Parama Guru – Swami Tapovan Maharaj
Swami Tapovan Maharaj of Uttarkashi was the “Source” where from Swami Chinmayananda (The Founder of the Chinmaya Movement) acquired the Knowledge of Vedanta (Science of Religion).Swami Tapovan was himself the ideal who had personally understood (through deep study, dispassion and contemplation) the relationship between the biological processes of the body and the human psyche.In a spirit of deep renunciation, the infinitely gentle poet in him, saw Humanity and Nature as one vast “plant”, needing only “Love” for its highest fulfillment.
Intimate communion with Nature (while he walked peaks and valleys of the Himalayas for countless years), gave Swami Tapovan the boundless spiritual reverence. He revealed Nature’s secrets in his “travelogue” in two Sanskrit masterpieces, “Himagiri Viharam” and “Kailasa Yatra”.
The masterpiece, without a doubt, is “Ishwara Darshan”, which is his autobiographical “sketch” – it is an absorbing account of a search for the Truth .. Its scientific clarity is subtle, because the treatise gives insight into how the saints of the East attain self mastery
Pujya – Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society and the diksha guru of Pujya Gurudev, was born on 8 th September, 1887 in the village of Pattamadai on the bank of the river Tamraparani in South India to Sri P.S. Vengu Iyer and Srimati Parvati Ammal. The happy couple named their son Kuppuswamy.
Kuppuswamy was an intelligent and mischievous boy who showed signs of renunciation and love for his fellow beings since his early childhood. After completing his medical studies in Tanjore, Swamiji started his practice in Tiruchi. In 1913 he left India to go to Malaysia where he was highly acclaimed as a kind and sympathetic doctor with a charming and majestic personality, who was always ready to serve those in need. His immense philanthropy and spirit of service and renunciation endeared him to all. People lovingly called him the “Heart of Love”.
The dormant spirituality in Swamiji was ignited by a gift; a book by Sri Swami Satchidananda entitled Jiva Brahma Aikyam. He began to study the works of Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami Vivekananda, Sankara, Imitation of Christ, the Bible, and literature of the Theosophical Society. After much intense reflection, he left his lucrative practice, returned to India in 1924, where he was initiated into sannyasa by Swami Visvananda and given the name Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
Swamiji founded the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, in the year 1936 in a small, dilapidated kutir on the banks of the Ganga. From this humble beginning the Society grew imperceptibly and it is now the headquarters of a world-wide organization with a large number of branches both within the country and outside. The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy Press was established in September 1951, a powerful means of wide dissemination of knowledge. The small dispensary that was inseparable from Swamiji grew slowly and became a regular hospital with x-ray and other facilities. The Sivananda Eye Hospital was formally opened in December 1957. The Society’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated in 1961, by which time the Master saw the fulfillment of his mission in his own lifetime.
Swami Sivananda radiated his divine and lofty message of service, meditation and God-realization to all parts of the world through his numerous books, periodicals and letters. Swamiji taught the Yoga of Synthesis, a harmonious development of the ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘heart’ through the practice of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
Swamiji attained mahasamadhi on the 14th of July 1963 in hiskutir on the banks of the Ganga in Shivanandanagar.
Pujya Gurudev – Swami Chinmayanandaji
Additional biographical information can be found in “Journey of a Master, Ageless Guru, Swami Chinmayananda: A Life of Inspiration and Service, and At Every Breath, A Teaching”.
His Holiness 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. 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.
Swami Chinmayananda attained mahasamadhi in August 1993. His legacy remains in the form of written, audio, and video publications; social service projects; Vedanta teachers whom he taught and inspired; and Chinmaya Mission centers worldwide, serving the spiritual and cultural needs of local communities.
Pujya Guruji – Swami Tejomayananda
Swami Tejomayananda, the present head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide is fluent in English, Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit. He has written commentaries on many scriptural texts, translated Swami Chinmayananda’s commentaries into Hindi, and authored a number of original works in Sanskrit. Swamiji excels in expounding upon a wide spectrum of Hindu scriptures, fromRamayāna to the Shrīmad Bhagavad Gīta and the Upanishads. As Gurudev did before him, Guruji, as he is known affectionately, moves around the world at a bewildering pace conducting jnāna yajnas.
Sudhakar Kaitwade (as he was previously called) was born in Madhya Pradesh on 30th June 1950. As a student he took a keen interest in music and drama. The spiritual call came to him in 1970 when he heard a Gita discourse given by Swami Chinmayananda. He was inspired to join the Vedanta Course at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Mumbai. After graduation in 1975, he served in the field for a few years as Brahmachari Vivek Chaitanya and was initiated into sannyāsa by Pujya Gurudev in 1983.
Swamiji became the head of the Chinmaya Mission upon Swami Chinmayananda’s mahāsamādhi in August 1993. He assumed his new role with ease and humility, and is working tirelessly to fulfill the vision of his guru. As he puts it, “I am not in Swamiji’s shoes, I am at his feet.”
Resident Acharya Shashi JI
Shashi Dwarakanath-ji is the resident Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Boston. She has met Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda in 1980’s and started organizing Bala Vihar classes in her basement since 1992. In her guidance the Boston area Bala Vihar program has grown to over 700 children. Shashi ji has completed a 2 year residential Vedanta program in Mumbai.
Acharya Shashi ji is a Pathologist by profession, at Lowell General Hospital.