A Gurukula Graduation at Chinmaya Prabha

Photo: Jayesh Mistry

Photo: Jayesh Mistry

By Vinod Sharma

HOUSTON: Chinmaya Mission Houston Bala Vihar celebrated the Bala Vihar graduation for the class of 2017 on Saturday, May 20. This milestone marked the culmination of the journey for twenty four students who have attended Bala Vihar regularly every Sunday and for as long as 14 years. Consistent with the scriptural education they received at Chinmaya Mission, students experienced a sendoff that was decorous, solemn, and emotional – much like the millennia old graduation ceremonies celebrated at Gurukula in ancient India. Excitement about the next chapters in these students’ lives was tinged with sadness of their impending parting with their teachers – Bala Vihar, language, slokathon, orchestra, Gita chanting and choir – and the beloved Acaryas, Gaurang Nanavaty and Darshana Nanavaty.

After a sacred puja at Saumyakasi Sivalaya, the students offered their prostrations at the feet of Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda’s pratima at Chinmaya Smrti before the Vedic commencement began. Then, Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty inspired the audience with the evergreen and relevant scriptural commands, instructions, and advice from the Taittiriya Upanisad, a Sanskrit Vedic text composed almost 3000 years ago. As was the case then and now, the parting advice at a significant juncture like graduation was firm as much as it was heartfelt.

As the graduating students left the shelter of their teachers and parents to embark on the next chapter of their lives as young adults, they were reminded that their new freedom was a double edged sword that had to be wielded responsibly. This choicest advice was the essence of the spiritual values that the students had imbibed every Sunday from teachers who were carefully trained in the comprehensive K-12 Bala Vihar curriculum mindfully designed for over thirty years by our dear Acarya Darshana Nanavaty.

Using relevant examples, Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty – reminded students of the three tenets for living an ethical life with integrity – “speak the truth; stay within the bounds of dharma; and, given the constant buffeting of worldly temptations that seek to erode one’s values; reinforce convictions daily through the study of scriptures.”

Also, the students were reminded to not forget their responsibility toward supporting the institution where they were taught their values and also the spiritual institutions near where they lived – for making it to the top brings with it the responsibility to share the blessings with the generations that follow. Finally, the students were urged to honor their mother, father, and teachers – as they would God – as they served as God’s agents in protecting, providing, and guiding the students through childhood.

Following Acarya Gaurang Nanavaty’s memorable discourse, students were individually honored for their diverse and impressive accomplishments. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and as the day closed with a benediction and prayers, there was the sense of celebration and gratitude for the grace of Gurudev and the dedicated acaryas Gaurang Nanavaty and Darshana Nanavaty for forming and sustaining this scriptural village for the children of Houston families for over a generation. With that memorable ceremony, the Bala Vihar Class of 2017 were poised to aim for a better standard of life along with the standard of living they were setting out to achieve in their educational journey ahead.

For more information on Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities visit www.chinmayahouston.org, www.saumyakasi.org or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233