Chinmaya Mission Houston Bala Vihar : Where Families Grow Together


By Yuthika Gundamaraju & Vinod Sharma

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Chinmaya Mission Houston embodies this ideology completely, through the medium of teaching Hindu culture.

Chinmaya Mission Bala Vihar is a Sunday school in which children are gradually introduced to Hindu scriptures and Hindu culture in an age appropriate manner  in a nurturing environment. Surrounded by 500 other students in each of two sessions, they share their bicultural experiences with peers, watch older students model core values and help guide younger students through various fun and learning activities and learn life lessons from trained teachers.. This Bala Vihar provides a structured and consistent Sunday activity that binds a family towards a common cause of all round spiritual growth for the entire family.  It provides families a common frame of reference founded on the Vedanta’s millennia tested principles, to discuss and navigate the world that children face every day.  It allows parents to convey to their children their respect and love for the culture of India and strengthen their children’s spiritual foundation. In a true tradition of guru-sisya parampara – children get to observe the results of hundreds of volunteers at Mission working in a Karmayoga spirit of dedication to Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.


What makes Chinmaya Mission especially successful is its founding Archaryas Sri Gaurang Nanavaty, who conducts a satsanga for adults, and Srimati Darshana Nanavaty, who as the bedrock has led Houston’s Bala Vihar center since 1982 and has developed its curriculum. Here children begin to understand the true significance of  the stories they heard from their parents and grandparents, and the practical applications of those morals in their lives. Chjildren learn to be brave and fearless like Hanuman, the meaning behind the symbolism of Hindu deities.

participate in performing pujas at Sri Saumaya Kasi Sivalaya, and 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 and a foundation 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 outside of class that help to further children’s interest and knowledge in Hinduism and Hindu culture. Students can learn a variety of Indian languages including Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu where they learn to read, write, and speak their mother tongues better, and which help them connect with their extended families in India and share cultural experiences with their parents. Bhajana and slokathon classes, for those who are musically inclined, 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, celebrations of various festivals like Navaratri, Holi, Dipavali, students form lifelong friendships that last well into adulthood.

In the words of one student who grew up at the Mission Balvihar, “I couldn’t understand why my parents put so much stock into the old stories and traditions that they had grown up with, which seemed so illogical and confusing to me. I enjoyed the bedtime stories about Krishna that my mother would tell me, or the Amar Chitra Katha comics I read as a child, but outside of that I didn’t see much use in Hinduism in daily life.”  Now as a well-balanced and accomplished young woman attending a prestigious National University she writes, “Chinmaya Mission has made an enormous impact on my life, by inspiring me to always strive to greater heights and follow my dharma, and find happiness in doing so. I know for a fact that it affects the lives of every student and seeker who comes looking for answers to life’s unknowable questions. I am so grateful to be a part of the Chinmaya Mission family. Anyone who gets to be a part of it is truly blessed.”

Houstonions who would like to join Chinmaya Mission Bala Vihar:
•    CMH Bala Vihar new year will start on September 11, 2016. Classes are held in two sessions each Sunday. First session from 8:35 to 10:15 AM and the second session from 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 Sundays Aug. 14 and Aug. 21 only.  
•    Registration will be open for all grades for both the sessions on above two dates only, i.e. Aug. 14 and Aug. 21. No Registrations on the Opening day Sun. Sep. 11
•    For more information visit CMH website at or contact Bharati Sutaria at 281-933-0233 or Jay Deshmukh at 281-565-1108