“Study groups constitute the heart of our mission.”

Swami Chinmayananda

GOAL: Happiness, Peace, Freedom, Balance, Success – Here and Now

This is what everyone wants, all the time. The quest for these holistically, through guidance of the scriptures and a qualified teacher (Guru) is what spirituality is all about. The various religious traditions guide their followers towards this goal.  The Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Srimad Bhagavad Geeta are Vedanta scriptures of Hinduism – also known as ‘Sanātana Dharma’ or eternal Dharma.

HOW: Art of Living

Our modern day focus is exclusively on improvement of “Standard of Living” (luxury, comforts, conveniences, sophisticated life  style), neglecting the “Standard of Life” (a natural, ethical, peaceful, joyful, respectful and creative Life Style). How to balance and enhance both the “Standard of Living” and “Standard of Life” is the first secret to “Art Of Living”. 

The second secret is “The Art of  Right Contact and Relationship” with the world of objects and people around us. “Not too tight, not too loose”.

To enjoy both “Standard of Living” and “Standard of Life”, by using “The Art of Right Contact and Relationship” is our birth right. Missing either of them or over indulgence in one of them only leads to imbalance, the real cause of our misery. Vedanta guides us to achieve and excel in this “Art of Living”. 

INQUIRY: Who am I?

Once we start the quest for living this wholesome balanced life, then comes the next big secret! The secret to know Who Am I? Realizing “Who Am I”, while we are alive in this Human body is the ultimate goal of  study of Vedanta. An individual who has studied and has come to experience this Truth is ever balanced, happy, contented, free and successful.

Many have conquered this final frontier. Why not we too? If so many have achieved it before us, in a human flesh, then why not we too? It is said, after knowing this (Who Am I?), nothing remains to be known and achieved. 

Why Study in a Group?

Study involves 4 steps: 

Deep curiosity to perceive and understand the world more deeply, more holistically.

Listening’ – self study of books; attending and listening to discourses by qualified teachers, using available audio/video resources and conversations with other students.

Reflecting’ – understanding what is being studied more deeply; contemplating and resolving apparent conflicts and doubts

Meditating’ – translating that which was studied and contemplated into living that knowledge, experiencing the knowledge

These reinforce each other. Study becomes deeper. Reflection becomes more personal. Meditation becomes more steady.

After listening to a Vedanta spiritual discourse, or after reading a scriptural text, you may have questions that remain unanswered. You may have not studied or listened to any scriptural discourse, but you are wondering where does life take you from where you are and in what direction? You may not even appreciate the relevance of scriptural study in your daily life. You may have attended the lectures very religiously but you cannot remember anything that you heard from the teacher’s mouth as relevant to you. 

You must pursue your own study slowly and consistently by studying texts in Vedanta. The vehicle of study group is designed not only to bring intellectual knowledge to the earnest student but also to assure the student who is ready to put in the effort that he/she can indeed learn the means for becoming more peaceful, happy, and integrated in one’s life.

Benefits of Systematic Study 

SELF Knowledge allows right contact with the world outside. 

In order to know the world, it is important to know oneself .

To destroy the illusion that body is the Self and to reinforce the Knowledge of true Self, one should carry out the exercises through thought and discussion.

Focus of Study Groups

Systematic study of selected text.

Logical reflection on the teachings of the scriptures.

Connect with like-minded individuals to make the study easier. 

Strive towards Self-Knowledge. 

Chinmaya Study Groups 

A Chinmaya study group is a group of five to fifteen people who meet regularly (at least once a week) to  discuss one of the textbooks of Vedanta. CMWRC has several study groups located in different parts of  Maryland and Virginia making it convenient for individuals to attend at least one study group near your  place of residence. 

Each study group has a sevak, male or sevika, female who will guide the discussion among members of  the study group and assists members in their study, helping to clear many doubts that may arise. This  person acts as the leader of the group and assists individuals with their doubts about any aspect of the study group. Each member in the study group is expected to study and participate fully in the discussion in the group.

History of Study Groups

When sincere seekers attended Swami Chinmayananda’s Yajnas, they felt the need to continue regular  scriptural studies. 

Swami Chinmayananda emphasized the importance of meeting regularly and following a definite scheme to study various vedantic texts. 

