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Exclusive: Chinmaya Mission to organize Harry Potter themed camp to ignite Dynamic Spirituality in Youths

Swami Chinmayamanda believed that youth are not useless they are used less

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Potter for the shaping mind

Chinmaya Mission is a spiritual organisation that consists of various study groups, bal vihar, CHYK classes, etc. The motto of  is Harness maximum happiness to maximum people for the maximum time. Cord unit of Chinmaya mission works in the rural areas and helps the poor and uneducated whereas in urban cities ,to achieve this goal they take help of scriptures as they believe knowledge to be the greatest source of happiness. While the principles of the Hindu sacred text, Bhagavad Gita forms the base of the organisation, the organisation also believes in all Gods and scriptures.

The CHYK (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra) wing of this organisation in Mumbai is coming up with a Harry Potter themed camp for youth, to make them understand the significance of spirituality.

NewsGram brings to you an exclusive interview of Br. Ved Chaitanya and Vaidehi of Chinmaya Mission with reporter Rasika Iyer.

Rasika: We all know about Chinmaya Mission and that CHYK is a part of it. Can you tell me what actually the purpose behind CHYK ?

Vaidehi: Chinmaya Mission’s founder, Swami Chinmayananda, felt “what I got, everyone should get”. He was an atheist, went to the Himalayas to expose the sadhus. He discovered that what we feel might be wrong and there is much more to it. He believed youth is not useless, they are used less. His disciples thought there should be an organised way to deal with it and that is when CHYK (Chinmaya Yuva Kendra) came into being.

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CHYK is the youth wing of Chinmaya mission that includes people from the age group of 13-30. Our motto is harnessing youth potential through dynamic spirituality. The majority population of India is young. By changing the mindset of these people, the whole nation can be changed. Spirituality is considered to be passive but for youth, it should be dynamic. The study group is our base. Through this, we understand our own positive and negative nature. We also arrange programs where youngsters learn.

Vaidehi Chhatre, Secretary CHYK,Navi Mumai
Vaidehi Chhatre, Secretary CHYK,Navi Mumbai

Rasika: What motivated you to be a part of this organisation? Are you part of it by chance or by choice?

Vedji: Everybody is trying to find peace, answers to some questions. One of my questions was, why am I here and what am I supposed to do? During my college years, when I came in contact with Yuva Kendra, the knowledge appealed to me more. Here the Scriptures are given more importance than someone disseminating knowledge in person. This is what I felt good about and it brought me closer to the organisation. After that, I took the residential Vedanta course in Gurukul system to learn Scriptures, Upanishads, Bhagwatam, and 40-50 other texts.

Rasika: What motivated you to include Harry Potter theme for the camp?

Vedji: In the 2nd year of the college, I read all the books of Harry Potter. It had a great impact on me. As a series, I find J.K. Rowling the best. I was astonished by the idea of how she has woven all the stories together. When she was writing the first book of the Harry Potter series and figured out how it was going to end. Such a huge series of 7 books and she connected it so well. Though at that point, I did not find any relevance with spirituality. Later on after studying Vedanta and teaching, I started taking quotes Harry Potter as examples.

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Like in the series 3, we see Harry and Sirius Black are about to die but he sees Patronus charm which drives away the dementors. When he goes back through time travel he tells Hermoine that he saw his father is coming to save him. Hermoine says there was no one coming and he realizes that it is he who have to save himself. We all should know that whatever we make of our life is because of our actions and deeds and we have to save ourselves. Harry Potter can be connected to the highest point of self-realization. It is hard to believe as I do not know if the author knows about Hindu spirituality but still managed to write something that is so much connected to it.

Br. Ved Chaitanya
Br. Ved Chaitanya

Rasika: How did the Harry Potter theme help you achieve your purpose or objective?

Vedji: During my interaction with parents, I realized that they want their children to learn so much in a way they have been taught, but somehow children dislike the method. This is due to generation gap. Children have to be taught in a way so that they can relate to it and find it interesting. The motive is to get them inspired to lead a noble, righteous and happy life.

