Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back

Swami Chinmayananda: An Atheist Journalist Turned Sanyasi

Author: Shesha Kumar
Publication: Myind.net
Date:  May 8, 2020
URL:      https://myind.net/Home/viewArticle/swami-chinmayananda-an-atheist-journalist-turned-sanyasi

Today is the Jayanti of Balakrishna Menon, popularly known as Swami Chinmayananda. The founder of Chinmaya Mission which runs more than 300 spiritual, educational, and charitable Non Profit Organizations. Swami Chinmayananda was also one of the founding members of Vishva Hindu Parishad established in 1964 with the assistance of RSS.

Swami Chinmayananda, was born at Ernakulam on May 8th, 1916 to VKK Menon and Parukutti Amma. He was the eldest of 3 children. He finished his schooling and college in Kerala and enrolled at Lucknow University for PG degree in literature, law and journalism. In the summer of 1936, he visited, Sri Ramana Maharshi. By Chinmayananda's own admission, when Ramana Maharshi looked at him, he experienced a thrill of spiritual enlightenment which, at the time, he promptly rationalizes away as being mere "hypnotism."

As an active student leader, during Quit India Movement, Balan wrote stirring articles and distributed leaflets. He had an arrest warrant against him for his revolutionary activities. To evade arrest, he went undercover and spent a year in the state of Abbottabad (Pakistan), away from the Britishers administrative purview. In 1944, two years after the British had issued an arrest warrant, believing his case was long forgotten, Balan arrived in Punjab and associated himself with several freedom groups. He advised students on distributing leaflets and organizing public strikes but was arrested and imprisoned.

K. Rama Rao gave Balan his first job, as a journalist at The National Herald, a newspaper that had been founded a few years back by Jawaharlal Nehru. He covered subjects ranging from history and culture to social and political issues. Articles such as "In Praise of the Postman" and "The Mochi—Symbol of Craftsmanship" gained him a reputation. He travelled to Swami Shivananda's Ashram at Rishikesh on a writing project to expose the Sadhus. Menon was 31 then, he soon transformed from being a sceptic to an enthusiast and eventually became a monk. He began reading more about Hindu scriptures and reviewing spiritual books.

On the holy day of Mahashivratri, February 25th 1949, Balan was initiated into SANYASA by Swami Sivananda, who gave him the name Swami Chinmayananda, or "bliss of pure Consciousness". Referring to that life-changing event, Swamiji once said, "I went not to gain knowledge, but to find out how the Swamis were keeping up the bluff among the masses." With Swami Sivananda's blessings, Chinmayananda met Tapovan Maharaj of Uttarkashi, and devoted the next few years of his life to an intensive study of Vedanta under him. As his disciple, Chinmayananda made rigorous study of the scriptures. In 1951, with the blessings of his guru, Chinmayananda decided to take the teachings of Vedanta to the masses. In May, he left the Himalayas with a plan to set out on a tour and visit places of worship to see how Hindu religious heritage was being handed down. He later alluded, “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 Gnana Yajna sessions all over Bharat”.

Swami Chinmayananda held his first lecture series at a Ganesha temple in Pune in December 1951. His audiences soon swelled from a handful into 1000s. Army officers from the Southern Command attended and the audience overflowed into the lanes near the temple. Everyone in the audience, man and woman, across all social strata, was asked to participate in the rituals.

At the end of the second jñāna yajña in Madras in 1953, a handful of people expressed the desire to create a forum for the study and discussion of Vedanta. He reluctantly agreed to lay the foundation in his name and thus on 8 August 1953, the Chinmaya Mission was formed. In 1956, the President of India, Rajendra Prasad inaugurated the 23rd jñāna yajña held at Delhi and spoke highly of Swami Chinmayananda’s efforts to restore Bharat's cultural glory. In a span of five years, Swami had touched the lives over 50,000 of his countrymen through 25 Gnana Yagna across the country.

In 1963, Swami Chinmayananda wrote an article calling for a World Hindu Council, inviting delegates from throughout the world to discuss the difficulties faced by Hindus. Titled as "Survival and Development of Hindu culture", his visionary approach attracted attention of RSS pracharak S. S. Apte. In the same year, Chinmaya Mission collected Rs. 10,000 to fund the construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, being built by RSS at Kanyakumari.

In August 1964, the Pope announced that the International Eucharistic Conference would be held in November in Bombay, and stated that 250 Hindus would be converted to Christianity. In response, Swami Chinmayananda announced that he would convert 500 Christians to Hinduism. Christians abandoned the Conversion project.(pg 194 books.google.co.in/books?redir_es…). RSS Pracharak Apte and Chinmayananda jointly organized a conference at the Sandeepany Ashram in August 1964, paving way for the genesis of Vishva Hindu Parishad.

Swami Chinmayananda was elected as President and Apte worked as general secretary of the new organization. According to Swami Chinmayananda, the VHP was founded in order to awaken the Hindus, to make them conscious of their proud place in the comity of nations. He said, “Once we have made every Hindu conscious of his own identity, the Parishad has done its job and we shall feel fully rewarded”. Let us bring Hindus to Hinduism, then everything will be all right.

On 6 March 1965, Swami Chinmayananda set out on his first global teaching tour, covering 39 cities in 18 countries. Over the next 28 years he delivered several discourses, staying only a week at a place and delivering a minimum of two lectures a day. He was a supporter of interfaith dialogue and participated in many interfaith events. He also believed that the VHP should be focused on educating members of the Hindu diaspora and their children about knowledge of their "cultural duties and spiritual values" and give them the opportunity to "learn, to appreciate and involve themselves in our tradition". In the 1980s, Swami Chinmayananda also supported the VHP's Ektamata Yatras, stating that those who oppose the yatras "have no respect for national unity and suffer from alienation from the country."

Swamiji after immense service to Hindutva attained MAHASAMADHI on 03-08-1993.


«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements