Our Masters

Swami Tapovan Maharaj

Swami Tapovan Maharaj was the Guru of Swami Chinmayananda, the architect of the Chinmaya Movement.

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About Swami Tapovan Maharaj

Swami Tapovanam was a consummate Vedantin, a strict teacher, poet and a sage of great wisdom and tranquility. He was a pristine glacier of Self-knowledge, a saint of the highest order. That Truth, which Swami Tapovanam realised and indicated in all his teachings is beyond words, as much as he himself was. Swami Chinmayananda said of his Guru, “He was a God without temple, a Veda without language”.

Childhood And Youth

Born in 1889 in Kerala, India, Chippu Kutty, as Swami Tapovanam was known, exhibited a marked partiality for spiritual life. As a child, he was fascinated and delighted by Pauranik stories manifesting the glories of God and the worship of idols fashioned by his own hands. Too intelligent to be trained within the formal learning systems of his time, he sought a less materialistic and more of spiritual education. Home-schooled until the age of 17, he proved himself to be a devout Vedantin, and a linguistic genius and litterateur par excellence, mastering both Malayalam and Sanskrit. Both his parents passed away before he turned 21, and by then, he was already renowned and revered for his original poetic compositions. He adopted the sannyasi’s religious and serene lifestyle long before his initiation into the ochre robe of sannyasa. An introvert to the core, he loved spending his time immersed in spiritual reflection and was averse to all worldly pleasures.
 

The Spiritual Quest

Even as a formidable scholar, his thirst for knowledge could not be quenched by mere intellectual advances. Despite the accolades earned during his years of public speaking on literature, politics, religion, and Vedanta, in his late 20s, unable to control his spiritual hunger, Chippu Kutty left home in search of Truth. For seven years he travelled widely, devoutly studying Vedic scriptures and observing austerities. Swami Janardhana Giri of Kailash Ashram in Rishikesh initiated him into sannyasa with the name, Swami Tapovanam – “forest of austerities”. Swami Tapovanam chose to live in the then small, remote mountainous area of Uttarkashi in Uttaranchal. His hermitage called Tapovan Kutir, a meagre one-room thatched hut, in front of which the sacred River Ganga flows, would soon acquire great fame the world over for its spiritual luminescence.

The Teacher

Filled with divine Light, the compassionate sage shared words of wisdom with all devotees who came to him in search of spiritual knowledge, but rarely did he accept resident disciples. Monks, householders, pilgrims, and seekers from all stages and fields of life continually thronged to Uttarkashi to be in the presence of, and learn from, the Self-realized master and erudite scholar. When Swami Tapovanam did accept a resident disciple, the latter was trained under the strictest conditions. There were few who could undergo and survive such hardships, but those seekers who did, were blessed by the Master with supreme Enlightenment.
 

Published Works

As a jivanmukta or Self-realised master, Swami Tapovanam was a lover of Nature and saw the supreme Lord in all expressions, within and without. In his inspiring, poetic works of Himagiri Viharam (Wanderings in the Himalayas) and Kailasa Yatra (Pilgrimage to Kailasa) are seen the full flow of his blissful and soulful renderings of Nature, and the profundity of his subtle observations and reflections. However, it is his mystical autobiography, Ishvara Darshan (Vision of the Lord), that sages and seekers the world over have stamped as his masterpiece.
 

 

Swami Chinmayananda

Swami Chinmayananda, the founder of Chinmaya Mission spread the sublime knowledge of the Upanishads to modern man.

About Swami Chinmayananda

The life of Swami Chinmayananda was one of extraordinary spiritual strength, immeasurable love and tireless service. In less than half a century, he has left behind a worldwide organisation, hundreds of institutions, and millions of devotees. This was all aimed at a single theme, discovering the Eternal within.

Early Life

Swami Chinmayananda was born on May 8th, 1916 as Balakrishna Menon (Balan) in Ernakulam, Kerala. His family was very devout in their religious life and had regular contact with holy men. This influence moulded Balan’s mental and moral make-up preparing him for the mission of his life ahead. Balan excelled with his education graduating in Science, Political Science, Law and English Literature at Lucknow University. A man of strong ideas and idealism he entered the field of journalism where he felt he could influence political, economic and social reform in India. At this time he met Swami Sivananda at Rishikesh and became very interested in the spiritual path. Here he found the answers that he was seeking.

Swami Chinmayananda Is Born

Balakrishna Menon took monkhood from Swami Sivananda to become Swami Chinmayananda – the one who is saturated in Bliss and Consciousness. Swami Sivananda saw the potential in Swami Chinmayananda and sent him to study under the greatest Teacher in the Himalayas – Swami Tapovan Maharaj. 

