Yato Dharma Tato Jaya – 8th Grade

Aparna Easwar, Raj Sistla, Sushil Nema

8th Grade 2018-19

The theme of the Bala Vihar for 8th grade is Yato Dharmah Tato Jayah (Where there is Dharma, there is Victory).    

Our wonderful students:  Dhvani, Anika, Sitara, Idika, Kumkum, Annika, Sagarika, Nividh, Suhas, Jayant, Rahul, Tej, Manas, Rohan, Aditi, Arshia, Arya, Sudarshan.

We started off the year with a discussion on the Karma, and the law of Karma.  

We spent a good portion of the 8th grade curriculum reading  & discussing the Mahabharata, which chronicles the story of the Pandavas, the Kauravas, their elders & relatives, and of course Lord Krishna.  The Mahabharata is the longest epic in the world and is several thousand years old. Dharma in action, and references to Dharma, are conspicuous in almost every chapter of the Mahabharata and it was a great experience to analyze the motives, the choices made and the consequences experienced, by the characters in the Mahabharata.   We are grateful to the version of C. Rajagopalachari’s translation of the Mahabharata which we used in this class. The students had lots of interesting observations, questions & debates along the way.

A wonderful episode in the Mahabharata is the “Yaksha Prashna” – a morality filled questions & answer dialogue between Yudhishthira and a Yaksha.  As a class we spent a good deal of time discussing this thought provoking Q&A.

With the backdrop of the Mahabharata story, the class then discussed what Dharma is, and how to live by our Dharma.   We then discussed the ten values of Sanatana Dharma as laid down by Manu, the facts of life and the roadmap to success.  Then we capped off the year with a module on “How to be a darling of Krishna” by living the values of “Thirty Five Gems” from Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita.    

Oh..along the way, the class also had the opportunity to :

  • Cook over a hundred meals for the Transitions homeless shelter  (way to go, class!).
  • Break new ground and fall in love with the concept of “Bala Vihar homework”  

-Raj Sistla & Aparna Eswar

Hindu Culture -9th Grade

Praveen Gopalakrishnan & Shyam Venkatesh

The 9th Grade curriculum focuses on Hindu Culture, and exploring core tenets and practices of Hinduism. Topics included:

– Study of the Vedas

– Exploring karmakanda, upasanakanda, and jnanakanda

– Karma and Dharma

– Exploring various samskaras including upanayana

– Caste based on guna (qualities) and karma (action)

– Ahimsa (non-injury)

– Dana (charity) and Seva (service)

– Panchasraddha, the five basic beliefs of Hindus

– 16 steps of a puja

– Mahavakyas, or the four great truths

– The 4 purusarthas (human goals)

– Panchayajnas, the five daily yajnas we should perform each day

Bhagavad Gita 1-9 – 10th Grade

Kalpana Krishnamurthy & Krishna Sistla

High school is a time of tumultuous change. It is when the journey to discover oneself begins. It would be helpful if there was a guide to help us on this journey. Alas! For many in the world, no such guide exists. As descendants of the eternal path of Dharma, we are blessed to have Gurudev as our guide and Bhagavad Gita as our Guide book. In 10th grade, we begin this journey of self-awareness earnestly. Students and teachers learn together and connect the concepts we learn to our experiences as an individual, family, nation and the world as a whole.

Our vibrant student group includes Devak, Deyvak, Kartik, Shruti, Ramya, Vishwesh, Anusha, Sriram, Shriya and Navya. They are an inquisitive bunch. On one occasion the discussion was so immersive that we all lost track of time. On other occasions the class breaks into fits of laughter that seem to go on forever.

Through the year, we journeyed through the garden of Bhagavad Gita. First we met the despondent Arjuna who is confused about who he is, unsure of what path to take, his energies have been laid to waste by his mental state. To his credit, Arjuna sets aside his ego and accepts Krishna as his guru and asks him to clarify the confusion. Thus ensues a lively conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.

We listened to short snippets of this conversation. We learned about the deathless and birthless state of Brahman. We learned about integrated intellect (Buddhi yoga) and actions of a stable Buddhi yogi.  From Krishna, we learned about Karma and universal nature of Yagna. We learned about the path of action, path of knowledge and the path of devotion. We learned about meditation and the abhyasa needed to calm one’s mind. Finally, we learned about the cosmic cycles of creation and dissolution.

Along the way, we stopped and talked about civil rights history and the role of identity separation in fostering hatred and violence. We talked about genocide and the state of mind of the individual and collective that can lead to horrible acts of violence.

We successfully survived the cooking challenge and even had some fun while doing it. Finally, we ended the year with a bang. We headed out to Tree2Tree for a funfilled afternoon of climbing, rope walking, swinging, screaming with joy and screaming for life. In the end we all made it through the black course. Yes we did it !.

Krishna & Kalpana


Bhagavad Gita 10-18 – 11th Grade

TK Ramchandar & Sudhir Namboothiry

Udaya Summarized this year as follows,

Our Takeaways from the Bhagavad Gita – Udaya

What We Learned

  • Our body is just a frame for our soul
  • Our goal is to graduate from Earth
  • Karma is action, and actions have consequences; your karma can affect your life now and affect your future lives
  • The Mind is a great servant, but a bad Master
  • God is in everything
  • Desires prevent enlightenment
  • The restlessness in our mind is caused by our likes and dislikes
  • Expectations are bad, happiness requires an emphasis on the effort, not the results
  • Ego is bad


What We Should Do

  • Work to be more like the Lord
  • Frequently practice Meditation
  • Learn to practice self-restraint
  • Learn to understand yourself
  • Don’t be attached to the end result
  • Detach yourself from desires and distractions
  • The factors of devotion are:
    • Fix your mind on Krishna
    • Have self-control
    • Have extreme faith
  • Praying requires to focus on Bhagavan; meditation
  • Issues can be complex but you must always practice/follow your dharma
  • Strive to be satvik
  • To be enlightened you must surrender yourself and your belongings to God

“The hardest choices require the strongest wills” – Siddarth Menon, aka Thanos

Hindi Class Reflection

Amrish Kontu

Chinmaya Mission Portland has been running a very successful Hindi program since last 6 years. The program has been growing every year, we had 9 classes and over 80+ students in the in academic year 2018-2019.

Students in Chinmaya Mission got opportunity to learn Hindi, a national language of India that is customized for US echo system & learning needs.

Chinmaya Mission Hindi program used best curriculum and study materials from India.  In addition, the program used custom-made games, quiz, online video & documentary and translated stories to get familiar with Hindi language with focus on reading, writing and communication.  In addition, teachers uses skits and play to make the classes easier to relate to and interactive, especially for children who are not able to get sufficient opportunity at home. Here is the summary Hindi language classes learning goals and curriculum for 2018-2019 calendar.