Rasika: What will the camp all about? What are your expectations?

Vedji: Not everyone has watched the Harry Potter movie series, we have organised a movie screening. Some of the sections of the book, which are not a part of the movie will be read. Games inspired by the book like Quidditch will be played in a modified version.

Vaidehi: The main highlight will be the sessions during the camp. I love Harry Potter but I do not know the connection between Harry Potter and my life. I don’t know what to take from it and what to leave behind. We all secretly wish to live his life but we somewhere or the other, we know our lives are similar.

Rasika: If Horcruxes were qualities, what would be the 7 real life ones?

Vedji: This concept has similarities with Indian folktales. There is a famous story where a princess’ life is stored in a parrot. You can break your soul into parts and store it in other living or non-living objects. This is another effort of human beings to go towards immortality. In Harry Potter, unless you destroy 7 Horcruxes, Voldemort cannot be destroyed. Voldemort in a way, represents our eternal enemy here. We are ignorant about our own self. Ignorance is our greatest enemy. In Vedanta, the concept of Shad Ripu (6 enemies)  forms a close link with 6 of the Horcruxes and the 7th being the ego.

Rasika: Do you think this kind of an ‘East meets West’ concept is necessary for this generation to connect to their roots?

Vaidehi: Harry Potter is a Western concept but has relevance to the Eastern life as well. Source hardly matters, we are open to anything that will bring positivity in people. The Westerners respect Indian culture more. Both the cultures are good in their own way. But, we should know our own culture more before adapting to other cultures. We cannot protect others without protecting our own self. One can protect themselves only if they who know who they really are. Scriptures are written in Sanskrit, so hardly anyone delves so deep to understand it. Therefore with this story, people will feel a sense of belonging.

Vedji: What is special about western life is sincerity, dedication and an organized way of life. In the east, people attach a lot of significance to knowledge and culture. The way we find happiness in small things, a sense of satisfaction and that we believe the whole world is one. However, the Western culture is also rich in its own way. Everything comes with consequences- good and bad. The bottom line is the importance of family, love, friendship forms the base of our culture.

– prepared by Rasika Iyer of NewsGram. Twitter: @Rasikaiyer93

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Do You Know there are only two Leaning Temples in The World? Visit the Leaning Temple of Huma in Sambalpur

Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

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Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

Odisha October 23, 2017: The famous Leaning Temple of Huma built in 1670 AD is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the only two leaning temples in the world. It was constructed by the ruler, Baliar Singh, the 5th ruler of the kingdom of Chauhan of Sambalpur, Odisha, India. The speciality of this temple is it’s structure skewed to one direction.

Reason Behind its Tilted Structure:

It is regarded that the reason for its tilted structure could be some interior dismounting of rocky bed at which this temple is positioned, either because of flood current inside the Mahanadi River or earthquake, thereby affecting the position of this original temple.  An interesting fact to be noted is that the other little temples inside the Hamlet are also tilted to various other directions.

The finest time to visit this leaning temple is October to March. Enshrine your spirituality during these months and celebrate the festive season in the town of Sambalpur, Odisha. Shivratri is believed to be the chief festival of this temple. Hence, it advances a huge gathering specially during Shivratri festival during March. You may also find ‘Kudo’ fishes on the bank of river Mahanadi near the temple who are given food by devotees as a part of the worship.

Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

How to Reach the Leaning Temple of Huma:

By Road – Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

By Rail – Sambalpur railway station is the closest station from Huma. You may find taxis and cabs to drop you 23 kms towards the temple of Huma.

By Air – Bhubaneshwar is the closest airport to Huma which is approximately 290 ms away from Huma. Catch a taxi or cab to drop you at the exact destination.

Leaning Temple
Huma Leaning Temple is one of the two leaning temples of the world. Wikimedia.

