Inspired Training Workshop for Bala Vihar Teachers

Photo: Jayesh Mistry

Photo: Jayesh Mistry

By Satchitananda

HOUSTON: During the weekend of August 19-20, 2017, Chinmaya Mission Houston hosted the much awaited Balavihar Teachers’ Training workshop that drew over 190 onsite and 150 online participants. The online live streaming feature was a first-time add-on to benefit teachers from other parts of the country. Acarya Darshana Nanavaty, fondly adored as Darshana Aunty, shared her decades of wisdom with the eager Balavihar teachers who ranged from the experienced to aspiring beginners.

In the two-day event that began promptly with a prayer dedication to Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda, Aunty eloquently elaborated on the philosophy behind Balavihar training. She highlighted how freedom is our natural state and how Balavihar equips both the teacher and the taught to gradually build a truly free paradise in life based on scriptural wisdom.

With concepts that have grade-wise sequential answers to a set of five questions: Where is God?; Why can’t I see HIM?; How can I see HIM?; What should I do?; and, What is the result of this knowledge?, the curriculum is designed to guide children from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The Acarya described the teaching methods which blend in age-appropriate hands-on arts and crafts, singing, chanting, and other fun-filled options to keep every child excited.  This variety in instruction caught the attention of the second generation aspirants among the attendees.

All the training methods were centered on Gurudev’s simple instruction – “Tell, not teach.” Being rooted in Dharma, being compassionate and loving to the children is a must if a Balavihar teacher aspires to be effective. The Acarya stressed the need to be mindfully responsible – to walk the talk and to be committed from the heart.

Acharya Darshanaben explained in detail the syllabus of each grade, using the teachers from the Houston Bala Vihar team who shared tips from her books: Alphabet Safari, Bala Ramayana, Sri Hanuman, Bala Bhagavatam, My Twenty four Teachers, Symbolism in Hinduism, India, the sacred land, P.O.Box Mr God, Yato Dharmah Tato Jayah, Hindu Culture, and Gita for me. These books are widely acclaimed and followed across the world by a multitude of Chinmaya missions and Hindu institutions. Her youth-friendly way of explaining Bhagavad Gita could inspire both high school students and adults alike.

As the acharya weaved her magic, the rapt audience busily took notes of the various teaching aids she presented, be they charts, games or props used by Balavihar teachers. The ease with which she made complex spiritual ideas simple enough to be grasped by children was extraordinary. Acarya Darshana Aunty reminded all participants that spiritual study and harmonious cooperative effort with discipline was a must for Bala Vihar success.

Acarya Darshana Aunty provided living proof of Gurudeva Chinmayananda’s continuing inspiration as she concluded her workshop. Many eagerly signed up for volunteering as Balavihar teachers for the first time, even as many bought several books for their far-flung centers.

One could only wonder that Pujya Gurudeva was orchestrating this impeccable workshop through the several sincere teams of volunteers who worked in the yajna spirit and made every aspect of this training memorable!

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