A B O U T U S
Pujya Swami Tapovan Maharaj
His Holiness Swami Tapovan-ji Maharaj of Uttarkashi is the renowned spiritual master from whom Pujya Swami Chinmayananda acquired the wealth of Vedantic knowledge.
Swami Tapovanji set before himself the ideals portrayed by Lord Krishna in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. He was a virakta mahatma and the embodiment of the ideals of sannyasa, endowed with supreme renunciation, profound wisdom, austerity, and compassion.
Born in 1889 in Kerala, Swamiji was also a poet, and had a deep love for Mother Nature's canvases of rare beauty--the unfrequented Himalayan peaks and valleys. He wrote his travels in two splendid volumes, Himagiri Viharam and Kailasa Yatra. Swamiji's masterpiece is the rich Sanskrit volume, Ishvara Darshan. This autobiographical sketch is a garland of spiritual thoughts, revealing the fragrance of the life of a man of realization.
Swamiji lived for 68 years as a monumental expression of an ideal Vedantic Guru in the ancient rishi tradition. He attained mahasamadhi in 1957.
Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda
His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda (Pujya Gurudev), founder of Chinmaya Mission, taught spirituality as a way of life. He was born in Kerala on May 8, 1916. Through the path of jnana yoga, or the spiritual path of Vedantic knowledge, he emphasized the balance of head and heart, pointing out selfless work, study, and meditation as the cornerstones of spiritual practice.
Not satisfied with his literature and law degrees or other worldly aspirations, Balakrishnan Menon pursued the spiritual path with austere practices for nine years in the Himalayas, under the guidance of Pujya Swami Sivananda and the tutelage of Pujya Swami Tapovanji. He eventually chose to share his direct experience of Vedantic knowledge with the masses, and roared forth like Mother Ganga in the form of the dynamic spiritual master known as Swami Chinmayananda.
Pujya Gurudev is renowned worldwide as one of the foremost teachers of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. He is credited with the renaissance of spirituality and cultural values in India and with the spreading of the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta, as expounded by Adi Shankaracharya, throughout the world.
Pujya Gurudev attained mahasamadhi on August 3, 1993. His legacy remains in the form of written, audio, and video publications; social service projects (schools, hospitals, rural development programs, and more); and the missionaries who carry on his vision to this day.
Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda
His Holiness Swami Tejomayananda (Pujya Guruji), Head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide 1993-2017, continues to fulfilling the vision that Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda charted. As he puts it, “I am not in Swamiji’s shoes; I am at His feet.”
Born as Sudhakar Kaitwade on June 30, 1950, Pujya Guruji joined the ashram at the tender age of 19 and became one of the foremost disciples of his Guru. He later served as acharya, or dean of the Sandeepany institutes of Vedanta (gurukulams of Chinmaya Mission) in India, and as acharya in Mission centers in India and the US. He has written countless books that include commentaries on scriptural texts and translations of Pujya Gurudev’s commentaries, as well as over 100 original poems and songs with lyrics and music compositions. One key contribution is Hindu Culture: An Introduction, a text acclaimed for its clear description of the basics of Hinduism; it has been adopted as a reference text in some American high schools.
Pujya Guruji excels in deftly expounding a wide spectrum of Hindu scriptures, from Ramayana to Shrimad Bhagavad Gita to the Upanishads with clarity, devotion, and profound wisdom. He conducts discourses around the world and his easy manner and devotional rendering of Vedantic texts has drawn many newcomers into the spiritual fold.
Swami Swaroopananda, Global Head of Chinmaya Mission
Swami Swaroopananda is a rare voice that blends authenticity with accessibility, theory with practice, and logic with heart. Formerly the Regional Head of Chinmaya Mission Australia, United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa and Far East, and presently Chairman of the Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth Trust (University for Sanskrit and Indic Traditions) and Director of the Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, Swami Swaroopananda was appointed as the Global Head of Chinmaya Mission on Jnauary 19, 2017.