Where to stay:

There are various hotels nearby the temple at affordable prices presenting the pleasant view of the outside village.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana 

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10 quotes from Bhagavada Gita to kick start your day

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By Sakchi Srivastava

Bhagavada Gita or the Song of the God, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is a narrative between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna passes on sermons and teachings on life and death to Arjuna. These teachings are universal truths which have proved their relevance through millenniums. They are of extreme relevance to people of all ages, no matter which nationality they belong to. These are eternal truths which help every individual to pass the necessary ordeals of life.

Here are 10 special quotes from the Bhagvada Gita which can enlighten the mind and the soul –

1. “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
People are born in this world as individuals responsible for their own actions. They should make their own decisions no matter how right and wrong they are, without trying to imitate others. People should learn to take ownership of their life rather walking on someone else’s road.

2. “I am Time, the great destroyer of the world.”
As goes the great saying “Time and Tide wait for none”, Bhagvada Gita also propagates the beliefs that time is the most valuable ornament of our existence. Any being belonging to any age group cannot afford to waste it. It teaches us how to be organized and have a productive and meaningful life. Once wasted, it can never be compensated.

3. “O Krishna, the mind is restless”
The mind is a powerful element that cannot be controlled by any force. It is its own master. At one point people believe in something and at the very other moment they support something else. The mind is always in a state of flux.

4. ‘Reshape yourself through the power of your will.’
Life should be conquered by the will. Will is the strongest emotion which drives the entire existence. People’s will to achieve their goals or to become something in life helps them to achieve success.

5. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”
People have the right to work, but never to the fruit of that work. They should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should they long for inaction. Hard work should be the soul dedication and the result will follow. People should always be patience.

6. “There is nothing lost or wasted in life.”
Everyone has the privilege of living only one life. People come into this world without belongings but as individuals. They should not have regrets in this life. They don’t even lose their loved ones, they are all here.

7. “Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”
Every man is an individual with different opinions and perspectives. A man is known by his beliefs. Whatever he believes in becomes his identity.

8. “There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.”
Anyone who doubts his decisions, his likings, his dislikes or is not confident about his choices will fail to be happy no matter how many chances are given to him. He will not find happiness in any state of mind.

9. “One can become whatever one wants to be (if one constantly contemplates on the object of desire with faith).”
All have hankering towards achieving goals in life. Though some are successful but some lose the battle because they are in doubt. People should understand humans have the capability to achieve everything in life only if they believe in themselves.

10. “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Anything that takes birth is destined to die. Everything, that breathes, which includes plants and animals, also have a lifespan.

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Karma Yoga: The concept of work and duty, as defined by Swami Vivekananda

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Karma Yoga

Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint, the torch bearer of Hinduism, had passed away but his teachings to humanity still lives on. One such teaching which he repeatedly spoke through out his life is about “Karma Yoga” – the concept of work and duty- the Karma Yoga. Before understanding what constitutes duty, we must first understand what constitutes Karma.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Swami Vivekananda Says:The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma.

Technically, this word also means the effects of actions. In connection with metaphysics, it sometimes means the effects, of which our past actions were the causes. But in Karma-Yoga we simply have to do with the word Karma as meaning work.” Therefore, all actions are Karma, from the most trivial actions like brushing the teeth to the highest elevating actions like meditation.

KARMA YOGA refers to all human activities performed with concentration, skill and finesse. The way to liberation is to perform your duties without attachment. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna (all of mankind) to do their work most sincerely & with expertise and skill they have masterd, and without any attachment or expectation of rewards.

Types Of Karma Yoga:

  • Niskama Karma– work without attachment, which produces no bondage.
  • Sakama Karma-all work done for some end result, which leads to bondage for the doer.

More on “Karma Yoga” By Swami Vivekananda:

“Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us.”

What Is YOGA?

This is a much more confusing word. Yoga is generally understood as the activity of breath control or taking different body postures, or the activities mentioned by Pathanjali. But in Gita this word has a much wider and somewhat different meaning.

