Swami Tapovan Maharaj of Uttarkasi is the master from whom Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda acquired the wealth of knowledge on Vedanta. He taught Gurudev all the virtues enumerated in the Seventeenth Chapter of the Bhagavad Geeta constituting the three forms of tapas – physical, verbal and mental. He was a virakta mahatma, an embodiment of sanyasa, with supreme renunciation, rare saintliness, austerity, deep wisdom, divine dignity and compassion that is implied by such an ideal.
Swamiji, a poet, was inspired when witnessing the canvas of Nature’s beauty unrolling itself in the unfrequented peaks and valleys of the Himalayas. He reported his travels in two splendid volumes, “Wandering in the Himalayas” and “Kailasa Yatra.” Swamiji’s masterpiece is the bulky sanskrit volume called “Iswara Darshan.” This is an autobiographical sketch, a garland of spiritual thoughts in a Man-of-realization. He lived, for 68 years, as a monumental expression of an ideal Vedantic teacher in the ancient rishi tradition. On the 16th of January 1957, on the Full-Moon day, at 4:30 A.M., in the Brahmamuhurtha, Swamiji gained his Mahasamadhi
Swami Chinmayananda, founder of Chinmaya Mission, taught the logic of spirituality, while emphasizing the balance of head and heart. Selfless work, study, and meditation are the cornerstones of spiritual practice, he said. Not satisfied with degrees in literature and law or other worldly aspirations, he pursued the spiritual path in the Himalayas under the guidance of Swami Sivananda and Swami Tapovanam.
He is credited with the renaissance of spiritual and cultural values in India and with awakening the rest of the world to the ageless wisdom of Advaitic Vedanta as expounded by Adi Sankaracharya. 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
His legacy remains in the form of books, audio and video tapes, schools, and social service projects, Vedanta teachers whom he taught and inspired, and Chinmaya Mission centers around the world serving the spiritual and cultural needs of local communities.
Spiritual head of Chinmaya Mission centers worldwide, Swami Tejomayananda is fulfilling the vision that Swami Chinmayananda charted. As he puts it “I am not in Swamiji’s shoes, I am at his feet.” Swami Tejomayananda has served as acharya, or dean, of the Sandeepany Institutes of Vedanta both in India and California. He has written commentaries on scriptural texts, translated Swami Chinmayananda’s commentaries into Hindi, and authored a number of books. A key contribution is Hindu Culture: An Introduction, a text acclaimed for its clear description of the basics of Hinduism and adopted as a text in some American high schools.
Swami Tejomayananda excels in expounding a wide spectrum of Hindu scriptures, from Ramayana to the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, the source book of Vedanta. He conducts jnana yajnas, or lecture series, on Vedanta, as he moves around the world at a bewildering pace. His easy manner and devotional rendering of Vedantic texts has drawn many newcomers into the spiritual fold.
Mesmerized by Pujya Swami Chinmayananda in the 1960s, Brahmachari Raghavan served Pujya Gurudev as his traveling secretary for a few years. After completing his Vedanta course in Mumbai, he traveled to Taiwan, where he successfully managed his own business and taught Vedanta part-time. He was instrumental in founding CM in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In 1992, he received sannyasa diksha from Pujya Gurudev and became Swami Shantananda. Since then, Swamiji has dedicated his life to Mission work and Vedantic teachings, and is presently the resident acharya of Chinmaya Mission New Jersey.
As a speaker, Swamiji’s talks are filled with wonderful insights into life and people respond instantly to his wisdom and affectionate nature. In 2001, as his personal tribute to Pujya Gurudev, to commemorate the 50th-year celebrations of Chinmaya Mission, Swamiji undertook and completed 50 Gita jnana yajnas all around the world.