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GEETA ASHRAM MALAYSIA

Founder President:
H.H. Swami Hari Har Ji Maharaj


MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE 2014-2016

President:
Shri Chandru Binwani

Deputy President:
Datuk Fateh Chand

Vice Presidents:
Shrimati Tangamani Menon
Dato Ramesh Kodammal

Honorary General Secretary:
Shrimati Usha Devi

Honorary Assistant Secretary:
Shrimati Vanita Rani

Honorary Treasurer:
Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot

Honorary Assistant Treasurer:
Dr Thilla Chelliah

Committee Members:
Shri Mahadev Lalchand
Shri Prabhat Kumar
Shri Tilak Raj Sharma
Shrimati Asha Devi
Shrimati Sarinder Kumari
Shri Kishan Kumar Agarwal
Shri Rajani Kumar Naidu
Ms Anjanna Kukreja
Shri Jagmohan Kumar
Shri Hetish Sharma


EDITORIAL BOARD

Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot
Shrimati Tangamani Menon


FEEDBACK

E-mail: drbhanot@bhanot.net



SACRED THOUGHT
September 2014       Volume 42 Issue 3
For internal circulation only


Contents

Contents
Building Renovations: Update and Appeal
Editorial Note
Bhagavad Geeta: All 18 Chapters by Swami Hari Harji
From the President's Desk: Geeta Dham
The Suitcase
Lessons from the Geeta (18)
Geeta for Beginners: Who Am I?
Moksha
True Spirituality
Main Characters of the Mahabharata Part 2
Janmashtami 2014: Pictorial Highlights
Child Speaker: Nikhil Pandey
Bhajan Video with Lyrics: Radha Dhoondh Rahi
Recipe: Gulab Jamun
Major Upcoming Events
Recent and Upcoming Activities
Fundraising Dinner in Pictures

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The views and opinions expressed in the eSacredThought magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the Editorial Board or the Management Committee of Geeta Ashram Malaysia.


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Geeta Ashram
Building Renovations
 

Progress Report as at 20 September 2014

The extended building is taking shape. It's beginning to acquire the looks of a beautiful temple, combining the modern and the traditional.

Plastering work on the exterior has been completed. Plastering work in the first floor rooms is in progress. Tiling, plumbing and plaster ceiling works are still pending.

These renovations will accomodate a more spacious prayer hall, a larger dining hall, two classrooms, a library, a new office, a conference room and twelve dormitories for visitors. The upgraded building will boast state-of-the-art facilities and modern decor.
 
We thank all donors who have contributed generously towards the Geeta Ashram Malaysia Building Renovation Fund. We appeal to all devotees and well-wishers to donate generously and to give their fullest support towards making this project a reality. The following committee members can be contacted for further information:

1. Chandru Binwani+6 012-382 4228
2. Datuk Fateh Chand+6 019-239 3376
3. Dato Ramesh Kodammal+6 016-394 9800
3. Tangamani Menon+6 014-645 4799
4. Usha Devi+6 013-393 9858
5. Dr D K Bhanot+6 012-329 1216

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Geeta Ashram Building Renovations

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EDITORIAL NOTE

Font Size
In response to feedback from devotees, the font size has been increased by one point compared to previous issues. It is hoped that this will benefit those with less than normal eyesight.
 
Please note that you can also zoom into or out of the page by tapping on the '+' or '-' keys while holding down the 'Ctrl' key.
 
Pictures, Pictures and Pictures
They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words". So lots of pictures have been included in this issue to highlight the Janmashtami 2014 celebrations and the Building Renovations Fundraising Dinner.
 
Advertising in eSacredThought
Your electronic voice, the eSacredThought, will henceforth be accepting advertisements from sponsors and well-wishers at the following rates:

                                        Full page advertisement: RM1000.00
                                        Half page advertisement: RM500.00
                                        Page sponsorship: RM100.00 per page

Those who wish to advertise, sponsor or contribute in any other way can contact the President, Shri Chandru Binwani, at +6 012-382 4228.
 
Articles for eSacredThought
Those contributing material for inclusion in eSacredThought are reminded to keep their contributions short, preferably not more than two pages in length., and to vet their articles for correctness of language and substance.
 
