Swamini Umananda is founder and teacher in charge of Chinmaya Mission France (CMF). Her story is a remarkable one of transformation that has been guided by the Guru since meeting Swami Chinmayananda in France in 1983, as a young woman living in Paris.
Answers to big questions
Swamini Umananda is one of those teachers whose life illustrates the place that spirituality can hold in the modern world.
The young French woman, who would one day become Swamini Umananda, first tried to find answers to her questions through her advanced studies in social sciences. But ultimately it was in spirituality, through the universal and deep thought as taught by the sages of India; she found the answers she sought. Her life is a remarkable illustration of how spirituality can bring out enthusiasm, drive and inspiration at the heart of everyday life.
In 1983, whilst on the path of yoga, Swamini Umananda met the spiritual master Pujya Swami Chinmayananda, whose presence and teachings were to profoundly transform her life. Swami Chinmayananda invited her to India to pursue a serious in-depth study of the philosophy of Vedanta.
Journey to India
After five years, in 1989, the decision was made. She spent nearly three years in the Chinmaya Mission ashram, near Mumbai, devoting herself entirely to the study of Sanskrit texts of Vedanta, the sacred scriptures and meditation. After this intensive training, she made a personal commitment to devote her life to the spiritual quest, adopting a monastic life and practice of Vedanta. Thus on 8th October 1991, she received her first initiation and the name of Brahmacharini Bhakti by Swami Chinmayananda.
On returning to France in 1992, Brahmacharini Bhaktiji, with a small group of Swami Chinmayananda’s devotees, founded Chinmaya Mission France: the French branch of this vast spiritual organisation. The Mission in France was inaugurated and truly brought into being when Swami Chinmayananda visited Paris in June 1993, months before he attained Mahasamadhi. Bhaktiji, as she was then known, continued to work tirelessly to spread the wisdom of Vedanta facing obstacles of linguistic barriers and the relatively unknown status of Hindu philosophy in a largely secular country.
In 2008, on the auspicious Mahashivaratri day, current Global Head of Chinmaya Mission Swami Tejomayananda, initiated Brahmacharini Bhakti Chaitanya into Sannyasa, giving her the name, Swami Umananda.
As Swamini Umananda, she continues to serve as the Acharya of Chinmaya Mission France and regularly visits Chinmaya Mission centres and study groups in the UK, Switzerland, Romania and other places in Europe to teach classes and host seminars to audiences who are touched by her love, compassion and guidance. Swamini Umananda is a true inspiration.
Spreading wisdom in French
Alongside the various activities and regular study classes that Swaminiji conducts; she has translated six Chinmaya Mission publications into the French language, including the epic ‘Bhagavad-Geeta with commentary’ by Swami Chinmayananda and ‘Meditation and Life.’ She has also created an online Vedanta course in French
for sincere French-speaking spiritual seekers. Such accomplishments are testament to her ability to remain focussed on her goal and work tirelessly to share the knowledge of Vedanta with those who may otherwise not encounter it.
Through Swamini Umananda’s creative use of her ability to interpret and translate between languages, she is recognised as an authority on Indian Scripture and practice in Europe by groups, bodies and organisations promoting spirituality in France and beyond.