Vishnu Sahasranamam - Introduction
Jan. 28 - Feb. 01
During the discourses on Vishnu Sahasranamam held at Chinmaya Chitrakoot, Swami Sarveshananda provided an extensive introduction to this treatise by going over the context in which the mantras were revealed. Composed by Shri Veda Vyasa, we encounter this sacred hymn in the Mahabharata. At the end of the war, Shri Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, approached Bheeshma Pitamaha who was lying on a bed of arrows awaiting the sacred hour of his departure and asked him six questions:
Kimékam daivatam loke kim vápyekam parãyanam
Sthuvantah kam kamarchanda prapnuyur mãnavã shubam
Ko dharma sarva dharmãnam bhavatha paramo mathaha
Kim japan muchyathé jantur janma samsãra bandhanãth
- kim (Who) ekam (alone) daivatam (is the greatest Lord) loke (in the world)?
- kim (Who) ekam (alone) paraayanam (refuge for all?
- sthuvantah (By glorifying) kam (whom) can manavah (man) reach shubam ( Auspiciousness)?
- archantah (By worshipping) whom can a man reach auspiciousness, peace and prosperity)?
- ko (What) is, in thy opinion, the greatest Dharma?
- kim (By) doing japa of what can jantu (creatures) mutchyate (go beyond) bandhanãth the bonds of samsãra (world)?
After answering all the six questions Shri Bheeshma narrated the thousand names of Lord Vishnu and thus introduced the sacred hymn in the Mahabharata.
Annual Banquet 2012
Dec. 08, 2012
This year's banquet was yet another memorable event. 350 adults purchased tickets and we had 143 teenagers and children registered for the banquet. Beautiful banquet invitations (thanks to the Parmar family) were distributed well in advance. A dynamic emcee Sridhar Karra (CHYK member) hosted the event and certainly made a big difference in the banquet's success. Not only did he introduce the various performing acts, but he also set the tone of the banquet hall with his enthusiastic attitude to get the crowd excited and engaged. This banquet hall was transformed by recent renovations and the décor of Alpa Patel. We were treated to wonderful performances by Balavihar children (thanks to their teachers & parents) in the newly renovated hall of Chinmaya Chitrakoot. 61 Balavihar children performed in the cultural programs and chanting. An awesome and inspiring talk by Swamiji that set the tone for the evening. Our President's talk motivated people to open up wallets and check-books! A unique highlight this year was the family portrait photos thanks to Venkat Rallapalli. Excellent food, served in abundance by the food team fulfilled everybody's appetite. The child-care team and their incredible patience and dedication kept the children well entertained throughout the evening.
During this annual fundraiser we raised $76K in cash donations plus $59K in pledges for a total of $135K. Jaya Uruma's painting of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda ji went to the highest bidder for $500. We had 106 different donors and 18 new Parivar memberships. Thanks to all members who diligently invited guests to their tables and sold tickets even a few hours before the banquet and the tireless youth, CHYK and adult volunteers from CMDFW along with the banquet planning team, who made magic happen, once again!
Dec. 01-07, 2012
Sree Suktam Discourses
Oct. 28 to Nov. 03, 2012
Shiva Manas Puja
Oct. 08 - 13, 2012
Ganesha Atharva Sheershopanishat
Sept. 23 - 29, 2012
Bhutanese Back To School Drive
Aug. 27, 2012
We have EXCEEDED our goal for the BIBS Project- Bhutanese Back To School Drive. Our goal was to collect 120 backpacks and supplies, however, we collected 188 BACKPACKS with more than enough supplies! To those of you that sincerely and generously donated (monetary and items) once and some twice, and also those individuals who showed up to contribute items, help count supplies and pack them, THANK YOU, THANK YOU & THANK YOU! Because of all of you, NO CHILD WILL BE LEFT BEHIND... With the grace of God, Swamiji's Guidance, we can and will continue to carry-out Pujya Gurudev's vision and mission.... Once again, thank you to all who supported this SEVA Project!
Rama Navami 2012
April 01, 2012
Reading, singing and/or hearing the seven cantos - baalakaanDa, ayodhyaakaanDa, aranyakaanDa, kishkindhaakaanDa, sundarakaanDa, lankaakaanDa, and uttarakaanDa - of Rama kathaamruta (Sri Ramayan story) over the first nine auspicious days of Chaitra maasa (first month of the Hindu Calendar) is supposed to remove all the sins arising from one’s actions of body, speech, and mind (kaaya-vaacha-manasaa). The dohas and choupayees, and shlokas and stutis (praises) of Sri Ramacharita Maanasa were melodiously sung in various tunes/ragas, as an offering to the Rama Parivar during the recent Ramayan Parayan at Chinmaya Saaket. Listening to the melodious accompaniments of harmonium, dholak and taal, the group experienced divine vibrations and felt carried to a whole different world!
In explaining the significance of Ramayan Parayan, none other than Lord Shiva Himself says thus to His consort Uma: “so kula dhanya Uma sunu jagata poojya supuneeta |Sri Raghubeera paraayana jehin nara upaja bineeta” | [doha-127, Uttarakaanda] O, Uma, listen! The families of those who could sing the glory of Rama (through Ramayan-parayan) are indeed blessed. Those families are undeniably fortunate and pious, worthy of reverence by the entire world. He goes on to say “Rama charana rati jo chaha athavaa pada nirbaana| bhaava sahita so yaha kathaa karau shravana puTa paana|” [doha-128, Uttarakaanda] Those desirous of attaining salvation at the lotus feet of Sri Ram-ji, should read and listen to the Ramayan story with utmost devotion.
Rama Navami is an auspiscious occasion that celebrates all three occasions - the birth of Lord Rama; celestial wedding of Shri Rama and Sita Devi; and Lord Rama's coronation as a king. On April 01, 2012, about 250 participants joined in the wedding at Chinmaya Saaket. The elaborate ceremony included a procession to lead the bride and the bridegroom to the marriage hall; invocation of Lord Ganesha, followed by the Vedic wedding ceremony and concluded by a sumptous meal. Our scriptures have stated that the merits gained by participating in the celestial wedding benefit not only us, but also benefit ten generations ahead of us and ten generations behind us! Blessed indeed were the ones who were able to participate in the festivities.
So, with the Ramayan Pathan of Nandana-naama samvatsara (2012), culminating in Rama Navami celebrations, Rama Parivar blessings are bestowed upon the entire Chinmaya family!
Atma Bodh - Part III
Identifying with the Self
Mar. 12 - Mar. 16, 2012
(Discourses conducted by Swami Sarveshananda at Chinmaya Chitrakoot, CM D/FW)
After explaining how to disidentify with our false convictions, Swami Sarveshananda reminded us that while pain may be inevitable in some life experiences, misery is optional. Avoid the unnecessary comparisons and contrasts, or creating unreal hopes around us and disappointments when they aren't achieved; stop the self-inflicting pain caused by our likes and dislikes and attachments. Reflecting on various attributes of the Self through contemplative meditative shlokas tunes the mind. Our mind functions only in the realm of the known, so one has to transcend the mind and intellect to experience the Self. All sadhanaas (spiritual practices) should be focused to tuning to understanding Brahman, constantly re-emphasizing our divinity. Many of us would like to know which saadhana (spritual practice) will allow us to experience peace and happiness? Through constant contemplation, churn the thoughts continually to understand the inner depth of each word and remove even the slightest doubt of the Self v/s non-Self. Such an incessant churn of thoughts results in the purest uncontaminated quality of mind. This practice is referred to as Niddhidhyasan wherein we look at our own experiences through various angles. The fire of knowledge burns down all ignorance and the crux essentially boils down to three factors: (1) Paramatma is reality; (2) Brahman Satyam Jagat Mithya (anything other than Brahman is delusion); and (3) Jiva Bramha Eva na Param (You are nothing but Brahman). Darkness of the ego is dispelled through this constant contemplation on the Self. We get strength from the true knowledge that I am. Even momentary forgetfulness of this fact leads us towards the path of misery where we revel in our weakness and destruction, nurturing the ego.
