Chinmaya Mission Houston

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Our Acharyas

Acharya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty and Acharya Smt. Darshana Nanavaty

– The dedicated pioneers of Chinmaya Mission Houston

Affectionately addressed as “Uncle” and “Aunty” by their expanding Chinmaya family in Houston, Acharya Sri Gaurang Nanavaty and Acharya Smt. Darshana Nanavaty have dedicated themselves since 1982 to enriching the Houston community with the treasured scriptural knowledge of Vedanta.

Inspired by Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, the Nanavatys gave up their professional careers and immersed themselves in an intense study of the Hindu scriptures during the Vedanta Course at Piercy, California, in 1979. After that, their commitment to the Vedantic path of life took deep roots in Houston. In more than three decades since 1982, their loving guidance has grown to nourish the scriptural learning and cultural growth of almost a thousand families.

While their selfless work makes their love for the community visible, it is a matter of happy pride to the Houston community that our Acharyas of Houston were recently honored and highlighted among the “Jewels of Gujarat” – in a 2014 Silver Jubilee publication (by Maneesh Media) featuring 80 eminent Gujarati personalities selected from fourteen countries.

Sri Gaurangbhai Nanavaty  

Every Sunday, in two sessions, Acharya Sri Gaurang Uncle conducts satsangas for adults and parents of the Chinmaya Bala Vihar children. His discourses on a wide range of Vedantic texts, from the Bhagavad Gita to the Upanishads, encourage reflection and contemplation while catering to seekers at all levels of experience. He also guides many Study Groups on the other days of the week to make Vedanta applicable in daily life. With a deep sense of caring alongside a framework of discipline, Sri Gaurang Uncle can make an audience smile and think about many facets of both secular and spiritual life. He travels to various Chinmaya Mission locations in the US, Canada, and overseas to share the wisdom of Vedanta.

Known for his organizational skills, Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty is also a respected trustee of Chinmaya Viswavidyapeeth, an upcoming University for Sanskrit and Indic Traditions, the newest venture of Chinmaya Mission in India. He continues to serve as one of the Directors on the Chinmaya Mission West Board since 1982 when Pujya Gurudev appointed him.

Smt. Darshanaben Nanavaty  
Smt. Darshana Aunty is the devoted co-Acharya of Chinmaya Mission Houston and the guiding force behind the Bala Vihar activities. Blessed by Gurudev and encouraged by the next global head of Chinmaya Mission, Swami Tejomayananda, Darshana Aunty has compiled the Bala Vihar series of curriculum textbooks for the benefit of all CM centers worldwide. They symbolize her tireless efforts to make the Hindu scriptures relevant to children of all ages, at all stages of their learning.

One of her earlier books, "Bon Voyage," illustrates and conveys the essence of spirituality in a simple and effective style to children. Another of her creative productions, a multimedia CD-ROM version of the Bhagavad Gita titled "Journey to the Truth" is a beautiful gateway to the timeless wisdom of the Gita. It features a captivating combination of art, animation, music, and narrative. Entertaining Bala Vihar plays like “Alphabet Connection” that showcase young talent and Vedantic themes highlight another hallmark of Acharya Smt. Darshanaben. Whatever the creative medium, her ability to teach with love and clarity attracts universal appeal.

Her teachers-training workshops in many Bala Vihars in North America and India are noteworthy for the many creative techniques she employs to make spiritual and cultural learning enjoyable to both children and teachers. She also conducts the weekly Devi group for women and continues to build on the Chinmaya Bala Vihar teaching legacy.

Brni. Shweta Chaitanya   
Brni. Shweta Chaitanya is our own Bala Vihar child of Chinmaya Mission Houston. She joined Bala vihar at the age of 6 and graduated in 2009. Inspired by the teachings of Pujya Uncle, Pujya Aunty, as well as all of her Balavihar teachers, she made the ultimate choice of attending the Vedanta course at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya in August 2014. Just recently, Shwetaji completed the course and returned to Columbia University in New York to finish her Master’s degree, which she received this past May. She has now been posted to CM Houston and is conducting study groups as well as teaching Balavihar (11 th grade) on Sundays. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to come back and serve her beloved teachers and Chinmaya family.