स्वामी चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती -जन्म: (8 मई, 1916)
स्वामी चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती ( जन्म- 8 मई, 1916, एर्नाकुलम, केरल; मृत्यु- 3 अगस्त, 1993, कैलिफ़ोर्निया, अमरीका) भारत के प्रसिद्ध आध्यात्मिक चिंतक तथा वेदान्त दर्शन के विश्व प्रसिद्ध विद्वान थे। इनका मूल नाम 'बालकृष्ण मेनन' था। इन्होंने सारे भारत में भ्रमण करते हुए देखा कि देश में धर्म संबंधी अनेक भ्रांतियां फैली हैं। उनका निवारण कर शुद्ध धर्म की स्थापना करने के लिए स्वामी चिन्मयानंद जी ने 'गीता ज्ञान-यज्ञ' प्रारम्भ किया और 1953 में 'चिन्मय मिशन' की स्थापना की। स्वामी चिन्मयानंद के प्रवचन बड़े ही तर्कसंगत और प्रेरणादायी होते थे। उनको सुनने के लिए काफ़ी भीड़ एकत्र हो जाती थी। स्वामी जी ने सैकड़ों सन्न्यासी और ब्रह्मचारी प्रशिक्षित किये, हज़ारों स्वाध्याय मंडल स्थापित किये, बहुत-से सामाजिक सेवा के कार्य भी उन्होंने प्रारम्भ करवाये थे। उपनिषद, गीता और आदि शंकराचार्य के 35 से अधिक ग्रंथों पर इन्होंने व्याख्यायें लिखीं। 'गीता' पर लिखा गया उनका भाष्य सर्वोत्तम माना जाता है।
जन्म तथा शिक्षा
स्वामी चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती का जन्म 8 मई, 1916 को एर्नाकुलम, केरल में हुआ था। उनके बचपन का नाम 'बालकृष्ण मेनन' था। पिता न्याय विभाग में एक न्यायाधीश थे। बालकृष्ण की प्रारम्भिक शिक्षा पाँच वर्ष की आयु में स्थानीय विद्यालय 'श्रीराम वर्मा ब्यास स्कूल' में हुई। उनकी मुख्य भाषा अंग्रेज़ी थी। बालकृष्ण की बुद्धि तीव्र थी और पढ़ने में वे होशियार थे। उनकी गिनती आदर्श छात्रों में की जाती थी। आगे की शिक्षा के लिए वालकृष्ण मेनन ने 'महाराजा कॉलेज' में प्रवेश लिया। वे कॉलेज में विज्ञान के छात्र थे। जीव विज्ञान, वनस्पति विज्ञान और रसायन शास्त्र उनके विषय थे। यहाँ से इण्टर पास कर लेने पर उनके पिता का स्थानान्तरण त्रिचूर के लिए हो गया। यहाँ उन्होंने विज्ञान विषय छोड़ कर कला के विषय ले लिये। बाद में उच्च शिक्षा के लिए उन्होंने 1940 में 'लखनऊ विश्वविद्यालय' में प्रवेश ले लिया। यहाँ उन्होंने विधि और अंग्रेज़ी साहित्य का अध्ययन किया। विविध रुचियों वाले बालकृष्ण मेनन विश्वविद्यालय स्तर पर अध्ययन के साथ-साथ अन्य गतिविधियों में भी संलग्न रहते थे।
1942 में वे आज़ादी के राष्ट्रीय आंदोलन में शामिल हो गए और इन्हें कई महीने जेल में रहना पड़ा। स्नातक उपाधि प्राप्त करने के बाद उन्होंने नई दिल्ली के समाचार पत्र 'नेशनल हेरॉल्ड' में पत्रकार की नौकरी कर ली तथा विभिन्न विषयों पर लिखने लगे। व्यावसायिक रूप से अच्छे प्रदर्शन के बाबजूद मेनन अपने तात्कालिक जीवन से असंतुष्ट व बेचैन थे तथा जीवन एवं मृत्यु और आध्यात्मिकता के वास्तविक अर्थ के शाश्वत प्रश्नों से घिरे हुए थे।
अपने प्रश्नों के उत्तर ढूंढ़ने के लिए बालकृष्ण मेनन ने भारतीय तथा यूरोपीय, दोनों दर्शनशास्त्रों का गहन अध्ययन शुरू किया। स्वामी शिवानंद के लेखन से गहन रूप से प्रभावित होकर मेनन ने सांसारिकता का परित्याग कर दिया और 1949 में शिवानंद के आश्रम में शामिल हो गए। वहां उनका नामकरण "स्वामी चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती" किया गया, जिसका अर्थ था "पूर्ण चेतना के आनंद से परिपूर्ण व्यक्ति"। अगले आठ वर्षो का समय उन्होंने वेदांत गुरु स्वामी तपोवन के निर्देशक में प्राचीन दार्शनिक साहित्य और अभिलेखों के अध्ययन में बिताया। इस दौरान चिन्मयानंद को अनुभूति हुई कि उनके जीवन का उद्देश्य वेदांत के संदेश का प्रसार और भारत में आध्यात्मिक पुनर्जागरण लाना है।
पुणे से आरंभ करके चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती ने सभी मुख्य नगरों में ज्ञान-यज्ञ करना शुरू किया। आरंभ में पुरोहित वर्ग ने उपनिषदों और भगवद्गीता के पवित्र ज्ञान के मुक्त प्रसार का विरोध किया, क्योंकि उस समय तक यह ज्ञान ब्राह्मणों के लिए सुरक्षित था। चिन्मयानंद तक हर व्यक्ति की पहुंच थी। वह सत्संगों (धार्मिक सभाओं) में पुरुषों और स्त्रियों से मिलते तथा उन्हें आध्यात्मिक मार्गदर्शन देते। उन्होंने इस बात पर ज़ोर दिया कि वेदांत का उद्देश्य मनुष्य के दैनंदिन जीवन में उसे क्रमश: अधिक सुखी और संतुष्ट बनाना है, जो व्यक्ति को भीतर से स्वत: आध्यात्मिक जागरण की ओर प्रवृत्त करता है। दैनिक जीवन के उदाहरणों की सहायता से वह गूढ़ दर्शन को सामान्य और तर्कपूर्ण ढंग से समझाते थे।
स्वामी चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती ने 'चिन्मय मिशन' की स्थापना की, जो दुनिया भर में वेदांत के ज्ञान के प्रसार में संलग्न है। साथ ही यह संस्था कई सांस्कृतिक, शैक्षिक और सामाजिक कार्यों की गतिविधियों की भी देखरेख करती है। 1993 में शिकागों में विश्व धर्म संसद में चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती ने हिन्दू धर्म का प्रतिनिधित्व किया। एक शताब्दी पहले स्वामी विवेकानंद को यह सम्मान मिला था। कैलिफ़ोर्निया में सैन डियागो में दिल का घातक दौरा पड़ने से स्वामी चिन्मयानंद सरस्वती ने महासमाधि प्राप्त की और सांसारिक जीवन से मुक्त हो गए।
Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati (born Balakrishna Menon; 8 May 1916 – 3 August 1993) was a Hindu spiritual leader and a teacher who inspired the formation of Chinmaya Mission, a worldwide nonprofit organisation, to spread the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the non-dual system of thought found in the Upanishads, which epitomise the philosophical teachings of the Vedas.
Chinmayananda is known for teaching Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and other ancient Hindu scriptures. From 1951 onward, he spearheaded a global Hindu spiritual and cultural renaissance that popularised the religion's esoteric scriptural texts, teaching them in English all across India and abroad.
Chinmayananda inspired the formation of Chinmaya Mission in 1953. Founded by his disciples and led by him, it is a spiritual, educational, and charitable nonprofit organization that encompasses more than 300 centres in India and internationally. He authored 95 publications, including commentaries on the major Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He was a visiting professor of Indian philosophy at several American and Asian universities and he conducted university lecture tours in many countries.
Balakrishna Menon, who later became known as Swami Chinmayananda, was born in the city of Ernakulam in present-day Kerala, India, on 8 May 1916, as the eldest son of a prominent judge, Vadakke Kuruppathu Kuttan Menon, who was the nephew of the Maharaja of Cochin. His mother, Parukutti Amma died while giving birth to her third child, and his father remarried.
He completed his formal schooling in Sree Rama Varma High School, Kochi (1921–1928) and Vivekodayam School, Thrissur (1928–1932). He completed his FA (Fellow of Arts) at the Maharaja's College, Ernakulam (1932–1934), and his BA (Bachelor of Arts) at the St. Thomas College, Trichur (1935–1937). He went on to Lucknow University (1940–1943) to earn postgraduate degrees in literature and law,while completing courses in journalism.
Although he would go on to become a celebrated spiritual teacher, in his student years, Balan, as he was known, had yet to formally accept religion. In the summer of 1936, he visited the eminent sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi. By Chinmayananda's later personal accounts, when Ramana Maharshi looked at him, he experienced a thrill of spiritual enlightenment which, at the time, he promptly rationalised away as being mere "hypnotism.
Approaching August 1942, in the midst of a wide-scale attempt by Indian activists to make the British "Quit India," Balan was one of the students to join in writing and distributing leaflets to stir up national pride. When word of a warrant for his arrest issued because of these activities reached him, he went undercover. He spent the next year moving around in the state of Abbottabad, out of range of British officials, and then moved toward Delhi.25–26
Almost two years after the British had issued his 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 organising public strikes but was arrested and imprisoned. He spent several months in unhygienic conditions in prison and caught typhus. This caused him to be among those who were carried out into the night and tossed beside a road on the outskirts of the city, where he was found by a passing Indian Christian. Reminded of her son serving in the army, she took him to her home and called for a doctor, who insisted that he was taken to a hospital.
Balan slowly recovered his health. K. Rama Rao gave Balan his first job, at The National Herald.:26 He wrote a series of articles on the imperative of socialism in a society where the vast majority of people were poor. 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 as a controversial character. In 1947, he began a new series of articles for The Commonweal.
It was while working as a journalist that he wrote an article "exposing" sadhus. He travelled to Sivananda's ashram in Rishikesh for this purpose. He later said, "I went not to gain knowledge, but to find out how the swamis were keeping up the bluff among the masses.
