Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan | 25-27 August 2016
A three-day interaction with Sri M was organized in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai from 25 to 27 August 2016. As the city celebrated Janmashtami and Dahihandi, Sri M explained the essence of Bhakti Yoga, signified in the dialogues between Sri Krishna, the Teacher and Arjuna, the Seeker. After a documentary film on The Walk of Hope, Prof Sureshchandra A. Upadhyaya, veteran Sanskrit scholar and Director, Sanskrit Studies and Research, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, felicitated Sri M.
People from all walks of life and from varied backgrounds attended – from students to bureaucrats, from corporates to doctors, actors, and artistes. Mrs. Valsa Nair Singh, Chief Secretary Tourism; Mr. Gopal Shetty, Member of Parliament; Mrs.Mariwalla, Marico Industries; and Mr. Madhavan Nair, Chairman Emeritus of the Hitachi group were some of the dignitaries.
Academicians and artistes included Dr. Leena Londhe, Department of Sanskrit Mumbai University; Dr. Ramasubramaniam Krishnamoorthy; Smt. Alamelu Mani (Vocalist); and Kalaimamani Guru Kalyanasundaram. Physicians included Dr. Palonde, Breach Candy Hospital; Dr. Samir Apte; and Dr Gajanan Dhanipkar. Actors and writers included Mrs. Supriya Pilgaonkar Ms. Bharti Achrekar Ms. Medha Manzrekar, Sri Mukul Shankar Abhyankar, Guruji Prem Nirmal, and Dr. Guruji Chintamani Rahatekar.
Sri M’s Address
The twenty shlokas of the 12th chapter of the Bhagvad Gita were explained, in reference to The Mahabharata and other preceding Adhyayas. Special emphasis was given to the Vishvaroopdarshan-Yoga, referenced in the 11th chapter, where the seeker of Truth encounters the reality of a larger intelligence, thus paving the way for surrender of the individual self.
Sri M said, “Gita, I believe is the path that takes us towards unity and reality.” He explained why he chooses to begin with the 12th chapter, the Bhakti Yoga. When one has exhausted the potential of reaching the Truth through absolute reliance on intellect, the intellect surrenders, opening the doors to grace. Sri M pointed out that, in present times, it is difficult for the intellect to recognize its limitations.
While interpreting the shlokas of Bhakti-Yoga, Sri M guided the seeker of Truth beyond the dichotomy of Nirguna and Saguna Bhakti. Both the seemingly varied approaches were merged in the Heart Chakra and linked with Dhyana Yoga and Abhyasa. Sri M’s interpretation was to connect the Truth of The Gita to the essential Truth inherent in all spiritual approaches. He remarked that a few are naturally gifted to be in a state of meditation, for others he underlined the importance of Abhyasa.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita is one Vedantic text that has been commented upon by scholars and sages over the centuries. These commentaries have gained their distinction, according to the context in which these were interpreted. What is of prime significance here is that Sri M’s interpretation belongs to the class of commentators who connect the Truth of Gita to the essential Truth of all spiritual approaches. His Satsang on Bhakti Yoga drew upon teachings from Nath Panth, Zen, and Christian traditions. Just as Sri M’s padayatra called Walk of Hope is rooted in the oneness of all religions and spiritual traditions, his interpretation of Bhakti Yoga too invoked all seekers to listen and adhere to this ancient Truth. The talk relied on stories and anecdotes, so much so that the secrets of Bhakti Yoga were simple enough for everyone to grasp.
Sri M referred to the Bhagavad Gita as being the most approachable of the Vedantic trilogy – the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, and the Gita. He said that Veda Vyasa is supposed to have authored the Srimad Bhagavad Gita – the Song celestial – and Adi Shankracharya’s commentaries are the earliest available today. He commented that its present format in terms of number of Adhyayas and Shlokas was probably a gift from Adi Shankaracharya but he also added that some Acharyas have questioned this.