…Continued from April edition
Swami Shrikarananda had talked to us about Dharm, Knowledge, Sadhna Moksha and much more in our last edition, he continues to share with us the glory of Gurudev, his mission and a lot more. Excerpts from the interview:
Swami Ji, enlighten the Sydney community of the glory of Gurudev.
To try to explain the glory of Gurudev is like showing you sugar and trying to explain what sweetness is. It is unexplainable. Gurudev was beyond words. But we can attempt to explain His glories by seeing His work.
A beautiful example is a description of Gurudev’s glories by Swami Chidananda from Divine Life Society. Swami Chidananda states that what Gurudev has achieved in His life is equivalent to the work of ten Rishis. Now if you see what Veda Vyasa has accomplished – eighteen Puranas, the Bhavagad Geeta, Mahabharata, Brahma Sutras and so many other works – imagine ten times that! It is incomprehensible. We will never know.
Gurudev is such a great master that He brought, and continues to bring, the knowledge of Vedanta to the English-speaking community, both in India and worldwide. Teaching the scriptures in English brought him a great deal of opposition, however Gurudev roared on. He wanted the scriptures to the studied by everyone, regardless of caste, gender, race or religion. We teach absolutely everybody. The entire purpose of Vedic knowledge is to understand ourselves. Is that not the highest knowledge? This knowledge of Vedanta takes us beyond gender, caste, religion and culture. We are not interested in converting anybody, but in your discovery of yourself. As Gurudev once said, when questioned if He wanted to convert people to Hinduism – “We have plenty of Hindus back home; I want Hindus to be better Hindus, Christians to be better Christians, and Muslims to be better Muslims”. He wanted us to rediscover the true meaning of the scriptures, including the Holy Bible and the Quran. Thus, Gurudev has done tremendous work in awakening us all, which we will not be able to understand until we practice the teachings and allow them to transform us.
Gurudev lifts us to the greatest heights – even during his serious moods, he would make an inspiring yet humourous joke!
The movie ‘On A Quest’ is about the life of Gurudev. It is about to be released and will be dubbed in many different languages. This film is but a glimpse of His glories, yet it is so moving and inspiring. To truly know Gurudev, we must study His commentaries. I have read many versions of the Bhagavad Geeta, and Gurudev’s teachings are the most clearest, logical and no doubt will be there once you study it. He wanted us to see the Truth, as it is, in its rawest form. He would say it with wit and humour, and other times He would roar the Truth. But ultimately it was the Truth, unadulterated. So many people have been transformed because of Gurudev and His work – that is His glory and grace. I have never met him but I am completely indebted to Him.
As you know there are other spiritual organisations in Sydney. Is there a difference between them and Chinmaya Mission? Can people attend activities of other organisations too?
Every organization has a particular focus. I am not in a position to speak about other organizations as Ido not know much about them. But I can talk about our Chinmaya Mission.
Chinmaya Mission follows the Vedic teacher-student tradition (guru-shishya parampara) and makes available the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta, the knowledge of universal oneness, providing the tools to realize the wisdom in one’s life. Vedanta, the essential core of Hinduism, is the universal science of life, relevant to all people of all backgrounds and faiths. Vedanta inspires seekers to understand their own faith better. Thus, although Chinmaya Mission is a Hindu organisation, it does not seek to convert other religious practitioners. As a spiritual movement that aims for inner growth at individual and collective levels, the mission offers a wide array of Vedanta study forums for all ages, promotes Indian classical art forms and operates numerous social service projects. To date, millions worldwide have benefitted directly or indirectly from Chinmaya Mission’s numerous centres, ashrams, classes, events, services and projects.
Our specialty is each one of the seekers have the opportunity anytime to ask the Guru questions and be able to get the answers. Our Guru is our friend, well wisher, guide to life and realization.
Most of the learning at Chinmaya Mission occurs in group study classes. Although we have lecture classes and public talks etc, many of our classes are discussion-based. This setting enables a teacher-student relationship such that real enquiry occurs.I found this aspect very positive and useful for me, in my personal spiritual journey as a youth. I am only here because I was empowered to study, ask questions and clarify my learning. We are blessed to have time to be in such close proximity with the Guru – for me it is Guruji (Swami Tejomayanandaji) and Swamiji (Swami Swaroopananda)– to be able to learn directly from them and ask questions when I have doubt. They also encourage independent thinking and discussion.
Traditionally, there is a distance maintained between the devotee and the Guru. However Gurudev allowed us to touch his feet, to be close to Him and ask questions. He would not take insult if we questioned or doubted him, because He knew that we are all seekers. This is the tradition of Chinmaya Mission, this is the student and teacher relationship that we imbibe.
Whatever we teach, we ensure that the students are clear on the method and the goal, so that their enquiry and reflection is serious.Therefore you will not find hundreds of people in our study classes. There may be 6-10 people in a class, because it is for sincere seekers.