The Chinmaya Movement emerged, grew, expanded and continues to be a worldwide spiritual  organization of vedantic teachings based on the Strength of Study Groups.

Conducting a Study Group 

The location of the study group is usually at the home of one of the members of the study group. It is  always at the same venue and in a location within the home, which is spotlessly clean and orderly.  Generally, the study group is conducted near an altar with images or symbols of the divine, plus a lamp  or a candle to enhance the atmosphere and spiritual study. 

Arrangements are to be made with sevak or sevika if the members of the house must be away for some  reason and are not available on the study group day. There is no distribution of food at any time during the duration of the study group and none is encouraged either before or after the study group is over. The group leader usually sits near the altar and is responsible for the choice of text to study and all other  administrative details such as punctuality, regularity of attendance and the need to come prepared by  studying the scripture.

Please send an email to the study group coordinator if you are interested to join or for any further information.

*All timings mentioned are in US Eastern Time.

If you notice anything that needs to be corrected, please send an email to cmwrcstudygroups@gmail.com

What is a Devi Group?

At CMWRC, Devi Group is a forum for ladies inspired by scriptural studies to come together and gain a better understanding of Vedanta and its practical application in family life for Self Unfoldment. These study groups delve into the meaning behind life and encourages individual growth through the study of the timeless message in Vedanta.

History of Devi Groups

The first Devi Group, or Chinmaya Study Group exclusively for women, was inaugurated in November 1958, in Chennai, India, with Swami Chinmayananda’s blessings:

“Salutations to Mothers! I need not mention how happy I am that a Devi section of Chinmaya Mission is being inaugurated on this sacred day. Women of the country mould its future. The caliber of the children will be determined by the upbringing given by their mothers. Indeed, women have been, and even today are, the real custodians of our country’s spiritual culture.”

These encouraging words lay the foundation of Chinmaya Mission’s Devi Group culture, and these Devi Groups are today an integral feature of almost every Mission center across the world. Following the same curriculum as Chinmaya Study Groups, Chinmaya Devi Groups have grown over the years as powerful learning forums, open discussion arenas, and healthy support systems for women of all ages.

Anyone over 16 years of age, with intellectual acumen and an inspiration to rediscover his or her own divine nature.

If you try, you will surely be able to spare 90 minutes out of one week for yourself. Doctors, engineers, lawyers, business magnets, students, and many others, all with very busy lives, attend study groups regularly. All have thereby become better at whatever they do, whether in their professional lives or at home.

No, it is not necessary. However some familiarity with Sanskrit is an advantage.

Not at all. Vedanta is not sectarian. As many study group members around the world have experienced, this study makes one a better individual irrespective of his faith and helps him understand more deeply the religion of his choice. Vedanta does not seek converts. It is a great catalyst for a deeper understanding of all the religions of the world. Its appeal is to the intellect and its application is universal. Hence it is used for personal growth and self-improvement and never for conversion.

Since Vedanta was originally given out in the Sanskrit language, the chants also happen to be in Sanskrit. Hence they help us simulate the serene atmosphere of the early sages and masters. Although at first it may seem strange or difficult to chant in Sanskrit, hearing others chanting and enjoying the effect will ease the transition.

Likes and dislikes are inherent in human nature. Your study group will also have some people with whom you think you cannot get along. The message of Vedanta is far too precious for you to unnecessarily waste your own energy in petty likes and dislikes. An open mind and a little bit of tolerance will go a long way in helping you reap the full benefits of the study.

No. There is no fee to join a study group.

Full information about study groups in and around the DC area (Maryland and Virginia) can be found by clicking here.

Yes, you can. There are tapes of lectures given by Swamijis in Chinmaya Mission. You can purchase them to listen and come up to speed in any of the scriptural texts.

Yes, you can. If you are interested, please email CMWRC Study Group Coordinator at cmwrcstudygroups@gmail.com!

Yes, you can. You have to put a little extra effort to come up to speed with the rest of the members of the group.

Chinmaya Mission has a number of individuals who have been trained to conduct study groups. Depending on many factors of convenience and availability, one of these members will be requested to become the Sevika or Sevak of your group by the resident Acharya.