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Early Mornings with the Bhagavad Gita

Early Mornings with Bhagavad Gita

Most people remember their teenage years as a time marked by joyful bonding with friends and the rites of passage into independence. However, I entered my teens with an abrupt move to a different city, forced to make new acquaintances, learn a new language, and adapt to a new school along with the various transitions that young people make as they form their identities.  In this new environment, my desire for academic achievement often woke me up automatically at 4 am to prepare for the day. To my surprise, I found that I could easily assimilate new concepts and retain what I had learned, when I used this time of the day to study. What may take two or more hours during later hours could be easily completed in less than an hour in the early morning! This profound discovery helped me to become a good student and laid the foundation for a life-long habit that helps me to achieve my goals even today!

The benefits of rising early have been extolled by people in every day and age. From CEOs to philosophers, academics and politicians – there are countless examples of how leaders in every field use the hours of the early morning to hone their skills and become successful. Rising before 5 AM is generally recommended to give you a head start to the day, provide some quality time for focused productivity before the onslaught of the daily routine and some people even use the time to exercise. 

The ancient scriptures of India, particularly the Bhagavad Gita, also enjoin us to adopt the habit of rising early using a different rationale. They categorize all actions and even our state of mind into three primary groups: satva (peaceful and objective), rajas (frenzied and agitated), and tamas (ignorant and indifferent). We are all composed of an admixture of these three qualities and they manifest in our personalities according to the time of day. The early morning hours (from 4 AM to 6 AM) are considered to promote the satvik tendencies within us, when we are most inclined to be reflective, and relatively calm. It is most conducive for studying the philosophy of the Gita, contemplation and any intellectual activity. Rajas automatically occupies us for the majority of the work-day and we tend to relax or become sensually indulgent in the evening (tamas). 

Current social mores seem to promote late nights and make it difficult to enjoy the benefits of rising early. People look forward to lazy mornings during weekends and holidays, not realizing what they miss. Students prefer to burn the midnight oil and brag about the “all-nighters” that they pulled. Consistent late nights become a habit that is hard to kick, leading to lethargic days and Monday morning “blues” that last all week! One tip to help develop the habit of waking up early is to try sleeping early too. Set a time limit for your nightly routine by having dinner a little earlier, reducing late-night TV binges, and putting away your cell phone by 9: 30 pm. Going to sleep earlier by few minutes each day will incrementally push you awake earlier in the mornings, until you reach the desired goal. 

The initial challenge of waking up and using the time for self-development is quickly overcome when you notice the evidence of its value. My introduction to Vedanta and subsequent morning-study of the Bhagavad Gita have reinforced my accidental discovery of this helpful tip. Beyond mere academic success or productivity, rising early sets the tone for your day by allowing you to carve out time for deeper contemplation and learning. The morning study helped me to think more objectively about my personal challenges and use the time to delve deeper into finding a truly purposeful life. 

If you would like to know more about Vedanta, the ancient wisdom of India, or learn about the Bhagavad Gita, which is a manual for life, or simply cultivating better habits for a more peaceful, successful life, check out the weekly wisdom on Gita on Sunday mornings. If you would like to know more about the Gita classes, register here or visit the website for more information.

“The blog above are thoughts of a student of the online weekly lectures”

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