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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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7 Most Famous Temples to Visit in Uttar Pradesh

show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not to miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

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Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir one of most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

The state of Uttar Pradesh is regarded as an enshrined pilgrimage junction since the inception. Devotees from across the world solicit spirituality by visiting these temples of divine importance. Uttar Pradesh is known for its special attraction especially for the Hindu devotees since it is the birthplace for Vishnu avatars, Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.

Undoubtedly, you must show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

The listicle shows you a tour of these famous temples worth giving a visit in Uttar Pradesh.

Prem Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir is one of the most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Built on the outskirts of Vrindavan, the Prem Mandir is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It was structured by the Fifth Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Statues of Lord Krishna and his followers cover the entire temple symbolizing the crucial events of Lord Krishna’s life and birth. The temple is known for its exquisite architecture and the sculptures. Devotees visit the Prem Temple to offer their prayings to Lord Krishna, during Janmashtami and Diwali.

Banke Bihari Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Banke Bihari temple main gate in Vrindavan. Wikimedia.

The Banke Bihari Temple of Vrindavan is a Hindu temple built by Swami Haridas, the solemn guru of the ancient singer Tansen. The temple is efficiently carved in Rajasthani style. The literal meaning of Banke is “bent in three places” and Bihari means “supreme enjoyer”, which suggests that the main idol Lord Krishna is in a Banke posture or the famous Tribhanga position. It has been claimed that Lord Krishna’s statue was hidden underground by a Hindu priest during the Mughal era. It was Swami Haridas who dreamt of Lord Krishna asking him to release the statue. Swami Haridas dug up the place, found the statue and built a temple for it.

Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Ram Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Although Ayodhya is presumed as the birthplace of Lord Ram, it was in the town of Ram Kot where he was actually born. This temple is known as Ram Janma Bhoomi marking the divine presence of Shri Ram. Travellers visiting Ram Kot in Uttar Pradesh pay their homage to Lord Ram and admire the inscriptions on the temple walls depicting the life of Lord Ram.

Goraknath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Gorakhnath Mandir in Uttar Pradesh.Wikimedia.

The Gorakhnath Temple is one of the most popular temples in Uttar Pradesh and is believed to have been structured at the exact spot where Saint Gorakhnath had meditated. The main feature of the temple is the garb griha where the saint is depicted as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Tourists also visit the pond next to the Goraknath Temple called Mansarovar for peaceful meditation or boat rides.

Shri Krishna Janbhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Sri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh is the birthplace of Krishna. Wikimedia.

Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi is one of the most sacred places for Sanatan Dharmis (Hindus) since it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is a prison cell belonging to his mama (maternal Uncle) Raja Kans where Lord Krishna was born.

Located in Mathura on the banks of river Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi temple is approximately 145 km from Delhi. The prison cell, commonly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where Lord Krishna was born.

Sarnath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
A Buddhist temple at Sarnath. Wikimedia

This famous Buddhist site in Varanasi, Sarnath Temple is popularly known where Lord Buddha addressed his first sermons. It is here where the lord set the ‘wheel of law’ in motion. Stupas like Dhamek Stupa and Chowkhandi Stupa are situated inside the enshrined temple. The temple aims to inculcate its thousands of visitors about the history and impact of Buddhist cultures.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh has the Indian Map structure inside the temple. Wikimedia

The temple located in Varanasi is dedicated to Bharat Mata with the national flag in her hand and a tri-colored sari adorning the idol, who is regarded as a symbolized figure of unity in Diversity and integrity in India. It acquires a huge map of the Mother India on the ground denoting the statue of the Goddess or the Mother of India.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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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.

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.