Many years ago, when I was introduced to the Gita classes taught by Gautamji (a senior disciple of Swami A. Parthasarathy) in New Jersey, I was pleasantly surprised that I could relate to the teachings from our ancient scriptures and apply its wisdom to improve my own life.
Gautamji contextualizes every verse and lesson of the Gita for our own daily lives that really draws you in. The class, being in English, requires no prior knowledge of Sanskrit or any other Indian language. There is a verse-by-verse explanation and interpretation of the entire text in English (written by Swami A. Parthasarathy) which students can follow along during the class. Those who wish to imbibe the more devotional aspect of the Gita also can participate in chanting the verses before and during the class. In the same way that the ancient masters intended, the classes are structured to encourage independent logical thinking, constant questioning and rational interpretation. He also provides a practical analysis of the verses which enables students to implement the lessons learned in their daily lives.
Studying the Gita with Gautamji has allowed me to imbibe important life lessons, some of which are listed below:
Leading a Stress-free Life
At the start of the Gita, Arjuna’s anxious state of mind is not too different from our own stress-filled lives. Lord Krishna gives Arjuna (and us, readers) the principles, the practice and techniques to lead and realize a stress-free life. He explains how the primary source of stress is our attachment to the results of our actions. This is why a surgeon cannot operate on his own wife, why a parent gets stressed about how their child turns out, why we get burned out at our jobs when we are focused on the rewards. By taking a step back to assess my life, it was easier to understand that my attachment to my son had ruined our relationship and was the root of my anxiety. Working on myself to reduce my dependency on him and his condition, the knowledge of the Gita was slowly able to help me calm my mind, reduce my stress levels and improve my relationships
The Bhagavad Gita teaches you the technique of productivity by unraveling the formula for success, which is based on three essential disciplines of concentration, consistency and cooperation. Furthermore, the chapter on karma yoga spells out exactly how one should act to maximize productivity and achieve success: by letting go of ego (ownership of your work) and focusing on the action, rather than the results (or rewards) that accrue. This message resonated with me when I was able to pursue my career and find joy in my work.
Controlling the Mind
Krishna describes the traits of an uncontrolled mind and the destruction that follows when seemingly innocent emotions are allowed to run riot. You need a strong intellect to govern the mind, which is naturally prone to impulse and distraction, just as adults supervise and monitor a child who cannot be left alone. The Gita classes provide a foundation to learn the techniques of developing your intellect, controlling your mind and harnessing your energy towards a higher purpose. Gaining the knowledge of the Gita helped me to understand how my indulgences had shaped my current life situation and where I should exercise greater self-control to manage my life better. Being aware of my weakness and working on self-improvement has led me to enjoy a better quality of life.
More than just learning a scriptural text, these classes enable you to convert the knowledge into real-life wisdom through the process of shravana (listening) and manana (reflection), eventually bringing harmony to your engagement with the external world and peace within oneself. If you would like to know more about the Gita classes taught by Gautamji, register here or visit the website for more information. The Gita classes are free, available live and recorded online, and open to anyone interested in learning more about this ancient wisdom.
“The blog above are thoughts of a student of the online weekly lectures”
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