Sw. Tapovan Maharaj
His Holiness Swami Tapovan Maharaj
Pujya Swami Tapovan Maharaj was the very embodiment of the ideals of sannyasa, endowed with supreme renunciation, deep wisdom, saintliness, austerity, and compassion, a true virakta mahatma.
Swamiji was born in 1886, in the village of Mudappalur in Palghat district to Balamba and Achutan Nair. His parents named him Subramanyan, but they lovingly called him Chippu Kutty. After the untimely death of his father, Swamiji left his home at the age of 28 to heed the call of the divine, eventually taking up residence in a one-room thatched hut in Uttarkashi, which came to be known as Tapovan Kutir. It was here that Gurudev sat at the feet of the great master for a total of seven years absorbing Vedantic knowledge. Swamiji attained mahasamadhi on the 16th of January 1957 on the full moon day; in the Brahma-muhurta at 4:30 a.m. "He came from nowhere, existed everywhere, and ultimately went to be everywhere."
His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda
Swami Chinmayananda was born on May 8, 1916 as Balakrishna Menon in Ernakulam, Kerala. Chattambi Swamigal a saint known for his yogic powers predicted a great spiritual future for the boy.
A major turning point of his life was his meeting with Swami Sivananda. On February 25th, 1949, along with five other students, Balakrishna was initiated into sannyasa. Swami Sivananda gave him the name "Chinmayananda Saraswati," Chinmayananda meaning "filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness.
Swami Sivananda then sent him to Uttarkashi to study under Swami Tapovan Maharaj. Seven years later, brimming with Vedantic knowledge, with a heart overflowing with love for his countrymen, Swami Chinmayananda was ready to execute what he called the "Gangotri Plan" to spread the message of Vedanta to the masses. By the time he attained mahasamadhi in August 1993, Gurudev as he is known affectionately by his followers, had conducted 576 jnana yajnas and scores of family oriented spiritual family camps, logging thousands of miles as he traveled across the globe. "If I rest, I rust," he quipped when asked to slow down.
Gurudev 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 Advaita Vedanta as expounded by Adi Shankaracharya. 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. He has authored more than 250 books and written commentaries on various scriptural texts.
His Holiness Swami Tejomayananda
Swami Tejomayananda, the spiritual head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide until January 2017, is fluent in English, Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit. He has written commentaries on many scriptural texts, translated Swami Chinmayananda's commentaries into Hindi, and authored a number of original works in Sanskrit. Swamiji excels in expounding upon a wide spectrum of Hindu scriptures, from Ramayana to the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. As Gurudev did before him, Guruji, as he is known affectionately, moves around the world at a bewildering pace conducting jnana yajnas.
Sudhakar Kaitwade (as he was previously called) was born in Madhya Pradesh on 30th June 1950. As a student he took a keen interest in music and drama. The spiritual call came to him in 1970 when he heard a Gita discourse given by Swami Chinmayananda. He was inspired to join the Vedanta Course at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Mumbai. After graduation in 1975, he served in the field for a few years as Brahmachari Vivek Chaitanya and was initiated into sannyasa by Pujya Gurudev in 1983.
Swamiji became the head of the Chinmaya Mission upon Swami Chinmayananda's mahasamadhi in August 1993. He assumed his new role with ease and humility, and is working tirelessly to fulfill the vision of his guru. As he puts it, "I am not in Swamiji's shoes, I am at his feet."
As I Saw Him
Many people at different places have asked and still keep asking me as to how did I look upon Pujya Gurudev, besides His being my Guru.
I saw Him as a perfect Jeevan Mukta Purusha - a person liberated while living. Many a time I have felt that it is easier to describe Brahman rather than a Jeevan Mukta. We find very many verses in our scriptures in praise of such an enlightened soul. One such characteristic defined that comes to my mind is that the enlightened person is one who is free from worrying over the past, the anxiety of the future and is totally detached and objective in dealing with the present. Pujya Gurudev himself used to speak about such a person as someone like a mirror. A mirror accepts everything, rejects nothing, reflects everything but keeps nothing! Pujya Gurudev indeed was that Jeevan Mukta Purusha.
I consider myself extremely blessed to have had come in His contact and served Him. The most striking quality in Him I saw was His unconditional love for me that made Him forgive me many a times. I know this is true in the case of anyone who had reached His feet. May His blessing be ever upon us all to serve Him.
Article by Swami Tejomayananda
His Holiness Swami Swaroopananda
In an era ripe with skepticism and confusion about matters spiritual, Swami Swaroopananda is a rare voice that blends authenticity with accessibility; theory with self- practice; logic with heart.
Formerly the Regional Head of Chinmaya Mission Australia, United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa and Far East, and presently Chairman of the Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth Trust (University for Sanskrit and Indic Traditions) and Director of the Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, South India, Swami Swaroopananda has now been bestowed by Swami Tejomayananda the privilege to also serve as the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide