TUSTIN, Calif. — For members of Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles and the larger Southern California community interested in Vedanta, the week of June 28 to July 4 provided a veritable feast of spiritual thought and wisdom.
Hundreds of listeners gathered each evening at the Chinmaya Rameshwaram center to hear Swami Tejomayananda, the worldwide head of the Chinmaya Mission, expound on the Bhagavad Gita. He also visited the Siddhivinayak Temple July 4 (see separate story).
With clarity that broke down complex ideas, Guruji, as he is affectionately known, reached out to a diverse audience while zeroing in on the singular notion of “Foster Your Freedom.”
With chapter four of the holy Gita in focus, Tejomayananda made it clear that ultimate freedom lies in liberation from the cycle of life and death. Given that the chapter delineates Karma Yoga, or the yoga of action, Tejomayananda spoke of the different kinds of action and their effect on the individual. The true seeker will not be attached to his or her actions and will be rewarded with a pure mind, he said.
Tejomayananda’s talks were studded with humorous nuggets that brought laughter, but unfailingly provided examples of Vedantic truths that easily lingered in the memories of his listeners.
Each evening, prior to the discourse, a cultural segment showcased the talent and learning at CMLA. Balavihar children, from the far flung centers that make up the mission in Southern California, presented plays on topics that ranged from how students of today approach a guru; the caste system from the time of Adi Sankara to its distortion today; the young lord Krishna going to Sandeepany ashram; and a summary of the transcendental knowledge in the Gita.
The youth group presented a musical on Navadha Bhakti and also performed classical dances while adult members did a lilting garba.
The various other groups that also performed included Vedanta student group Chinmayanjali, which on two days chanted the Ganapati Atharvashirsham and Durga Suktam; Shlokanjali, which also chanted shlokas; children’s choir Shruti, which sang in praise of the lord and also a composition of Tejomayananda himself; and adult choir Swaranjali, which sang with a full instrumental ensemble.
Swaranjali brought great delight when Swami Ishwarananda, the head Acharya of CMLA, joined them onstage for a bhajan.
The week-long event was highlighted by the 65th birthday of Tejomayananda. CM members gathered June 30 in prayer that began with a traditional ayush homa, followed by a ceremony where children conducted a paduka puja to their guru.
Tejomayananda is known for his love of music and has composed and sung several pieces. On other nights during his stay, he released a book and music CD. In homage, a musical afternoon followed where he was regaled by a sitar and vocal concert.
Tejomayananda, who was returning after a four-year absence, was welcomed on his arrival June 28 with the blowing of conches, and was led in procession inside CM Rameshwaram to the chanting of the Guru Stotram and the purnakhumbham by Acharya Mahadevji and Viji Mahadev where they opened Chinamaya Smriti, a newly-built conference room that also showcases the Southern California connect of the founder Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda in pictures.
On July 4, the last day of the jnana yagna, CMLA held a Guru Paduka puja in which seniors, adults and children participated. The congregation then chanted the name of the guru 108 times and then heard several speakers talk emotionally of their association with Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda and his great impact on them.
Tejomayananda, before leaving for Texas, also made time to visit the Siddhivinayak Temple in Brea, Calif., where he spoke of the need and love for god and enjoyed a musical presentation by Swagatha Chakraborty (see separate story). Tejomayananda also met with members of several different organizations who called on him through the week.