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Finding Harmony in Religion and Spirituality

Finding Harmony in Religion and Spirituality

During my formative years in India, I often found that religion was practiced in ritualistic, often illogical ways and surrounded by many superstitions. While generally liberal in their beliefs, my family participated in rituals that were family traditions, believing that questioning such practices would cause some personal calamity. Yet, I continued to internally wrestle with doubts about the validity of this herd mentality and blind belief system, such as how animal sacrifices could be a part of religion or why women were not allowed the same religious rights as men. As I grew up, I observed that people seemed to follow their beliefs in various ways. There were some who clung to traditional Hindu rituals, others who explored spirituality through meditation or mysticism, and agnostics who rejected anything supernatural. 

These questions about the difference between religious dogmas and spiritual philosophy percolated in my mind for a while, even after I moved to the U.S. and started my family. I always wondered what true spirituality meant and attended various lectures to explore the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the central text of Hindu scripture. No explanation was as easy to understand or practical to follow as Gautamji’s first introductory lecture on Vedanta. I was personally going through some rough times with the health of my family. They say that a Guru shows up when you need one – this surely was my experience! Gautamji clarified my doubts about the nature of spirituality by explaining how the Bhagavad Gita tells us that our original nature is divine and yet we are ignorant of this state of absolute happiness. True spirituality uses logical thinking and reflection to deduce the truth and eternal principles of life. Following the spiritual path means developing a strong intellect which helps one understand that external objects give you a limited, temporary satisfaction, but building permanent internal peace takes time and effort. Swami A. Parthasarathy, the renowned philosopher and founder of the Vedanta Academy in India explains that living is an art, and the Bhagavad Gita provides you a manual for mindful living.

The Bhagavad Gita spells out three aspects of the spiritual path: Karma Yoga (the art of perfect action), Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion), and Jnana Yoga (the path of knowledge) explicitly. It gives seekers practical tools to understand their own nature and pursue spirituality accordingly.  Every person can tailor their own spiritual evolution and growth in an individualized manner to propel them toward perfection. However, as I discovered, mere textual study of scriptures is not enough for optimal development and a guide is necessary for an accurate understanding of the philosophy.

Gautamji’s Gita class uses a detailed commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, written by his guru, Swami A. Parthasarathy to explain the scripture and provide practical application of Vedantic philosophy. A guru is one who is truly knowledgeable and can teach you the scriptures while also giving you answers to all your questions to remove all your doubts. Gautamji’s classes on Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita provide that unique opportunity to understand spirituality, learn life lessons from the Gita and directly ask questions to clarify your knowledge.

If you would like to know more about these classes, 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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