To help children Learn Values with fun, To delight like the moon And shine like the sun.
– Swami Tejomayananda
Motto: Keep Smiling
The Bala Vihar program offers weekly spiritual classes for children in their formative school years (Pre K to 12). The classes are organized by age groups, start and end with Sanskrit prayers, and include chanting, bhajans, stories of devotion and morals, interactive discussions, and creative games. They are of approximately 90 minutes duration including the common Assembly time, and are based on specially designed syllabi.
From the youngest Madhuram class to the Chinmayam class for high school youngsters, all Bala Vihar children participate in a variety of activities. The grade in which the child is enrolled in his/her school is the basis for placement in the appropriate Bala Vihar class.
Ati-Madhuram (Grade: Pre-Kindergarten[KG])
Stories and Bhajans are among the media for learning for these young children.
Madhuram (Grade: KG)
Drawing, coloring, crafts, and games are among the media for learning for these young children. They also learn to recite simple Shlokas and sing Bhajans.
Satyam (Grades: 1st & 2nd)
Chinmaya ABCs: Children are introduced to the positive values through the English Alphabet. For example: A for Ambition, B for Brotherhood etc. Each value is taught through a story or song.
Bala Ramayana: Through a specially written version of the Ramayana, children learn to appreciate courage, enthusiasm and wisdom.
Shivam (Grades: 3rd & 4th)
Bala Bhagavatam: Stories from Bhagavatam are taught to children to reinforce Hindu values and philosophy. Children also learn about the nine types of Bhakti (devotion) and the significance behind the various shapes and forms of Hindu gods and rituals.
Hanumanji: The book illustrates Hanumanji’s qualities such as devotion to duty, Buddhi (intellect), strength, Yasha (fame), courage, fearlessness, alertness and eloquence.
Sundaram (Grades: 5th & 6th)
Characters in Ramayana: Written in simple English, this book makes interesting reading for children of this age group. Instead of a chronological narration of the Ramayana, this book analyses each character in the epic story, followed by a discussion on the lessons that can be learnt from each. This approach is intended to stimulate analytical thinking in young minds.
Saints of India: Many chosen ones came and lived among others, to show the way to God. They lived their life with the spirit and in the manner advocated by the sacred scriptures. They were able to give up everything for the discovery of God in their own heart. In the pages of this book, necessary details of the lives of these saints and the paths they chose to attain Saintliness is depicted, inspiring all readers. Their paths were many but their goal was one.
Shivanandam (Grades: 7th & 8th)
Vibheeshana Geeta: This text is based on discourses of Lord Rama to Vibheeshana in Ramayana. In Vibheeshana Geeta, Sri Rama outlines the necessary tools for human beings to complete the voyage of life safely and to attain spiritual progress and mental purification. The Vibheeshana Geeta emphasizes the importance of faith, values and devotion. Youngsters will be able to understand and appreciate that while there are bound to be ups and downs in life, devotion can help one handle both types of situations with poise and equanimity.
Symbolism in Hinduism: Hinduism is often labeled as a religion of 330 million gods. This misunderstanding arises when people fail to grasp the symbolism of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus worship the nameless and formless Supreme Reality by various names and forms. These different aspects of the One Reality are symbolized by the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Each is but a symbol that points to something beyond, and as none exhaustively represents God’s actual nature, the entire array is needed to complete the picture of God’s aspects and manifestations. Symbolism plays a greater role in the religion and art of India, than in other nations.
Tapovanam (Grades: 9th & 10th)
Hindu Culture – An Introduction: This is a comprehensive and complete analysis of the Hindu culture and its salient feature, its varied facets and its all-encompassing fullness. Skillful definitions, gifted quotes and striking illustrations carry the reader on a pilgrimage of the holy land that India is, and the holy culture that it has. This book will help the Indian Youth to learn and appreciate Indian culture and our heritage.
Mahabharata Selections: Sage Vyasa understood the mysteries of the universe and its past, present and future. He wanted to convey it in a story form, which is the Mahabharat. He conceived the great epic, which is not only a fascinating story but also conveys the essence of Vedanta, science of warfare, social/culture systems etc. Mahabharatha Selections points out the virtues, frailties and challenges faced by it’s characters. It helps readers contemplate on the deeper questions and values of life, guiding them to choose the higher way of thinking and living.
Ageless Guru: The Inspirational Life of Swami Chinmayananda.
Chinmayam (Grades: 11th & 12th)
The Holy Geeta by Swami Chinmayananda: Bhagavad Gita is ‘The Lord’s Song’ is the most popular and probably the single most influential text in Hindu philosophy. It is certainly one of the world’s greatest scriptures. The message of Geeta is universal in its scope, and it opens the gate of deliverance to all without distinction. Lord Krishna states, “Through whatever paths men seek to come unto Me, I accept them through those very paths; all paths which men take, O Arjuna, lead ultimately unto Me only.” Select verses in each chapter are reviewed and studied in a discussion format with Chinmayam class students to stimulate not only learning of the literal meaning of the verses, but also the wealth of subtle knowledge behind each.
Self Unfoldment by Swami Chinmayananda: This introductory text on the fundamentals of Vedanta is written by Gurudev to be clear and logical so as to be appealing to the modern, scientific-minded generation. It is an excellent book for teenagers as well as adults. It inspires the sincere student to pursue deeper study of other Vedantic scriptural texts and understanding of the subtle truths within.