Dr D K Bhanot


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Listen to
All 18 Chapters of the Bhagavad Geeta



Recited in his own melodious voice by
Swami Hari Harji Maharaj

6
FROM THE PRESIDENT'S DESK: GEETA DHAM

Emeritus Professor Dr. U. Prasad
President, Geeta Dham Trust
u_prasad@hotmail.com

It is generally believed that Lord Shree Krishna's advent in this world took place on the 8th day of Krishna-paksha (dark-fortnight) of the month of Bhadrapada, which according to English calendar fell on the mid-night of 17 July 3227 B.C., in the prison-cell in Mathura, bound by heavy iron-bars, in the very presence of mother Devaki and father Shree Vasudevji. Thus 5,241 years and one month have passed. This day has been considered a very auspicious one and revered as such.

Geeta devotees worldwide in particular, and a vast number of other people in the world somehow associated with Lord Shree Krishna in general, celebrated one of the greatest festivals (maha-parva), Shree Krishna Janmashtami, this year on the 18th /19th August. Although the word "janma" in janmaashtami, means "birth" and often people mention that they are celebrating the birthday of Lord Shree Krishna, the fact is that He is UNBORN (aja), IMMORTAL (avyayaatmaa), and also LORD OF ALL BEINGS (bhootaanaam ishwarah). He manifests Himself through His own Yogmayaa (divine potency), keeping His Nature (prakriti) under His control. Chapter IV verse 6 reads:

ajo 'pi sann avyayaatmaa bhutaanaam ishwaro 'pi san
prakritim svaam adhishthaaya sambhavaamy aatmamaayayaa

As such, it is desirable that we call this (janmashtami) day, not janma-divas but praakatya-divas, the day of theLord's incarnation, the day the Lord took upon Himself to take human form.

Looking at the above-mentioned verse, there are 6 specific things that the Lord has pointed out:

(A) Three pertaining to Himself: (1) That He is unborn or without birth, (2) That He is immortal and (3) That He is the Lord of the Universe.

(B) Two pertaining to His power: (1) His YOGMAYA or Divine potency and (2) His power to control His NATURE, and

(C) One pertaining to the act of His appearance, the INCARNATION.


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Ascertaining the above fact, one of the greatest devotees and a close associate of Lord Shree Krishna, Shree Uddhavaji, has provided this description in his prayer to Krishna:

Tvam brahma paramama vyoma purushah prakrite pare
Avateernoshi bhagwan svecchopaat prathakvapuh
(Shreemadbhaagvat)

"You are the supreme un-manifest Brahma beyond the control of nature yet;
O Lord, you descend to this mortal world taking a form through your own accord."

Sage Goswaami Tulsidaasji has sung the glory of the Lord in his own way. He writes:

vipra dhenu sur sant hit, linha manuj avatar;
nij ichha nirmit tanu, maayaa gun gopaar
(Ramcharitmaanas)

"Lord incarnated Himself in the form of a human being for the sake of Brahmin, cow, gods and saints, through His own will power having controlled His own nature."

Lord Shree Krishna Himself has mentioned In the Geeta (Chapter IV verse 9):

janma karma ca me divyam

"My birth is DIVINE."

It is not the usual or normal way of taking birth, and who can know this better that mother Devaki herself? When Lord Shree Krishna appeared before mother Devaki in the prison-cell He was in full extraordinary Divine form having four arms each bedecked with celestial conch, chakra, mace and lotus. The reference can be read in Shree Bhagvatam:

upsamhaar vishvaatma, adyoroopamlaukukam
Sankh, chakra, gadaa, padma shreeyutsam chaturbhujam

Divine souls, while we celebrate specifically on one day in a year, it should be our endeavour to experience the incarnation of the Lord taking place every day, and to keep praying to the Lord for the well-being of ALL.

JAI SHREE KRISHNA, JAI GURUDEV

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THE SUITCASE

A man died, and soon he saw God approaching with a suitcase in His hand.
God said: Alright son, its time to go. No need to do any packing. I have your suitcase.
The man was surprised: Now? So soon? I had so many plans ... so many loose ends to tie up ...

