Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati, (born Balakrishna Menon; 8 May 1916 – 3 August 1993) was a Hindu spiritual leader and a teacher. In 1951, he founded Chinmaya Mission, a worldwide nonprofit organisation, in order to spread the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and other ancient Hindu scriptures. Through the Mission, Chinmayananda spearheaded a global Hindu spiritual and cultural renaissance that popularised these spiritual texts and values, teaching them in English all across India and abroad.
Chinmayananda was originally a journalist and participated in the Indian independence movement. Under the tutelage of Swami Sivananda and later Tapovan Maharaj, he began studying Vedanta and took the vow of sannyasa. He gave his first jñāna yajña, or lecture series about Hindu spirituality, in 1953, starting the work of the Mission.
Today, Chinmaya Mission encompasses more than 300 centres in India and internationally and conducts educational, spiritual, and charitable activities.Chinmayananda’s approach was characterized by an appeal to the English-educated Indian middle class and Indian diaspora; he gave lectures and published books in English.
Chinmayananda also helped found the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), an Indian right-wing Hindu organization that is considered a member of the Sangh Parivar. In 1964, he convened delegates to create the VHP at Sandeepany ashram and served as the organisation’s first president.
He aimed to “awake(n) the Hindus and to make them conscious of their proud place in the comity of nations,” saying that, “Let us convert Hindus to Hinduism, then everything will be all right.” Chinmayananda authored 95 publications, including commentaries on the major Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He was a visiting professor of Indian philosophy at several American and Asian universities, and he conducted university lecture tours in many countries.