Chinmaya Mission Houston Celebrates the Class of 2024

By Mahesh Gupta

HOUSTON: The Bala Vihar program in Chinmaya Mission Houston (CMH) – popular since 1982 for teaching students the cultural values of Hindu scriptures and Vedanta – reached another milestone when its latest batch of students, the Class of 2024, graduated. To honor their achievements and flag off a new chapter in their lives, CMH had organized a grand graduation ceremony.

On the morning of May 18th, Dr. Sameer Sheth, a Bala Vihar alumnus and parent of a graduate of the Class of 2024, recalled memories from 30 years ago when the beautiful tradition of Bala Vihar graduation ceremony began. The teachings of mindfulness and meditation ingrained through Bala Vihar would help the graduates navigate college and beyond, just like it had done for the assembled CMH alumni.

To usher the graduating students into the new era of higher education, CMH’s Acarya Pujya Gaurang Nanavaty lit the main Diya(lamp) inviting the brilliance of knowledge into the Smrti Hall. He congratulated not just the Bala Vihar graduates, but also their teachers, parents, and families who played an integral part in their upbringing. He reminded them that Chinmaya Mission follows the ancient Gurukula tradition of students living from early childhood under the guidance of their Guru before embarking on their own paths at the age of 18.

As the powerful words of the scriptural convocation address beginning with “Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara” resounded through the hall, Pujya Gaurang Uncle distilled its powerful essence to always living by truth and one’s duty.

He asked all to reflect through regular self-study (Svadhyaya) urging students to respect, support, and reciprocate in goodwill to all teachers who taught them. He highlighted the reverence behind “Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava, Acarya Devo Bhava.”

The Chief Guest, Dr. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the award-winning author and professor of Creative Writing at University of Houston (UH), spoke about her early experiences with Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda during her graduate school in Northern California. She shared key quotes of Pujya Gurudeva and recalled how Pujya Gurudeva’s health problems vanished during his discourses with the power of Gita. Dr. Chitra Divakaruni asked the Bala Vihar graduates to stay connected with the Gita that they had learned in the final two years of their Bala Vihar curriculum.

Then, Pujya Gaurang uncle returned honored the 40 Bala Vihar graduates of the Class of 2024. Each graduate received a book, a trophy, and a gift bag holding their Japa Mala and their Bala Vihar journal called “the little fat book.”

A new scholarship fund, established in the memory of beloved Pujya Darshana Aunty, awarded its first merit scholarship of $2501 to Haley Dave for her dedicated attendance, volunteerism, and faithful learning of Vedanta. Keeping with the spirit of Gurukula tradition, the Class of 2024 then offered Guru Dakshina to Pujya Gaurang Uncle and CMH, a contribution toward the Darshana Nanavaty Memorial Fund. A noteworthy presentation of the Class of 2024 titled an “Ode to Pujya Darshana Aunty” which summarized the comprehensive, worldwide pre-K to 12th grade Bala Vihar curriculum that she had envisioned, moved the audience, especially the Bala Vihar teachers. The memorable, beautiful graduation ceremony concluded with a lunch served with love and respect by the graduates and their families.

For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities please visit, or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233