| CENTER PROFILE
When Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda founded Chinmaya Mission West (CMW), year after year, devotees organized Gurudev's talks in their local communities so all sincere seekers could benefit from Vedantic wisdom. In 1979, the spark kindled in one such discourse by Pujya Gurudev on "Cause and Effect" at Oak Brook Church in Oak Brook, Illinois, planted the seed for the first Gita jnana yajna held in Chicago (Aug. 10-19, 1980), and resulted in the establishment and incorporation of a regional CMW center in Chicago, blessed by Pujya Gurudev as "Badri: A School of Vedantic Studies."
Inspiration gained from several yajnas spurred volunteers to start and conduct Chinmaya kids'/youth camps to orient the younger generation with their rich spiritual heritage. Hundreds of children participated in these camps every year. Weekly Chinmaya Bala Vihar and Yuva Kendra sessions began in living rooms and basements, and were highly effective in the education and inculcation of universal values.
Spiritual camps and retreats had to be conducted in expensive rental facilities available only at certain times during the year. To serve this need and the growing number of participants in CM classes, CM devotees set out in search of a suitable place to establish an ashram in the Chicago area.
After a thorough search and careful analysis, with Pujya Gurudev's blessings and approval, CM Chicago purchased 6.5 acres in Hinsdale. Soon, through growing and enthusiastic responses from families, the existing classrooms, halls, and parking lots were overflowing, requiring immediate ashram expansion. To meet these immediate and future needs, expansion construction began in July 1992. The first phase covered a new two-story building, with a meditation hall and shrine to Lord Badari Narayana on the upper level, and classrooms, kitchen, and dining hall on the lower level. CM Chicago was most fortunate that on July 1, 1993, Pujya Gurudev blessed the devotees and the work by spending two hours at the shrine location. Though in a wheelchair, he gave detailed instructions for the upcoming inaugural function.
The formal inauguration was to be done by Pujya Gurudev on Aug. 28, 1993, but he attained mahasamadhi on Aug. 3. The inauguration of the new building and the sthapana mahotsava of the idol of Lord Badri Narayana took place on Oct. 24, 1993, presided over by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda.
CM Chicago's success is due to Pujya Gurudev's blessings, Pujya Guruji's guiding grace, resident acharya Swami Sharananada's love and service, CM acharyas' visits, the dedicated and enthusiastic services of local devotees, and the encouragement and support of all members. Loved by all, Swami Sharanananda is an inspiring beacon for CM Chicago and its satellites.
To date, CM Chicago has been instrumental in starting satellites and centers in various areas, including Minneapolis, northern Illinois, and northwest Indiana. The northern Illinois satellite is now officially CM Chicago's "Yamunotri" center.
Activities at Yamunotri have been flowing and growing since its inception. Regular classes are held throughout the year, including summertime. CM Activities began in that area on Oct. 2, 1999 with 32 Bala Vihar students and one adult study group. Yamunotri's current enrollment stands at over 250 Bala Vihar students and 125 Study Group members.
Yamunotri, a $3 million project in Lake County of Northern Illinois, is situated on 7.25 acres of land. Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda presided over the groundbreaking ceremony in 2005 and the inauguration in 2007. The 19,000 sq. ft. facility includes a Shri Radha-Krishna shrine, classrooms, acharya's quarters, bookstore, kitchen, dining hall, and more.
Yamunotri's other current activities include weekly stotram chanting class, Gita chanting class, Gita-video study group, sevak class by resident acharya, yoga classes, Bala Vihar, language classes, and monthly bhajan sandhya.