Life of the master
The life of Chinmayananda is very interesting and unusual than other famous contemporaries. Let’s begin.
Chinmayananda was born as Balakrishna Menon in 1916 in Ernakulam. His father was a lawyer and his mother a homemaker. It was not a spiritual environment at all, to which he was born into.
Receiving education in British India, he obtained post graduate degrees in law and English literature from Lucknow University.
The year was 1942 after his post graduation, when he was inspired by the Quit India movement, and associated himself with freedom groups. He was arrested and imprisoned by the British when he was found distributing leaflets and organising public strikes.
He got a job in national herald as a journalist after he was released from jail.
In 1947, while he was covering a story on the bluff of hindu sadhus, he reached the Ananda kutir of Divine Life Society in Hrishikesh. At the age of 31, he turned from a skeptic to a enthusiast, finally into a renunciate.
In 1949, Swami sivananda initiated him into sanyasa and gave him the name “Swami Chinmayananda”.
With Sivananda’s blessings, Chinmayananda sought one of the greatest vedanta masters of the time Tapovan maharaj of uttarkashi. He stayed with him for two years and led an austere life while rigorously studying the scriptures.
In 1951 he decided to spread his knowledge of Vedanta, with the blessings of his guru.
In May 1951 he left Uttarkashi for an all India tour, to visit hindu spiritual sites and see how the state of Hinduism is really in the country. After roaming for 5 months, he was utterly disillusioned and disappointed with the truth, and his conviction to spread vedanta just got stronger.
He began his lectures on Upanishads in December 1951 and named his sessions “Jnana Yajna”, a term used by Krishna in Bhagwad Geeta.
At the end of the second Jnana Yajna in 1953 in Madras, his devotees expressed their desire to start an institution devoted for this purpose. And so in August 1953, Chinmay mission began.
The mission’s followers grew very fast and in a span of 5 years Chinmayananda had instructed over 50,000 followers through 25 jnana Yajnas.
In 1965, Chinmayananda set out to teach the world, with his first tour covering followers in 18 countries.
In 1975, the Chinmay mission west was formed to address the growing followers in west.
He participated in many interfaith dialogues.
In 1992, Chinmayananda established an international library and research center in US,and Chinmay international foundation in Kerala.
In 1963, Chinmayananda wrote an article airing the idea of calling for a world hindu council, inviting delegates from all over the world to discuss the difficulties and problems concerning the survival of hindu culture.
In 1964, Chinmayananda organised a conference in his Sandeepany Ashram, with S S Apte of the RSS, which resulted in the formation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. This was the second time the Chinmaya mission and the RSS had joined forces, the first being the Vivekananda memorial.
In his lifetime, Chinmayananda authored 95 publications. Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin in 2015 in his honour.
He died on 3rd August 1993, while he was on life support system following a heart surgery, in a hospital in the US.
Chinmaya mission was founded by the students of Chinmayananda in 1953, after his second Jnana Yajna program.
Currently it has over 300 centres worldwide, and everything is being administered by the Chinmay mission trust in Mumbai.
It has multiple schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, rural development programs.
It disseminates the teachings through magazines, books, audios and videos.
In 1963 the Chinmay mission collected Rupees 10000 to support the building of Vivekananda Rock memorial, which began in 1962.
The teachings offered by the mission is the Advaita Vedanta. It has residential, online and postal courses on: Bhagavad Gita, Basic and advanced Vedanta, Upanishads, Basic and Advanced Sanskrit and Purohita course (for learning vidhis for sandhyavandanam, daily puja, homa, and other rituals).