Bala Vihar nurtures ideals from childhood

“Happiness depends on what you can give, not on what you can get,” said Pujya Gurudeva Swami Chinmayananda who inspired the Chinmaya Mission, an organization where the subtle art of doing Seva is fervently embodied by all the teachers and volunteers and where service is not a sacrifice of time or effort but a natural way of worship. At Chinmaya Mission Houston, the path to happiness is identified and connected to spirituality as explained in the ancient Vedic scriptures. This spiritual essence is taught to both adults and children as a means of discovering themselves and their connection to all around them.

Bala Vihar at Chinmaya Mission is a weekly Sunday gathering of children between the ages of five and seventeen years. Children are taught the fundamentals of Vedanta, the culture and traditions of India as well as moral values to evaluate right vs wrong through stories, arts and crafts, bhajanas, discussions, and music. Surrounded by 500 other students in each of two sessions, they share their bicultural experiences with peers, watch older students model core values and help guide younger students through various fun and learning activities and learn life lessons from trained teachers. The teachers undergo careful training to develop skills to help children introspect, connect to real time situations, as well as to constantly have a thirst for learning.

What makes Bala Vihar Houston especially successful is the guidance of its founding Acaryas – Sri Gaurang Nanavaty, who conducts a satsanga for adults, and Srimati Darshana Nanavaty, who has led Houston’s Bala Vihar since 1982 and has developed its curriculum which is now used worldwide. Understanding the true significance of what is taught in each grade, children learn about the role-models from the Hindu epics, about practical applications of moral values, and the meaning behind Hindu symbolism. Children also participate in pujas at Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya, and learn how to live life with an attitude of gratitude. As they enter high school and begin to transition into young adulthood, they have a forum to understand the nuances of Hindu philosophy and, through a discussion of the Bhagavad Gita, understand how it pertains to their daily lives.

In addition to these Bala Vihar classes, there are extracurricular activities to further the children’s interest in Indian languages and culture. It is important for our children to be successful in all endeavors in life, to become model citizens, to overcome challenges with grace and humility, and above all to always be happy. Chinmaya Bala Vihar sows the seeds to these ideals in the children’s formative years.

Classes are held in two sessions each Sunday. First session: 8:35 to 10:15 AM and the second session: 11:20 AM to 1:00 PM.

For more information, including about registrations, contact