Study the Bhagavad Gita

Eat, Pray, Love, and meditate on the Yogas of the Bhagavad Gita with us

Practically every TUESDAY (no longer every day), we [students of the Manav Dharam Orlando Ashram, address given below] have a class where we read out loud the Bhagavad Gita and we have explanations from our beloved resident teacher Mahatma Gargi Bai Ji sent to us by the grace of his holiness the SatGuru Shri Satpal Ji Maharaj.  What a great place to learn about Indian culture, religions, meditation, and yogas. [NEWS: Mahatma Gargi Bai Ji is on  tour to other centers around the US, and maybe even overseas for some extended time, I have been told, so the class will be facilitated by senior students of the Gita and so their interpretation may not represent the official interpretation of the Mahatmas of the Manav Dharam, but it will be one interpretation to consider and meditate upon. We always produce excellent questions and generate enlightening discussion.]

PLEASE CALL FIRST the Ashram phone  [masked]-7313.  Class schedule and time is subject to change and on occasions to sudden last hour cancellation. See address further down.

Usually we come early to the Ashram (address given below) to get something to eat from the kitchen, always very nutritious and delicious vegetarian Indian food (spicy).  Then we may do Arti (prayers with much meaning), then we are ready to start the Gita class by 7:30 or so.  And the class runs for about an hour. Often small group discussion about the lessons spontaneously develops afterwards.

Don't let the low RSVP count fool you into thinking nobody comes, it is actually attended by handful of regulars and guided by Mahatma Gargi Bai Ji. New students always welcomed. Come whenever you can. Know that it happens every weekday evening except Tuesdays, but call first because sometimes a class is cancelled for variour reasons.

Why does the study of the Bhagavad Gita matter?
 
The poem the Bhagavad Gita is held in the highest esteem by all sects in Hindustan {the Indian subcontinent} except for the Mohammedan and Christian sects. It has been translated into many languages, both Asiatic and European; it is being read today in every part of the world.  So the Gita should not be consider just a Hindu Bible, but a satsang (spiritual discourse) for mankind and therefore a key component of the teachings in the Manav Dharam (religion of mankind). The Gita transcends religions. And there is evidence that it influenced the Transcendentalists, philosophers who paved the way for our interest in meditation and all things oriental (yoga, Zen, Buddhism, Reiki, Karate).
 
The Transcendentalists and the Gita
 
The study of the Bhagavad Gita was influential to the philosophers of Europe and America who develop Transcendentalism, a philosophical school that includes elements of Oriental, Greek, English, French, German, and American thoughts. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant gave Transcendentalism its name. The verb "to transcend" means "to go beyond" something. In Transcendentalism,  there are truths that go beyond, or transcend, proof. These were truths that were simply "known" but could not be proved with logic. These truths were a private experience of faith and conviction. In Transcendentalism there is the fundamental premise, axiom, and belief that there is a higher reality and greater knowledge than that manifested in human mind. It divides reality into a realm of spirit and a realm of matter. This division is often made by many of the great religions of the world.
 
Kant, with other German thinkers, influenced the views of some important English writers; the poet-critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the Scottish philosopher-historian Thomas Carlyle. These three, especially Carlyle, exchanged ideas with Ralph Waldo Emerson of Concord, MA, the distinguished New England philosopher and essayist [masked]).
 
It was Emerson who brought the movement to New England {a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut} and nurtured its growth in this country.
 
American Transcendentalism thus began in the 1840's as Emerson interacted with Longfellow, Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thoreau and Lowell. This influential group of people were all born within a few years and a few miles of each other in New England. Ralph Waldo Emerson and his friends read the Hindus, Confucius, Buddha and the Mohammedan Sufis. The Bhagavad-Gita was very influential to Emerson.
 
Transcendentalism planted the seeds and helped to make the soil fertile for America's interest in Oriental thought. And this includes interest in Buddhism. And with Buddhism comes Zen, Yoga, and meditation.

What to Meditate On and How?
 