In the summer of 1947, Balan arrived in Rishikesh, by the banks of the Ganges and made the one-mile hike to the Divine Life Society, the ashram of Swami Sivananda. There he went from sceptic to enthusiast, finally becoming a renunciate monk. He began reading more about Hindu scriptures and reviewing spiritual books. Sivananda recognised Balan's latent talents and entrusted him to organise a Gita Committee. Having returned to the Divine Life Society ashram, on 25 February 1949, the holy day of Mahashivratri, Balan was initiated into sannyasa (Hindu vow of renunciation) by Sivananda, who gave him the name Swami Chinmayananda, or "bliss of pure Consciousness.
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. Chinmayananda agreed in principle, but he said, "Don't start any organization in my name. I have not come here to be institutionalized. I have come here to give the message of our ancient sages, which has benefited me. If it has benefited you, pass it on."
The Madras group insisted that the best way to "pass it on" was through the support of a forum. They wrote back pointing out that the word "Chinmaya" did not have to indicate Chinmayananda's name, since, in Sanskrit, the world itself means "pure Knowledge," which they were seeking. He conceded. On 8 August 1953, the Chinmaya Mission was formed.
Before long, hundreds of study groups were set up all over the country for people to get together in small batches to study religion and philosophy in a systematic manner. Devi groups were organised for women to take up regular spiritual study and social work.
In 1956, the 23rd jñāna yajña in Delhi was inaugurated by the President of India, Rajendra Prasad. He spoke highly of the work Chinmayananda was doing to restore India's cultural glory. In a span of five years, Chinmayananda had instructed over 50,000 of his countrymen through 25 jñāna yajñas across the country.
On 6 March 1965, Chinmayananda set out on his first global teaching tour, covering 39 cities in 18 countries: Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, United States, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Lebanon. Over the next 28 years, he continued these international discourses, staying only a week or so in each place, delivering a minimum of two lectures a day, and handling numerous meetings, interviews, discussions, and programs.He wrote scores of letters a day.
Swami Chinmayananda leading the prayer at an interfaith seminar, Harvard University, Massachusetts, 1971
It soon became necessary to co-ordinate the growing spiritual movement in the United States. Chinmaya Mission West was formed in 1975 for this purpose.
Chinmayananda's message resonated with heads of other faiths. One of his yajñas in Bombay was inaugurated by Cardinal Valerian Gracias, a prominent Catholic archbishop of the time. The Dalai Lama, head of the Tibetan Buddhist order, visited with him at the Chinmaya Mission ashram in Sidhbari in 1981. Chinmayananda was a supporter of interfaith dialogue and participated in many interfaith events.
In 1992, he undertook a lecture tour of twelve US universities to establish an international library and research center, the Chinmaya International Foundation, in Kerala, India.
In 1963, Swami Chinmayananda wrote an article airing the idea of calling for a World Hindu Council, inviting delegates from throughout the world to discuss the difficulties and needs concerning the "survival and development of Hindu culture."This attracted the attention of RSS pracharak S. S. Apte, who was airing similar ideas at that time. Apte and Chinmayananda jointly organised such a conference at the Sandeepany ashram in August 1964, which resulted in the founding of the Vishva Hindu Parishad. Swami Chinmayananda was elected as President and Apte as general secretary of the new organisation.
Chinmayananda had chronic heart problems. He had his first heart attack in 1969, when his treatment at the newly opened Chinmaya Mission Hospital in Bangalore made him its first patient. In the summer of 1980, when he was in the United States for a series of jnana yajnas, he had to undergo multiple heart bypass surgery in Texas. On 26 July 1993, he suffered breathing problems in San Diego, California and on 29 July he had emergency heart bypass surgery at Sharp Memorial Hospital. His condition continued to be critical and he was put on a life-support system. He died on 3 August 1993. His followers mark the date as the occasion when he attained mahasamadhi.
On 7 August 1993, thousands of people were at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi when his body returned to India. It was transported to Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh, where it was finally laid to rest in accordance with Vedic ritual. A mahasamadhi shrine has been built there.
Forty years after his first jñāna yajña, on 24 December 1991, Chinmayananda's devotees gathered in Mumbai to offer him an amount of gold equal to his body weight, presented to him on a tula (ceremonial balance scale) in an age-old ritual called suvarņa tulābhāram. The funds generated were used to support the myriad service projects and programs of Chinmaya Mission.
Honours and recognition
On 2 December 1992, Chinmayananda addressed the United Nations and the talk was titled "Planet in Crisis."
The US magazine, Hinduism Today, conferred him with its Hindu Renaissance Award and the title of "Hindu of the Year" in 1992.
In 1993, he was selected as "President of Hindu Religion" for the Centennial Conference of the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, where Swami Vivekananda had given his address one hundred years previously. He was also to be honoured for his selfless service to humanity in Washington, DC at "World Vision 2000," a conference of religious leaders organised by Vishva Hindu Parishad on 6–8 August 1993. He did not attend either of the latter two functions, as he died on 3 August 1993.
On 8 May 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative coin to mark his birth centenary.