Tis the season to read the Gita


Three hundred Bhagavad-gitas were sponsored last night at a function in East Ham, in the east end of London. The grand event was put on as a team effort of several local sangas. Children put on a play of the Bhagavad-gita, with six to nine year-olds taking roles as the blind king Dhrtarastra, his charioteer and visionary Sanjaya; and of course Arjuna and Shri Krishna.

Then the adults staged a colourful drama based on a narrative from the Gita Mahatmyam. It concerned the unexpected benefits of reading the 18th chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, in which the reader is elevated to heaven after making the final chapter his daily reading throughout life.

I gave a talk on how important the Gita is, and how my spiritual master Srila Prabhupada made it a vital part of his mission to broadcast the Gita widely. Thanks to him the Gita is now available in more than 90 languages. I mentioned that the Gita is the one book that every acarya is practically obliged to comment on. Shankaracarya glorified the Gita in his Gita Mahatmya, and Yamunacarya Alavandar, Ramanuja and Madhva all wrote on it. Yamunacarya wrote his celebrated Gitartha Sangraha (well worth a read) and Ramanuja his Gita Bhasya.

Srila Prabhupada combines the best of all the acarya’s commentaries in his much-read ‘purports’ and the proof that he simply allows Krishna to shine through is that his Bhagavad-gita As It Is is the world’s best known and most trusted edition of the Gita.

Not southern India but east London: the Murugan temple in East Ham, the venue for last night’s Bhagavad-gita event

As I headed home around the M25 through a snow-covered landscape I reflected on how lucky we are that the Gita has been translated and explained by an acarya who came into our very midst and transformed so many lives. I reached home at midnight, feeling very satisfied that young devotees are taking forward Srila Prabhupada’s work in the east end of London.

Today was the recitation of the Bhagavad-gita at Bhaktivedanta Manor. Although the freezing and dangerous weather kept some would-be reciters away, this annual event is always so popular that the temple, reception and theatre were all used to accommodate the reciters. The 700 verses of the Gita were chanted six chapters at a time, and a fire yajna burned in one corner of the temple room. Although we hear that the Gita as a conversation took around one hour, it took us from 9.30 am until 2.00 pm to complete the recitation. I kept the pace and melody of the chanting throughout, and our special guest, His Holiness Bhakti Purusottama Swami, gave a short explanation at the end of each chapter. As we chanted 18.65 and 66, the Lord’s final instructions, all the participants raised their hands, happy that their vows to complete the recital were fulfilled.

Around 170 viewers were watching on http://www.mayapur.tv in different countries. About 1,000 Bhagavad-gitas were sponsored.

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Filed under Festivals, Journal, Preaching, Small Groups

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