Tag Archives: Bhagavad Gita

Was Krishna The First Psychotherapist?

I was ten or twelve years old when I first heard of the “Bhagavad Gita.” We lived in Bengaluru, and once a week, my spiritually-inclined, civil engineer father would explain its concepts – meditation and other virtues – to my siblings and me. He loved these sessions.

He told us the essence of the Bhagavad Gita was that “Krishna asks everyone to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.” And yet, I still could not make any sense of it. I just felt overwhelmed.

A few years ago, my father passed away and my life came to a standstill. It took days afterwards, filled with sadness, for me to start a transformation that helped me appreciate the Bhagavad Gita’s wisdom and the love and kindness in my surroundings.

The Bhagavad Gita is a profound dialogue between two friends on a battlefield nearly 5000 years ago. When the war begins in the great battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna declines to fight. Krishna, the mystic, patiently explains a psychological battleplan that navigates a pathway from confusion to knowledge, virtuosity and happiness in the midst of war and chaos.

The mind today is a similar battleground between thoughts and emotions. We face challenges and confusion every day from childhood through adulthood, but there are answers to be found in the Bhagavad Gita.

Swami Chinmayananda calls the Bhagavad Gita “a piece of art of strange beauty and it stands apart from everything else, in a class all by itself.”

Its eighteenth chapter contains a philosophy of living which resonated with me when I moved to the US twenty years ago.

My son was enrolled in the Chinmaya Mission and I became intrigued by their discourses on the Gita. I began reading chapters from a Bhagavad Gita my husband had bought at a temple and which we kept at our prayer altar. The scriptures began to influence me in my daily life.

One idea that I found particularly useful said, “You have the right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the results of your actions. ”

It taught me how to perform my duties to the best of my abilities but not stress about the outcomes.

It was one of many profound lessons the Gita has taught me.

I have learnt from the Gita to adjust and accept situations and people. I have realized that each person is uniquely gifted with different emotions and virtues. And the Gita helps me make better decisions that give me happiness.

A few years ago, tragic life events – death, accidents, illness, would depress me for days. Somehow today I’ve developed a better understanding of Karma, the concept of ‘law of action’ related to fear, life and death.

My reaction now is quite different. While I still feel some sadness for a while, I regain my sense of balance far more quickly.

Individuals who intellectually absorb and assimilate the knowledge the Gita offers, become “liberated from confusion and sorrows, and reach a state of inner tranquility and happiness,” says Swami Chinmayananda. I do believe he’s right.

I’m trying to integrate the principles of Bhakti (Devotional)Yoga, Jnana (Knowledge) Yoga and Karma (Work)Yoga into my own life.

Quite simply, this means channelling my emotions in order to discipline my mind (devotional or Bhakti yoga), discipline my body and its actions to help control my mind (work or Karma yoga), and practice meditation, reflection and detachment to ‘lift the mind to silence’, and reach a place of serenity, peace and calm (knowledge or Jnana yoga).

Every day, I attempt to apply the Divine – positivity – in my work and life . When my mind brims with positivity, I’ve noticed that negative emotions don’t invade my thinking! My mother-in-law is a great example of this practice. She works with utmost care and patience and is mindful in all her tasks, whether drawing a rangoli or chopping vegetables. The motto “Work is Worship” is apt for folks like her who are inclined towards Karma Yoga.

Was Krishna the first psychotherapist? Perhaps!

When I read the Gita it often feels as though I’m being personally guided by a psychotherapist friend to make stress-free decisions. And yet, it contains concepts that transcend religions and borders. These ideas have helped reinforce positivity, love and hope in my own life – but I also believe there are lessons to be found in the old teachings to navigate the crises of our present times. As the world battles the stress and anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gita can offer peace, hope and answers that humanity seeks to fight an invisible enemy in a different kind of war.

Kumudha Venkatesan is based in Atlanta and loves to read the Bhagavad Gita and often writes about the vegan lifestyle and spirituality.