What is the ego? Due to close proximity, confusion and ignorance, the Absolute reality appears as individualistic Jiva, the identifying factor also known as the ego. The Ego = Past experiences (Dead moments) + Projections of Future (Unborn moments). Thus Ego is an invalid pseudo entity that identifies with the BMI creating a false value system creating misery for us. To get out of any miserable situation, consciously observe and analyze the root cause of misery. Then one can transcend the hollowness of our ego and realize our true nature, the core of our inner being. It is difficult to fathom the experience of Self in these intense meditative moments. We have to rely on the experience of Self-realization from the Realized Masters who see the entire universe as nothing but an expansion of their own being. The Jivan Muktas (Realized Masters) experience the Self expressing as multitude we see in the external world. The Self is the only unifying factor that permeates through all the objects and beings thereby divinizing it. But our limited mindset fails to see the unity in the diversity because we don't focus on the substratum. Our agitations are caused by the internal rakshasas (devils) of moha (delusions), raga (attachments) and dvesha (dislikes). We can meditate only when we have reached the stable platform of quietude and peace within. Without this foundation, we can't aim for the higher state of true happiness. Peace should be acquired. The Realized Masters then establish themselves truly identifying with their own true nature.
This experience of the Self is further elaborated in the next few shlokas that we will see in the concluding series next month.
Kathopanishad - Part III
Wisdom in Being Self-Conscious
Jan. 16 - Jan. 20, 2012
(Discourses conducted by Swami Sarveshananda at Chinmaya Saaket, CM D/FW)
After a thorough test of Nachiketa's readiness to be a qualified seeker, Lord Yama responds to his question of What is the Truth? Lord Yama clarifies that all religious practices alone doesn't make one spiritual. He distinguishes between the wise mature people and the ignorant immature people. While most of us pursue happiness, the wise know that you cannot experience true contentment in fulfilling desires. They know that they are they are the source of knowledge themselves.
As a spiritual seeker, if Vedanta shravana (listening), mananam (reflection) and niddhidhyasan (contemplation) are on track, we acquire a lot of dheera (patience and wisdom). Understand the subtle distinction between the illumined fleeting world of objects and the Illuminator - Supreme Consciousness. Learn the techniques spiritual seekers use to focus on the latter while still basking and relishing the joy of each unfolding moment of former. Be the illuminator and witness of these moments.
This vision expands into understanding that the entire creation is an expression of Paramatma in various forms. The Supreme Consciousness expresses as either the unmanifest or the manifest world of existence. The conscious principle not only illumines our three worlds of existence (waking, sleeping and dream state), but that same principle pervades and enlivens every expression in this existence, including you and me. That alone is the Truth.
The various sadhanas described thus far help the spiritual aspirant to prepare for mediation. Benefits of these practices cannot be undermined. For example, daily puja helps us replace the body identification; japa increases our focus and ability to concentrate on one thought while chintana brings in clarity and conviction. With a strong foundation in these three, the seeker can then sit on the seat of meditation and revel in the nectarine truth.
Finally, Lord Yama shares tips-n-tricks to help the seeker for the practice of meditation. (e.g. Gaganopasana - contemplate on Space) and other contemplative thoughts can help the aspirant glide into samadhi and remain Self-consciousness. Knowing that I express as existence, illuminating and enlivening all the worlds of thoughts, objects and beings, ... THAT alone is the Truth.In the darkness of ignorance, we attach ourselves to the unreal and the fleeting. In the light of knowledge, we identify ourselves with the real and permanent.
–– Swami Chinmayananda
Atma Bodh - Part II
Detach and Disidentify
Jan. 09 - Jan. 12, 2012
(Discourses conducted by Swami Sarveshananda at Chinmaya Chitrakoot, CM D/FW)
Mistaken identities do not permit us to experience the glorious Self. Buddhi (intellect) is not only smeared with layers of vasanas, likes and dislikes muddying the reflective surface; but it is constantly wavering. So our reflected Self also appears unsteady. Nourish the buddhi to curtail its unproductive unwillful processing and have it accessible so that you can truly be a witness. It begins with a basic change in conviction that I am NOT the body, mind and intellect. Watch the dancing movements of the non-Self and enjoy the show! Then slowly proceed to observe the thoughts and understand its vritti (circular pattern). You will see the birth-n-death of ego, thereby allowing you to disidentify with the non-Self. At this point, the Jiva (Self identified with mind/intellect) still presents itself as the jnata (knower). But the buddhi by itself is inert and doesn't have the capacity to know unless it is touched by the supreme conscious principle. Revel in the secret formula for eternal bliss from the four Mahavakyas and be the illumining factor (Self) in whose presence all these movements of the non-Self are seen. Conviction shifts from being the limited ego to being the unlimited Bramhan. Basking in that glory of the Self is called Meditation. Constant flow of that thought will drop the final intellectual attachment too. We can be available and accessible to experience the effect of the Mahavakyas and realize that I the Self is Vilakshan (unique effulgent nature) essentially unlimited in nature; Nir-mala (blemishless); and certainly not the body with its six modifications or movements. I am the one conscious of all these movements and beyond the limitations of the indriyas (sensory organs).
We will continue to explore the experience of the Self in the next series.
New Year's Eve Puja
Dec. 31, 2011
As each year comes to an end, we seem to realize the irony of life where each day seems to drag on forever while the year seems to whiz by quickly. We incessantly renew the New Year resolutions - losing weight, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, spending more time with family and friends, and getting a better education/job, etc.. How come we are unable to fulfill our resolutions and why is it that year after year we continue to keep the same ambitions?
Swami Sarveshananda ji revealed the answer to this question during the Chinmaya Mission New Year eve’s puja. It all depends on the strength of our Will Power. We set countless goals (often, unrealistic) for ourselves. We have ambitious plans but lack the energy or the will to carry them through. Unless we connect to the “power source” or “generator of power,” our aspirations dissipate. All we are left with is Will and no Power! So on the eve of a new year, it is important to pray sincerely for God’s blessings and invoke the Almighty God to harness the eternal power that allows us to actively fulfill our plans.
We worshipped Lord Narayana during this New Year’s eve puja . Along with 50 other Chinmaya Mission members, we began the puja with chanting the Purushasuktam as Swami Sarveshananda ji performed the 16-step ritual, which includes welcoming the God, washing feet, offering flowers, giving food, etc. on our behalf. Next we recited the Narayana sukta, followed by a lead and repeat chanting of the 108 names praising Lord Vishnu and concluded with Mantra Pushpam. Through the course of the puja, Swamiji reiterated the significance of this day as a day of introspection, emphasizing that it is also a time for confessions. We must ask God for forgiveness (Kayena Vacha ...) for making two kinds of mistakes—for doing something that we were not supposed to and for not doing what we were supposed to. Rather than dwelling on the mistakes committed however, he stated that it is more important to realize not to make these same mistakes again. Learn and move on.
We sung several bhajans on Lord Vishnu and a sumptous Maha Prasad served after the puja fulfilled everyone's appetite for the sense of a close-knit community. The event brought much joy to everyone for being able to focus on the Year 2012 and usher it with auspicious mantras, blissful devotional songs, and pure thoughts. We all felt truly blessed to have spent our New Year’s eve at Chinmaya Mission surrounded by close friends and family.
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year!
Kathopanishad - Part II
Dec. 19 - 23, 2011
(Discourses conducted by Swami Sarveshananda at Chinmaya Saaket, CM D/FW)
After the first two inspiring chapters in Kathopanishad that depicted how a qualified seeker should be, Swami Sarveshananda continued Chapter 1 Valli 3. During these discourses we heard Lord Yama's response to Nachiketa's boon wherein he wanted to know the ultimate Truth that would enable him to cross all limitations. Using the subtle sharp intellect, one can understand the nature and relationship between the ego and our various instruments - the body, mind, intellect, organs of action & perception along with the unmanifest expression of the Lord. If these instruments are synchronized we can live a balanced life. In absence of the synchronized operations, life appears to be in a mayhem! Secret of the subtler realms were also revealed during the journey to the inner realms along with the path and process of spiritual evolution. Finally, the chapter was concluded by emphasizing that discipline and meditation were the keys to detach ourselves from the world of objects and release us from the bondages of avidya (ignorance). We will continue with the three vallis of Chapter 2 in the next series of this Kathopanishad Jnana Yagna.
