CHINMAYA MISSION® Los Angeles


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Hari Om.

PRE-1996
Prior to the advent of CM Los Angeles's (CMLA's) Kashi ashram, CM Bala Vihars, Study Groups, and other programs were conducted in different areas of Southern California, from 1982 onward.

Jnana yajnas were conducted as and when acharyas from other CM centers visited Los Angeles, such as Pujya Swami Purushottamananda, Pujya Swamini Saradapriyananda, Brahmacharini Arpita, and Brahmachari Raghavan (now Swami Shantananda). The latter two also served as CMLA's acharyas for some time.

Study Groups were being conducted in different homes, and festivals were celebrated in rented facilities. For two years, CMLA's working committee researched and searched land and/or building acquisition options.

Finally, at a spiritual camp in San Diego, Pujya Gurudev emphasized the need to acquire some land and start a CM center. It was then that the hand of the Master moved and we found the venue for our center.

The initial property was half an acre of land, surrounded by tall, shady trees with dark green leaves. Gurudev named the ashram “Kashi.” In the heart of Anaheim's bustling community, a mile or so from Disneyland, a children's playground, arose Kashi, the spiritual playground for Lord Kashi Vishwanath's children, for Pujya Gurudev's children.

In late 1995, a dynamic Brahmachari Someshwar Chaitanya (now Swami Ishwarananda), came to CMLA as its new resident acharya. He conducted classes on Shrimad Bhagavatam and other Vedantic texts.

All the Bala Vihars that existed in different areas within a 20-mile radius united at Kashi and a full-fledged center of activity was born. Kashi soon became the venue for CMLA's jnana yajnas, daily and weekend Vedanta classes and discourses, weekly pujas, and festival celebrations.

KASHI Ashram, 1996
Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda inaugurated Kashi in January 1996. The facility consists of a temple/satsanga hall, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva as Kashi Vishvanath. There are three Bala Vihar rooms, a small office, acharya's quarters, a small kitchen, and a bookstall.

In March 2000, during the Mahashivaratri function, Br. Someshwar Chaitanya was initiated as Swami Ishwarananda. Swami Ishwarananda served as CMLA's acharya until October 2001, after which he went to Mumbai, India to conduct the two-year Brahmachari Vedanta Course. CMLA was administered by its Board members and dedicated devotees, who catered to the main ashram and nine satellite centers, including Bakersfield. In Feb. 2002, when Guruji appointed Brahmacharini Vibhuti Chaitanya as CMLA's new acharya. She was acharya until May 2003, after which CMLA's Board and sevaks held the fort until May 2004.

In May 2004, Brahmachari Girish Chaitanya was posted as CMLA's acharya and the center soon began rapidly expanding its scope of activities. Soon, Swami Ishwarananda was also posted to CMLA to help start a new center. Thus came the birth of the Chinmaya Mithila ashram.

CHINMAYA MITHILA Ashram, 2005
On June 11, 2005, Guruji and the Mayor of Tustin, CA, inaugurated Chinmaya Mithila. CMLA's new Tustin center was built using the framework of the existing church on the 0.45-acre plot.

Chinmaya Mithila stands today as a 7,000 sq. ft. facility with a central shrine/satsanga hall that can accommodate 250 people. There are 9 large rooms that are used for the Bala Vihar and youth education. It has ample parking, a bookstall, an office, acharya's quarters, storage areas, and a small kitchen/dining area.

To date, both Kashi and Mithila, along with the local satellites in Diamond Bar, San Gabriel, Northridge, Agoura Hills, and Palos Verde are doing very well with CM classes and activities. The acharyas visit the satellites at least once a month.

CMLA's annual schedule of festival celebrations includes Sudarshana Homa, Mahashivaratri, Rama Navami, Chinmaya Jayanti, Guru Purnima, Chinmaya Mahasamadhi, Janmashtami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Navaratri, Dipavali, and Gita/Tapovan Jayanti. Other actvities include language classes, Gita Chanting Competitions, music and dance classes, and a Chinmaya choir.

