One of the main events during Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami's visit to Houston, Texas, was a pair of satsangs at the Chinmaya Mission facility. This is their Siva temple, which Swami Chinmayananda insisted they build here. It was finished just a few years ago.
A solemn procession took us next to the Chinmaya Smriti hall for the satsangs.
The massive Sivalingam on the roof of the temple makes it visible from around the neighborhood, which also has many churches and a mosque.
Chinmaya Mission's facility in Houston is massive and impressive. There group is so large (about 800 adults and 800 children) that they have to split the group into two separate satsangs, back to back, every Sunday.
It was a beautiful welcome for Bodhinatha. The group was so excited. All the Bal Vihar teachers, who wear beautiful red and white saris, held candles while Bodhinatha, the priest and several musicians walked past toward the stage.
Here Bodhinatha sits with Acharya Gaurangbhai Nanavaty. He and his wife are the acharyas, or head teachers, at Chinmaya Mission Houston, probably the Mission's largest group in the US, perhaps in the West. Acharyaji and his wife attended Swami Chinmayananda's 2-year resident teacher training program in 1979 in Percy, California, and then shortly thereafter moved to Houston and started the center here. It has grown and grown ever since.
Bodhinatha's talk focused on many areas, including faith, and, of course, putting Hinduism to practice in our daily lives and not leaving it at home when we go out to work and school. After the first 15 minutes, the children left for their classes, which are held in a series of classrooms in a large adjacent building. The group is so large that they have a class for every grade level from 1 to 12, with a methodically laid-out curriculum.
One of the things that impressed the group the most was Bodhinatha’s use of quotes from Swami Chinmayananda. Bodhinatha remarked that sometimes it is hard to know whether Swami Chinmayananda (whom the call Gurudeva) or our Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, is the source of a given quote--their remarks are often that similar in nature, content and boldness.
Between satsangs, a couple hundred of the Bal Vihar students sang a song that the wrote and practiced just to welcome and honor Bodhinatha.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Acharya Gaurangbhai Nanavaty and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami
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"Stand strong for Saivism." The nature of life for Saivites is to turn work into worship, to turn the secular into the sacred. Each day give a little extra warmth, humanness and upliftment to others. Every day is a holy day, all day long. We want to follow our religion even in our dreams. If we help someone, we're worshiping. Wherever we are, that's a place of worship. "To the Saivite Hindu all of life is sacred. All of life is religion."