Atma Bodh - Part I
Dec. 12 - Dec. 16, 2011
(Discourses conducted by Swami Sarveshananda at Chinmaya Chitrakoot, CM D/FW)
Have you found the real eternal Happiness that you've been looking for? If not, it is probably due to our mistaken identities. Avidya, forgetfulness of our true nature - that of the glorious Self, can be eradicated only by Vidya (knowledge) which acts as a purifier. Various processes such as Shravanam (listening), Mananam (contemplation) and Nidhidhyasanam (practical application of the knowledge) enables wisdom to shine through us and helps develop the sharp subtle intellect. Trying to find that sara (essence) or eternal bliss in this samsara (external world of "becoming") is futile. We fail to recognize the non-dual nature of Bramhan because we can't get beyond the names and forms that we have imposed upon the different expressions of the Supreme Consciousness. Endowed with the supreme vision, we can perceive divinity that exists everywhere. Bramhan, the Supreme Consciousness expresses itself as the sentient and insentient existence. The entire creation is an combination and expression of the five nascent elements. Know that the Sthoola sharira (gross body) is bhogayatanam - an abode for experiencing the joys and sorrows; while the mind, intellect, organs of action & perception along with the pancha pranas is the sukshamaamgam (Shookshma sharira or the subtle body) that enables us to interact with the external world of objects; and the Karana sharira (causal body) is the root cause of our ignorance. If these three bodies are other than our real Self, why do we mistake the Self to have attributes that belong to these three bodies? Disidentification with these three upadhis (conditioning due to close proximity) has to be done by ruthlessly discarding wrong notions and applying the process of negation. Conviction born out of clarity that "I am NOT the body, mind, or intellect" will enable us to identify with the true eternal immortal glorious Self, whose nature itself is that of complete bliss and happiness. The pursuit of happiness will no longer be necessary because we come to realize that eternal bliss and happiness reside within us as our own integral nature.
Oct 22, 2011
CM D/FW hosted a night of garba/raas at the Chinmaya Chitrakoot facility in Irving, TX. The event was high energy and well attended by CM D/FW members and their invited guests. Swami Sarveshananda ji initiated the event with a Durga puja at 7:30 PM. Devotees participated in and enjoyed different forms of garba, raas and traditional Gujarati folk dances such as Bae (Do) Tali & Tran (Tin) Tali garba, Ramzanyu, Dandiya Raas and Sunedo.
CM D/FW members led a live band that included several singers, keyboard player and a couple of dholaks. Devotees also enjoyed a light snack, chai and prasad after aarti.
We sold over 350 tickets and CM D/FW sevaks (volunteers) helped in many different ways to make this event a grand success. Members helped out with decorations, food preparation, serving, clean up and ensuring the event started and finished on time.
Lock-in with Swamiji: Middle School
Oct 21, 2011
Thanks to all the parents, volunteers, and Swamiji, everyone had a wonderful time at the Lock-in. We had a smooth registration process. The kids liked the movie Three Musketeers that they saw at the Studio Movie Grill in Plano TX. The . Both boys and girls enjoyed the choice of event. The movie was an action thriller set in the 1700s. Dinner was served at the theater. We came back to Chinmaya Saaket around 9:45 P.M with the help of our parent volunteer drivers. Kids enjoyed ice cream bars before joining Swamiji again in the main hall. There was a brief discussion an the movie. Kids shared what they liked about the movie and identified their favorite character. Rather than our traditional 'Ram Ravan' game, Swamiji pulled a new one this time! The kids enjoyed Kabaddi!!! The boys played first followed by girls. The event ended with closing prayers followed by parents pick up. A sincere thanks to everyone who helped in various ways all the way from the time the survey was set up to collect responses to the time the drivers who helped pick up kids on time!
Glory of Vedas with Acharya P.B. Ghate
July 31, 2011
Acharya P. B. Ghate held discourses on "GLORY OF VEDAS" on each Sunday from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM during June and July 2011 at Chinmaya Saaket. Over 100 people registered for this series and truly reveled in the glories of Vedas during each session.
The foundation of Sanatana Dharma is based on Vedas. Vedas are the SOURCE of our value system, culture, rituals, literature, and many facets of our knowledge base. This literature is in Vedic Sanskrit. Discourses in English were designed to introduce a novice to the concepts presented in Vedas. A number of Mantras from each Veda were selected for discussion.
Discourses covered the following topics.
- Overview of Vedas
- Durga Sukta and Medha Sukta
- Narayana Sukta
- Purusha Sukta. and Shanti Mantras
Bhajan Satsang with Swami Siddhananda
June 26, 2011
CM D/FW was blessed with Swami Siddhanandaji's visit to Chinmaya Chitrakoot on May 21, 2011 and at Chinmaya Saaket on June 26, 2011. He is presently in the Tri-state area (NY, NJ, PA) and the acharya of 'Kedar' at Chinmaya Mission Philadelphia. He is also the in-charge of Chinmaya Publications.
Swami Siddhananda ji's melodious voice kept the listeners enchanted with Up Close and Personal memories he shared about Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. Swami Siddhananda took us on the journey from Gurudev's childhood to his youth, and recalled how Gurudev met the Masters Swami Sivananda and Swami Tapovan Maharaj. Swami Siddhananda expounded on Gurudev's qualities, particularly his love, compassion, perseverance, fearlessness, attention to details, punctuality, respect, accountability, humor, detachment in attachment (... and many more virtues) while remaining grounded in scriptural injunctions of Sanatana Dharma. We also learned the evolution of Chinmaya Mission as it grew into the multiple activities in supporting the community. Within Chinmaya Mission, platforms such as Balavihar, Yuva Kendra, Devi Groups, Study Groups, Schools, Colleges, International school, CORD, Sandeepany ashram, Bhajan Mandalis, etc. cater to needs of various segments of the community.
Later in the evening, Swami Siddhananda led the devotees to sing glories on Guru, along with Lord Ganesha, Shri Rama, Shri Krishna, Devi, Lord Shiva, Ayyapa, and Hanuman ji. Swami Siddhananda was accompanied by Shri Prem Shah on the harmonium and Sushil Tejwani on the tabla. Our Balavhiar children were also fortunate to have this opportunity and sing with Swami Siddhananda ji.
Swamiji is an artist and a singer, and has composed many bhajans and brought out a number of albums (available on CD through Chinmaya Publications).
Satsang with Pujya Guruji
June 20, 2011
Admist a very hectic schedule, Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda took time to visit Dallas and meet with the devotees at Chinmaya Chitrakoot in Irving, TX. A capacity crowd filled the assembly hall and basked in the opportunity to enjoy a Satsang with Pujya Guruji. After the Purna Kumbha Pujya Guruji unveiled the magnificient picture of Ram-Bharat Milap (meeting of Lord Shri Rama and Bharat ji). This was followed by Paduka Sthapana (installation of the sacred sandals) and the most intriguing explanation of the symbolic meaning of these two activities - the Ram-Bharat Milap and Paduka Sthapana. Pujya Guruji gave few examples of glory of Rama and Bharat relationship and love for each other. He shared the vision of why we call our center as Chinmaya Chitrakoot, and why we wanted this particular picture here.
Swami Tejomayananda reminded us that while Sita Devi personifies peace, Lord Shri Rama personifies joy, true happiness and true knowledge. True knowledge and devotion reside where Sita ji and Ram ji roam about happily. They lived in Ayodhya for as long as the atmosphere wasn't polluted. When mind's purity and sanctity was maintained, the divine couple dwelled in that place. As soon as there were disturbances (divisive thoughts), they moved from Ayodhya to Chitrakoot where river Mandakini flows. She is a stream of river Ganga and can easily wash away our impurities. We can invoke Lord Shri Rama and Sita devi in our hearts by listening to Rama katha (stories). Hearing the Lord's glories is akin to the river Mandakini who purifies our hearts. Peace and joy can be regained when our heart is filled with love again. Just as it was only Bharat ji's love for Lord Rama that eventually brought Shri Rama back to Ayodhya, we too can invoke Bharat ji in our heart and ensure that Lord Rama reigns in our heart!
The padukas are a symbolic reminder that even when negative thoughts prevailed (e.g. Manthara and Kaikeyi), the love among the two brothers ensured that they won over those distractors. So for example, when anyone tries to create this division, we must invoke Lord Shri Rama and Bharat ji. The beautiful picture at Chinmaya Chitrakoot reminds us that Bharat ji did not take the kingdom. He insisted that Rama's padukas (sandals) will rule. He carried it on his head and places it on the throne where he worshipped them daily. He would get instructions from the padukas and rule the kingdom accordingly. The power of love and devotion was such that if difficult problems arose in administration, the padukas used to speak to him and guide him. As a bhakta (devotee), Bharat ji accepted whatever it took to serve Lord Rama. If it meant to take care of Lord Rama's kingdom and perform adminstritative tasks, he did not turn them away. In 14 years of Lord Shri Rama's exile, Bharat ji respected the kingdom as Bhagwan's wealth and made Ayodhya more and more prosperous. On one hand we find such great love and high emotion; but at the same time we find Viveka. Bharat ji's discrimination and intelligence was such that he never put Bhagwan in dharma sankat - in an awkward or difficult position - he simply served in whatever capacity it required to provide those services to Lord Rama.