The content of the Bhagavad Gita is contained in eighteen chapters. One chapter is dedicated to meditation, but what to meditate on is spread throughout the chapters.  There is discussion of several Yogas.  Karma Yoga, Bakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga. Basically, Karma Yoga is about dedicating your work [to God and] for the benefit of others and therefore reducing your ego and attachment to your efforts, Bakti Yoga is about devotion to God, Jnana Yoga is about using your intellect (discriminating ability of the mind) to understand reality and to discern the path that leads to God.  In a way, any Yoga is a path, and the eighteen chapters of the Gita are eighteen Yogas.

The Bhagavad Gita outlines the various spiritual grounds and paths that humans go through in order to attain enlightenment and God-realization.  But the advice given can be used in everyday life.

There are many interpretations and translations to English and commentaries for the Bhagavad Gita.  Explore various translations and commentaries, all have their strengths, and their biases towards their particular gurus and lineage and agendas and belief system. We are using one version, a small translation from Hindu, and referring to an alternate version occasionally for clarification and comparison. There are many versions online. The following is a portion of chapter 13 from a version online at http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/gita.htm 

The Gita talks about nature and spirit or consciousness and three qualities of nature (the  three gunas)  in chapter 13. Take a look at this interesting portion from chapter 13:

Know that Prakriti [or matter] and Purusha [or consciousness] are both beginningless; and also know that all manifestations and Gunas arise from the Prakriti. (13.19, meaning Chapter 13 verse 19)

The Prakriti is said to be the cause of production of physical body and organs (of perception and action). The Purusha (or the consciousness) is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasures and pains. (13.20)

The Purusha associating with Prakriti (or matter), enjoys the Gunas of Prakriti. Attachment to the Gunas (due to ignorance caused by previous Karma) is the cause of the birth of Jeevaatma in good and evil wombs. (13.21) (Jeevaatma or Jeeva is defined as Atma accompanied by the subtle (or astral) body consisting of the six sensory faculties and vital forces; the living entity; the individual soul enshrined in the physical body. )

The Supreme Spirit in the body is also called the witness, the guide, the supporter, the enjoyer, and the great Lord or Paramaatma. (13.22)

They who truly understand Purusha and Prakriti with its Gunas are not born again regardless of their mode of life. (13.23)

Some perceive God in the heart by the intellect through meditation; others by the yoga of knowledge; and others by the yoga of work (or Karma-yoga). (13.24)

Some, however, do not understand Brahman [the Absolute, God], but having heard (of it) from others, take to worship. They also transcend death by their firm faith to what they have heard. (13.25)

Whatever is born, animate or inanimate, know them to be (born) from the union of the field (or Prakriti) and the field knower (or Purusha), O Arjuna. (See also 7.06) (13.26)

The one who sees the imperishable Supreme Lord dwelling equally within all perishable beings truly sees. (13.27)

 Seeing the same Lord existing in every being, one does not injure the other self and thereupon attains the Supreme goal. (13.28)

 Retrieved from an interpretation-translation by Ramanand Prasad of the Gita at http://eawc.evansville.edu/anthology/gita.htm

The three gunas are explained in chapter 14. 

The class goes through each chapter in one, two or three days.  After we get done with the last chapter [18] we go back to the first chapter.

The Bhagavad Gita impresses upon the readers and students two things: first, selflessness [or how we face our dharma or duty], and second, action [how we practice our karma yoga attitude to confront our duty]. And so the studying of and living by the lessons found in the Gita will arouse the conviction that there is but one Spirit and not several, and that we cannot live for ourselves alone, but must come to realize that there is no such thing as separateness, and no possibility of escaping from the collective karma of the race [and community, society, and nation] to which one belongs, and then, that we must think and act in accordance with such belief.

The Ashram where the Gita class is held

Please visit the Ashram in Winter Springs whenever you can to offer your service and talents. Much blessings will come to the community through you. The address is on maps.google.com at  TinyURL.com/OrlandoAshram

The Manav Dharam Orlando Ashram
4811 East Lake Drive
Winter Springs, FL 32708

Call residents of Ashram at [Heena][masked] or the Ashram phone  [masked] if you are coming for the first time and need help in directions. Enter around left side of house, first entrance.  Also call or contact them a day before or hours before to make sure the class is still scheduled, because occasionally it gets canceled, but not often. I try to cancel it here on meetup.com if I know it got canceled as soon as I know, but I sometimes fail at that.

Looking forward to seeing you at Gita class.

Compassion,

Jairo

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  • Jairo M.
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