God: I'm sorry but its time to go.
Man: What's do you have in that suitcase?
God: Everything of yours. All your belongings.
Man: My belongings? You mean all my things - my clothes, my money?
God: No son, those things were never yours - they belonged to the earth.
Man: My memories?
God: Those never belonged to you - they belonged to Time.
Man: My talents?
God: Those were never yours - they belonged to the circumstances.
Man: My friends? My family?
God: I'm sorry son, they were never yours - they belonged to the path.
Man: My wife and son?
God: They were never really yours - they belonged to your heart.
Man: Then it must be my body.
God: Even that was never yours - it belonged to the dust.
Man: Is it my soul?
God: No, that is mine.
Full of fear, the man hesitantly took the suitcase from God and opened it to find it completely empty.

With a tear rolling down his cheek, the man said: I never had anything???
God: That's correct - only each moment you lived was yours. Life is just full of moments ... moments that belong to you. So live your life fully while you have these moments. Don't let anything that you think belongs to you stop you from living your life with joy. Try to be happy - don't get so attached to your material possessions, and don't be so full of selfish expectations in everything you do. Material possessions and everything else that you accumulate during those moments called life will remain here. YOU CAN'T TAKE THEM ALONG. Your suitcase appears empty, but if you look carefully in the side-pockets you'll find the KARMAs accumulated by your actions during your lifetime - you came with a baggage of karmas, and you leave with a baggage of karmas, nothing else ...

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LESSONS FROM THE GEETA (18)
by Shri Ashok Lal Bherumal
"Even the wise are at great loss to know what is action and what is inaction. Therefore, I shall expound to you the truth about action, knowing which , you will be freed from its evil effects (binding nature)." (Ch.4 vs. 16)

Now comes the real problem. What exactly constitutes right action? Shri Krishna says even the wise people do not really understand the secret of right action! Therefore let the scriptures be your guide. The highest authority being God, Krishna says here there are two aspects to action: action and inaction (Karma versus Akarma). When you understand the difference between these two, and rightfully apply that understanding in your life, you will be free from the evil effect of action. Therefore acquire this knowledge and let it guide your actions (for knowledge is of no use if it is not put into practice) and you will not accumulate any karmic effect (the after-effects of every action). Thus, you will not be affected by the result of your actions. The only reason we continue to suffer is because of our wrong actions, and the karmic debt incurred that we have to pay back in this life or the next life. That is why we continue to take birth after birth. Therefore, to be free from this cycle of birth and death we must understand which action is subject to reaction and which action is not subject to reaction. As long as there is a reaction (whether positive or negative) we have to take another birth to suffer or enjoy the effects of our own actions. One important point to note here is that God does not punish or reward us. By our very own actions we create an effect (just like a pebble thrown into a pond of water creates ripples). God merely allocates the type of result, when, where and how it should be given. He keeps track of all the good and bad that we do (as the all-knowing silent witness within us), then metes out the rewards or punishments accordingly. Understanding this concept means that we learn to accept our trials and tribulations as our own doings and not just end up being angry or blaming God for what is happening. A total shift in internal attitude is needed.

"The truth about action must be known; and the truth about prohibited action must be known; even so, the truth about inaction must be known; for mysterious are the ways of action." (Ch.4 vs. 17)

Thus, Shri Krishna divides all actions into three categories: action (karma), prohibited action (vikarma) and inaction (akarma). One should seek to know the difference in these three types of actions because says Krishna "mysterious are the ways of action".

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We see people doing good and suffering through life. We also see others engaging in evil actions and yet prospering in life! It can be very discouraging to follow the spiritual path and yet face hardships. To understand what action, reaction and life is all about, our scriptures tell us about the following three types of "KARMA":
1) Sanchit - Our total warehouse of karmas - reactions of our very own actions which are stored and yet to bear fruit;
2) Prarabdha - From the warehouse (sanchit), part of our karmas are allocated for this current life. What we are born as (human, plant, animal, etc), our environment (locality, family, etc.), our condition (healthy, sick, rich, poor) and many other factors are predetermined at birth by our prarabdha karmas. Only when all the prarabdha karmas are exhausted does one's life come to an end.
3) Agami - These are our present actions, being performed now out of our own choice and free will, for which we can suffer the consequences in this birth or they can be stored (in Sanchit) for expression in subsequent births.

Thus, we may be doing good now (which is Agami karma) by our own free will and yet we may be suffering (through the Prarabdha karmas allotted to this life) due to our past actions. The good that we are doing now will be rewarded (the law of karma is perfect) but we do not know when. Due to ignorance we equate our present sufferings with our present actions, and thus get confused on how life (or God) is treating us. Thus, Krishna says that the truth must be known!

