Why Balavihar?

 Suresh R. Mulukutla

e-mail: mulukutlasr@upmc.edu

“Children are not vessels to be filled, but lamps to be lit.”–- Swami Chinmayananda

 “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” “What comes after this?”

 The answers to these questions mature as we cultivate our spiritual core. Children in the US find it challenging to answer the fundamental question “What makes me a Hindu?” My parents took me to India and to temples, and I read the Amar Chitra Katha books. But, is that enough?

 Aside from being born into a Hindu family, understanding the philosophical basis of what makes me unique as a Hindu proved to be an elusive goal. There was something lacking –- the guidance of a guru, and the ability to put my experiences in proper perspective. Many of us know more about other religions than we know about Sanaatan Dharma, (Eternal Order) That is not to say that we shouldn’t learn about other belief systems; they, too, offer valuable lessons. However, the breadth and wealth of Sanaatan Dharma can offer important perspectives upon our lives and aspirations.

The Balavihar students with their teachers.

 Balavihar’s goal is to impart the Vedantic values of Sanaatan Dharma to our children. We are blessed to have many spiritual/religious organizations nearby – the Chinmaya Mission, Sri Venkateswara Temple, the Hindu Jain Temple, Sri Sai Baba Temple, among others. These organizations and still more dedicated community individuals conduct Balavihar programs. These organizations complement each other, and there is much to be gained by experiencing the best of each of them. The Balavihar that I know best is the Chinmaya Balavihar.

 Why Balavihar?

Sanaatan Dharma is unique in its unequivocal approach to Truth. Through Chinmaya Balavihar, children appreciate Sanaatan Dharma’s core concepts – (1) Truth is one; (2) there are many paths to Truth; and (3) the primary goal is to see the divinity within us. As parents, we give our children material gifts, but is there any greater gift than empowering them about their own unlimited potential?

Why Balavihar?

Our choices have consequences. Balavihar provides the value-based education for children to make the right choices as they grow into responsible individuals who support the community.

Why Balavihar?

With the ancient Gurukula system having faded, a structured Balavihar program is critical. Chinmaya Balavihar is a carefully constructed curriculum from Pre-K to high school covering an incredible breadth of knowledge.

Realizing that studying Vedanta is difficult but teaching it is even more so, the formal teacher training for Chinmaya teachers has been invaluable to allow us to get the right message to children.

 Why Balavihar?

Adults can also grow spiritually and have meaningful discussions with their children about their spirituality by attending Satsangs and Jnana Yagnas.

 Why Balavihar?

“It takes a village to raise a child…” Because of our ethnic differences, many children may develop an “identity crisis.” Balavihar boosts the confidence of our children to feel completely comfortable with their heritage, and recognize that out of diversity comes unity and strength.

Why Balavihar?

Imagine… Your mind is at rest… You are always happy… Everything is perfect. Balavihar gives you the means by which your imagination can become reality.

Through Balavihar, our children realize that when we have “victories,” we can teach others who we are; but when we have “failures,” we can teach ourselves who we are.

 So, the real question to ask ourselves is not “Why Balavihar?” but “Why Not?”




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