Edited by Meera Kymal, contributing editor, India Currents.

Image 2: By Mahavir Prasad Mishra – https://archive.org/details/MahabharataTejKumarBookDepotMahavirPrasadMishra, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66704373

Silicon Valley to host the 2019 Global Bhagavad Gita Convention

Third Global Bhagavad Gita Convention is being organized to disseminate the perennial wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita for Modern Life. Convention will showcase Gita’s road- map to accomplish personal and universal well-being. 

Center for Inner Resources Development – North America (CIRD-NA), a non-profit global knowledge institution is delighted to announce the Third Global Bhagavad Gita Convention (GBGC) at San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, on October 19-20, 2019 (Saturday and Sunday). 

This global forum will introduce the essence of Bhagavad Gita to all the participants, and will further deepen the understanding of the text to those already familiar. The Convention is organized under the inspiration and guidance of Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha, a renowned spiritual master from India. A distinguished panel of speakers, including leading scholars, thinkers, and professionals, will share timeless wisdom from Gita along with its practical applications in everyday life. 

The first Convention was at the University of California, Irvine, in the year 2017. The second one happened at George Mason University, Virginia, in 2018. The broader participation in both these Conventions and the tremendous interest they invoked in the minds of the participants to pursue the subject further, led the Silicon Valley community demand a similar third Convention to be held in the Bay Area. 

The goal of this Bhagavad Gita convention is to introduce the teachings of this wonderful text and to deepen the knowledge of those already familiar with it. Regardless of one’s vocation, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, these teachings can greatly benefit one and all. The philosophical foundation provided by the Gita will serve as our springboard and strong inspiration for discussion at the convention. 

“The Convention intends to offer a platform for learning, knowledge exchange, and collaboration of the essence of Bhagavad Gita to positively impact personal and societal welfare,” according to Dr. Ravi Jandhyala, MD, Cardiologist and Program Convener of 2019 GBGC. 

Attendees from every walk of life will discover how spiritual wisdom enriches and empowers one’s inner personality, thereby enabling them to assimilate various impacts from the world and feel a sense of inner expansion and elevation. 

Admission to the convention is free. Interested participants are encouraged to register early and confirm their participation by visiting https://www.globalgita.org/ 