The word Yoga originated from the root ”YUJ” meaning Joining,tieing together etc. This word is used at innumerable places in the Gita with meanings like appropriateness, joining, expertise, attainment etc. The essential meaning of Yoga is explained by Sri Krishna himself as “Yogah Karmasu Kausalam” (Gita 2.50). Kausalam means a special talent, expertise or skill in doing something. So doing things with expertise is Yoga. A Yogi is one who does something with expert knowledge or skill. (according to speakingtree)

The goal of mankind is knowledge

Therefore, Karma is simple exertion of effort. Naturally the question arises, what is the ultimate goal of such efforts? Why should we perform actions?

Swami Vivekananda answers-

“The goal of mankind is knowledge. That is the one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy.Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for.”

Therefore, the ultimate goal is not pleasure, not temporary happiness but Knowledge (Atma-Jnana) that liberates one from the limited bondage of the universe.

In another place, he states- “I have already tried to point out that goal. It is freedom as I understand it. Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards that freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom.”

Means are as important as the goal

A question may arise- If the goal of all actions is Liberation, then does it mean there is no importance to the actions that are employed as means to attain the goal? Can any one indulge indiscriminately in any kind of actions?

As if to answer, Swami Vivekananda declared-“One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end” in one of his lectures delivered at Los Angeles, California in 1900.

Hence, while doing one’s actions, and while performing one’s duties, one should first and foremost concentrate on the immediate job that is in front of a person. It often happens that one tends to ignore the immediate task at hand, by indulging too much in the goal to be attained.

This will result in a person being shabby at his work. Further, over-indulgence with the idea of attaining the goal will make a person blind towards righteousness or unrighteousness of the means. Such, a person will often end up having results that are quite unfavorable and sometimes opposite of what was intended.

That is why Swami Vivekananda cautions-

“Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.”

Any action that makes us go Godward is duty

As means are very vital to reach the goal, it is necessary to understand, what actions can serve as a means to attain liberation. Swami Vivekananda calls these actions “Duty”.

He says-

“Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and is not our duty. From the subjective standpoint we may see that certain acts have a tendency to exalt and ennoble us, while certain other acts have a tendency to degrade and to brutalize us.”

Therefore, only those actions that constitute duty and lead us to exaltation can be considered as the means to Liberation. These are the duties that Hindu scriptures call “svadharma”. What is right and good for one may not be so for another person. Every person should understand his own inherent nature, his position and stage in life and perform those duties that take him towards Liberation.

Swami Vivekananda himself clarifies this-

“The Bhagavad-Gita frequently alludes to duties dependent upon birth and position in life. Birth and position in life and in society largely determine the mental and moral attitude of individuals towards the various activities of life. It is therefore our duty to do that work which will exalt and ennoble us in accordance with the ideals and activities of the society in which we are born. But it must be particularly remembered that the same ideals and activities do not prevail in all societies and countries”

But this does not mean that people perform any actions according to their fancies and call it dharma. Though svadharma is different for every person, there are universal principles that are common to everyone.

Swami Vivekananda says-

“There is, however, only one idea of duty which has been universally accepted by all mankind, of all ages and sects and countries, and that has been summed up in a Sanskrit aphorism thus: “Do not injure any being; not injuring any being is virtue, injuring any being is sin.” Therefore, people must decide their own svadharma, not on the basis of their fancies but on the basis of these universal principles and how their application will take them towards liberation.”

Work performed without attachment leads to highest realization. The next question is, how should one perform one’s duty?

Swami Vivekananda says-

“When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being. Thus, in the story, the Vyadha (hunter) and the woman did their duty with cheerfulness and wholeheartedness; and the result was that they became illuminated, clearly showing that the right performance of the duties of any station in life, without attachment to results, leads us to the highest realization of the perfection of the soul.”

Therefore, if the performance of duties in an unselfish manner, as an act of worship wherein the actions and its fruits are surrendered to God that leads to liberation. Hence, detached action is the key to liberation.

Swami Vivekananda summarizes this path of Karma-Yoga as-

“Karma-Yoga is the attaining through unselfish work of that freedom which is the goal of all human nature. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal, and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal; that is why the only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral, and that which is unselfish is moral.”