Chinmaya Mission® was established in India in 1953 by devotees of the world-renowned Vedanta teacher, His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda. Guided by his vision, devotees all around the world formed the nucleus of a spiritual renaissance movement that now encompasses a wide range of spiritual, educational, and charitable activities, ennobling the lives of thousands across India and beyond its borders. Headed by His Holiness Swami Swaroopananda, the Mission is presently administered by Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT) in Mumbai, India. Under his guidance, the Mission has continued to grow across the globe and stands today with over 300 centers worldwide.
Chinmaya Mission follows the Vedic teacher-student tradition (guru-shishya parampara) and makes available the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta, the knowledge of universal oneness–providing the tools to realize the wisdom in one’s life. Vedanta, the essential core of Hinduism, is the universal science of life, relevant to people of all backgrounds and faiths. Vedanta inspires seekers to understand their own faith better. Thus, although Chinmaya Mission is a Hindu organization, it does not seek to convert other religious practitioners. As a spiritual movement that aims for inner growth at individual and collective levels, the mission offers a wide array of Vedanta study forums for all ages, promotes Indian classical art forms, and operates numerous social service projects. To date, millions worldwide have benefitted directly or indirectly from Chinmaya Mission’s various centers, retreats, spiritual camps, weekly classes, study groups, public talks, special events, community services, and social projects.
Chinmaya Mission’s emblem comprises the lamp of knowledge with the hamsa bird of wisdom at its crown, denoting the Mission’s spiritual and social services to the world. The purpose of the Mission’s Vedantic teachings is to help seekers learn ethical values and cultivate a discerning power – understanding the art of distinguishing the changeless, infinite Substratum from the changing, finite world.
The oil lamp symbolizes the ethical life needed to light the flame of Knowledge within. The Lord is the “Knowledge Principle” (Chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshipped as the Lord himself. Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness.
A single lamp can light hundreds of others, just as a single realized master can enlighten thousands. Despite sharing its light with other lamps, the original lamp loses none of its brilliance. In the same way, sharing knowledge will not result in the loss of that knowledge; on the contrary, upon giving knowledge, we begin to understand it more clearly.
In the light of knowledge and wisdom, the faculty of discrimination stands out in clarity, represented by the Hamsa bird. Just as this bird has the proverbial ability to separate milk from water, a spiritual seeker is able to discern truth from falsehood, good from bad, profound from superficial, and permanent reality from the impermanent world.