love and emotions than with food. A large gathering of devotees attended this talk and also felt greatly inspired to support Chinmaya Mission Cape Town in our local activities.
On the same day Swamiji also addressed a multi-racial group of Yoga students belonging to the Art of Living foundation. It was a wonderful informal satsang interspersed with thought provoking questions by the audience on “what is detachment?” and “how to deal with anxiety and overcome fear?. Pujya Swamiji explained that anxiety comes only when we remember our personal desires while undertaking any pursuit. Associating ourselves with a higher goal and greater purpose makes one free of anxiety. All actions should be an expression of impersonalization of desire. Fear arises mainly out of sense of insecurity of losing something. We should remember that not everything is in our control. Surrendering to the will of the Lord and the belief that God’s plans will work out in our ultimate benefit, will eradicate all our fears. On 18th May Pujya Swamiji addressed a group of students from the Engineering Faculty of University of Cape Town. Swamiji spoke on the topic “From Stress to Success” and inspired all the students greatly. Aside from this, Swamiji was also invited by the Sri Siva Aalayam Temple of Cape Town where a large number of devotees gathered on Sunday afternoon to receive Pujya Swamiji and attend his talk on the topic of “10 aspects of Dharmic Living”
From 19th to 22nd May Pujya Swami Abhedanandaji conducted a Gyan Yagna for 4 days at Shri Vishnu Temple in Rylands, Cape Town on the subject “Vision of Geeta for Joyful Living”. This was the first ever Gyan Yagna by Chinmaya Mission in Cape Town and it was overwhelming to see such a wonderful response. The satsang hall was packed with devotees of Afrikaans and South African origin besides local Indians. Pujya Swamiji covered the essence of Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta and elaborated on the importance of living a inspired life. Pujya Swamiji said that Spiritual life is what makes us non-vulnerable to the onslaughts received from the outside world. It teaches us how to live with emotional freedom and joy; how to live with a smile so that worldly sorrows don’t affect us. Spiritual life alone makes us shock and sadness proof! The 4 day talks ended with increasing turnout every single day, and on the last day devotees spent informal time with Pujya Swamiji along with “Samashti-bhiksha”
During Pujya Swamiji’s stay in Cape Town, the Deputy High Commissioner of India to South Africa Mr.Abhishek Shukla came to meet Swamiji and personally extend his support for the Mission’s great work and ongoing activities in Cape Town.
As one of the devotees put it on the last day of Pujya Swamiji’s talks “Swamiji, after listening to you I feel we really need to clone you – one for Cape Town, one for Johannesburg and one for Durban… we will really be waiting for your next visit”. The experience of all the devotees was that aside from immense knowledge and depth, they received Pujya Swamiji’s unconditional love which made them feel yearning for more and more.
Brni. Madhvi Chaitanya – student of the 2 year Vedanta Course conducted by Pujya Swami Abhedanandaji in Durban, has now been posted in Cape Town centre. Owing to her dynamic work, more and more devotees are now getting associated with the Mission.