| CENTER PROFILE
Chinmaya Mission Ann Arbor (CMAA) began through the tireless efforts of Acharya Sharada and Viswa Kumar, who were devotees of Pujya Gurudev since the 1960s. In 1983, the Kumar Family moved to Ann Arbor and on Janmashtami of Aug. 1984, began Chinmaya Bala Vihar at their residence. During the initial years, there were only nine BV students, including the Kumars' two children. Shortly after, bhajan sessions, Carnatic music classes, and adult Study Groups began blossoming.
In 1986, Pujya Gurudev visited and blessed the Bala Vihar children and their parents. He visited twice thereafter and on both visits, devotees performed his pada puja.
In 1989, Pujya Gurudev invited Sharadaji to tour with him in India to get trained in teaching Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta to adults. When she returned, Gita classes began and the class for parents became part of the weekly BV session. The basement could no longer hold everyone, as Gurudev had predicted, and soon, Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor became CMAA's activity center, May 1991-Aug. 2000.
In Nov. 1994, with Pujya Guruji's blessings, CMAA was officially incorporated, and purchased a 5.77-acre property in Oct. 1996. Swami Purushottamananda presided over the bhumi puja in Aug. 1998 and Guruji officiated site construction with the brick-laying ceremony in Jul. 1999. He inaugurated the new 21,000 sq. ft. "Chinmaya Avantika" building in Jul. 2000. He returned in Aug. 2002 to preside over the murti installation ceremonies.
Since its inception, CMAA has organized jnana yajnas 1-2 times annually over the years. In addition to Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda, visiting acharyas have included Pujya Swami Purushottamananda, Pujya Swamini Saradapriyananda, Swami Swaroopananda (who initiated CMAA's annual youth camp tradition in June 2002), Swami Chidatmananda, Swami Ishwarananda, and Swami Prakashananda.
CMAA has also hosted music concert fundraisers, including three by Purushottam Das Jalota, and stage dance-dramas with themes such as Kartavyam and Mahabharata.
Guruji's visits over the years have helped inspire depth in studies and service. During his visit in 2005, he conducted a weekend meditation retreat for adults. To mark the golden jubilee of the Chinmaya Movement, Sharadaji conducted a year of daily chanting of Bhagavad Gita at various homes. Today, CMAA has nearly 5,000 Bala Vihar students and Study Group members in classes in various locations.
The center's main activities include weekly Vedanta classes, annual Gita chanting and likhit japa competitions, a score of Hindu festivals celebrated annually, cultural programs for India Day and Gandhi Jayanti, interfaith activities, and an annual children’s camp. Various pujas and abhishekams are conducted weekly or periodically, including the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa. The classes taught by Sharadaji at various locations include are on Shrimad Bhagavatam, Valmiki Ramayana, Vivekachudamani, Bhagavad Gita, and bhajans/stotrams.
CHYK Ann Arbor, for university students and young professionals ages 18-30, began in April 2005. In addition to the CHYK study group at the ashram, additional groups meet at University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University.
The senior citizens' Study Group meets on alternate Wednesdays and enjoys various activities including presentations by special invitees, videos, picnics, games, etc. Additional social services are offered by various age groups and include visits to old age homes, soup kitchens, and food drives.