The classes involve reading, discussion, sadhana (daily spiritual practice) such as meditation, practical practices to overcome weakness etc. We encourage everyone to prepare questions to discuss, and to share their ideas. We encourage everyone to practice what they learn, because only then is there real spiritual growth.For example, you go to a doctor because you have a problem – he gives you a prescription and encourages and inspires you to take the medicine, for your own wellbeing and progress. Chinmaya Mission works in a similar way, but with spiritual confusions, solutions and applications. We need to actually use the medicine to cure ourselves. Through our study groups we also provide a community of like-minded seekers who will support each other to grow and live that spiritual life every moment of the seekers life.
The Guru never states there is only one path for all, just as the doctor never states there is only one medicine for all. The purpose is for everyone to enquire and forge their own path with the guidance of the Guru. We as seekers must become independent and learn to work through life ourselves.
The goal is to bring all those together who truly want to learn and transform. Knowing that people are different, people are in different age groups, are at different stages of their spiritual growth, we have classes catering to beginners to advanced seekers.
To name the variety of classes:
Shishu Vihar is Chinmaya Mission’s newest creative device to ‘catch them young’; a forum for anyone aged below 4 years. Shishu Vihar is an assemblage of infants, toddlers and young and new mothers/fathers for early introduction to spiritual education. Indian tradition being familiar with the significance of sowing ethical seeds early, even as early as the pre-natal stage – Shishu Vihar strives to provide opportunities for this, thereby enabling spiritual development through cultural education. Classes follow a modern structure of play groups where
Bala Vihar is a weekly gathering of children, between the Kindergarden to Grade 6 that takes place in Chinmaya Mission Centres or in private homes, under the supervision of trained teachers. The aim of Bala Vihar is to help children bloom, grow, and inculcate values through fun-filled activities. Bala Vihar enhances the overall development of the personality of a child at all levels — physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Mission Statement “To help children learn values with fun, to delight like the moon and shine like the Sun”.
Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) is a global youth wing of Chinmaya Mission. It aims to empower youth with the vision, values and dynamism for success in all fields. CHYK conducts weekly classes where young people are made aware of their potential through the study of scriptures. CHYK also organises and executes cultural, social and spiritual programmes. We have a Teenage wing (Grade 7 to 12) and Young Adult wing (Age: 18 to 30 yrs)
Chinmaya Study group involves five to fifteen people who meet at a mutually agreed time, place and day for about ninety minutes each week. The group studies and discusses scriptural texts according to a prescribed syllabus that offers the seeker a systematic exposure to Vedanta. In Sydney Swami Shrikarananda ji takes these classes in majority of the cases. We have a special classes for the back bone of society, which are the ladies, so we have formed the Devi Groups which are exclusively for women. These groups meet for scriptural study, devotional singing and a variety of cultural and social activities.
Jnana Yajnas are five to seven days series of public discourses on a Vedantic scripture given by an Acharya of the Chinmaya Mission. Jnana Yajnas(Free public talks) are regularly organised by all Chinmaya Mission centres. Spiritual Camps, Children’s Holiday programs, Retreats are organised by Chinmaya Mission in various ashrams and other locations all over the world.
Chinmaya Swaranjali is the musical wing of Chinmaya Mission. Chinmaya Swaranjali is a movement dedicated to exploring the mystical world of Indian classical and devotional music and discovering its hidden joy of infinitude. A typical swaranjali group performs in various areas including recitals of devotional music, audio-video multimedia concerts, workshops, classical orchestras, etc. Deeply touched and inspired by the teachings of Pujya Gurudev H. H. Swami Chinmayananda, the members of the group do not look upon music as just an idle passion, but as a dynamic vehicle to seek the inner source of joy and divinity. They sing as a tribute to their Master and Guru, they sing to spread His message and they sing with their hearts soaked in His Love.
The Chinmaya Vanaprastha is the senior citizens wing of Chinmaya Mission uniting people over sixty years of age. The group encourages senior citizens to pursue the final spiritual goal of life and shows them the means to achieve it. It assists and trains householders and near-retirees (vanaprasthis) to make a smoother and easier transition from life in grihasta ashram to life in vanaprastha ashram. The aim of the group is to give a comprehensive vision to senior citizens and to make their life healthy, serene, comfortable, purposeful and happy. Its motto is: Graceful Aging through Spiritual Living
Chinmaya Mission’s services for senior citizens are innovative, practical and unique. They help society’s elders find a harmonious balance between action and inaction, a remarkable strength in retirement, comfort and security within a like-minded community and the beauty and wisdom of spiritual evolution. We are hoping one day in Sydney we will be able to establish a Chinmaya Vanaprastha Group for the local community.
These are our main grass root level classes and programs we run, however Chinmaya mission has many social projects, schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages etc that we run.
Join us to learn and grow.
What is your mission in two or three or four years?
The mission continues to evolve in its service to everybody and spreading this Vedanta Knowledge of Oneness. The mission activities and long-term direction are governed by my Guru. Being a disciple, I will serve as my Guru directs me. My personal mission is to give more and more love to everybody.
Give love to everyone you meet. Continuously keep looking for people to give love. Love can be given with a smile, love can be given with knowledge, love can be given by a helping hand, love can be given with an inspiring word. Just Give, Give, and Keep giving….
Let’s make our world a better place to live.
UNTO HIM OUR BEST
HE was the Best, to Him our Best
(Credits to: Rajesh Sharma, Nidhi Kumari and Jagadish Sury).