Swami Chinmayananda: To Give Maximum Happiness

Swami Chinmayananda was mentioned to me in passing the other day. The person felt to write it down for me. His story is very interesting and I note the turning points in his life which shunted him onto his vocation. Life is an interesting journey. He was devoted to happiness. A guru after my own heart. I am reflecting on the selfless service, how to do it in this society.


Swami Chinmayananda (8 May 1916 – 3 August 1993), born Balakrishna Menon (Balan), was a Hindu Indian spiritual leader, and teacher, who inspired the formation of Chinmaya Mission in 1953 to spread the message of Vedanta. The organization that was founded by his disciples and led by him: the Chinmaya Mission has over 300 centers in India and the world over.[1]

He was a disciple of Swami Sivananda at Rishikesh, who founded the Divine Life Society, and was then advised by Swami Sivananda to study under Swami Tapovan Maharaj in Uttarkashi in the Himalayas.[2]

Early life and education

Balakrishna Menon (Balan) was born in Ernakulam, Kerala in a devout Hindu noble family called “Poothampalli” of Parukutti Amma and Vadakke Kurupath Kuttan Menon. Upon his birth, his father called for an astrologer, who stated that Balan’s birth was an auspicious one, and that he was destined for greatness. He studied Science at Maharaja’s College at Ernakulam and Liberal Arts at St. Thomas College, Thrissur. He graduated from Madras University in 1939 and went on to do graduate study in English literature from Lucknow University.[2]

Participation in the Freedom Movement

Balakrishna Menon took part in the Quit India Movement in 1942. He was deeply involved in the movement and used to write and distribute phamplets and write speeches. Within a week, hundreds were dead and thousands were imprisoned in jails. After sometime, news of his imminent arrest reached Balan. For a whole Year of 1943 he stayed in Kashmir. He then left Kashmir for Delhi but, on the way in Abbottabad he saw that the British Police were searching for him. He ran away from the bus and on the way he saw a British Military Intelligence Communication Centre. He pretended to be a young man looking for a job. He was hired immediately as a machine operator for relaying coded messages. After eight months of service, He left the job and again participated in the Freedom Movement, thinking that the British Police had forgotten him after two years. But unfortunately he was caught and put into a cold, dark cell with other Freedom Fighters, with little food and poor hygienic conditions. Disease was rampant, and many political prisoners died each day. The British did not want to admit to or deal with the increasing number of deaths in the prison. Balan, too, fell ill with typhus. The police thought that he was dead too. The next morning they laid him on the road. After a while, a woman came and stopped her car. She thought that Balan was her own son, who was with the British troops in Europe. She took Balan to her home and after several weeks, he recovered. Once recovered, Balan caught a train to Baroda (Vadodra).

Initiation and disciplehood

Balan entered the field of journalism, and worked for The National Herald, where he felt he could influence political, economic and social reform in India. While working at the Herald, he went to meet Swami Sivananda at Ananda Kutir, Swami Sivananda’s ashram in Rishikesh as he planned to write an article critical of Hindu monks, but instead his life was changed forever and he became interested in the Hindu spiritual path.[3][4] Balakrishna Menon took sanyas deeksha(monkhood) from Swami Sivananda on Mahashivratri day on February 25, 1949,[5] and was thus given the name Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati – the one who is saturated in Bliss and pure Consciousness. He stayed at Sivanada Ashram, Rishikesh for several years, and subsequently Swami Sivananda saw further potential in Swami Chinmayananda and sent him to study under a guru in the Himalayas – Swami Tapovan Maharaj under whom he studied for the following years.[2]

