"When a mother is a true seeker, the whole environment of the house changes. Your family does not have to go out to hear a swami. You change, and your environment will follow suit. You are the mother, the model, the Guru."
- Swami Chinmayanada
The first Devi Group, or Chinmaya Study Group exclusively for women, was inaugurated in November 1958, at 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. Indeed, women have been, and even today are, the real custodians of our country's spiritual culture. The fall of our cultural standard is a true measure of the growing ignorance in the mothers of our society.’
These encouraging words laid the foundation of Chinmaya Mission's Devi Group culture. The activities of the Group were given a boost in January 1960, when several hundred women delegates from twenty-three towns gathered at the Venguhad Palace at Kollengode, Kerala, for a Chinmaya Devi Conference.
The Devi Group format allows members to feel comfortable in the all-women setting where they are able to freely discuss their doubts, fears and problems without fear of disapproval or censure. ‘No question is unimportant!’ Swami Chinmayananda always insisted. Every question is valid and each member is treated as special and an important part of the group. Thus, women study the scriptures, reflect and are able to apply the concepts to their specific tribulations at home.
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.
"As our Gurus explain, when one goes near fire, one feels hot, for that is the nature of fire; so, too, the nature of this knowledge is such that it blesses one and all."
- Shibani Khorana, Study group member, New Delhi