Confession of a Balavihar Parent

Chandra Nair

Jarring sound of the alarm wakes me up on the Sunday morning! First instincts borne out of laziness, comfort or lethargy make their futile rounds to avoid the trip to BV. Here it goes. “ I thought you were taking the kids to BV this week”. “Nope”, snap comes the response, “Remember I did it last week”, which I am pretty sure is a decision that cannot be appealed. “I will call you with the shopping list, once you are in the shop”. This confirms two things, not only I am taking the kids, am also doing shopping while they are in the class. My survival instinct goes on to hunt other avenues of avoidance, “it’s raining and pretty cold outside, did you check the e-mail, do they have class today?” “It always rains in Oregon, they never close for that reason, can you stop making excuses and get going”. With a bruised ego and pall of defeat, I wake up and convince myself. I started this with a good reason, as a good responsible and loving parent who wanted to teach our kids with the richness of our heritage, deep cultural and moral values and spirituality for life, why this dereliction from my duties?, tsk, tsk, pure laziness. Now I am charged to do my duty, drop off the kids, and about to head out for the quick shopping.
Rain was unusually heavy and very windy that day, am double minded to shop or not to shop. A friendly tap on my back and a quiet voice from behind suggests (as if someone reading my mind like an open book) “Planning to go for shopping, I thought so too…I think we should wait, instead we could sit in this study group”. I nod and mentally thank for taking me out of the predicament of my shopping dilemma. Study group was discussing the book Self​ Unfoldment​, and the topic was ‘Happiness’. Contrary to my conviction that I could attain spiritual upliftment through ‘self-study,’ I started to enjoy the various points of view that were raised in the group and the author’s own assertion to ‘analyze and convince yourself.’ This was a turning point, I no longer wanted to do shopping, nor have any tirade of conflicts to take children every week, in fact I started to volunteer for this Sunday morning chore. Then came the visits by ‘Acharyas,’ my eyebrows maintained the steady curve and stayed up, carefully analyzing and keeping my ‘safe distance’ from all that is ‘religious’. Slowly I realized each one was different, loving, and deep in knowledge in their own ways, clearing the clouds of confusion in my own spiritual journey.
Now, 17 years later, I don’t know anything else better to do on a Sunday morning. Our lives have changed so much for the better, that it’s hard to fathom the depths of that change in each one of us. I was a WIFM (What’s In For Me) parent, looking to cut a deal with every worldly transaction. I am confident my kids have been rooted on the foundations of lifetime values to settle in, even if the flickers of passion may distract at times. We are very fortunate to be part of the ‘Chinmaya Family’ that helps and serves each other at all times (good or bad), true to the pledge ‘live as a family with love and respect’.
Most of all, this association has given a sense of purpose in life, guard rails to walk on the path of virtue with courage and conviction and guides us to help make right decisions at every juncture with a goal of contributing to the larger good, and keeping others above us, always. In closing, let me borrow the famous lines from the Eagle’s song – Hotel California, ‘you can check out any time you like, but can never leave -The Chinmaya Magic!

Welcome to Haridwar Chinmaya, such a lovely place, such a holy place!