E-Tej Newsletter – May/June 2020

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E-Tej Newsletter

Chinmaya Mission San Jose (CMSJ) May and June 2020 Issue  

Hari Om. We would like to formally announce that the Chinmaya Tej newsletter has discontinued physical print for the time being and will be brought to life electronically moving forward. We hope you enjoy this brief compilation and snippets of events and programming that have taken and will take place. We welcomed Brahamachari Soham Chaitanya, lovingly named Soham Ji by us on March 6th. Soon after Soham Ji’s arrival we had shelter in place. This did not deter Soham Ji. He soon filled up the event calendar with several yagnas that have been webcast.

During the past two months, we have made strides to bring the most value to participants and successfully continued activities on virtual platforms to adjust for the current times. Beginning in the early Spring, we will be transitioning from in-person Balavihar classes on weekends to e-balavihar where teachers were directly able to interact with students and developed creative ways to engage in class materials. For instance, several balavihar classes conducted “virtual plays” where students pre-recorded their lines to a skit and clips were edited together to form a memorable video of the class play. The grand finale of the e-Balavihar was the online Bala Utsav, which was a morning filled with continuous virtual performances and showcases of great learnings through talent by Balavihar students across the Bay Area centers. Our resident Brahamachari, Soham Ji, attended 40 classes in a span of 2 days and was directly able to engage with all the students virtually to learn more about their experience across several Balavihar topics (I.e. Ramayana, Hinduism in today’s world, etc…)

In addition to Balavihar, there have been a series of virtual study groups with the blessed presence of Soham Ji where audiences of all ages and demographics have been able to virtually study and discuss texts. The virtual platform allows many to attend from their homes and continue spiritual learnings successfully in a remote environment. On April 2nd, Rama Navami Day, Soham Ji provided engaging lectures about Rama’s Reveries in Nature where over 360 unique attendees came together to learn about how Bhagawan Ramachandraji viewed the world when in a situation similar to the one we find ourselves in. Just as we are in a shelter-in-place in the Bay Area, so was Bhagawan Ram ji in Kishkinda during the monsoon season (chaaturmaas). This section is from Kishkinda Kanda from Tulsidas Goswami ji’s Ramcharitamanas. Shortly thereafter, on April 5th, Soham Ji conducted a lecture series focused on the Hanuman Chalisa Parayana which had over 389 unique attendees.

Thereafter, discussions that brought to life the Sankat Mochan text focused on commentary by Swami Swaroopananda Ji on this beautiful composition of Goswami Tulsidas Ji. Soham Ji beautifully referenced the text with the corresponding section in Ramacharitramanas such as Kishkinda Kand, Sundar Kand and Yudh Kand. The Yagna on Living Vedanta had over 300 attendees online from several demographics across the Bay Area and wide beyond. Soham Ji beautifully captured stories and spiritual messaging complimented by laughter and joy even in a remote context. Both Yagnas had over 312 unique attendees which is a high growth from previous Yagnas and were several weeks long, a wonderful group of consistently present audiences. The celebrations continued. On April 28th we hosted an auspicious celebration of Adi Shankara Jayanti with over 287 unique attendees from around the country in different time zones.

Currently we are engaged in the National Summer Camp which gives students of all ages (K-12, CHYK, etc…) the opportunities to continue learnings and teachings with Swamijis from across the world. This remote platform has allowed us to help reach the more students on a consistent basis and provide online resources to make the environment fun and interactive. Every class based on grade level on various topics that have been broken down into sub-parts daily. From fun interactive games to quizzes, Swamijis and volunteers have successfully spearheaded a wonderful virtual learning platform given that in-person camps are not occurring this summer of 2020.

The Chinmaya Mission Yuvakendra (CHYK) group hosted weekly study group discussions on various texts such as Divinsing the Mind by Swami Tejomayananda and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita as well. Over 30 students regularly attended interactive discussions that sparked conversations about lifestyle, growth, and adulthood. Every study session allowed attendees to share talents with the group and engage in deep discussions on self-reflective subjects.

On June 30th, Balavihar graduates participated in a virtual celebration for Swami Tejomayananda’s birthday which incorporated different programming from all around the globe. On this day, a samashti e-card was signed by those around the world including our members (including 70 graduates) and sent to Pujya Guruji as an offering. The e-celebrations included a series of bhajans, speeches, and pujas to recognize and highlight this important day.

On this auspicious day, we hosted a drive-by socially-distanced graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 high school graduates. They had the ability to drive to the San Jose ashram and seek the blessings of many before departing to begin their new journeys. This innovative idea received high engagement from high school students across all Bay Area centers and provided students the opportunity to say their “farewells” for now and met CHYK leaders to better understand how they can continue their involvement even beyond balavihar.

Furthermore, In May we hosted the annual Bhagavad Gita chanting Yagna which gave those from various centers the opportunity to remotely chant different verses of the Gita Chapter one. The “marathon-styled” virtual chanting program was a huge success and encompassed those of various ages/years coming together. A key highlight was the impeccable chanting from the Shishu Vihar children who participated for the first time ever and was definitely a crowd favorite. Our audio and video volunteers beautifully compiled individually virtual chanting clips into a melodious flowing program.

Last but definitely not least, in partnership with CORD USA, we have been heavily involved in taking measures to impact COVID-19 relief efforts. During this global pandemic, we have done our part to ensure that we are contributing to those who have been impacted by the Coronavirus as a community. Our sincere volunteers have identified community service organizations in our local community to help fundraise and support. This directly supports and helps the most vulnerable members of our society affected by the pandemic. As an organization that’s service-driven, our mission entails supporting such efforts like difficult times right now. In order to contribute, please click here for more information on donating through an appeal for COVID-19.

Upcoming Events 

From July 25th through August 3rd of this year, we will be soon organizing and hosting a virtual Maha Samadhi Aradhana which will include a variety of different programs from lectures, discussions, bhajans, and more! Swami Swaroopananda Ji will be presenting 18 unique verses from the Gita on ‘Krishna’s powerful instructions’. This nine day Yagna will include a daily 30 minute discourse from Swamiji with melodious preludes and fun activities such as key takeaways and quizzes/games. This will precede talks by Swamijis from around North America centers and encompass dedicated programs to Pujya Gurudev. Furthermore, in the month of August 2020, our Balavihar registration and 2021 Mahasamadhi camp registration will be opening up.

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