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Monday, December 8, 2008

Gita Jayanthi - Birthday of the Bhagavad Gita

Dear Divine Souls,
I hope that - by God's grace - this finds you and all your loved ones in the best of health and happiness at this sacred time of Gita Jayanti.


Gita Jayanti is celebrated on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the bright fortnight of the month of Margaseersha (December - January). Sometimes people refer to it as the "Birthday of the Bhagavad Gita;" however, divine wisdom cannot be said to take birth! One cannot really say that the Divine Song has a birthday. Actually, Gita Jayanti is the anniversary of the day, nearly 6000 years ago, when Sanjaya recited the words which Bhagwan Shri Krishna spoke to Arjuna, on the battlefield in Kurukshetra, for the blind King Dhritarashtra. Along with the epic of the Mahabharata, this Divine Song was transcribed into words by Maharishi Veda Vyasji for the benefit of humanity.

As Paramhansa Yogananda (one of the great spiritual leaders of India who spread the message of the Gita to the West) said, "The Bhagavad Gita is the most beloved scripture of India, a scripture of scriptures. It is the Hindu's Holy Testament, the one book that all masters depend upon as a supreme source of scriptural authority." The Gita provides wisdom and upliftment, comfort and solace to people of all ages, from all walks of life, from all corners of the Earth.

"Bhagavad Gita" literally means Song of God, Song of the Soul, Song of the Spirit. Like any truly divine song, the language of the original lyrics and the religion of the original singer are irrelevant. For once it has been written and sung, the song itself becomes alive, bursting forth across oceans and mountain ranges, breaking all barriers of caste, creed, nationality. Such is the power of a divine song. However, as the original "singer" of the Gita is Bhagwan Shri Krishna, Himself, this is the holiest and most sacred of all the songs of God. Therefore, its power to transform, to heal, to uplift is as limitless as the Singer.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad-Gita...I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies and my life has been full of external tragedies. If they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teachings of Bhagavad-Gita."

The Gita consists literally of 700 shlokas divided into 18 chapters. It has been said that the Upanishads are the cows, Krishna is the cowherd, Arjuna is the calf, and the Gita is the milk. But, it is not just any milk. This milk is nectar that flowed from the Gods with the power to heal the sick, comfort the lonely, guide the lost, uplift the fallen and bring peace to the troubled. The milk is gentle and pure enough for a baby, but strong enough for a warrior.


Despair to Devotion
The Gita is a journey from depression, despair and despondency to devotion. Arjuna was despondent and dismayed as he surveyed the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Suddenly the great warrior lay down his arms. He told Krishna that he could not fight. "I see in the opposing army my cousins, my uncles, my revered teachers. It would be better to renounce the kingdom than to fight with those who are so close to me," he bemoans. Thus begins the Bhagavad Gita

Lord Krishna takes Arjuna on the journey from despondency to devotion - devotion to God and devotion to his own dharma. That is the divine gift of the Gita: to carry us from a state of despair to a state of joy.

The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are not applicable merely to life on a battlefield, when war with our relatives is imminent. Rather the true battlefield is within us. Through the story of Arjuna and the war of Kurukshetra, Bhagwan Shri Krishna gives us lessons for our lives. The real Kurukshetra is within us. Each of us is Arjuna, struggling with right and wrong, temptation, fear and frustration. Our bodies are our chariots, being driven all too frequently by our senses as the horses. The mind, ego, desires, lust and greed are the evil Kaurvas with whom we must do righteous battle, from whom we must not shy away in fear. If we give the reins of our lives to God (as Arjuna made Krishna his divine charioteer), we will surely be victorious.
With love and blessings to you and all your loved ones.

In the service of God and humanity,
Swami Chidanand Saraswati

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