A series of free public talks was held in the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue’ at Griffith University from 18th to 21st of April 2018. Swami Shrikarananda (Swamiji), the Resident Swami of Chinmaya Mission Sydney, Brisbane & Canberra, presented these talks, and the topic was based on the first 16 verses of Chapter 2 in the Bhagavad Gita.
Swamiji started the talk with a very vivid demonstration: the whole collection of Vedas were represented as a cow (i.e. every aspect of the cow is useful and benefits), the Upanishads are like the milk and the Bhagavad Gita is like the cream. Bhagavad Gita is the best and concentrated knowledge that Vedas offer with practice.
Chapter 2 presents the background of Arjuna and the war he was about to fight; the emotions Arjuna experienced and the struggles he was facing; as well the advice Shri Krishna gave to Arjuna at this tense and crucial time. At the time, Arjuna’s uncle, King Dhritarashtra, was the acting king. Because King Dhritarashtra was born blind, he had to rely on others’ vision and input for decision making and governing his kingdom. However he was unable to use it wisely because he only selectively listened to the good news and blocked out any bad news. His children, the Kauravas, were growing up with few good qualities but mostly bad qualities. Arjuna and his brothers, the Pandavas, were growing up with few bad qualities but most good qualities. Under the governing of King Dhritarashtra, the kingdom was sliding into a mess as his son Duryodana was out of control. Hence, Arjuna and the pandavas led the Pandava army to fight the war against the Kaurava clan (Adharma), which included his cousins, grand uncle and his teachers. At the crux of battlefield, Arjuna started to experience doubts in his action and sorrow for the outcome. He could not see the goodness of winning the battle but the loss he would bear from winning – killing his family and teachers, as well hundreds and thousands of people would die in the battle. He no longer wanted to fight – however this was out of his mental weakness, not true compassion. Shri Krishna as a compassionate charioteer listened to Arjuna’s concerns and then pulled him back to the path of goodness with right knowledge. Shri Krishna also told him not to be attached to the results, or to any relationships, and to follow his dharma.
When we are facing challenging situations in our day to day life, we also experience self doubt, fear, sorrow or other negative emotions. These negative emotions blur our vision and capacity to make a right decision or take right action. But Swamiji taught us to worry not – in any situation, change what we can and accept what we cannot. If a situation cannot be changed, the wise person accepts it cheerfully and leave the rest with the Lord. We are not to be attached to the compliments or criticism we receive from other people as a result from our actions.
When we are facing the choice of goodness or pleasure, our lower self tends to choose the path of pleasure, which gives us immediate gratification but pain in the long term (preyas). Our Guru guides us to be independent of attachments and give us the strength to choose the path of good, which we will gain in the long term but experience difficulties and pain in the short term (shreyas).
This is the third year my family attended an annual event like this with Chinmaya Mission Brisbane. Again we all enjoyed the event. The event was organized very considerately. While the adults were attending the talks, a children’s program was conducted by Balavihar teachers. We always enjoy the home-made traditional Indian food that was well prepared with love at the food stands. A generous bookstall offered many good books, CDs and DVDs containing incredibly valuable knowledge. At the end we were filled up with positive energy, as well practical and wise advice that help us in solving many problems in our daily life. Think with our head and act with our heart!
Thank you Swamiji and Chinmaya Mission Brisbane for this wonderful experience. We are already looking forward to our next meeting!
– by Jeannie Towers