By Ami Patel
Bhagwad Gita Jayanti on December 25 held special significance for me, coming as it did in the ninth month of a series of lockdowns brought on by the pandemic. My mother and I enrolled in the 90-day-long Gita Swadhdyay classes. Waking up at 5.30am everyday and sitting through the class was in itself an achievement for a person like me, with very little attention span. Swadhayay is not just a lecture but also something that you listen to, and allow it to play and settle in your mind, and then make it a part of your life. Which is what I found intellectually challenging. It was conducted by Sanskrit scholar and former physics professor Swami Suryapad from the Art of Living, who elucidated the verses and the sequence with so much head and heart.
From the six chapters that Swamiji completed, there were some powerful shlokas whose meaning one could unravel for years. The ones that stayed with me the most were on the concept of yajna in chapter 3. Yajna is cosmic order rather than sacrifice, he said. The result of everything that happens to you or through you is the work and role of so many stakeholders. He gave us the simple example of the sugarcane juice machine where every part, from the nuts, bolts and wheels, to the handle that churns the machine are all important. Then how is it possible for one part to stake claim for the final outcome? That is why you have no right over the fruit of your action.
Play your role in life just like the sun, wind and rain; they don’t expect a ‘thank you’ and just do what they have to do. Every person who comes into your life, every meal, every act, even your own breath, are all outcomes of yajna. So the honour, respect and gratitude for everything in creation arise.
Krishna reveals in chapter 6, the nuances of meditation and techniques to help one go deeper in the practice. In verse 5 he says, “Let a man raise himself by himself, not debase himself for he is one’s best friend or enemy.” I’ve always been big on self-effort and through the Art of Living courses I learnt that taking responsibility for your actions is key to success in life. No one in life can help you if you can’t help yourself. With every action, thought and intention, you can choose to either raise yourself or go lower. However hard it may seem at some moments in life, in the end, it’s only you. No spouse, friend or parent can do this for you and it’s an illusion to think otherwise. This verse taught me self-reliance and discrimination, vital for personal growth.
“Treat victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain alike and get ready for battle. Fighting thus, you will not incur sin,” said Krishna to Arjuna (2:38). Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “You are always a winner. Sometimes you win; sometimes you make others win.” When you see the world and your experiences through this lens, opposites will not drag you down but keep your mind uplifted, no matter what! This was my gain during the Covid-19 lockdown – something that would never have happened in my schedule otherwise. Maybe work was slow but this gain was invaluable!
The writer, a celebrity fashion stylist, is also faculty, Art of Living.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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