 Swami Chinmayananda studied for 12 years under Swami Tapovan’s guidance, leading a very austere and rigorous life. Then he felt a deep inner urge to share his knowledge and wisdom with the mass of humanity. He descended to the plains and held his first yagna in Pune to a small group of three people. This humble beginning rapidly expanded to more than 500 series of lectures given to audiences numbering thousands.

Rapid Growth Of Chinmaya Mission

During his 40 years of traveling and teaching, Gurudev opened numerous centres and centres worldwide, he also built many schools, hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. As well as reinvigorating India’s rich cultural heritage, Swami Chinmayananda made Vedanta accessible to everybody regardless of age, nationality, or religious background. On 3 August 1993, in San Diego, USA, Swami Chinmayananda attained Mahasamadhi. He worked tirelessly to the very last moment and created an international spiritual revolution.

 

 

Swami Tejomayananda

Swami Tejomayananda

Since 1993, Swami Tejomayananda has worked tirelessly to fulfill the vision of his Master, initiating major projects to advance Swami Chinmayananda’s vision, teachings and glory.

Guruji, as he is affectionately known, is a living portrait of simplicity with depth, humility with courage, and wisdom with devotion. Always jovial, smiling, and welcoming, he is readily accessible and approachable to all who seek the knowledge of Vedanta from him.

Childhood And Education

Born into a Maharashtrian family on June 30, 1950, in Madhya Pradesh, India, Sudhakar Kaitwade was not spiritually inclined as such. At the age of 20, a year away from getting his Master’s degree in Physics, Sudhakar intended to pursue a teaching career.

Renunciation And Spiritual Quest

Sudhakar’s revolutionary change came about the day he was attracted to a large banner announcing Swami Chinmayananda’s talks on Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta, Chapter 3. A couple of talks later, he was so thoroughly inspired that he sought the permission of his mother to join the Chinmaya Mission’s residential Vedanta course at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Mumbai.

The Teacher

Upon completion of the Vedanta course in 1975, Sudhakar was initiated into the Chinmaya Mission’s monastic order of acharyas (teachers) as Brahmachari Vivek Chaitanya. Over the years, he served as acharya at the Mission centres in Bhopal, Kanpur, and Sidhbari. He conducted the first residential Vedanta course in Hindi at ‘Sandeepany Himalayas’ in Sidhbari. On October 21, 1983, Swami Chinmayananda initiated him into sannyasa, bestowing upon him the name, Swami Tejomayananda. He was then appointed as acharya of the Sandeepany Sadhanalaya ashram in Mumbai, where he taught two consecutive residential Vedanta courses in English. In 1989, Swami Tejomayananda was posted to Chinmaya Mission’s U.S. Centre in San Jose, California, where he remained as acharya until 1993. After Pujya Gurudev attained Mahasamadhi he became the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide.

The Missionary

As the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide, Swami Tejomayananda-now known in the Mission as ‘Pujya Guruji’- has continuously and dynamically pursued his guru’s grand spiritual and organisational vision. Progressive in thinking and precise in decision-making, he has inspired and executed many notable, innovative projects, including the Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, the Chinmaya Centre of World Understanding in New Delhi, the Chinmaya International Foundation near Cochin, the Chinmaya Heritage Centre in Chennai, the expansion of the Chinmaya Mission Hospital in Bangalore and the Chinmaya Vibhooti Vision Centre and Chinmaya Naada Bindu music and dance school in Kolwan, Maharashtra. In overseeing the Mission’s global activities and projects, Swami Tejomayananda’s tours around the world are extensive and continuous. Throughout his travels, he conducts gyana yagnas (3-7 day Vedanta lecture series) in different cities and various countries every week. His gentle manner, devotional heart, intellectual clarity, joyful wit, and open availability have earned him intergenerational appeal and endeared him to millions across the globe.

Published Works

Fluent in Hindi, Marathi, English, and Sanskrit, Swami Tejomayananda’s talks, written commentaries, and original music, poetry, and text compositions exude lofty spiritual insights, incisive Vedantic scholarship, and universal harmony. His original Vedantic texts include Bhakti Sudha, Jnana Sarah, Manah Shodhanam, Dhyanasvarupam and Jivanasutrani. His acclaimed commentaries include Adi Sankara’s Drg-Drshya Viveka, Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesha Saram, Kapila Gita, and Yoga Vasistha. He has also translated into Hindi Swami Chinmayananda’s English commentaries on Shrimad Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. His book ‘Hindu Culture: An Introduction’ has been adopted as an academic text by some American schools. As a laudable devotional singer, he has recorded several albums with original music and lyrics. His profound, poignant, and pictorial talks on Sant Tulsidasa’s Ramacharitamanasa and Veda Vyasa’s Shrimad Bhagavatam are world-renowned, highlighting his spiritual wisdom and masterful storytelling.

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