In the summer of 2008, Brahmachari Girish Chaitanya was posted as acharya of CM Austin. At the same time, Acharya Mahadev Parameswaran was blessed by Pujya Guruji to serve at CM Los Angeles, where he continues to conduct regular Vedanta and Bhagavad Gita classes to date.

CHINMAYA RAMESHWARAM, 2010
Chinmaya Rameshwaram is the confluence of CM LAs Kashi and Mithila ashrams. On December 16, 2009, by Pujya Gurudevs grace, CM LA found a two-story, 28,000 ft. existing church property in Tustin, with adequate parking accommodations for the combined membership of both previous properties, which have been sold.

The inaugural homam took place on January 1, 2010 and spiritual classes commenced there on January 3, 2010. Chinmaya Bala Vihar is conducted at the ashram, in two sessions, for grades Prek-12. The 16 classrooms have closed circuit television and video players.

On January 17, the idols from Kashi and Mithila were ceremoniously installed in Chinmaya Rameshwaram. The new ashram also has an auditorium with a seating capacity of 800, a stage with a greenroom wing, and state-of-the-art audio, lighting, and visual equipment. It has a fully equipped dining hall with caterers entrance, service counter, and kitchen. The second floor houses acharyas quarters and administrative offices, and library.

Daily pujas and annual festivals are conducted at Chinmaya Rameshwaram, as well as bhajan concerts and dance/dramas. The new ashram is now fully operational and streamlined, with growing enrollment in all programs each year. Chinmaya Bala Vihar enrollment is over 1,200 children (includes satellite chapters). Numerous Study Groups are conducted weekly or monthly in satellite regions. Vedanta talks by acharyas, and video talks of Pujya Gurudev are offered throughout the year.

MILESTONES
1982-1994: First Balafest Competition for Bala Vihars of Southern California
Summer 1985/1988: Pujya Gurudev's Camp, Pomona College (with all BVs of Southern California)
Nov. 1992: Pujya Gurudev's LA University Tour; Fundraiser Concert
Jul. 27-Aug. 2, 1993: Pujya Guruji's Camp
Aug. 1994: Pujya Guruji's Bhagavat Saptah
Nov. 1994: Swamini Saradapriyananda's Yajna on Vajrasuchi Upanishad/Gita Ch.4
Nov. 1995: San Antonio Lake Camp with new acharya, Br. Someshwar Chaitanya
Mar. 1996: Kashi Inauguration with First Annual Mahashivaratri Rudra Homa, Abhishekam, Laksharchana
Apr. 1996: First Annual Rama Navami
Dec. 1997: Pujya Guruji's Camp at Palm Springs
May 1998: Acquisition of Kashi Annex
Jul. 2000: Pujya Guruji's Camp at Palm Springs
May 6, 2001: Grand Mela for 5-yr anniversary of Kashi
Jun. 2001: Inauguration of Dhyana Mandir (Kashi Annex) by Pujya Guruji
Oct. 2001: Sampurna Gita Jnana Yajna by Br. Someshwar Chaitanya
Jun. 2004: Pujya Guruji's Yajna on Kapil Gita/Dhyanasvarupam
Jun. 2005: Chinmaya Mithila ashram Inauguration
Sep. 2005: Swami Ishwarananda's monthly week-long intensive Vedanta Classes start and are webcast
Feb. 2006: Mahashivaratri Rudra Yajna: 10th Anniversary of Kashi ashram
Oct.-Nov. 2006: Charity Golf Tournament and Concert Fundraiser
May 2007: Annual Gita Chanting Competition and Family Day
Aug. 2009: Chinmaya Mahasamadhi Camp at the Burbank Marriott
Jan. 2010: New 'Chinmaya Rameshwaram' ashram

Hari Om.

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