It is said that in the Raghukula dynasty or lineage, King Bhagirat gifted mankind by bringing the divine river Ganga ji to the mankind. Likewise, King Dasharath gifted mankind with Lord Rama, the Bhagwan Himself. But Bharat ji's gift to mankind was the love of Lord Shri Rama. Goswami Tulasida ji says if it weren't for Bharat, who would have taken me to Lord Rama?!!
Pujya Guruji concluded by insisting that these stories be shared with the children. We all must know it so that we can dissipate the negatives of the mind and we can be cheerful and joyful.
May 15, 2011
Attending the graduation this year truly felt like a Parent/Teacher-appreciation event. Words cannot express enough appreciation to the students (and teachers who guided these students) who took us on the wonderful journey. In the beginning of the year, we learned the concepts of Cooperation-n-Coordination & Open Mindsets during the Teacher Training and Saadhana Days. That theory was visibly put into practice as the 11th graders honored the 12th graders during Graduation. So many teams came together - A/V team, Decoration, Prasad Distribution, Photography, ... not to mention the coordination amongst six sessions for these tasks.
The class chemistry between the two classes and within each class was also extended into the congregation as they guessed who was each of the graduate clue. Teachers continue to provide opportunities and encourage kids to mingle with each other even outside of their Balavihar routine. Those bonds are simply priceless. CM D/FW is pretty much of the BV kids, run for the kids, by the kids!!! Today was no exception. Adults were simply in the background while the kids independently conducted their well-rehearsed show.
Every week each one of you dedicates so much time and effort to be with these kids. A big part of our Balavihar program at CM D/FW is the TIP-ToP program, the Talent Identification Program (TIP) to identify and nurture the kids' talents. Those teachers who have learned the art of this TIP program know how challenging this can be. But today we saw how each child had a part to play in the larger scheme of events, and it just helped the congregation have a special connection with them. All this was possible due to the open mindsets we had while trying something new. That freshness was completely kids' ideas that the teachers allowed to blossom within the guidelines and norms of CM D/FW. All the teachers and parents who have helped kids reach so far - hats off to each one of you.
We are truly blessed with not one or two, but with three Acharyas under whose guidance we enjoy all these wonderful opportunities. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts. Your unconditional love and patience means a lot to us. To you, we are probably exactly like the BV kids we have to deal with in classrooms! We hope to blossom under your tutelage.
Samashti Upanayanam 2011
May 08, 2011
Sage Apastambha said, “upanayanam vidyArthasya srutitaH samskAraH.” This means Upanayanam is a samskara (Hindu personal sacrament) that makes a spiritual-seeker student eligible to study the Śrutis (scriptures). Upanayanam is one of the main shodasha samskaras (16 samskaras) that each person is expected to go through in life. In the traditional Gurukul system of learning, it marks a milestone where a child would typically leave his/her home for Gurukul to be accepted as a disciple, with the guru imparting the all-important spiritual knowledge (study scriptures, learn Vedic chanting etc.). Initiation into brahmacharya through Upanayanam also qualifies the person for performing niyata-karmas, i.e., nitya-karmas (daily obligatory duties such as sandhyAvandanam) and naimittika-karmas (occasional obligatory duties such as shraaddham). Scriptural pramANam and significance of this nitya-karma can be found in IshAvAsyopanishat (Shulka-Yajurveda), Taittireeyopanishat (Krishna Yajurveda) and ChAnDogya Upanishat (sAmaveda). Importance of performing niyata-karmas is highlighted in Srimad Bhagavad Gita (niyataṁ kuru karma tvaṁ karma jyāyo hyakarmaṇaḥ… BG 3:08).
Chinmaya Mission D/FW conducted a Samashti Upanayanam (mass Upanayanam) on the auspicious day of Adi Shankara Jayanti and Gurudeva Sri Chinmayanada Jayanti, Sunday, May 8th 2011. The event was held at CM-Chitrakoot facility, at 900 North Beltline Rd, Irving, TX.
The event started at 7:15 AM with the lighting of lamp by CM D/FW resident Swamiji, Sri Sarveshanand-ji, and followed by Ganapati pooja, punyAhavAchanam, mAtru/saha bhojanam, yajnopaveeta dhAranam, Homam and bhikshAtana, and ended with Asheervachana or benediction by the elders and Swamiji to those initiated. The favorite part of the ceremony both for parents, moms in particular, and children alike was the mAtru/saha bhojanam, wherein the vatus (those initiated into brahmacharya) got an opportunity to be pampered one last time - sit on their mother’s lap and enjoy a hand-fed, 3-dish meal, served on real banana leaves specially shipped from Florida for the occasion. It was as traditional as you could expect with no “cutting corners” as one of the attendees put it.
The ceremony was directed and conducted by the officiating priest, Sankarmanchi-ji of Sri Lalitha Peetham of Plano, TX, under the guidance of our Swamiji. There were 13 boys and 5 girls (including two girls from California), who took part in this spiritual-initiation event. With the timely help of a dedicated army of volunteers, the ceremony went like a clock work and ended at 11:30 AM, paving the way for the two other scheduled events of the day – Guru pAdukA pooja and mAtru pooja.
Following the Samashti Upanayanam on May 8th, a sandhyAvandana camp was held at Chinmaya Saaket, from May 16th - 20th to help those who underwent brahmopadesham (upanayanam) with the “How To” of sandhyAvandanam steps. Ten brahmacharis and one adult parent availed of this opportunity.
Apr. 17, 2011
For years, the annual picnic has been the event that brings together the most members of our Mission family. This year was no different. Even so, this picnic was unprecedented on many fronts. Since last year, in keeping with the cost-conscious economic times, we have adapted the picnic to a half-day event packed with fun activities of past years. As in previous years, the picnic featured Walkathon, games and Holi. This year was special because it was the first time we celebrated Holi in the company of our newly entitled Acharya, His Holiness Swami Sarveshananda. The planning team started working six weeks before the event. The logistics were divided between Registration, Security, SetUp, Games, Holi, Medical, Food, Corn, CleanUp and Transport teams. Each team lined up a cadre of volunteers and charted out a plan of action.
The venue was the Myers Park in Mckinney. The event day, April 17, dawned sunny and mild though windy. The strong wind was a harbinger of the ever-strong, wind-god, Shri Hanumanji’s Jayanti to follow the next day! Volunteers started showing up bright and early to carry out their planned assignments. It was gratifying to see many student and CHYK volunteers helping out in the true spirit of service. In short order, the Walkathon trail was open, lined with many games. Music wafted from the DJ’s vantage point. The sky was dotted with colorful kites soaring in the wind, while kids spun around in hula hoops, got faces painted, hands decorated with henna, posed as Hanuman ji and devoured biscuits as “Chhota Bheema”. None of the activities deterred the steady stream of people waiting patiently in line for the ever-popular roasted corn.
We set a tall order this year by conducting the first ever, session cook-off. The plan was to offer food made by members of the Mission in lieu of catered food. This required many volunteers stepping up from each session to make and serve food. The offerings included pakodas, vada pav, idli, masala vadas, a sumptuous mexican platter, delicious spiced buttermilk and a fruit punch. The picnic attendees enjoyed the homemade delights with great gusto. There was not a morsel to spare.
Finally it was time for the climactic part of the day – Holi! The Holi Team methodically executed their plan to deploy colored water and distribute gulaal (colored powder) and pichkaaris (water guns) . The pichkaaris came to us all the way from India thanks to the ongoing generosity of a donor. These were promptly put into good use by the young and the not-so-young alike! Notwithstanding the careful plans of the Holi team, soon colorful chaos reigned, trilling to the high energy tunes played by the DJ. A centuries-old tradition was replayed on a prairie in North Texas! Divine grace was present among us in the form of our ever playful Swamiji whose resplendent ochre robes took on the hues of the celebration.
As the wet and multicolored crowd retired for the day, volunteers worked to pack up. Thanks to our “going green” motto, clean-up was a cinch. The careful records kept by the Registration Team showed that more than 1000 people joined us for the festivities. It was a grand holi satsang indeed!
Annual Music Program
Apr. 16, 2011
Children who learn music at CM D/FW centers (Chinamaya Saaket and Chinmaya Chitrakoot) performed a melodious rendition of what they have learned over the year during the Annual Music Program (Click here to see photos). Accompanied by artists on the tabla, mridamgam, violin, sitar, and keyboard, the audience was mesmerized in the devotional music. Bhajans in classical Hindustani and Carnatic styles were presented by the kids. The teachers and musical accompanists gave solo performances that allowed us to get a glimpse into their talents.
