What we're about
this group will pause until autumn 2020, since my wife and I are moving to Boston for two years. When we are back in Vienna, we will continue the study group.
All the best,
"According to Vedanta there is not only one God, but only God"
-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
This is a group for all who want to study the ancient wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is a sacred Hindu text and a primary scripture of Vedanta, the teachings of the non-duality of reality. The title Bhagavad Gita means "Song of God" in Sanskrit and has been cherished for generations as a guide for proper living and for spiritual progression. It was treasured by Ghandi, Herman Hesse, Emerson and Thoreau to T. S. Eliot.
We are reading the "Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course" by Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1930-2015), a renowned teacher of Advaita Vedanta. The course is a very detailed verse-by-verse commentary of the Gita.
Quotes from the Bhagavad Gita:
"For the unreal, there is never any being. For the real, there is never any non-being. The ultimate truth of both (the real and unreal) is seen by the knowers of truth." (2.16)
"He who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, he is wise among men, he is a yogi and accomplisher of everything." (4.18)
"When the mind becomes still and quiet, the Self reveals itself. At these depths one experiences the joy and peace of complete fulfillment." (6.20)
About Vedanta: We pursue a lot of different goals in our lives: We seek security, sensual and intellectual pleasure, companionship, success, romantic relationships and so forth. When we reach these goals, they give us fleeting periods of happiness. All the various goals we pursue are attempts to gain lasting satisfaction. But sooner or later we come to the conclusion that none of these goals can bring us what we are ultimately looking for. Every upside has a downside, every gain comes with a loss. No matter how hard we try, we cannot find lasting satisfaction. Vedanta provides a radical view on this pivotal problem: It claims that all frustrations in life are symptoms of a wrong understanding of oneʼs own nature. We take ourselves to be separate and limited beings. Counterintuitively, Vedanta asserts with breathtaking boldness that our true nature is completeness and limitlessness. Vedanta is a time tested means of knowledge to correct our ignorance about our self. When its teachings are unfolded, the receptive listener is able to realize that he already is what he was looking for in all his pursuits: completeness and limitlessness itself.
What does Advaita Vedanta mean: Vedanta is a conjuction of veda (“knowledge”) and anta (“end”). It refers to the last portion of the Vedas, the Upanishads, which contain teachings about the relationship between the essence of the individual (atman) and the Absolute (brahman). The Upanishads claim that atman and brahman are identical, they are not-two (advaita). The realization of this identity is moksha, liberation from all limitations which have been superimposed onto the self. This knowledge is available not only to a few mystics, but to everyone who is willing to expose himself to the Vedantic teachings.
"Vedanta says that there is nothing bigger than the self, Brahman, and it also says that there is nothing other than the self. I have to see it; there is nothing to contend. Therefore moksha is only the recognition of the self, atma, as Brahman. You have to see yourself as the whole, nothing else is acceptable. This is the truth. There is no other moksha, there is no alternative available. Different paths to moksha do not exist."
-- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
About the teacher: Swami Dayananda Saraswati (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dayananda_Saraswati_(Arsha_Vidya)) was a disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, one of the eminent figures of Hinduism in the 20th century. Swami Dayananda's lectures are praised for their clarity and his commentaries of Vedantic scriptures are considered impeccable by scholars and other teachers. The extensive "Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course" is based on the teachings Swamiji gave to his students in his three year Vedanta course.
About our meetings: In each meeting we will read a section from the "Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course" together, followed by a discussion. The course is incremental. Though the most important topics are reiterated throughout the whole Gita each chapter covers a unique topic. I will do my best to introduce unknown topics to new students.
How to obtain the Bhagavad Gita Home Study Course? A hard-bound version can be purchased from Motilal Banarsidass ( https://www.mlbd.com , ISBN 9380049390) and will be shipped from India. Price is about 150 EUR incl. shipping costs.
There is also a free mobile app for iOS and Android where a majority of the books from Swami Dayananda can be purchased. The app is called "Teachings of Swami Dayananda" (link to iOS app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teachings-of-swami-dayananda/id807400667?mt=8), link to Android app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.avrpt.teachingsofswamidayananda&hl=de)). The books are available in their original layout in PDF format. Each volume of the Course is about 3 EUR, so very cheap compared to the printed version.
You could invest 3 EUR to take a look if the books are appealing to you.
About me and my motivation: I'm a student of Advaita Vedanta and Tibetan Buddhism and I want to start this group to study one of the most profound texts of mankind in-depth. I also want to connect to others who are interested in the timeless teachings of Advaita Vedanta.
About you: You already have been exposed to spirituality especially to Advaita / Non-Duality. You are curious about Hinduism and maybe you already pursue some kind of spiritual practice (Meditation, Yoga, Vipassana, etc.) Since the language of Hinduism is Sanskrit, traditional Vedanta cannot be taught without Sanskrit terms, so you dont't shy away from Sanskrit terminology.
Language: The Course is written in English, so a good grasp of English is beneficial. If there are only German speaking participants, the discussion will be in German.
Resources: See the Resources (https://www.meetup.com/de-DE/AdvaitaVienna/pages/21836884/Resources/) page for recommended books, videos and other online resources.
Mantras: We start and end each meeting by reciting short mantras. You can download the text here (http://www.vedanta.at/files/mantras.pdf).
The recitation sounds like this:
1) Guru-Shishya Parampara (http://www.vedanta.at/files/01_Guru_Shishya_Parampara.mp3)
2) Saha Navavatu Mantra (http://www.vedanta.at/files/02_Saha_Navavatu.mp3)
3) Purnamandah Purnamidam Shanti Mantra (http://www.vedanta.at/files/03_Purnamadah.mp3)
I will handout copies of the text, so you don't have to bring it yourself.