Chinmaya Mission Motto
Chinmaya Mission® was established in India in 1953 by devotees of the world-renowned Vedanta teacher, His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda, a disciple of the revered Himalayan master, His Holiness Swami Tapovanam. Under his guidance, these devotees formed the nucleus of a spiritual renaissance movement that now encompasses a wide range of spiritual, educational, and charitable activities, ennobling the lives of thousands in India and outside its borders. Administered by Central Chinmaya Mission Trust in Mumbai, India, the Mission was headed by His Holiness Swami Tejomayananda from 1993 to 2017. The present Head of Chinmaya Mission is now Swami Swaroopananda.
Following the Vedic teacher-taught tradition (guru-shishya parampara), Chinmaya Mission makes available the ageless wisdom of Vedanta, the knowledge of the one Reality, and provides the tools to realize that wisdom in one’s life. “To give maximum happiness to the maximum number for the maximum time” is the tenet that drives Mission workers to uplift humanity beyond selfish and sectarian attitudes and activities. Each person’s gain is manifold: personal growth, heightened efficiency, contentment, and the ability to live with others in peace and harmony. For more information, see Chinmaya Mission: Transforming Lives.
There are over 325 Chinmaya Mission centers in India, and over 80 outside of India. The Mission’s various activities and projects include:
Jnana Yajnas (Vedanta public lecture series), Seminars, Workshops
as one family, bound to each other with love and respect.
honestly the noble life of sacrifice and service,
the Lord’s grace to keep us on the path
that the service of our country
Chinmaya Mission® Tampa (CM Tampa) is a center with old beginnings. Inspired by the teachings of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, Radha Majumdar and Padma Pillai began the first Chinmaya Study Group in 1986 with 12 members. A few years later, they organized a jnana yajna by Swami Shantananda (CM Princeton). The successful event was well attended, marking a time of growth for Chinmaya Mission activities in the Tampa Bay area.
Chinmaya Mission Tampa officially incorporated with an appointed Board of Director in December 1998. Guided by Swami Shantananda, Radha Majumdar and Anu Durai organized Chinmaya Bala Vihar, which began with 45 students.
Ira and Jiwat Lalwani were instrumental in organizing CM Tampa's yajna yajnas and other programs. Under Hasmukh Gandhi's tenure as president of CM Tampa, Swami Swaroopananda’s jnana yajna on Hanuman Chalisa was highly acclaimed and well-received, becoming a milestone in the local community. During Narendra Sastry's term as president, in 1999, Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda graced CM Tampa with a five-day jnana yajna on select verses of Tulasi Ramayana.
CM Tampa's Chinmaya Study Groups and Chinmaya Bala Vihar classes have continued to grow and benefit the community since since 1999. Visiting acharyas have included Swamis Shantananda, Ishwarananda, Prakashananda, and Sarveshananda; and Swamini Radhikananda.
Two of the greatest gifts from Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda to the younger generation are ‘Chinmaya Bala Vihar’ and ‘Chinmaya Yuva Kendra.’ Both programs provide spiritual and cultural orientation to children and youth of the modern age. Chinmaya Bala Vihar (CMBV) is for children grades PreK-12, and Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) is for university students and young adults (ages 17-29).
Pujya Gurudev said, “Children are not vessels to be filled, but lamps to be lit. Children are the architects of the future world. They are the builders of humanity. It is the most sacred task of parents, as well as teachers, to mold their lives in accordance with the sublime Indian tradition. The seeds of spiritual values should be sown in young hearts and the condition should be made favorable for its sprouting and steady growth by the exercise of proper control and discipline. Cared for with the warmth of love and affection, such a tree shall blossom forth flowers of universal love, peace, beauty, and perfection.”
The rationale behind this program, as elucidated by Pujya Gurudev in his talk on "March of the Future," is summarized as follows:
To inculcate in our children and youth a reverence for our ancient culture,
and inspire them to live up to it with correct understanding
CMBV classes include the Vedantic teachings of: Sanskrit stotrams and prayers, bhajans, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, and the Puranas. Also included are value-based and devotional stories that teach Hindu culture and basic morals, such as honesty, diligence, responsibility, valor, and integrity. Additionally, CM Tampa's special events enhance the growth of our community's children in the arts of puja, meditation, and community service.
Motto: Keep smiling!