Rama Navami Puja
Apr. 12, 2011
The twelve-day recital of Ramayan Parayan was concluded with Sita-Rama Kalyanam (celestial marriage) at Chinmaya Saaket. (Click here to see photos). This event has been a tradition at CM D/FW and over a hundred people participated in the ceremony. Yajmans (hosts) representing Lord Shri Rama and Goddess Sita Devi performed the wedding. It included the invocation prayers, union of the royal lineages (Shri Rama's Surya vamsha - Sun dynasty; Sita Devi's Chandra vamsha - Moon dynasty); praising glories of the divine bride and groom, Jaimala (exchange of garlands), Kanyadaan (bride is given to the groom), tying the sacred mangal sutra, Mangalashtaka (poem composed specially for the occasion), and pouring of rice over each other. Devotees who participate in the Sita-Rama Kalyanam event are assured that their children and future generations will be just like Shri Rama and Goddess Sita Devi! Needless to say, Sanatana Dharma thus sustained will continue to flourish.
Welcoming Swami Sarveshananda
Mar. 22, 2011
After getting Sanyasa Disksha on the auspiscious day of Maha Shivaratri (March 02, 2010), Swami Sarveshananda returned back to United States and was greeted to a heart-warming welcome ceremony at Chinmaya Saaket. We performed the Guru Paduka Puja to offer prostrations to our Guru, and Balavihar children performed two devotional musical compositions. Their musical ensemble consisted of singers and instrumentalists on flute, violin, keyboard, manjira, and mridamgam. Acharyas Swami Sarveshananda, P. B. Ghate and Asha Ghate spoke a few words, and a sumptous meal followed thereafter.
TGIF - Trade Fair
Mar. 04, 2011
During Maha Shivaratri, Lord Shiva blessed our Balavihar children to participate in the Trade Fair to raise funds for the Walkathon 2010 event. (Click here to see the photos). Children learned various arts and crafts from adults and other children of their age, and created artifacts that were later sold for a nominal charge. All proceeds were donated for Walkathon. The kids had a lot of fun learning to make bead jewellery, and flower-pens from duct tape! Perhaps just watching them string the friendship beads that had the potential to blossom into a garden of flowers was the highlight of the event. Enterpreneurial skills were at their best as they made these designer products and found innovative ways to market their products for a worthy cause.
Study Group Facilitators' Training Seminar
On Feb. 12, 2011 Acharya Br. Uddhav Chaitanya conducted a training seminar for the Study Group Faciliators. He explained how these groups evolved at Chinmaya Mission and went over some of the benefits of participating in these groups. Additionally, he helped the participants understand their responsibilities in the role of Study Group facilitator and offered suggestions for how to make these group dynamics most effective. Whether you choose to read more details on this, or prefer to listen to the message, or simply want to watch a recording, you will certainly benefit by practicing the ancient time-tested Vedantic tradition of studying and spreading the message!
Lock-ins with Swamiji - 2011
The much awaited lock-in events took place over three consecutive weekends of Jan. 2011. As the name suggests, the sole purpose of these events is to allow children to hang out with Swamiji. During the High school lock-in, approximately 45 children enjoyed bowling and Laser tag at Main Event. Each kid got a $10 card, bowling, pizza, arcade, and laser tag! We were there almost until 10:30 P.M. After they returned to Chinmaya Saaket, everyone watched a movie (Inception) and discussed its meaning and how it relates to the values taught in Balavihar. This discussion went on until about 3:00 A.M. Again break time for milk and cookies was served for the snoozy ones. Every one woke up after this announcement (cookies and milk). This was followed by open play time. Kids formed groups to bond across sessions and played charades and other games. The volunteers with some kids present as well had lots of conversations with Swamiji as he spent time just talking and chilling with every one!
The central theme of how ideas or thoughts shape us was one of the most valuable lessons children learned. Our sense of identity is strongly influenced by our environment. We form notions of our strengths and weaknesses based on people's opinions judgments about us. Our strong convictions eventually hinders or fosters our potential growth when we develop such a mindset. How can we then make best use of this understanding? If you missed it during the discussions, try to find out your own time to meet either Swamiji or these high-schoolers who attended the event!
The Middle-school lock-in children in grades 6-8 held on Jan. 21 was a blast at Amazing Jakes in Plano where the kids were given their wrist bands. They got treated to an elaborate buffet with vegeterian options and they saw how to train a dragon while eating in a theater room! Then it was just 2 hours of endless play time! Total fun with 2 floors of activities - laser tag, video games, mini bowling, bumper cars, race car tracks, air hockey, rock climbing, putt putt golf. The volunteers and Swamiji spent time with all the kids doing various things.
The Elementary school lock-in was held at Chinmaya Chitrakoot on Jan. 28. The children were separated into 2 groups (2nd and 3rd graders in one group and 4th and 5th in the second group). After registration in Chitrakoot the kids had a initial opening with Swamiji as he divided the kids by grade level. This was followed by dinner (pizza of course!). Right after dinner, we had Daryl from Snake Encounters come in to do a show for the 4th and 5th graders, while Swamiji spent time playing games with the 2nd and 3rd graders. The kids played interactive games with Swamiji (balloon games, all time favorite Ram/Raja/Ravan etc.). I asked the car load of kids we shuttled if they would come back. Their response was 'Duh' Of course! Another parent at work shared that his daughter was bragging to her cousin who did not come about how much fun she had and she would do it again next year... This kid just recently started BV.
Meanwhile the 4th and 5th graders had an absolute blast as Daryl entertained them with magic and snakes! All about snakes, habitats, nature, and the best part magic! One time he blew up a long balloon (the kind with balloon animals) and popped it and it became a snake!!!
Right after we had a swap. The 4th and 5th graders spent time with Swamiji while Daryl entertained the kiddos by duplicating his show for the younger ones as well! This show over lapped with several parents who came back to pick their kids up. They also had a blast as they saw the last 30 minutes of the show! The volunteers at Chinmaya Chitrakoot were awesome.
Many many thanks to all the volunteers who helped with the event and gave their precious Friday evenings. Last but not the least shatakoti pranaams to our acharya Br. Uddhavji who is the 'Awesomest'!!!
Teachers' Sadhana Day 2011
We had a very insightful Day01 during the Teachers' Saadhana day on Jan. 08, 2011. It began with the meditation session focusing on the Dharana technique taught by Br. Uddhav Chaitanya. In this, we learned to focus on breath regulation - activating the energy from the base of the spinal cord and resting in the Hrdya Guha (spirutual heart); basking in Manas Puja with our Isthta Deva.
Acharya Asha Ghate's satsang focused on understanding Karma Yoga and Grihastashram (householder's life) as defined in our Hindu culture; we also elaborated on how to exercise our Swadharma while purifying the chittah within these two components. The next day we were supposed to continue exploring practical application of Karma Yoga in our married life; however, we had to cancel the event due to inclement weather.
Br. Uddhav Chaitanya shared a very special message from his recent trip to India and helped teachers analyze mindsets. Group discussions on "Fixed" versus "Growth" mindsets enabled teachers to define the right mindset required for a Balavihar teacher. Such an introspection identified where each one of us stood on the wide spectrum of Mindsets ranging from the Fixed-to-Growth Mindset. Plotting the two coordinates - where we currently are, and where we want to reach benefitted each participant with a unique opportunity to draw their roadmap on the Balavihar teaching platform. Hopefully we all can plant, nurture, cultivate and reap the maximum benefits, not only as an individual, but as a model CM D/FW Balavihar teacher.
The CM D/FW annual banquet was held on Dec. 05 2010 at the Hilton Anatole, Dallas, TX. The event began with the "Kumbambh" offered to Swami Prakashananda and traditional lamp lighting ceremony. The invocation bhajan Gana Naayakaya renered by Balavihar children along with the accompanying band and orchestra under the guidance of Mrs. Kavitha Srinivasan set us all on the right note! Our President, Mr. Ashok Dandekar welcomed the guests and spoke briefly about the Chinmaya Mission activities, which included the support offered to the Bhutanese refugees. This was followed by a short play on Dashavatar, directed by Priya Maini.
Swami Prakashananda, Acharya for the Trinidad and Tobago center, was the keynote speaker. His talk challenged the listener to reflect upon the popular adage "I think therefore I am". Shouldn't that truly be "I AM, therefore I think"?!!!
