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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
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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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  • AJ Krish

    This is an excellent method to ignite in youths, the spirit of righteousness. We can easily make connections when we are already aware of a similar concept.

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Youth in polluted cities at increased risk of Alzheimer’s

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Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab.
Pollution can lead to Alzheimer's in youth. Wikimedia Commons

Children and young adults living in polluted megacities are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a debilitating brain disease characterised by memory loss, a new study has warned.

“Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks start in childhood in polluted environments, and we must implement effective preventative measures early,” said one of the researchers Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas from University of Montana in the US.

Air pollution can trigger Alzheimer’s. Flickr

“It is useless to take reactive actions decades later,” Calderon-Garciduenas said. The findings, published in the Journal of Environmental Research, indicate that Alzheimer’s starts in early childhood, and the disease progression relates to age, pollution exposure and status of Apolipoprotein E (APOE 4), a well-known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The researchers studied 203 autopsies of Mexico City residents in the US ranging in age from 11 months to 40 years.

Metropolitan Mexico City is home to 24 million people exposed daily to concentrations of fine particulate matter and ozone above US Environmental Protection Agency standards. The researchers tracked two abnormal proteins that indicate development of Alzheimer’s, and they detected the early stages of the disease in babies less than a year old.

Also Read: Your daily cup of coffee can worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms

The scientists found heightened levels of the two abnormal proteins — hyperphosphorylated tau and beta amyloid — in the brains of young urbanites with lifetime exposures to fine-particulate-matter pollution (PM2.5).

They also tracked APOE 4 as well as lifetime cumulative exposure to unhealthy levels of PM2.5 — particles which are at least 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and frequently cause the haze over urban areas. The researchers found hallmarks of the disease among 99.5 percent of the autopsies they examined in Mexico City. In addition, the findings showed that APOE 4 carriers had a higher risk of rapid progression of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s can cause depression too. Pixabay

The researchers believe the detrimental effects are caused by tiny pollution particles that enter the brain through the nose, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and these particles damage all barriers and travel everywhere in the body through the circulatory system.

The authors noted that ambient air pollution is a key modifiable risk for millions of people across the globe. “Neuroprotection measures ought to start very early, including the prenatal period and childhood,” Calderon-Garciduenas said. “Defining pediatric environmental, nutritional, metabolic and genetic risk-factor interactions are key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease,” she added. IANS