„When is your birthday? 03-12-2008. Do you know the birthday of your soul? The Soul has no birth or death, the soul is eternal. We are not the body, we are the spiritual soul. „ - Joshithaa, 10 years old. So wonderful how these kids have painted beautiful pictures to express their understandings from their Bhagavad Gita study. Not only that, but they also performed a short skit and recited different Gita slokas.
Gita Jayanti was the occasion that brought me here to Geneva for a small festival with the local devotees. It was very inspiring to dive deep into the teachings of the Gita and spend several hours studying and discussing the Lord's teachings. The glories of this sacred text are beautifully expressed in the Gita-Mahatmya:
„One can become free from contamination by taking bath with water every day, but if one takes bath even once only in the sacred waters of Mother Gita, all the impurities of samsara are destroyed. / Comparing all the Upanishads as a cow, Krishna the son of the cowherd chief is the milkman, Arjuna, the son of Pritha, is the calf, and the intelligent people will enjoy the great nectar of Bhagavad Gita as the milk.“
Such is the Gita. We might take a „bath“ in this holy book by deeply studying its meaning and thereby we are able to relish the teachings of Krishna just like tasty milk. But what is the qualification to understand and relish this sacred text? One needs to be free from envy and one should at least theoretically accept that this wisdom was spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In other words, devotion, bhakti, is required to really enter the deeper meaning of the Gita.
„Bhagavad-Gita cannot be understood by so-called scholars by academic degrees. One has to become a devotee of Krishna. One has to become a friend or some way related to Krishna. Then it is possible to understand Bhagavad-Gita. Otherwise, it is impossible. My Guru Maharaja used to say that one who is licking up the bottle of honey. He is thinking that "I am licking honey," but that is impossible. Similarly, the so-called scholars when they comment on Bhagavad-Gita, they are licking up the bottle of honey. The taste of honey is different. That taste one can get when the bottle is opened (..) If one is satisfied by licking up the bottle of honey, without tasting it. Then is he, not a fool?“ 1
And here we can see the glories of Srila Prabhupada`s Bhagavad Gita As it is. Srila Prabhupada had opened the bottle of honey and relished it fully and therefore was able to present its meaning in a very powerful way. There have been many Gita translations into English before Prabhupada came to the west, but it was only after Prabhupada explained Bhagavad Gita to the western world that people on a large scale began to live according to the Bhagavad Gita. It was Srila Prabhupada's expertise to present Krishna's teaching as it is and his personal example how to apply this wisdom that has transformed the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people all over the world.
Following in Srila Prabhupada's footsteps we should not only study, relish and distribute the Gita's message, but also dedicate our lives to become a living example of its meaning.
Once a proud scholar approached Srila Prabhupada and proclaimed: „Swamiji, I can recite the whole Bhagavad Gita within forty-five minutes“ Srila Prabhupada immediately challenged the puffed up man saying: „Oh, very good…But can you live for two minutes according to the teachings of Bhagavad Gita?“ 2
Today on Gita Jayanti, the auspicious day that Bhagavad Gita was spoken five thousand years ago, we may ask ourselves as well: „How much have I understood and realized the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita?” Yes: „The Soul has no birth or death, the soul is eternal. We are not the body, we are the spiritual soul“ But to what extent am I living my life according to the Gita’s teachings? Have I actually opened the bottle of honey?
1 - SB Lecture 7.6.1 - 9.April 1969 New York 2 - Srila Prabhupada’s Memories Series