Param Pujya Brahmaleen Swami Chinmayanandaji, the world renowned authority on the scriptures of India, and the “Missionary of the Age – Yuga Purusha” has, with over 42 years of ceaseless service, created a renaissance of spiritual and cultural values in India and awakened the rest of the world to the ageless wisdom of Vedanta. Swamiji was an eminent scholar, a brilliant speaker, and an efficient organizer who reveled in bringing the wisdom of the Rishis to the level of the listeners.
Since 1951, after lecturing throughout the length and breadth of India, Swamiji, in his global pursuit, came to the United States, Canada, etc. Since 1965, he had been covering all cross sections of the various states, especially the university campuses through his annual tours of these countries. Swamiji is the inspiration behind the worldwide organization called Chinmaya Mission, the vehicle for spreading the message of Vedanta, and for overseeing numerous cultural, educational, and social service activities. Thus, the “Man” became the “Movement.” To meet the consistent demand of the ever increasing devotees in the West, and to coordinate and strengthen the missionary work, the Chinmaya Mission West came into being in Piercy, California, as the headquarters of the West.
Year after year, the Vedantic discourses of Swamiji were organized by devotees. These discourses attracted and benefited serious seekers of Vedantic knowledge.The spark kindled in one such discourse by Pujya Swamiji on “Cause and Effect” at Oak Brook Church, Oak Brook, Illinois in 1979 planted the seed for the first Gita Jnana Yagna held in Chicago. (August 10-19, 1980). This resulted in the establishment of the Regional Center of Chinmaya Mission West at Chicago. Due to the inspiration kindled through several Yagnas, hundreds of children participated in the Chinmaya Youth Camps with activities to orient them with our rich spiritual heritage. Weekly Bala Vihar and Yuva Kendra sessions held in the living rooms and basements were very effective in continuously educating and inculcating the universal value system based on our Sanatana Dharma.
The beneficiaries of the Chinmaya Mission Services, with the blessings of Pujya Gurudev, established in 1979 the Chinmaya Mission Chicago to serve as a major center for religious education, culture and tradition in this historic Chicago land. Pujya Gurudev named the center as “Badri – A School of Vedantic Studies.”Spiritual camps and retreats were conducted by renting prohibitively expensive facilities available only at certain times of the year. Hence the Mission was on the look out for a suitable place for the establishment of an Ashram in Chicago.
As a centrally located city which is well accessible from the east, west, south or north, by rail, road and air, Chicago was uniquely suited to house the Center of Vedantic studies in the midwest. Thus the Board of Trustees of Chinmaya Mission Chicago, after a thorough search and careful analysis, purchased 6.5 acres of land with the blessings and approval of Pujya Gurudev. The site was located at Route 83 and Stevenson Expressway. The Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve forms the backdrop for the Ashram, which is scenic, serene, secluded, yet easily accessible from major highways. The existing building was improved, with 5000 sq. ft. of structures, to carry on the Mission activities and to serve the community.With growing enthusiastic family response for services of the Center, the existing classrooms, halls, and parking lots are overflowing requiring an immediate expansion.
To meet the immediate and future needs, construction was begun in July of 1992. The first phase included a two-story structure, scheduled to be completed in October of 1993. On the upper level is a meditation hall with an altar dedicated to Shree Badri Narayana, and on the lower level are classrooms, a dining hall, and a kitchen. Paved parking facilities are provided. The inauguration of the new Center took place on October 24, 1993. We were, however, fortunate that on July 1, 1993 Pujya Gurudev blessed us by spending two hours at the Shrine location, even though in a wheelchair, giving us detailed instructions for the upcoming inaugural function.
As originally planned, the inauguration was to be done by Pujya Gurudev on August 28, 1993. It was the Infinite Lord’s will to withdraw into Himself, the crumbling and overworked equipment, as it had more than served the purpose intended by Him. Thus the informal inauguration of the Shrine at the Holy hands of our beloved Pujya Gurudev is over, along with His love and blessings. Inauguration of the new building and Sthapana Mahotsava for Lord Badri Narayana took place on October 24, 1993 by Pujya Swami Tejomayananda.
The success Chinmaya Mission, Chicago is mainly due to Gurudev’s blessings, the dedicated and enthusiastic seva of the members of the Chinmaya Mission, Chicago families, the Acharyas and teachers, and last but not least, the continued encouragement and support rendered by the numerous devotees of Gurudev. Currently the Center is conducting several Saturday & Sunday Study Groups for adults and nearly 600+ children attend Bala Vihar® and youth classes. The mission is being served by our resident Acharya Swami Sharanananda. Please take a look at the weekly activity schedule to appreciate the wide range of services are being provided at Chinmaya Mission, Chicago.