'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoracular; On Higher Teaching pt 4

On the morning the 16th, a few things were announced. For the 17th and 18th, both gurus would be absent for a function elsewhere, so there would be time for contemplation and watching of a recording of Gurudev on the Kaivalya Upanishad. On the 19th would be the major day of handover of headship of the global mission from Sw. Tejoymayananda (Guruji) to Sw. Swaroopanandaji (Mukhya Swamiji) and a followup function on the Friday for this... more on that in due course.

© Yamini MacLean
On the 16th itself, though, was the grand reopening of the area around Gurudev's old kutia. There was much 'murmuration' about this. When the land was gifted to Sw. Chinmayananda for his first gurukula, which he named Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, first was built his little cottage from which to write his letters, oversee building and planting and to carry out his own saadhana. The ashram is on a hillside in the Northern area of Mumbai - originally forested around the lake of Powai, it is now fully urbanised in all directions. The ashram somehow managed to hold onto a level of sanctity and peace. After the kutia, the first building was the Jagadeeshwara mandir at the very peak of the hill. Then came the residential rooms and teaching hall and eating hall for all the students that were to come.

For long, that was all. In the early 1970s, the need for upgraded accommodations for guest students and seniors and such like resulted in Chinmaya Vihar seven-storey building rising. At this time, too, the CCMT offices were added.

Shortly before the course I attended started in 2011, another seven-storey building at the bottom of the hill was raised, due to increasing residential staff and need for better accoms for those in yellow and orange robes. Anand Vihar took a lump out of the land, but did add value and ambiance.

Throughout the land, there were lots of mango trees, orange trees, banana plants and various beautification plantings. The mangos, thankfully, still stand. They provide an annual cash crop and lots of deliciousness for residents! Most of the orange trees have died away and the banana crops were decimated by Anand building. A few have been replanted... most of the grand Ashok trees and Eucalypts plus others have been decapitated and delimbed in a manner tantamount to massacre.

© "Emm", used with permission. YAM ponders...
Around the kutia was Gurudev's rose garden and a lotus pond. The pond is still there, but virtually nothing else. In the last year, the Mumbai devotees had decided that they wanted to make a visitor centre, incorporating all the history, purpose, and meaning of the mission which arose from the teachings and leadership of Sw. Chinmayananda. How this has been done has become the source of much debate and it would be safe to say there are two camps of thinking; that it is a white elephant or that it is a grace to the ashram.

Where do I stand? Well, initially, it must be owned, there was shock and horror. First, the original statue of Gurudev has been moved out (though it's new place by Saraswati Nilayam - the teaching hall - is actually rather fine) and a new, rather inferior and - to put it bluntly - skeerysome waxen thing stands at the entry instead. The first held the augustness and essence of our founding Guru; the second will have to work hard at this! Then there is all the museum-like gallery presentation of the story of it all. Not a wrong thing in and of itself, but one is inclined to think that much of it ought to have been housed in an entirely separate area and not outside. The Mumbai climate will have it looking dingy and unworthy in  no time, unless they can raise the funds for daily cleaning.

For those of us who are close and familiar, it all seems rather over-stuffed; however, there are a few gems in the pile, which I shall share separately. There can be no faulting the devotion and love which drove the initiative, but one cannot help but feel that the essence of 'less is more' somehow slipped the knot!

© Yamini MacLean - a giant conch. Conches (of hand-size) are used for the call to prayer and worship.

© Yamini MacLean - at the entry to Pradeep, night-vision; from journalist and doubter to realised master.

A couple of photos to give an inkling and more of these on next Tuesday, to complete the 'tour' of what is now referred to as Chinmaya Pradeep.  For those who visit only the temple, this may indeed provide a drawcard and bring some fresh interest in the philosophy of the culture, however, the long-term benefit will have to be awaited - if it comes.


  1. From you post I can see the trip to India was very spiritual and important to you. I'm glad you were able to make the trip
    Hugs HiC

  2. Sounds like a lot of mixed changes...I can't wait to read more!

  3. Sound so spiritual so glad your enjoying your self.
    Coffee is on

  4. I hope there is a way to take care of all this wonderful things...

  5. Wow. What a time you have had. It's amazing.
    skeerysome? You? Hah! You are our mighty Yam!

  6. This whole thing is so foreign to anything that I have ever experienced. I'm not sure that our (USA) culture is even capable of properly experiencing such a place for introspection and spiritual growth and education. Of course I am exaggerating as I am sure some would be of the mindset to put the world aside and grow from such an experience but it would be difficult for this impatient population. I suspect that anyone who goes to the ashram reaches a level of peace that I could not even comprehend. I keep trying to understand but know I am only grasping a tiny fraction of what it would have been like.

    A few years back we went to a place called Holden Village. It is in the Cascade Mountains (Washington state). You drive to the dock and then take a 2 hour boat ride up the river. Once you get there an old school bus takes you to the camp. During the time we were there we studied and worshiped. We were removed from television, electronics, etc. It did get me more in tune with my spiritual side (something happened I might share with you one day) but still I suspect this was nothing like what you experienced. Keep sharing YaYa!

    Not Beth

    1. Hari Om
      Hiya Not Beth!
      What a great comment. I quite understand what you say about the 'foreign-ness' of the current posts and the thinking therein. This is partly why I debated with myself whether to put them... but really speaking, the piccies alone would have meant so little without adding in the purpose and context behind them. As it turns out, this seems to have been a positive thing - it doesn't matter that much of it is out of experience for readers, because those who linger on this blog care enough to 'listen' anyway, and THAT is what matters!!! Even a fraction grasped will add to broadening of understanding. Indeed, the intriguing vision of your trip to a spiritual retreat is not so very different... though of course, my own experience was for an extended period of time (years). These glimpses are VERY VERY special and are essentially only for those who directly experience them, but there are times, too, when it is pertinent to share. For whatever reason, it is time for me to share this much at least.......
      Blessings, YaYa xx


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