This profile was last updated in 2006
The Chinmaya Mission Balavihar and Yuvakendra is an educational program for youth and adults in central New Jersey. The program was started in 1992, as an educational program of the Chinmaya Mission Tri-state Center (http://www.chinmayakedar.org/). There are other New Jersey Chinmaya Mission Balavihars located in Basking Ridge, Dover, Wayne, Emerson, and Mahwah. Numerous other Balavihars are conducted in Pennsylvania and New York. The Balavihar is run in close association with the Chinmaya Vrindavan Center in Cranbury, New Jersey. The Chinmaya Vrindavan Center (see profile) is a venue for regular spiritual programs, such as discourses by the resident teacher, Swami Shantanandaji, Yoga classes, Indian music and dance classes, celebration of Hindu festivals and other cultural programs, as well.
The Balavihar is organized in a semester-based format, following the school year, and occurs on three to four Sunday mornings every month. The classes are divided according to grade-level in school (K through 12), but also include toddler and pre-K classes. The medium is English. Each class is lead by two teachers, most of whom have several years experience teaching in the Chinmaya Mission Balavihar system. The curriculum is based on age-appropriate activities. For example, elementary grades learn songs and stories that teach about classic characters from the tradition. The issue of religious symbolism is dealt with in fourth grade. The secondary grade levels deal with philosophical concepts, vegetarianism, and the meaning of mantras (sacred sayings). There is an emphasis throughout on learning Sanskrit songs and verses from Hindu scriptures. There is also an Adult Study circle. This fall’s program for adults includes a discourse by Swami Shantanandaji, [Acharya (head teacher) of the Chinmaya Vrindavan Center] on alternate Sundays, and classes on “Self Unfoldment,” “Kindle Life,” and two separate classes on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
Activities and Schedule
The morning’s program begins with class time from 10:00 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. At 11:20 a.m, the entire group, children and adults assemble in the school’s auditorium for announcements. From 11:30 to 11:45, the children and adults sing bhajans (spiritual songs). Usually, different classes lead the singing from the front of the auditorium each week. At 11:45, there is arthi, for which purpose large, framed posters of Hindu Gods are placed at the front of the auditorium. Then there is the recitation of the Chinmaya Mission pledge (see below) and conclusion.
The Chinmaya Mission Pledge:
We stand as one family bound to each other with love and respect.
We serve as an army courageous and disciplined, ever ready to fight against all low tendencies and false values within and without us.
We live honestly the noble life of sacrifice and service, producing more than what we consume and giving more than what we take.
We seek the Lord’s grace to keep us on the path of virtue, courage and wisdom.
May Thy grace and blessings flow through us to the world around us.
We believe that the service of our country is the service of the Lord of Lords, and devotion to the people is the devotion to the Supreme Self.
We know our responsibilities; give us the ability and courage to fulfill them.
Om, Tat, Sat.