Chinmaya Prabha Celebrates its Class of 2016 Bala Vihar Graduates


Photos: Jayesh Mistry and Rajesh Thatte

By Shalini Konde

HOUSTON. When summer begins its bright shine, the spirit of graduation manifests everywhere, from the ripening acts of nature to the maturing landmarks of academic endeavors. As secular education in schools culminates after another year of learning, a new generation of graduates step into the wider world of higher collegiate learning to begin another journey of academic discovery and achievement.

Keeping with that cycle of growth and maturation, when the fresh and eager Class of 2016 emerged ready to fly out into the portals of higher education, the happy and proud family of Chinmaya Prabha Houston gathered to celebrate, empower, and inspire its graduates through a significant Bala Vihar graduation ceremony on the morning of May 28.

The Bala Vihar Class of 2016 were thrice blessed on their graduation this year. First, their Bala Vihar studies that helped mold their spiritual and cultural personalities from kindergarten to 12th grade reached the graduating landmark to coincide with the memorable Chinmaya Centennial (1916-2016) year. Next, their graduation was celebrated in the presence of the auspicious Chinmaya Jyoti that invoked the very presence of the Master, Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda himself. And, the graduates had the great fortune of three-fold blessings from the Acaryas Sri Gaurang and Smt.Darshana Nanavaty, their parents, and Bala Vihar teachers along with the wishes of an entire Chinmaya community.

The Graduation ceremony commenced with an ardent puja in Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya conducted by the priest Sri Ganesh in the presence of the Acaryas.  After that prayer, the bright graduates were led by their beloved Acharyas into the Chinmaya Smrit Hall after prostrations to Pujya Gurudev’s  pratima. As they took their places in the hall after the Vedic chanting of Sri Ganeshji and the melodic wishes of “Om Mangalam,” it was a moment of pride and gratitude for all gathered there.

In Houston, Chinmaya Bala Vihar is the culmination of  Pujya Gurudeva’s divine vision for every new generation and a mother’s love for her children at its best!  Pujya Acarya Smt. Darshana Nanavaty has tirelessly spearheaded the Houston Chinmaya Bala Vihar with a team of dedicated Bala Vihar teachers since 1982. Many of graduating students of the Class of 2016  have benefited from their learning about Hinduism, Indian culture, and universal  values from classes even from kindergarten upto 12th grade.  Bala Vihar students draw inspiration from spiritual guidance and teachings every Sunday to strive for their best, forge beautiful friendships, and participate in further volunteering in the community. Parents receive immeasurable comfort and assurance that their children will be good citizens of this world and carry forth with them the ethical integrity and moral values.

Once the students were seated in Smrti Hall, the Graduation ceremony continued with Pujya Gurudeva’s Paduka Puja followed by the Convocation address from Taittiriya Upanisad  by Acarya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty. Basing his discourse on the ancient revered Vedic text which imparts advice on the best tenets of ethical living, Gauranguncle reminded the new graduates with humor, love, and thoughtful fatherly affection that the centuries-old message of that ancient graduation was still the most relevant and surest means of Self-unfoldment and secular success. Using metaphors from many aspects of daily life, the Acarya emphasized how alert and consistent practice is important to fortify value-based achievement and how every graduate must exemplify the values of Sanatana Dharma in every aspect of higher learning and living. This inspiring  discourse was followed by the  ceremonial lighting of the lamp by both Acaryas after which every graduate came up on stage, lit his or her own light of new beginnings, bowed to the Acaryas and received a blessing memento which had Gurudev’s words inscribed: “Keep your mind where your hands are working,” to signify efficiency born of inspired concentration.

Concluding with the time-honored Vedic tradition, to show a mark of their utmost respect and deep gratitude for the spiritual education they received, the new graduates of 2016 offered Guru Dakshina to the Acaryas, making their first contribution to the Chinmaya Jeevan Darshan project of the future.  As the new graduates lined up, looking resplendent in their traditional Indian clothes with their joyful smiles, in front of the assembled audience, the Bala Vihar Graduation Ceremony of 2016 concluded with the resonance of ‘Abhinandanam’ – the Chinmaya Graduation Song, the Chinmaya Pledge, and the Universal Peace Prayer – “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah.”

For more information on Chinmaya Mission Houston and its activities visit or Jay Deshmukh 832-541-0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233