Pujya Swami Tapovan Maharaj was the very embodiment of the ideals of sannyasa, endowed with supreme renunciation, deep wisdom, saintliness, austerity, and compassion, a true virakta mahatma.
Swamiji was born in 1886, in the village of Mudappalur in Palghat district to Balamba and Achutan Nair. His parents named him Subramanyan, but they lovingly called him Chippu Kutty. After the untimely death of his father, Swamiji left his home at the age of 28 to heed the call of the divine, eventually taking up residence in a one-room thatched hut in Uttarkashi, which came to be known as Tapovan Kutir. It was here that Gurudev sat at the feet of the great master for a total of seven years absorbing Vedantic knowledge. Swamiji attained mahasamadhi on the 16th of January 1957 on the full moon day; in the Brahma-muhurta at 4:30 a.m. "He came from nowhere, existed everywhere, and ultimately went to be everywhere."
Swami Chinmayananda was born on May 8, 1916 as Balakrishna Menon in Ernakulam, Kerala. Chattambi Swamigal a saint known for his yogic powers predicted a great spiritual future for the boy.
A major turning point of his life was his meeting with Swami Sivananda. On February 25th, 1949, along with five other students, Balakrishna was initiated into sannyasa. Swami Sivananda gave him the name "Chinmayananda Saraswati," Chinmayananda meaning "filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness.
Swami Sivananda then sent him to Uttarkashi to study under Swami Tapovan Maharaj. Seven years later, brimming with Vedantic knowledge, with a heart overflowing with love for his countrymen, Swami Chinmayananda was ready to execute what he called the "Gangotri Plan" to spread the message of Vedanta to the masses. By the time he attained mahasamadhi in August 1993, Gurudev as he is known affectionately by his followers, had conducted 576 jnana yajnas and scores of family oriented spiritual family camps, logging thousands of miles as he traveled across the globe. "If I rest, I rust," he quipped when asked to slow down.
Gurudev is credited with the renaissance of spiritual and cultural values in India and with awakening the rest of the world to the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta as expounded by Adi Shankaracharya. His legacy remains in the form of books, audio and video tapes, schools, and social service projects, Vedanta teachers whom he taught and inspired, and Chinmaya Mission centers around the world serving the spiritual and cultural needs of local communities. He has authored more than 250 books and written commentaries on various scriptural texts.
After the Mahasamadhi of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda assumed the post of the spiritual head of the global mission and worked tirelessly for 23 years in fulfilling the vision that Pujya Gurudev started. As he says, “I am not in Swamiji’s shoes, I am at his feet.” Pujya Guruji has served as Acharya of the Sandeepany Institutes of Vedanta both in India and California, USA..
He has written commentaries on scriptural texts, translated Pujya Gurudev’s commentaries into Hindi, and authored a number of books. A key contribution is “Hindu Culture: An Introduction”, a text acclaimed for its clear description of the basics of Hinduism and adopted as a text in some American high schools.
Pujya Guruji excels in expounding a wide spectrum of Hindu scriptures, from Ramayana to the Bhagavad Gita to the Upanishads. He conducts jnana yajnas on Vedanta as he moves around the world. His easy manner and devotional rendering of Vedanta texts has drawn many newcomers into the spiritual fold.
In an era rife with scepticism and confusion about matters spiritual, Swami Swaroopananda is a rare voice that blends authenticity with accessibility; theory with self- practice; logic with heart.
Formerly the Regional Head of Chinmaya Mission Australia, United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa and Far East, and presently Chairman of the Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth Trust (University for Sanskrit and Indic Traditions) and Director of the Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, South India, Swami Swaroopananda has now been bestowed by Swami Tejomayananda the privilege to also serve as the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide.
Born and brought up in the bustling commercial capital of India, Swamiji had always been convinced that beyond life's superficial, everyday joys and sorrows, there was something more enduring and satisfying. As a child he heard from his grandmother many religious stories based on the great Indian epics and the history of saints. These stories suddenly came to life, acquiring new meaning and depth, when as an adolescent he encountered the preeminent Master of Vedanta, Swami Chinmayananda.
His heart completely moved and inspired, in 1984 Swami Swaroopananda gave up his family's thriving business in Hong Kong to undergo intensive training under Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Tejomayananda at Sandeepany, Mumbai. He was initiated into the monastic order in 1992. Since then, he has touched thousands of lives across the world, and his tremendous work in bringing out the essential wisdom and underlying unity of all religions has garnered him a place among the vanguards of self-development philosophy.
Swamiji has authored several commentaries on such important spiritual classics as Ik Onkar, Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Sankat Mochan, besides numerous books on contemporary lifestyle subjects such as Simplicity and Meditation, Storm to Perform, Avatar, Managing the Manager and Journey into Health. Swamiji is equally adept at conducting 'holistic management' seminars for senior corporate executives. Among the well-known institutes he has been invited to speak at are The Ford, London Business School and Harvard University, to name a few. In fact, a proprietary self-development course he conceived and initially conducted, 'Make It Happen', has been adapted and integrated into the human resource training programmes of various corporate organisations in India and beyond.