Tag Archives: Swami Chinmayananda

Swami Chinmayananda and His Mission: Part 2 – The Enlightened


.

Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

 The Study of Vedanta

During the summer of 1947, Balakrishna arrived in Rishikesh and hiked one mile to the ‘Divine Life Society’, the ashram of the illustrious Swami Sivānanda Saraswati.

.

Swami Sivānanda Saraswati (1887–1963)
Swami Sivānanda Saraswati (1887–1963)

.

Swami Sivānanda Saraswati (September 8, 1887 – July 14, 1963) was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Swami Sivānanda was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai, a panchayat town in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. He studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most part of his life near Muni Ki Reti, Rishikesh.

At the ‘Divine Life Society’ Ashram, Balakrishna read Hindu scriptures and reviewed spiritual books. His sceptic mind evolved into a seeker of truth. He eventually renounced worldly life and became a monk.

Swami Sivananda recognised the latent talent in Balakrishna and entrusted him to organise a ‘Gita Committee’ which included Swami Krishnananda (II), and Sri Nanda Kishore Srivastava, a very learned philosopher from Bihar.

.

Chinmayananda standing on the right of Guru Sivananda Saraswati and other disciples, on the day of his initiation into sannyāsa on February 25, 1949, Maha Shivratri Day, Rishikesh.
Chinmayananda standing on the right of Guru Sivananda Saraswati and other disciples, on the day of his initiation into sannyāsa on February 25, 1949, Maha Shivratri Day, Rishikesh.

.

On February 25, 1949, Balakrishna was ordained into sannyāsa (vow of renunciation) by Swami Sivānanda Saraswati and from then on was known as Swami Chinmayananda, or “bliss of pure Consciousness.”

In the summer of 1949, Swami Chinmayananda, with Swami Sivānanda’s blessing, sought out Swami Tapovanam (Sadguru Swami Tapovan Maharaj) of Uttarkashi, one of the greatest Vedantic masters of his time.  He set out on foot for the long trek to Uttarkashi, where Swami Tapovanam resided.

.

Sadguru Swami Tapovan
Sadguru Swami Tapovan

.

In Uttarkashi, Swami Chinmayananda led an extremely austere life and under Swami Tapovanam’s guidance underwent a rigorous study of the scriptures. His day began at 3 am with an icy bath in the Ganga, and after hours of meditation by the river and ended late in the night.

Launching of a new Spiritual Movement

In May 1951, after mastering the sacred texts, Swami Chinmayananda left the Himalayas. He then set out on an all-India tour to visit places of worship. He was miserably disillusioned and disappointed about how the Hindu religious heritage was being taught. He remarked:

“I was miserably disillusioned and disappointed about… the stuff doled out as the best in Hinduism…. My experiences during those five months of roaming only strengthened my conviction that I must execute… Upanishad Jñāna Yajña sessions all over India, in all the great cities.”

.

Swami Krishnananda and Swami Chinmayananda (Source: gurudevsivananda.blogspot.in)
Swami Krishnananda and Swami Chinmayananda (Source: gurudevsivananda.blogspot.in)

.

With the blessings of his guru, Swami Chinmayananda started his own Yajna Mission in 1951, to spread knowledge of Vedanta to the masses.

Until then the study of Vedanta considered sacrosanct was traditionally the preserve of orthodox Brahmins. So, teaching Vedanta to the public was hitherto unheard of, and the orthodox Brahmin gurus considered it taboo to catechize the ancient holy scriptures to people not belonging to the Hindu orthodox priestly castes.

In December 1951, Swami Chinmayananda held his first lecture series in a Ganesha temple in Pune city.

During his first few discourses on the inaugural day, only a handful of people sat around him. Soon, the size of his audience swelled into thousands. People from all walks of life overflowed into the lanes near the temple. Army officers from the Southern Command came on their bicycles to listen to him.

The Brahmin priests called upon to conduct the Yajña (Vedic ritual) were utterly surprised when Swami Chinmayananda asked everyone in the audience, belonging to all social strata to take part in the rituals.

Swami Chinmayananda taught spirituality as the art of living. He conducted Gita Yajna classes, Upanishad classes and discourses on the scriptures all over India. His discourses brought him public recognition as an outstanding orator. Swami Chinmayananda travelled to many countries and held discourses to make India’s spiritual heritage known to others. He was soon recognised as a master exponent of India’s scriptural lore, its literary heritage, and its varied culture.

Chinmaya Mission logo

.

