Chinmaya Exton

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

Humble Beginnings

The year 1996 marked the beginning of Exton Bala Vihar. Mrs. Vasanthi & Mr. Nagaraj Narayanan moved from Ann Arbor to Exton. With inspiration from Mrs. Sharada Kumar, Nagaraj family wanted to start a Bala Vihar. So, they met Mr. Ramesh Chokshi, then secretary Chinmaya Mission Kedar. Then they together approached Swami Siddhananda ji and proposed a new Bala Vihar in Exton area. Swamiji, with no hesitation, blessed the idea and willingly agreed to start. So, it all started in Nagaraj’s house with a few families. This set a new rhythm to Swamiji’s routine which began with the morning Bala Vihar at Kedar, followed by a 60 mile drive every other Sunday afternoon to Exton and then another 30 miles to Upper Darby for his evening Bala Vihar. In the early years, a small but strong group of like-minded families, congregated. Children learnt bhajans, moral stories, culture and traditions of India. As more families joined, Bala Vihar was temporarily held at the Hindu Temple in Downingtown, for about a year.

 

The new millennium brought a venue change for Exton Bala Vihar. For the next 12 years Bala Vihar was again conducted in Vasanthi and Nagaraj’s home. As the strength increased, children were grouped by age, with appropriate curriculum. The parents were not left out either; Swamiji started Bhagavad-Gita Study Groups for the spiritual growth of the parents and currently is conducting Vivekachudamani classes for BV Teachers and sevaks on alternative Fridays.

 

In 2012, the Exton Bala Vihar moved to Stetson Middle School at West Chester, PA to accommodate the growing enrollments. Language and yoga classes were added to cater to the growing needs of the families.

 

In 2016, Exton Bala Vihar moved to Great Valley Middle School at Malvern, PA and currently there are around 90 families with more than 100 children participating in Bala Vihar. Many children have graduated during these 24 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still ways to go…

 

The Exton Bala Vihar students/adults actively participate in all events organized by Chinmaya Mission Tri-state. Among them, they lead the Gita chanting and Ram Navami celebrations. Exton Bala Vihar is proud to have many participants and winners in the annual Gita Chanting competition. Whenever Swamiji needs any help with book stacking, a team of members is always available to assist, even at a short notice.

 

The success of our Balavihar is tied to our loyal and highly dedicated Acharya, Swami Siddhananda ji. He has been the backbone of this center and without him, Exton Bala Vihar would not be the same. His support, guidance, and patience are unwavering as we learn; he has given us the confidence to take the next step even if we cannot see the end of the staircase. We are eternally grateful to him for guiding us on this spiritual journey. During our 20th year celebration the members asked for a name instead of “Exton”. Swami Siddhananda ji suggested “Chinmaya Sudarshan” and it unofficially became our center name.

 

The growth and expansion of our center could not have happened without the dedicated service of all our sevaks. Each sevak not only prepares thoroughly for each session, but they also take the time to learn, introspect, and make reading our scriptures a part of their daily sadhana. We are deeply indebted to all their support and commitment to this noble service of the mission.

 

All our families are updated with Chinmaya Mission activities worldwide, through Tapovan Prasad, Bala Vihar and Chinmaya Udghosh magazines which we have subscribed for the last 20 years. In fact, we were featured in the Oct 2018 issue of Tapovan prasad. In keeping with the vision of Gurudev of every family having the Bhagavad Gita, our Swamiji autographed and gave this priceless treasure to cherish.

 

Mrs. Indira Rajaram, sister of Swamini Pavitrananda ji, is one of the active Study Group sevaks in our Exton BV. We are blessed that many of our visiting Swamis  and Swaminis have come and graced our Balavihar sessions.

 

We are deeply grateful to the Chinmaya Mission Tri-State and Madhuvan committees for their full support and for maintaining our separate account. Thanks to all of the Madhuvan families for embracing Exton Bala Vihar as their extended family.

 

On this 2020 Makar Sankranti day, we received the 501c(3) non-profit status certification. With Lord’s grace and Pujya Gurudev’s blessings we have begun our search in earnest, for a place of our own.

 

Come visit us and our volunteers will be happy to discuss the programs with you.