The day started off at CIF with the pandemonium of packing and getting ready to leave. In Guruji’s Kutia, there were a few children who had come from Chinmaya Vidyalaya Kottayam, and one of the children was fortunate to sing a beautiful kirtan in front of Pujya Guruji.
We had a group photo op with the CIF staff and sevaks in front of Adi Shankaraacharya’s Illom. Soon after, we headed to the airport to catch our 12:55 flight to Mumbai.
We managed a detour to stop at my home in Tripunithura, which is 30 minutes away from CIF. My nine year-old son, Kapil, who was staying with his grandmother (my mother) at my Tripunithara house at the time, was very happy to see Guruji, and showed him all around the house. We departed from my home after breakfast, and continued our journey to the airport to join the rest of the yatris. After reaching the airport, we found out that the flight was delayed, so while we munched on our lunch in the airport, Pyareji was kind enough to entertain us with his humor, interspersed with Mithai from various sources.
We received a warm welcome at the Mumbai Ashram, from the student Brahmacharis and Acharyas. We were then lead to our rooms in Chinmaya Vihar. I heard Guruji giving instructions while we were on the bus to turn on the geysers in each room so that we don’t have to wait to shower. Perfect “Guruji touch”!
Established in 1963, Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in Powai, Mumbai was the first institute of Vedanta formed by Swami Chinmayananda. It commenced with Swami Chinmayananda himself as the Acharya (teacher).
The two-year residential Vedanta course in English now commences and concludes at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya on the auspicious day of Ganesha Chaturthi. A year after its conclusion, another course begins. The 13th batch of spiritual students completed their course in September 2007 & the 14th batch is in progress now.
Pujya Gurudev named Chinmaya Mission’s Vedanta institutes for spiritual studies as Sandeepany. He said, “Sandeepany symbolizes the perfect kindling and the kindling of perfection in the hearts of men.”
In ancient times, the great sage Maharshi Sandeepany headed a Gurukula where spiritual knowledge, scriptural teachings, martial arts and all aspects of learning were imparted to resident disciples. Gurukulas were much more than today’s boarding school and the students stayed under the tutelage, protection and nurturing of their guru for approximately ten years. Students and their guru resided together as a family. Maharshi Sandeepany’s most famed disciple was none other than Lord Krishna.
Swami Chinmayananda thus chose Sandeepany as Chinmaya Mission’s first Vedantic learning and spiritual training academy. This title later came to be used generically for all of the Mission’s Vedantic institutes, which came up in various parts of India, offering two-year residential training in regional languages.
We had our snacks and ready for the 6:30 Aarathi. The Jagadeeshwara temple is in the top of the mound, and is beautiful. The chants and aarathi invokes devotion in anyone who happen to stand nearby, quite a harmonious display of lights, chants and sounds!
The aarathi was followed by Guruji’s satsang. He talked about Ramayana, Aaranya Kanda which was the topic of discussion for the Sandeepany students. Guruji talked about Aranya Kanda as explained in different Ramayanas. He also outlined our program for tomorrow. He suggested that we sit in the Upanishad class of Swami Advaitanandaji in the morning, followed by a conducted tour of the facility.
A day filled with travel is coming to an end.