Two of the greatest gifts from Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda to the younger generation are ‘Chinmaya Bala Vihar’ and ‘Chinmaya Yuva Kendra.’ Both programs provide spiritual and cultural orientation to children and youth of the modern age. Chinmaya Bala Vihar (CMBV) is for children, grades pk-10, and Chinmaya Yuva Kendra (CHYK) is for youth and young adults, ages 17-29 years.
The purpose of CHYK, as given by Pujya Gurudev, is to harness dynamic potential. Gurudev said that today’s youth are not useless; they are used less. And that youth are not careless; they are cared for less than they should be. CHYK strives to unite youth and young adults by providing a forum to explore, discuss, and practice Vedanta while strengthening their lives in every endeavor. The objectives of CHYK include:
To provide a spiritual forum and introduce the philosophy and message
CHYK classes include the Vedantic study of: Sanskrit stotrams and prayers, bhajans, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanishads. CM Tampa's special events help purify the mind through sadhana (spiritual means) such as meditation, japa, puja, and community service.
Mission Statement: To empower youth with the vision, values, and dynamism for success in all fields
Motto: Harnessing Youth Potential through Dynamic Spirituality
Inspired by the vision of Vedanta, thousands of spiritual seekers across the world meet in groups to study and discuss Vedantic texts. Setting aside blind beliefs, they discuss scriptural teachings, deepening their personal philosophical understanding. Study Group members are those who study the scriptures because they have a thirst to imbibe and benefit from the perennial wisdom of the rishis. The followed systematic Study Group Scheme has been developed and prescribed by Pujya Gurudev himself, after testing its validity over the years. Today, there are over 1,000 Chinmaya Study Groups worldwide.
What is read or heard, in order to take root, must be thought over (tat chintanam) or reflected upon. The test of clear thinking is in the ability to express our thoughts clearly (tat kathanam). Again, whether our understanding is correct and proper, is brought out in the rational and mutual discussion of the Study Group members (anyonya prabodhanam). Thus, the sincere and diligent student gains a better perspective of our scriptures through this process. Additionally, this forum, in the atmosphere of satsanga, also fosters and develops brotherly understanding and cooperative thinking among the members, and affirms the wisdom of Oneness.
Chinmaya Adult Study Groups follow a study syllabus that includes introductory Vedantic texts, Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, and the Upanishads. These weekly classes for adults are free and follow the Chinmaya Bala Vihar (spiritual classes for kids) calendar. CM Tampa’s weekly classes and special events are conducted by resident acharya, Swamini Akhilananda. View weekly classes.
Mission Statement: To provide to individuals, from any background, the wisdom of Vedanta and the practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become positive contributors to society
Motto: To give the maximum amount of happiness to the maximum number of beings for the maximum amount of time
Jnana Yajnas (spiritual discourses on various Vedantic topics and texts) are specially coined and formulated by Chinmaya Mission to teach Vedantic scriptures and topics to all interested spiritual seekers. CM Tampa continues to anually invite various CMW acharyas from across North America to conduct jnana yajna for all South Floridians. Jnana yajnas are always free of charge, open to the public, and 3-7 days in duration. CM acharyas in India and outside its borders are also adept in conducting classes and jnana yajnas in regional languages, including Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malyalam, Marathi, and Kannada, to name a few. CM publications are also available in regional languages. View calendar of events.
CM Tampa Acharya
Swamini Akhilananda first met Pujya Gurudev, His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda, at a Chinmaya Mission spiritual camp in Canada. Inspired by his life and teachings, she continued to seek his presence whenever chance permitted. With his blessings, she joined Chinmaya Mission's intensive two-year Vedanta Course at the Sandeepany Sadhanalaya ashram in Mumbai, India in 1993. She was initiated as Brahmacharini Aparna Chaitanya in August 1995. On Mahashivaratri Day in 2013, she received sannyasa diksha from Pujya Guruji, His Holiness Swami Tejomayananda, and was initiated into the monastic order as Swamini Akhilananda.
She has lived and studied in the U.S. most of her life, and has been conducting Vedanta classes, camps, and workshops for all age groups for nearly 25 years. She has also served as the Executive Secretary of Chinmaya Mission West (CMW, the guiding body for CM centers in North America) and as the Editor-in-Chief of CMW News, CMW's former bimonthly newsletter.