Shlokathon trophies were awarded to this year's recipients and it was followed by chanting of Bhagavad Gita, chapter 4. A short video presentation highlighted additional acitivites offered at CM D/FW. Not only does it include Balavihar and cultural classes showcased in the event, but other activities such as Picnic, Walkathon, TGIF Club, Story Time, Satsangs, etc. are an intergral part of our center.
The fundraiser was held before dinner and people opened their hearts and wallets to support the various activities operational at our center. Food catered for about 480 guests was a perfect way to conclude the event. Overall the Annual Banquet 2010 satiated everone's hunger at the body, mind, and intellect levels.
Navaratri - The Cosmic Dance
Chinmaya Chitrakoot inaugurated the cultural hall for its members during the Navaratri festivities on Oct. 29, 2010. This event was open to all CM DF/W members and their guests. A wonderful team of volunteers created the perfect ambiance that immediately spiritually transported the guests to Gujarat, to land of this popular folk dance. Images and cultural artifacts placed on the tables, walls, and other places depicted Shri Krishna’s Raas Leela with the gopis (female cowherds). They were displayed gracefully in the hall and took the observer to Kutch and Saurashtra where the raas is performed. Many girls and women wore their traditional colorful ghaghra-cholis, and adorned with necklaces, bindis, and bangles, they personified to the vibrat colors that represent India.
Our acharya Br. Uddhav Chaitanya performed the Devi puja. The altar included a lamp, symbolizing the embryonic life, inside a perforated earthen pot called Garba (womb). It reminded us that this festival is to celebrate the Universal life which emanated from the womb of the Divine Mother. People were encouraged to sponsor the aarti and everyone who was present enjoyed a chance to do the aarti.
About 150 people then partook the Prasad in the form of a sumptuous meal before getting ready to participate in the Cosmic Dance – more popularly known as Raas Garba or Dandiya Raas. People of all age ranges – from 3 years to 80 years – danced in merriment to the accompaniment of live music, singers and folk instruments. The joy exuberated in the simple dance movements was no less than the excitement of watching the seasoned dancers with intricate dance patterns. Whether you were an active participant or simply an observer, you could be revelling in bliss, amazed at how the cosmos creates such an unique divine opportunities as our experiences. Life itself is The Cosmic Dance when each moment and experience choreographed by The Creator is gracefully expressed through our movements. One could not but be mesmerized watching The Cosmic Dance in light of the divine flame enlivening this earthen pot.
TGIF Club: Ganesh Utsav
Ganapati Bappa Morya Pudhchya Varashi Lavkar Yaaaa – and Lord Ganesha has turned right back towards Chinmaya Saaket!!!
Every club meet is special, but on Friday, Oct. 01 2010, TGIF Club was blessed by a very very very special honorary member, Ganapati bappa Himself! Our resident acharya Br. Uddhav Chaitanya taught children various ways in which Lord Ganesha manifests through the children’s creations. Using clay and other materials, children spent a fun evening. Messy clay and non-messy activities related to Ganesh utsav ensured that truly no-child-was-left-behind. While many children came for the activity, some came just to play, hang out and meet friends as well as participate in the activity. Pictures are always worth more than a thousand words. Click here and enjoy the moments. More yaa re bappa more yaa re ...
Labor Day Camp
Labor Day Camp was held in Sept 03 to 06, 2010. Click here to enjoy the photos and relive the fun moments!
Balavihar Classes Resume (2010-2011)
Over the weekend of Aug. 28/29 2010, the D/FW chapters of Chinmaya Mission opened its doors to an excited group of over 900 children. Many Chinmaya sevaks put in countless hours to get ready for Balavihar reopening to ensure that kids have the most positive Balavihar learning experience. Over the summer of 2010, we successfully implemented a new online registration system. Our resident acharya Br. Uddhav Chaitanya conducted grade-specific teacher training sessions for 150+ teachers to communicate the vision, mission and goals of Balavihar for each grade. Teachers are now better equipped to meet the challenges of imparting the teachings of Hindu culture to the next generation. Kudos to the groups of volunteers who assembled the CM D/FW Handbook 2010 and delivered classroom supplies so that children had them ready on their first day at Balavihar. The sevaks from the Publication team are also ready at the bookstore where you can purchase books specific to each grade-level. Be sure to browse through our collection for other Chinmaya publications too. Amidst all this, don’t forget to join the fun for the Labor Day Camp 2010!
The unprecedented growth in Balavihar enrollment came a few changes. Balavihar sessions will be conducted for the first time in our own property in Irving which Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda named as Chinmaya Chitrakoot; and classes will also continue at Chinmaya Saaket, our facility in Dallas metroplex. Click here for more details on locations, session timings, and acharya assignments.
Chinmaya Chitrakoot Inauguration
May 8, 2010 is an extraordinary day in our lives. It is Pujya Gurudev's Jayanti, a day divine in and of itself. Those of us in Dallas/Fort Worth (D/FW) however, were blessed to have witnessed and accomplished the eagerly awaited pravesh (entry) of Chinmaya Chitrakoot in Irving, TX on this propitious day. Gurudev's grace and blessings flowed throughout the day starting with perfect weather in an otherwise unpredictable springtime in the D/FW metroplex. Indeed the day could not have been more auspicious and divine!
Festive decorations greeted us at the entrance and lead us to the divine altar decorated by dedicated volunteers. Center stage was Ram Parivar (Ramji, Sitaji, Lakshmanji and Hanumanji) along with Ganeshji and Gurudev Padukas. Deities of Lord Krishna and Kamadnathji adorned with pushpam (flowers), tulasi and toranam (garland) made from fresh mango leaves flanked on either side. Multitude symbols of auspiciousness such as, banana plants, rice and jaggery, soaked yellow moong, coconut, akshata, ornaments for Sitaji and many more from all parts of India were potent reminders of the uniqueness of our oneness in diversity! Artistically decorated cutouts of elephants sought earnestly to bring a little more of our traditions into the already sublime environment inside the hall. It was indeed a divine sight to behold and cherish! Diligent volunteers had painstakingly arranged and ensured that all samagri (materials) for the puja and havan (sacred ritual) were ready at hand for the ceremonies to start on time in keeping with the trademark of punctuality at Chinmaya Mission everywhere.
The ceremonies commenced with the symbolic cow (ornamental cutout) entering the building followed by the purohit Anant Padmanabhanji, our acharya Brahmachari Uddhava Chaitanyaji and the four yajmans. Ganapati puja at the very start removed all obstacles and paved the way for the performance of Ramji puja, Navagraha puja and Gurudev puja amidst chanting of Purusha Suktam, other Vedic chants, Rama ashtottarashatanamavali and Chinmaya ashtottarashatanamavali. The worshipped deities of Ram Parivar and Gurudev Padukas (feet) were then taken outside the building and back in a ceremonial procession replete with embellished umbrellas and traditional blowing of the divine conch.
As with any gruhapravesh, the shanti havans for Ganapati, Vaastu and Navagraha were also performed under the able guidance of our purohit and Br. Uddhavji. Yajmans subsequently went outside to further consecrate the premises by performing puja in all eight directions and by breaking a white gourd to ward off evil influences. Sprinkling sacred water using mango leaves, the yajmans also sanctified all the rooms. During this time members inside the hall chanted Guru Paduka stotram. Naivedyam was then offered to the Lord and sumptuous Mahaprasad was served for lunch in the spacious dining hall. Members mingled with each other enveloped in happiness and good vibrations of the ceremonies. Thus the 21000 square feet of divine space of Chinmaya Chitrakoot was inaugurated.
Thanks to Gurudev's blessings, now the members from various parts of the D/FW metroplex have one more place to call their own. Children are excited and eagerly looking forward to starting their next Balavihar session in Chinmaya Chitrakoot! As an early manifestation of this anticipation, the Chinmaya Mission D/FW board successfully held its annual General Body Meeting for 2009-2010 in the dining hall in the afternoon. Located centrally in the DFW metroplex with easy access to three major highways, the airport and the surrounding suburbs with 2.75 acres that promise plenty of room to grow, Chinmaya Chitrakoot is poised to be humming with activity soon and is eagerly awaiting Ram-Bharat Milap, the divine picture that will adorn the main hall!
CMDFW Graduation 2010
Congratulations to all of the graduates of Chinmaya Mission! The inspiring CMDFW graduation ceremony was held on Saturdat May 15 at CMDFW West, and on Sunday May 16th 2010 at Chinmaya Saaket. All the graduates seemed eager to embark upon a new and higher educational journey.
