By Anushree Balachandran
SWAMI Swaroopananda enthralled the spiritual seekers of Brisbane over five days, between the 21st and 25th of April, on the topic ‘Geeta at a Glance’. The Bhagvad Geeta is an extensive text that provides guidelines for practical living and gaining permanent happiness in the materialistic and ever changing world of ours. By no means is it an easy feat to cover the contents of this text and capture its full breadth and depth in five days. However, Swamiji captured the essence of the Geeta in a refreshingly new light. He broke it down into three clusters of six chapters each, the first of which describes the man in general, the next cluster defines the infinite God while the third abolishes the duality between man and God and unites the two into one.
The scene was set on the first day by describing the despondency of Arjuna. Using contemporary examples that appealed to the audience from a range of backgrounds and age groups, Swamiji identified and isolated the Arjuna in each and every one of us. He pointed out that we are all escapists, who in the middle of our responsibilities (likened to the Kurukshetra battlefield), find reasons to run away or refuse to accept the duties entrusted to us. By this, he highlighted the importance and relevance of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in the Geeta, especially in the lives of youngsters, who these days have a multitude of responsibilities as did Arjuna in the Mahabharatha.
The content of the second day’s talks focused on Karma yoga and how one should act in the world of responsibilities and duties. Unlike popular belief of Karma yoga being just action without attachment to results, Swamiji delved into the depths of it. He pointed out that yoga is disunion from pain, work that is done efficiently and with equanimity and knowledge of the mind as described in chapters 3 to 5 of the Geeta. Action performed in this spirit in the present moment without regrets of the past and anxiety of the future and where it is devoted to a higher purpose rather than just the selfish self is Karma yoga.
Swamiji then explained that man is essentially the doer of actions or the person with responsibilities. He has been equipped with a body, a mind and an intellect with which he can perform action and thereby exhaust his vasanas and desires. He must not mistake himself to be the equipment but must train them to function under his control and complete the tasks at hand rather than seek to escape from them.
Swamiji then went on to explain that God is the infinite. Chapter 10 of the Geeta describes in great detail the extent of Krishna’s presence in all of the components of the cosmos. He is the cause and also the result. He is imperishable and exists outside the realm of time. Subsequently in Chapter 11 Krishna reveals his effulgent, all-pervading universal form, the Vishwaroopa, to Arjuna. With this knowledge Arjuna was able to understand that he is not killing members of his family but is performing his duties as a kshatriya and fighting for the prevalence of Dharma.
On the last day of the discourse Swamiji highlighted that we needn’t search for God because he is not a separate entity. Instead, we should aspire to know God because He is within us. The unity between God and man is created through Yagna (service –that purifies the mind), Tapas (austerity – that masters the mind) and Dana (charity). The Bhagvad Geeta provides a deeper insight into these concepts and one should study it diligently by surrendering to it, adoring its teachings and values and meditating upon its lessons.
Every moment of interaction with Swamiji – be it a walk or a small talk; be it breakfast, lunch or dinner – was nothing short of a practical class on Vedanta for the spiritual seekers. Swamiji constantly kept giving various lessons – lessons on ego, desires, expectations, the influence these have on our lives and how to handle oneself when these are shattered (which they anyway will be because they are false). Swamiji constantly kept reiterating through the week that the human body / mind / intellect equipment is not the decider or the doer. Narayana is the master planner and the master executer. The ego can wish all it wants but what prevails is the will of Narayana!
The kids too got a chance to listen to the stories from Mahabarata and learn various virtues from the sacred Bhagvad Geeta with Br. Gopal Chaitaniya who simultaneously held the Bala Yagna during the 5 days.
Please visit www.chinmaya.com.au for more details on Chinmaya Mission’s family programs and activities in Brisbane.