Bhagavad Gita used in Historic Swearing-In Ceremony at US Congress

Setting a record, five brilliant Indian-Americans, all Democrats, have been sworn in as members of the 115th US Congress.
Tuesday was a day of many firsts!  Kamala Harris of California became the first Indian-American woman to be sworn into the Senate by Vice President Joe Biden, and across the hallowed halls of Congress, Pramila Jayapal of Washington took her rightful place as the first Indian-American woman elected to the House of Representatives.  Jayapal was sworn in by House Speaker Paul Ryan, together with other Indian-American lawmakers: Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, Ami Bera and Ro Khanna of California.  They are the fabulous five!
It is a triumph for the Indian-American community, a watershed moment!  Never before have so many US lawmakers of Indian origin been elected to the highest legislative body in the land!
Harris was accompanied to the swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill by family members including her husband Douglas Emhoff and sister Maya Harris.  “Today, I was sworn-in to the US Senate.  I am humbled and honored to serve you and the people of California.  Let’s get to work”, Kamala said, following the event.  And she proceeded to do just that co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that protects 744,000 DREAMers from being deported by the incoming administration.
“These individuals were raised in this country and deserve to fully participate and earn a piece of the American dream.  Our diversity makes the fabric of our society stronger.  We must embrace it, not reject it.  That is the message I am sending this week in Washington”, she said.
Addressing the grandiose Indiaspora Gala in the nation’s capital following the swearing-in ceremonies on Capitol Hill, Jayapal gushed, “I am so proud to be the first Indian-American woman elected to the US House of Representatives”.
She told a huge, eminent gathering at the sprawling Marriott Marquis hotel in the nation’s capital, “What I hope and believe is that I won’t be the last Indian-American woman elected to the House of Representatives.  We are going to make sure that Indian-Americans across this country see our election not only as personal victories for ourselves and for our Districts and for our country, but as opportunities and role models for others to be engaged in democracy, to run for office themselves”.
Her mother, Maya Jayapal – originally from Kerala, now residing in Bengaluru, India — arrived well in time to witness and even partake in the historic swearing-in event holding a copy of both the Bhagavad Gita and the United States Constitution on which Pramila took the ceremonial oath of office.  She was so proud of her daughter who had defied all odds to be in that exalted position.
At the Indiaspora Gala, Jayapal recalled that with the equivalent of only 5,000 dollars in their bank account, her parents sent her to America by herself when she was merely 16 years old “because they believed this was the place I was going to get the best education.  And to go from that experience to today being a Congresswoman is what I think so many of us strive for”, she said.
Harris was conspicuously absent from a gala which drew so many distinguished guests including: over two dozen members of Congress; Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna; US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the US State Department; Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets; Judge Sri Srinivasan of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Civil Rights Division at the US Department of Justice.  Nina Davuluri who was crowned Miss America in 2014 served as the eloquent emcee.
Raja Krishnamoorthi warmly commended Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami, an entrepreneur and philanthropist based in California, and board member Shekar Narasimhan for organizing “a tremendous event”.
To the gathering, he said, “Indian-Americans elected to the US Congress are a testament to everything that you did for us”.  Extolling members of the community for their values, traditions, and work ethics, he affirmed, “We stand on your shoulders to reach for the stars, to be in the United States Congress.  So, I joke that though my name is Raja Krishnamoorthi, it might as well be Raja Patel or Raja Shah or Raja Singh or Raja Rao.  The point is that when we have reached the US Congress, you have reached the US Congress.  That is because of everything you do every single day to help your communities, to raise your families right, to instill good values in your children, and to live life with character”.
To Indian-Americans who are thinking of running for office, he said, “There is no better time than now.  You have role models.  We have a play book and it’s time to get started”.
Ro Khanna recalled that his grandfather was jailed for four years in the 1940s during India’s independence movement.  “To think that in two generations, a son of Indian immigrants is elected to the US Congress is a story of this community’s extraordinary progress and contributions”, he said, adding, “I am so proud to be part of this community”.
Ami Bera, re-elected to the US Congress for a third term, led the new Indian-American lawmakers and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Democrat – Hawaii), in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
“We are having an opportunity to give back to the country which has given us so much”, he said.  “We are not going to stop at the fabulous five.  Let’s get to the tenacious ten.  Let’s get to that day when we are celebrating the first Indian-American president of the United States”.
Rangaswami gushed, “This is a historic moment.  Today, we are celebrating the community going from success to significance”.  He noted, “We are one percent of the US population and now we are one percent of the US Congress.  We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go”, he said, hoping that more Indian-Americans will be elected to the legislative branch.
Commending the fabulous five Indian-American lawmakers, Surgeon General Murthy dwelt on the importance of inclusion in his remarks to the illustrious Indiaspora audience.  “As powerful as this feeling of inclusion is, as all of us feel part of their victory, there are many people in our country who do not feel included in the democratic process, in the government”, he said.  America’s top doctor hoped the Indian-American community can play a pivotal role in widening the circle of inclusion so that more people feel inspired to go into government especially young people.
“We are and always have been a nation of immigrants and when we forget that the success of this nation has been built on the success of immigrants then we put ourselves in a perilous place”, he said.  “It is up to all of us to ensure that each and every person, whether they came here a few years ago or a few generations ago, has an opportunity to be included in American society and to contribute”.
Congresswoman Gabbard recalled being at the inaugural Indiaspora Gala four years ago as a newly elected member of Congress.  At the time, she was the only Hindu lawmaker in the House of Representatives.  She spoke of the strides in India-US ties and the potential for strengthening the friendship between the two great democracies.  On stage, she lighted the traditional Indian ‘diya’ (lamp) signifying hope and optimism.