H.H. Swami Chinmayananda (8 May 1916 – 3 August 1993), born Balakrishna Menon (Balan) was a Hindu Indian spiritual leader, and teacher, who inspired the formation of Chinmaya Mission in 1953 to spread the message of Vedanta. The organization that was founded by his disciples and led by him: the Chinmaya Mission has over 300 centers in India and the world over.
He was a disciple of Swami Sivananda at Rishikesh, who founded the Divine Life Society, and was then advised by Swami Sivananda to study under H.H. Swami Tapovan Maharaj in Uttarkashi in the Himalayas.
Swami Chinmayananda started the tradition of Gyana Yagnas, in an effort to spread the message of the Geeta and the Upanishads, thus the first such Geeta Gyana Yagna was held in Pune between December 31, 1951 and April 1952.
In 1953, his closest disciples founded the Chinmaya Mission, named so to indicate that the goal of its followers was infinite bliss. During his forty years of travelling and teaching, Swami Chinmayananda opened numerous centres and ashrams worldwide, he also built many schools, hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. He played a major role in the renovation of many temples. His interest in helping the villagers with basic necessities led to the eventual creation of a rural development project, known as the Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development or CORD. Its National Director, Dr. Kshama Metre was recently awarded the Padma Shree National award in Social Work.
Swami Chinmayananda died on 3 August 1993 in San Diego, California, and his mortal remains were placed in a Samadhi on 19th August, 1993, at the Sidhbari Ashram in the Himalayas.
Today, his legacy remains in the form of the vibrant international organization called the Chinmaya Mission. This mission serves Swami Chinmayananda’s vision of reinvigorating India’s rich cultural heritage, and making Vedanta accessible to everybody regardless of age, nationality, or religious background. Over 10,000 members of the Chinmaya Mission from over the world gathered in Mumbai in December 2001 to commemorate 50 years of the first Gyana Yagna at Pune.
Two years later in 2003, the Chinmaya Movement celebrated its golden jubilee.