His Holiness Swami Chinmayananda
A major turning point of his life was his meeting with Swami Sivananda. On February 25th, 1949, along with five other students, Balakrishna was initiated into sannyasa. Swami Sivananda gave him the name "Chinmayananda Saraswati," Chinmayananda meaning "filled with the bliss of pure Consciousness.
Swami Sivananda then sent him to Uttarkashi to study under Swami Tapovan Maharaj. Seven years later, brimming with Vedantic knowledge, with a heart overflowing with love for his countrymen, Swami Chinmayananda was ready to execute what he called the "Gangotri Plan" to spread the message of Vedanta to the masses. By the time he attained mahasamadhi in August 1993, Gurudev as he is known affectionately by his followers, had conducted 576 jnana yajnas and scores of family oriented spiritual family camps, logging thousands of miles as he traveled across the globe. "If I rest, I rust," he quipped when asked to slow down.
Gurudev is credited with the renaissance of spiritual and cultural values in India and with awakening the rest of the world to the ageless wisdom of Advaita Vedanta as expounded by Adi Shankaracharya. His legacy remains in the form of books, audio and video tapes, schools, and social service projects, Vedanta teachers whom he taught and inspired, and Chinmaya Mission centers around the world serving the spiritual and cultural needs of local communities. He has authored more than 250 books and written commentaries on various scriptural texts.