Each and every one of them has been blessed with an education in Hindu traditions and values in a disciplined, methodical and enjoyable manner. It was apparent that all of them cherished what they had learned through their speeches. Their respectful conduct towards their gurus, acharyas and their parents is the first indication that Chinmaya Mission has indeed had a positive influence on them.
The confidence, ease and poise that they displayed while giving their speeches was very impressive. They all seemed so sure of themselves and were very aware of their own talents as well of the talents of their friends. They playfully teased one another yet held each other’s special qualities in high regard.
Another delightful surprise was that many of them chose disciplines that are different from the norm. It is their confidence in their ability to excel that allows them to pursue avenues that people of our region don’t generally consider. Such self-assurance comes from a balanced mind and inner strength. This balance is another fruit of the combined efforts of the students, teachers, acharyas and the invaluable teaching of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda. They will easily tackle whatever difficulties they face in life as stated in the book Self -Unfoldment “What we meet in life is Destiny; How we meet what we meet is self effort.” The graduates are equipped to meet their destinies head on.
One of the greatest benefits of being part of Chinmaya Mission for all the Balavihar students is that they will never feel culturally displaced. Being a second or third generation Indian is not easy when there is a vast difference in the expectations at home and the world outside. Chinmaya mission then becomes their spiritual and cultural family from which they can discover their roots, yet maintain their individuality. It is the one constant in their lives that gives them direction when they stand at crossroads. The Balavihar students are less likely to fall prey to an identity crisis because they belong. They belong to the Chinmaya Parivar (family) no matter where they go in the world.
In the end when all of the graduates stood on stage in their elegant Indian attire, shimmering with the smiles of their accomplishments and the dreams of exciting times that await them, one couldn’t help but notice the tears in their parents’ eyes. You may not know any of the graduates personally, but many people in the audience had difficulty holding back their tears. It was as though every parent looked forward to the day to see their children on stage at their graduation ceremonies. And then like all the mothers of the Balavihar graduates, we will let our tears of pride flow joyfully.
Jivan Mukti (Liberation) Through Swadharma
Srimad Bhagavatam – Canto XI, Part 3
Canto XI of Srimad Bhagavatam is a dialog between Shri Lord Krishna and His beloved cousin Uddhav. The Lord had taken a sankalpa (wish) to withdraw His Leela (play) and end the powerful Yadav dynasty. He had tasked Uddhav with taking sanyaas (renunciation) and spreading the divine knowledge. Uddhav uses this opportunity to learn the knowledge directly from The Source - Lord Shri Krishna Himself to seek clarification and guidance on some of the most commonly intriguing questions. Here we see how one can purify and transcend the mind by following one's Swadharma in light of Varna Dharma and Ashram Dharma. Understanding elements of Moksha Dharma and qualifications for one to be one the path of either Gyana Yoga, Karma Yoga or Bhakti Yoga it humbles us to dedicate and devote our expressions to a higher altar. Lord Shri Krishna painstakingly explains gunas (nature) of Prakirti (expressed world of limitations) and Purusha (the Observer). The gunas (qualities) of the Prapancha (manifest world) are inherent in all perceivable elements. Transcending these gunas (qualities) such that we are not under their influence is then possible for the gunatitah (liberated soul) who is free from the cycle of birth-n-death and the laws of karma (action).
Saadhana (Spiritual Practice) of Tuning-In
Srimad Bhagavatam – Canto XI, Part 2
In spite of divinity pervading in-n-through the entire universe, how does one blatantly miss it? Br. Uddhav Chaitanya reflected on this during the satsangs (divine company) on Srimad Bhagavad Canto XI Part 2 held at Chinmaya Saaket from Mar. 01 to 05, 2010. Through the Avadhoot Gita, Lord Shri Krishna helped us realize the potency of the seemingly mundane occurrences in our daily life. Each of the 24 Gurus relayed a beautiful message. Every experience unfolding in our life has an implicit subtle lesson. If we know the art of right contact with the external world, we can certainly tune into the divine experience. However, we resist eacg incident with our shades of likes and dislikes, thereby limiting ourselves from spiritual unfoldment.
Bhagawan Shri Krishna further explained the qualities of a saint, and how to inculcate bhakti (devotion) in our hearts. Through dhyaan (contemplation on the Lord) we can break away from our own conditionings and establish in the blissful existence. En route, we acquire various kinds of siddhis (powers). If we get distracted and focus on the siddhis (powers), we lose track of the goal of our sasdhana (spiritual practice), that is, spiritual unfoldment. Nothing should divert our attention from the tapasya of the Lord!
For those of us who are pulled out in the external world, the Lord relayed His Vibhooti (manifestation) in the universe. By tuning into That divinity through our interactions, our mind can remain focused on the Lord. Just when you thought that such a vision was enough for sharanagati (seeking refuge) at the Lord’s feet, Bhagawan Shri Krishna instructs us to perform one’s Swadharma (duties) dictated by the guna (quality) and ashram (household). If karma (actions) is understood in the right context, then we can reflect on varna (quality), ashram (household) and dharma (duty) during the next month’s satsang on Srimad Bhagwad.
Divine Devotional Diaglogs
Srimad Bhagavatam – Canto XI, Part 1
During the week of January 18 - 22, 2010, Br. Uddhav Chaitanya tuned us to listen to divine devotional dialogs. One of them was Narad ji's narration of a conversation among Raja Nimi and the Nava Yogis (9 sons of King Rishabha, 4th generation of Swaayambhu Manu). The essence of Bhagavad Dharma is in the following mantra (chant)
Kayena vacha manasendriyair va, buddhyatmana va, prakriteh svabhavat
Karomi yadyat, sakalam parasmai, Narayanayeti samarpayami.
Follow the simple practice of dedicating (samarpayami) all our interactions to a higher altar (Narayana). This is the best cleansing method and is guaranteed to purify us. As is characteristic of Naradji's visits, He certainly instills the Bhakti bhav (devotional attitude). We just have to be ready to receive Him!
Another such divine dialog was Shri Krishna's response to Uddhav ji, His cousin who was instructed to be a renunciate instead of joining the Lord during His final moments. Shri Krishna explains what Dattatreya learned from his 24 gurus. These elements (Earth, Air, Space, Water, Fire, Moon, Sun, Pigeon and Python) have so much to teach us ... as mentioned earlier, we simply have to be ready to receive the instructions!
There are many more opportunities to tune to these dialogs. These satsangs (divine dialogs!) are scheduled to continue from Feb. 01 to Feb. 05, 2010. Join us to find out what the rest of the 24 gurus have to say.
Chinmaya Mission Family Camp 2009
Spiritual Retreat in D/FW
We were showered with blessings from Lord Shiva and Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda as unexpected snow and ice ushered us to the spiritual retreat on Christmas eve! Chinmaya Mission D/FW was honored to welcome Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda, acharyas and guests and from all over the world for a week-long winter camp at the Hilton D/FW lakes in Grapevine, TX. In spite of the weather, almost 650 camp attendees enjoyed the retreat and embarked on The Journey from Change to Changeless.
Our president, Mr. Ashok Dandekar kicked-off the camp with a welcome note. The inauguration ceremonies featured a welcome address by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda and a melodious prayer song with accompaniment by our own balvihar kids.
Each day of the camp was filled with age-appropriate activities for children, youth and adults along with plenty of time to relax and mingle with attendees from different places and delicious vegetarian food. These were followed by sessions conducted throughout the day for different age groups.
Swami Sharanananda began the day began bright and early for children while he conducted yoga. Classroom sessions for children incorporated the Changeless Values of Sanatana Dharma. The middle-school and high-school kids learned the 20 values from Bhagavad Gita Chapter 13 (verses 8-13) taught by Swami Sharanananda and Swamini Shivapriyananda respectively. Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda had a very special treat for the kids as he visited each classroom. The kids enjoyed His presence whether it was for clarifying their questions or simply being engrossed listening to stories he told. In the later half of the day the children also learned how to chant the vedic aarti taught by visiting acharya Smt. Lakshmi Sukumar; while the high school children on the other hand were engaged in daily satsangs with various acharayas - Swami Sharanananda, Swami Shantananda, Smt. Sharada Kumar, Br. Prabodh Chaitanya and Acharya P. B. Ghate.