Swami Tapovan Maharaj was known for his rigid teaching style, to the point where he told Swami Chinmayananda that he would only say everything once, and at anytime he would ask questions to him. Even with these extreme terms, Swami Chinmayananda stayed with Tapovan maharaj until the very end of 8 years. Being a journalist at heart, Swami Chinmayananda wanted to make this pure knowledge available to all people of all backgrounds, even though Tapovan Maharaj had initially advised against it. Through gentle persuasion and a promise that he would, as the Ganga – River Ganges, take the knowledge to the plains for the benefit of all Indians, with Tapovan Maharaj’s blessings, he left the Himalayas in 1952, to teach the world the knowledge of Vedanta.[2]


Swami Chinmayananda started the tradition of Jnana Yagnas, in an effort to spread the message of the Geeta and the Upanishads, thus the first such Geeta Gyana Yagna was held in Pune between December 31, 1951 and April 1952. In his whole Lifetime he had done almost 690 Jnana Yagna.[2][6]

In 1953, his closest disciples founded the Chinmaya Mission, named so to indicate that the goal of its followers was infinite bliss. During his forty years of travelling and teaching, Swami Chinmayananda opened numerous centres and ashrams worldwide, he also built many schools, hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. He played a major role in the renovation of many temples. His interest in helping the villagers with basic necessities lead to the eventual creation of a rural development project, known as the Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development or CORD. Its National Director, Dr. Kshama Metre was recently awarded the Padma Shree National award in Social Work.


Swami Chinmayananda died on 3 August 1993 in San Diego, California after being suffered from his fourth heart attack and his mortal remains were placed in a Samadhi on 19 August 1993, at the Sidhbari Ashram in the Himalayas.[


Today, his legacy remains in the form of the vibrant international organization called the Chinmaya Mission. This mission serves Swami Chinmayananda’s vision of reinvigorating India’s rich cultural heritage, and making Vedanta accessible to everybody regardless of age, nationality, or religious background. Over 10,000 members of the Chinmaya Mission from over the world gathered in Mumbai in December 2001 to commemorate 50 years of the first Gyana Yagna at Pune.[7] Two years later in 2003, the Chinmaya Movement celebrated its golden jubilee.[8]


Chinmaya Mission

Swami Chinmayananda, founder of Chinmaya Mission, taught spirituality as the art of living. Through jnana yoga (the Vedantic path of spiritual knowledge), he emphasized the balance of head and heart, pointing out selfless work, study, and meditation as the cornerstones of spiritual practice.

Not satisfied by worldly aspirations or his degrees in literature and law, Balakrishna Menon pursued spiritual studies for nine years in the Himalayas, under the guidance of Swami Sivananda (Divine Life Society) and the tutelage of Swami Tapovanam (Tapovan Maharaj). He eventually came to share this Vedantic knowledge with the masses, in the form of the dynamic teacher known as Swami Chinmayananda.

Swamiji is renowned worldwide as a spiritual master and 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.

Mission Statement

To provide to individuals, from any background, the wisdom of Vedanta and practical means for spiritual growth and happiness, enabling them to become a positive contributor to the society.

Mission Motto

To give the maximum amount of happiness to maximum number of people for the maximum amount of time.[1]

Chinmaya Mission Pledge

We stand as one family Bound to each other with love and respect.

We serve as an army Courageous and disciplined Ever ready to fight against all low tendencies And false values, within and without us.

We live honestly The noble life of sacrifice and service Producing more than what we consume And giving more than what we take.

We seek the Lord’s grace To keep us on the path of virtue, courage and wisdom. May Thy grace and blessings flow through us To the world around us.

We believe that the service of our country Is the service of the Lord of lords And devotion to the people Is the devotion to the Supreme Self.

We know our responsibilities Give us the ability and courage to fulfill them.

Om Tat Sat


The following activities are conducted at mission centers on a weekly basis:

* Balvihar for children 5 to 12
* CHYK – Chinmaya Yuva Kendra
o Junior CHYK for teenagers 13–15
o CHYK for the age group of 16 to 24
o Senior CHYK for youth aged 25–30
* Study Groups for Adults
* Chinmaya Vanprastha Sansthan for Senior Citizens (India and UK)

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Mohandas Gandhi

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”