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Chinmaya MissionSwami Chinmayananda, who emphasized meditation, study, and balance, spread the message of Advaitic Vedanta and founded the Chinmaya Mission. His teacher and master was Swami Tapovan Maharaj, who taught him the essence of all the Vedantic knowledge, which included the essence of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and other great spiritual knowledge. Swami Tejomayananda is now the spiritual head of Chinmaya Mission centers worldwide. He seeks to make Swami Chinmayananda’s vision a reality and has written several books, including an introduction to Hindu culture that is used in some American high schools (Hindu Culture: An Introduction). Chinmaya Mission’s purpose is to teach Vedanta and its practical application, helping people contribute positively to their communities. Dr. Mahadev, a representative of the Chinmaya Center Tustin, says, "[The Mission's] primary goal is to infuse maximum happiness in the maximum number of people for the maximum time through the spreading of the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta." The mission welcomes people of any background.
Chinmaya Mission Southern CaliforniaThe Chinmaya Center's main temple in Southern California is in Anaheim. Also known as Kasi, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was inaugurated in 1996, annexed in 1998, and added a meditation center in 2001. Attendance at its Bala Vihar classes surpasses 300. The crowding of the Center in Anaheim led the Mission to purchase the building in Tustin, which was inaugurated as Mithila on June 11, 2005, with members of the center, community members, Swami Tejomayananda, and the mayor of Tustin present. The Chinmaya Mission has ten locations in Southern California, two of which are its Centers in Tustin and Anaheim. The rest are satellite centers which are facilities the Chinmaya Mission rents, such as at the Masonic temple at San Gabriel, and other public places.
DemographicsCurrently, Mithila has about 400 members, though its membership continues to grow. The community is made up of families and individuals from all over India, and anyone is welcome to attend activities, worship, lectures, and festivals. The services are conducted in English, although the Center does offer language classes, and the children are taught to chant in Sanskrit.
DescriptionThe Center in Tustin is a renovation of a former Catholic church. The building’s main space was converted into a worship room with deities and pictures of Swami Chinmayananda, the founder of the Chinmaya Mission, and his teacher, Swami Tapovan Maharaj. There are four main deity figures: Lakshmana, Rama, Sita, and Hanuman. Smaller representations of the deities used in ritualistic bathing, etc., are also present. A small deity of Lord Ganesh is present as well. The rest of the facilities include a kitchen and numerous classrooms on the second floor. The Center’s main emphasis is on teaching Vedanta knowledge; this is reflected in the ambiance and design of the facility as a school with a shrine for worship.
Activities and ScheduleThe Center has many activities for its youth (Yuvakendra) and children (Bala Vihar). Weekly Bala Vihar classes are offered for children in pre-K through 10th grade during the school year. Although the curriculum is frequently revised, it currently includes the following: the pre-junior through junior II levels cover Bala Vihar alphabet, Mahabharata, and chanting of stotrams or hymns like Guru Stotram and Mahalakshmyashtaka Stotram. The intermediate, senior, and junior youth group levels cover topics like saints of India and the West, symbolism in Hinduism, 24 Gurus from Srimad Bhagavatam, Guru Stotram, portions of the Bhagavad Gita, and more. Bala Vihars are also offered at satellite centers throughout Southern California. For older youth, there is a Mithila youth group for 11th and 12th graders in which they learn to apply what they learned in Bala Vihar classes to their everyday lives. Some topics include meditations, awareness, minimization of stress, and dynamism at work, at home, or at school. The Bala Vihar and Yuvakendra generally meet on Sundays during the school year. The Center also conducts summer camps, such as this year's week-long camp called "Wake Up The Wizard," held at Mithila soon after its inauguration. The camps offer a well-rounded curriculum that includes yoga classes. The Chinmaya Mission of Southern California also just added CHYK West, a older youth (young adult) group for college students between 18 and 30 years of age. For adults, the Center offers a Vedanta lecture series program, covering Vedantic texts, meditation, stress management, personal development, and other topics, as well as Chinmaya adult study groups that meet weekly to study scriptural texts. In addition, the Center offers language classes, including Gujarati, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi, and Telugu. The Center has many festivals and performs daily pooja in the morning and weekly worship of Rama on Fridays at 7:30 PM. There is a newsletter available online, as well as current and special events listings, and membership information.