Bala Vihar Nurtures Ideals from Childhood

Photo: Jayesh Mistry

Photo: Jayesh Mistry

By Subhashree Hariharan

HOUSTON: “Happiness depends on what you can give, not on what you can get,” said Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda who inspired the Chinmaya Mission, an organization where the subtle art of doing Seva is fervently embodied by all the teachers and volunteers and where service is not a sacrifice of time or effort but a natural way of worship. Such a committed work to inspire members and children to stay on the path to finding true happiness is a challenging task that requires immeasurable time, effort and total dedication.

At Chinmaya Mission Houston, the path to happiness is identified and connected to spirituality as explained in the ancient Vedic scriptures. This spiritual essence is taught to both adults and children as a means of discovering themselves and their connection to all around them. Love and compassion are taught as necessities to save and protect the fragile world we live in as voiced by Dalai Lama: “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”  

Bala Vihar at Chinmaya Mission is a weekly Sunday gathering of children between the ages of five and seventeen years. Children are taught the fundamentals of Vedanta, the culture and traditions of India as well as moral values to evaluate right vs wrong through stories, arts and crafts, bhajanas, discussions, and  music,. The teachers undergo careful training to develop skills to help children introspect, connect to real time situations, as well as to constantly have a thirst for learning.  

What makes Bala Vihar Houston especially successful is the guidance of its founding Acaryas – Sri Gaurang Nanavaty, who conducts a satsanga for adults, and Srimati Darshana Nanavaty, who has led Houston’s Bala Vihar since 1982 and has developed its curriculum which is now used worldwide. Understanding the true significance of what is taught in each grade, children learn about the role-models from the Hindu epics, about practical applications of moral values, and the meaning behind Hindu symbolism. Children also participate in pujas at Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya, and learn how to live life with an attitude of gratitude. As they enter high school and begin to transition into young adulthood, they have a forum to understand the nuances of Hindu philosophy and, through a discussion of the Bhagavad Gita, understand how it pertains to their daily lives.

In addition to these Bala Vihar classes, there are extracurricular activities to further the children’s interest in Indian languages and culture. Students can learn a variety of Indian languages including Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, and Telugu. Through such classes, they learn to communicate and share cultural experiences with their parents and their extended families in India. Bhajana and slokathon classes allow children to develop their talents and express their devotion through music and chanting. Between shared memories made in the Indian-American melting pot of Sunday school, class lock-ins and picnics, and celebrations of various Indian festivals, students form lifelong friendships that last well into adulthood.

It is important for our children to be successful in all endeavors in life, to become model citizens, to overcome challenges with grace and humility, and above all to always be happy. Chinmaya Bala Vihar sows the seeds to these ideals in the children’s formative years.

Houstonians who would like their children to join CM Bala Vihar:
• CMH Bala Vihar will start on Sunday September 10th, 2017 for this school year. Classes are held in two sessions each Sunday. First session: 8:35 to 10:15 AM and the second session: 11:20 AM to 1:00 PM.

• Bala Vihar New Registration will be open for new members at Chinmaya Smrti Hall, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 AM on Saturday August 26th and Sunday August 27th only. Registration will be open for all grades for both the sessions. No Registrations on the Opening day Sun. September 10th.

For more information visit CMH website at or contact Bharati Sutaria at 281-933-0233 or Jay Deshmukh at 281-565-1108.