Study Groups began through the enthusiasm of thousands of sincere seekers who attended Swami Chinmayananda's talks and yajnas, and felt the need to continue regular scriptural studies. It was at the end of the 17th Jnana Yajna in Delhi (March 1956), where Swami Chinmayananda emphasized the necessity for meeting regularly with a definite study scheme. Interested persons were allocated a ‘Study Group’ at a location near their home. Each week, the group met to study the various scriptures of Vedanta together, in a methodical and systematic manner. The Chinmaya Movement emerged, grew, and expanded into a worldwide spiritual organisation of Vedantic teachings based on the strength of its Study Groups.
The focus of the Study Group is ‘shastra-chintan-pradhan’ i.e. the emphasis is on the study and logical reflection on the teachings of the scriptures. The aim is to gain Self-knowledge. To explain the importance of constant reflection, Swami Chinmayananda gave the example of a cup of coffee with a spoon of sugar at the bottom. Until and unless the sugar is stirred, the coffee remains bitter. Similarly, knowledge is only absorbed when it is properly stirred by the intellect. The role of the Study Group is to stir knowledge so that its sweetness becomes one with the personality.
Thus, Chinmaya Study Groups are for those who find it difficult to study on their own and need to connect with like-minded individuals to meet and discuss spiritual texts. The ideal group-size is eight to ten people. Members of the group support each other by sharing their study, knowledge, reflections and experiences of personal application. There are no particular requirements for joining a study group. All one needs is a desire for gaining Vedantic knowledge, and a certain commitment to be regular and sincere.
"By bringing up examples and applying the knowledge to everyday situations, the correct teaching of the scriptures can take place. And that can happen only in a Study Group."
- M. S. Gadkary, Study group member, Mumbai