The adults' meditation sessions early in the morning were followed by Pujya Guruji's discourses on Kaivalyopanishad. He emphasized on the proper way to chant the Shanti mantra (peace invocation) and rendered it's meaning. Along with Ahswalayan, we learned the Bramha-vidya (ultimate knowledge) that will help us try to achieve moksha – true freedom from grief. In these satsangs we also learned how to meditate following the saguna saakar (form of the Lord). Swami Shantananda's discourses on Gopika Geetam gave an historical perspective on the gopis (female friends) and the meaning of Gopika Geet (song of the gopis). In addition, various acharyas gave discourses by on Karma Yoga (Path of Action) as an applied science that all of us could relate to.
Families treasured precious moments with Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda as they participated in daily Guru Paduka Puja or Bhiksha (meal offerings) with Pujya Guruji. The evening yagna on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 17 was open to everyone, enabling the maximum number of people to be in His presence.
Camp Part I concluded with the annual banquet. The event featured performances by including songs, dances, Gita chanting and Slokathon trophy awards. Pujya Guruji’s keynote address included a story of young cowherd who did not know the value of the diamond he found and a jeweler who knew the price of the diamond but not its value. Pujya Guruji asked each one of us to reflect on the true value of Balavihar and Chinmaya Mission and its impact on our lives.
Camp Part II concluded with an evening of cultural program presented by Balavihar kids and CHYKs (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra members). The show was a pure delight to watch. Our youngest little ones taught us the most touching lesson. Their skit reminded us that every single aspect of this universe is important - whether it is grass, or trees, flowers, animals, etc.. Every one matters and we all have a role to play, regardless of how big or small our contribution is. A musical performance on Shabari and Navadha bhakti (nine forms of devotion) certainly struck a chord in everyone's hearts! The CHYKs presented a skit about kids' and parents’ expectations and resolving dilemmas as kids grow up in America's Indian households. The underlying message was loud and clear, and every single person in the audience could relate to it especially since it applied to children's upbringing in America. The evening was concluded with a dandiya presentation by the kids and CHYKs.
The overall camp experience was extremely satisfying. The camp was an even higher success considering what each one of us received here – zeal to work harder, better in our workplace as we learned from the teachings on Karma Yoga, desire to live life with an incline towards sattvik (godly) tendencies, our children trying to emulate the 20 values learned from Bhagavad Gita and the closeness we felt towards each other as an extended family. This truly was a memorable experience. If you were unable to partake in this camp this year, we hope you can take part in similar camps in the future.
From Vrindavan to Mathura
Srimad Bhagavatam – Canto X, Part 3
Our resident acharya, Br. Uddhav Chaitanya has resumed discourses on Srimad Bhagawatam at Chinmaya Saaket. The essence of Srimad Bhagavatam is in Canto X – we can truly believe that as we listen to the Lord’s leela. Lord Krishna’s childhood touches every listener to fill our bosom with bhakti (devotion) As Yashoda maiya (mother), you can feel the pangs of separation with the mere thought of Him leaving Vrindavan and going to Mathura. As a father (Nand baba) or birth parents (Vasudev and Devaki), you cannot but bask in His glories as He eradicates adharma (lawlessness) by killing Kamsa and other demons. As a Gopi (childhood friend) you are completely enamored by His charms; yet, you definitely want to (playfully) let Him know about how upset you are by His sudden departure to Mathura!
In spite of being the Lord of the Universe, Shri Krishna goes through the rites and rituals prescribed in the Hindu culture by Sanatana Dharma. After His Upanayanam (thread ceremony) He goes to Gurukul (school) in Sandeepany to complete his education. He then returns to Mathura and fulfills his duties to rebuild the city and protect its citizens
If your schedule permits you, please come and bask in these stories of Lord Krishna that are not only entertaining, but also have a lot of deep underlying meanings within it.
Balavihar Reopens for 2009-2010
After successful Teacher Training sessions Balavihar reopened on Aug. 22 at both the facilities – Chinmaya Saaket and CMDFW West. We invoked Lord Ganesha on the opening day and were blessed to cater to almost 900 children at the various locations. Kudos to all the Chinmaya sevaks for a remarkable job of ensuring a smooth transition into the academic year 2009-2010. Not only did we add a session on Saturday (3:30 to 5:30 PM) under the guidance of Acharya Asha Ghate, but CMDFW West center also moved to a new location in Coppell.
After conducting the Saraswati Puja during Navaratri we now look forward to Diwali celebrations. Children from various grades will perform on stage to the theme of Khestra Mahima. Come to any one of the Balavihar sessions on Oct 17 or Oct 18 and be amazed at what we learn from our young talented children!
Reveling in Colors!
CMDFW Picnic 2009
By Manju Menon
On Saturday, April 25, 2009 the Chinmaya Mission DFW (CM-DFW) held their annual picnic at the Myers Park and Event center also known as the Collin County Youth Park in McKinney. The event is open to members and guests of members.
This annual event has grown from a mere 600 people in 2005 to almost 1900 in attendance this year. Since 2007, the highlight of the event is the boisterous celebration of the Indian festival of Holi. This festival captures the high-spiritedness of many Hindu festivals and is characterized by revelers who smear color and drench each other with colored water. Holi is the harbinger of spring and traces its origins to the time when a youthfully exuberant Lord Krishna smeared his favorite gopi (cow-herdess), Radha and her friends with color, until everyone looked no different from the Lord himself. So also the revelers of Holi, young and old, male and female all end up looking as one, merging with the resplendent colors of spring.
Myers Park sprawls over more than 100 acres and is a perfect indoor-outdoor setting for this event. Outdoor events included kite flying, 3-legged races and tug-of-war, accompanied by foot stomping, popular, Bollywood and Indian folk music. Volunteers roasted corn, whipped up crunchy bhel puri (Indian trail mix tossed with variety of garnishes) and offered spiced buttermilk for a jog down the smoky lanes of Mumbai and Delhi! The Show Barn which encloses an arena of nearly 40,000 sf held many games for the younger kids in attendance. The Show Barn also serves as a great back-up locale if the capricious Texas weather turned stormy.
On this day, weather defied all odds of an April shower and turned out perfect for a picnic. The only water that flowed was from the pichkaris (Indian water guns) of the Holi revelers who doused each other after happily lunching on billowy soft bhaturas (fried bread) made fresh on-site teamed with steaming hot chole (spicy chick peas). It was an experience that suffused the senses! The youthful and dynamic Swamiji (pastor) at the Mission, who is normally resplendent in his yellow robes was turned yellow and red drenched in Holi colors by the end of the afternoon much to the glee of Sunday schoolers.
The fun was infused with meaning and purpose by a Walkathon conducted by Sunday school students, of mostly middle school age, who got first hand experience organizing an event, selling T-shirts and obtaining pledges. They handily beat the goal of raising $5000. These funds will be donated to help settle a growing stream of refugees of Bhutanese and Nepali origin who have been resettled in the Dallas area among other US cities, by the US government. These refugees are victims of ethnic cleansing in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, that only recently received much-needed action from the UN and member nations. CM DFW made arrangements to bus these refugees to the picnic site so they could participate in the festivities – many of whom could not remember the last time they celebrated anything.
It was a memorable day of fun and revelry infused with the purpose of spirituality.
CM DFW leaders look forward to a day when every child and adult, in our Metroplex, irrespective of origin, blend as one with the colors of spring and air rings with the call “Holi Hey”!
Srimad Bhagavatam – Canto VIII, Part 2
"The fiery touch of the LORD's grace, when it descends upon His devotees, is invariably felt by the seeker, more as a refreshing shower of divine mercy."
-- Swami Chinmayananda
Our beloved Br. Uddhavji enabled an experience of this divine touch as his discourses on Srimad Bhagavatam Canto VIII Part 2 concluded on Thursday, Jan. 15 2009 on the CMDFW premises. In this power-packed satsang (gathering) the "refreshing shower of divine mercy" cascaded in the retelling of the glories of various avatars of the Lord. The splendor and beauty of the Lord's sustenance of this world provided through Kurma (tortoise), Shakti (energy), Mohini, Vamana, Matysa (fish) infused the audience with joy and bliss.
The valuable lessons learned through these stories include
- The power of prayers
- Being vigilant of the mind's polarity
- Maximizing efforts for creating a synergy
- Awareness of inherent talents and tendencies
- Remaining focused on the goal of our saadhana
- Meaning of immortality
- Following guru's teachings
- Actions and consequences
- Fulfilling promises
- Lord's abundant providence
- Serving the Lord in all capacities as a humble servant.
We now have the technology to listen to the Bhagvatam talks via uStream, albeit a rather weak substitute for attending the satsang in person! May Gurudev's blessings continue to shower on us with many more satsangs (gatherings) on Srimad Bhagvatam.