Swami Chinmayananda (May 8, 1916 -
Aug 3, 1993) was born Balakrishna Menon (Balan) in Ernakulam, Kerala in a
devout Hindu noble family called "Poothampalli". Graduating from Lucknow
University, he entered the field of journalism where he felt he could
influence political, economic and social reform in India. But his life was
changed when he met Swami Sivananda at Rishikesh and became interested in
the Hindu spiritual path.
Balakrishna Menon took sanyas(monkhood) from Swami Sivananda and was given
the name Swami Chinmayananda - the one who is saturated in Bliss and pure
Consciousness. Swami Shivananda 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 8 years. 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 advised against it. It was
then that with Tapovan maharaj's blessings, he left the Himalayas to teach
the world the knowledge of Vedanta throughout the world.
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. 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.
It's Naitonal Director, Dr. Kshama Metre was recently awarded the Padma
Shree National award in Social Work.
Swami Chinmayananda passed away on 3 August 1993 in San Diego, California.
His followers regard him as having attained Mahasamadhi at that point. His
work has resulted in the creation of an international organization called
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.