Sunday, January 29, 2012

Discovering Geeta

The new year experience this year (2012) has been quite revealing during a visit to Arsha Bodha Center in New Jersey. 

There is Swami Tadatmananda, an American engineer turned a Swami, trained in traditional Indian style of learning from the guru. This session was about Shanti Path where a gathering of some 500+ people chanted many Vedic shlokas wishing peace and happiness for ALL.

What was remarkable was that the audience a) sung these, and b) with the correct pronunciation. Sanskrit means elegant. And well sung Sanskrit is magically beautiful. And all these verses were wishing peace and happiness for ALL.

Then I went to the website of the Center and downloaded the many lectures of the Swami. I started listening to his talks on the Geeta (Shreemad Bhagwadgeeta). He makes the audience sing the verses (which, I realized for the first time, were in in the right technical meter). His explanations are clear and logical. In fact, I have heard some Indians talk about Geeta but this was the clearest and quite easy to relate to. He has even translated Geeta into English in the rhythmic meter.

He related an anecdote of participating in Geeta Jayanti (the Geeta Day!) where participants gathered and recited the full Geeta. By that time the Swami had mastered Sanskrit enough to understand it fully. The verses are so powerful that he said he had tears flowing from his eyes. Tears in these experiences are an expression of pure feeling from the soul. I have heard some Muslim scholars talking of similar tears when they had an occasion to visit the Qaba.

Swami's translation into English should hopefully give a similar feeling to those comfortable in English.

I have heard several of his lectures already and its been such a joy! I realize how my thoughts have got somewhat western in terms of study and learning techniques. Listening to and chanting Sanskrit is absolutely elegant. Highly recommended.

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