Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda was a great ascetic of modern India who worked ceaselessly for over four decades, spreading the Vedantic message of peace and happiness to the classes and masses around the globe.
Balakrishna Menon was born on 8th May 1916, at Ernakulam, Kerala. He was an inquisitive and intelligent child. The musician saint, Chattambi Swamigal predicted a bright spiritual future for the boy.
Mere degrees in law and literature did not satisfy him. Sensitive to the freedom struggle around him, he joined the Indian Independence Movement in 1942. poverty, suppression, starvation, prison life, and a brush with death made him reflective.
He became Chief Reporter of the National Herald at Delhi. He earned the reputation of being the “forceful and dynamic voice” of all controversial issues like the British rule.
The radical journalist in him wanted to expose the “bluff of the masters” and this sent him to Rishikesh to interview Swami Shivananda. The meeting transformed him. The sceptic in Menon dissolved. Swami Shivananda initiated him into the holy order of sanyata on 25th February 1949. He was named Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati – one who revels in the bliss of pure Consciousness.
His austerity under the great Himalayan hermit, Swami Tapovanam, known as the Glory of the Himalayas, who taught him the Scriptures, discipline, and a spiritual way of life. Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda received an inspiring call from Mother Ganga that was to change his life. “Born in the Himalayas, she rushes to the plains giving life and nourishment to all. Fulfillment of any possession is in sharing it with others.” Swamiji approached his Guru for permission to go ahead with his plans.
Swami Tapovanam was a realist and wanted his disciple to first know the world as it is, before making his final decision. So advised him to travel across India for a year, penniless, and see the real India.
After a year of travel, Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda gave his first talk “Let us be Hindus”, at a Ganesha temple in Pune. Thus was born the Chinmaya Movement in December 1951. From then on, he became a globe-trotter touching the hearts of millions, including scholars at Harvard, M.l.T and several other accredited American and European universities. pujya Gurudev was not Just a great person; he was a personality an institution.
His name became synonymous with the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. He initiated a revival of Indian culture and spirituality at a time when it was most needed. He was chosen to be the president of the centenary celebrations of the World parliament of Religions at Chicago. Just prior to that, he attained mahasamadhi at San Diego, USA on 3rd August 1993. The spiritual luminary, Sri Eknath Easwaran noted when he heard of pujya Gurudevâ€™s passing, “Swamiji is one of the greatest spiritual teachers of modern India. No one can replace him.
“His legacy remains in the form of the global Chinmaya Mission. He has authored more than 300 books and written commentaries on various scriptural texts. Gurudev more than once declared that he wished to bring “Hindus back to Hinduism.” He believed that Vedanta was the spiritual birthright of every human being and that its earnest study and practice could make a Christian a better Christian, a Muslim a better Muslim and a Hindu a better Hindu, as it was universally applicable. He was a universal person in that he related to all as a true friend, philosopher and guide, irrespective of age, class, caste, vocation, religion or nationality.
He is best described in his own words, “God is the tree In your garden. The saint is the fruit in front of you.” The innumerable souls have eaten off this ‘fruit’ will always relish its eternal sweetness.