Today, the Chinmaya Mission is a worldwide nonprofit Hindu spiritual organisation with more than 250 centres worldwide disseminating India’s spiritual heritage. The Mission spreads the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the non-dual system of thought found in the Upanishads, which epitomise the philosophical teachings of the Vedas.

.

Previous – Swami Chinmayananda and His Mission: Part 1 – The Layman

.

.

RELATED ARTICLES

Swami Chinmayananda and His Mission: Part 1 – The Layman


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

Chinmaya Mission logo

The Chinmaya Mission is a worldwide nonprofit Hindu spiritual organisation with more than 250 centres worldwide. The Mission spreads the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the non-dual system of thought found in the Upanishads, which epitomise the philosophical teachings of the Vedas.

Swami Chinmayananda in 1990
Swami Chinmayananda in 1990

.

Swami Chinmayananda born Balakrishna Menon on May 8, 1916, in Ernakulam in Kerala, India was the eldest son of  Kutta Menon, a famous judge and nephew of the Maharaja of Cochin. His mother, Paru Kutty, died while giving birth to her third child, and her eldest sister, Kochunarayani raised Balakrishna.

Balakrishna completed his formal schooling in Sree Rama Varma High School, Kochi and Vivekodayam School, Thrissur. He completed his Fellow of Arts (FA) at the Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, and his Bachelor of Arts (BA) at the St. Thomas College, Trichur. He then went to Lucknow University (1940–1943) and earned postgraduate degrees in literature and law, while completing courses in journalism at the same time.

.

Shree Ramana Maharshi in his late 60s. (Portrait by G. G Welling in 1948)
Shree Ramana Maharshi in his late 60s. (Portrait by G. G Welling in 1948)

.

During the years as a student, Balakrishna did not formally accept religion. In the summer of 1936, he visited Shree Ramana Maharshi (December 30, 1879 – April 14, 1950), widely acknowledged as one of the eminent Hindu gurus of modern times. When Ramana Maharshi looked at him, Balakrishna experienced a spiritual ecstasy. Yet, at that time, he justified it as mere ‘hypnotism’.

The ‘Quit India’ Movement

On August 8, 1942, at the Gowalia Tank Maidan (also now known as August Kranti Maidan) in Mumbai, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched a ‘Do or Die‘ civil disobedience movement called the “Quit India Act” also known as the “India August Movement” to be carried out throughout India, demanding “an orderly British withdrawal” from India.

The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) proclaimed a mass protest. The British were prepared to act. Within hours after Gandhi’s speech, almost the entire INC leadership was imprisoned without trial.

Balakrishna joined fellow students in writing and distributing leaflets to stir up the national pride amidst the wide-scale attempt by the Indian activists to force the British to leave India. He gave many speeches generating awareness of the inability of the British to solve the problems of India.

Within weeks, more than 100,000 people were arrested nationwide, mass fines were levied, and thousands were killed or injured in police and army shootings.

Balakrishna, went underground when he came to know that a warrant had been served for his arrest. He spent the following year moving around in the state of Abbottabad (the same region where Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda, was shot dead by the US Army Seals on May 2, 2011), far from where the British officials would be looking for him. After a year, he left Kashmir and moved to Delhi.

Almost two years after the British had issued the warrant for his arrest, believing his case might have been long forgotten, Balakrishna arrived in Punjab and associated himself with several freedom groups operating over there. He advised students on distributing leaflets and organising public strikes, but he was promptly picked up by the police and imprisoned.

Living for several months in unhygienic conditions in prisons, Balakrishna was afflicted with Typhus. As was the custom with the British jail officials he and many other sick people were carried out of the prison at night and were dumped on the outskirts of the town.

The next morning, an Indian Christian lady passing along the road where Balakrishna was lying saw him. He reminded her of her own son serving in the British army. The good Samaritan took Balakrishna to her home. The doctor who examined him insisted that Balakrishna be taken to a hospital without delay if he were to survive.

Journalism

After several weeks, Balakrishna recovered his health. Sri K Rama Rao, the eminent editor, noted freedom fighter and a member of the first Rajya Sabha, gave Balakrishna his first job as a journalist sub-editor at the National Herald in Lucknow and later at Delhi. Balakrishna wrote a series of articles — short, critical satires — on socialism in a society where the majority of people were poor. These were soon published regularly in Indian national papers.

Around 1947, working as a journalist, he decided to write an article “exposing” sadhus and made preparations to travel to Swami Sivānanda’s ashram in Rishikesh. He later confessed:

I went not to gain knowledge, but to find out how the swamis were keeping up the bluff among the masses.

.

Next  Swami Chinmayananda and His Mission: Part 2 – The Enlightened

.

RELATED ARTICLES