"He, who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise among men; he is a Yogi who has accomplished all action." (Ch.4 vs. 18)

Here, Krishna explains about action and inaction without touching on prohibited action - we do not really need lessons on what are prohibited actions! Charitable work is labelled as good action. But that's only the physical aspect of the action. What about the associated mental action - the motive - which we are unable to see? "See" here means to perceive with the intellect, not just the physical eye. The Law of Karma takes into consideration the motive behind an action when meting out the consequences. We should understand and analyse our motive in performing our actions. Actions done with a selfish motive or expectation will cause mental agitation because:
  • when that expectation is met, it only creates more expectations which eventually get beyond your ability to satisfy them, finally driving you to use illegitimate means.
  • when expectations are not met, they create frustration, agitation, and depression.

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So the motive of our actions, whether worldly or spiritual, must purify the mind, taking us closer to God. As we act in this manner, the result may or may not be favourable to us. We have to accept every result as a divine gift from the Lord and as a lesson in life, and we have to find strength through prayer in acceptance of the result. This is not a defeatist attitude - when handled with knowledge, it is a very positive attitude, preventing adverse circumstances from overwhelming us through our faith anchored in God.

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother" Khalil Gibran. One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, and knows the difference between these two, is the wise person:
Inaction in action: The physical body is doing all types of action, but the mind is in inaction - the mind is free from selfish desires.
Action in inaction: The physical body is seen to be inactive, but the mind is full of selfish desires and negative thoughts which will invariably lead us to perform actions motivated by these selfish desires.

So, even when we seem to be doing good actions, we are spiritually judged by our selfish thoughts - ego, greed, jealousy, pride, etc. For this, the Lord, being the all-knowing principle, is the best judge and record-keeper! Thus, one who understands the true nature of action knows how to check his or her motives and is able to act accordingly. Such a person is called a Yogi. A Yogi is not a spiritual guru but one who performs all the right actions - taking him or her closer to God.




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THE GEETA FOR BEGINNERS: WHO AM I ?
by Shree Peter Ganglani, Geeta Ashram Canada

First of all, we need to accept that we are separate from our bodies ... we are souls residing in this dress called the body! We need to realise and accept this basic truth. Bhagwan Shree Krishna says that "this soul residing in the bodies can never be slain...":

Dehee nityama vadhyo_yam | Dehe sarvasya bhaarata (BG2:30)

Thinking about this rationally, a body without consciousness is a 'dead body'. As soon as Consciousness leaves the body, the mouth will not speak, the eyes cannot see and the ears cannot hear! But, what is this Consciousness? Just as heat and smoke are symptoms of fire, Consciousness is a symptom of the soul. The energy of the soul (the True Self) is projected in the form of Consciousness. The very existence of Consciousness is proof of the Soul's presence in the body. The soul is distinct from the body, and the body remains animate as long as the soul is present within it.

Since we cannot perceive the soul through our gross senses, we have a tendency to ignore it. But, come to think about it, there are so many things that are there which we cannot perceive. Just because we cannot see bacteria, radio waves, air, etc. does it mean that they don't exist? Similarly, just because the Soul is not perceived by our senses does not mean that it does not exist in reality.

Bhagwan Shree Krishna points out that all our miseries are due to false identification with the body. The senses always desire objects of worldly pleasure! Under various conditions the body and mind feel happiness or distress.

maatraa_sparshaas_tu kaunteya | sheetoshna sukha_dukhadaa_ha
aagamaa_paayino_nityaas | taamsti tikshasva bhaarata
(BG2:14)

Translation: Contacts of the senses with their objects, giving rise to feelings of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are transitory and fleeting. Therefore, endure them, O Arjun!

indreeyaa_naam_hi chara_taam | yan_manonu vidhee_yate
tadasya_harati prag_yaam | vaayur_naava mivaam_bhasi
(BG2:67)

Translation: The wandering senses, to which the mind is attached, take away its discrimination in the same way as the wind carries away a barge upon the waters!

We must learn to control the senses. Bodily pleasure is flickering & intoxicating but, being transitory in nature, such pleasure cannot last forever. Change is inevitable!

Real and permanent pleasure can only be found in the Soul, which has peace, love and happiness as its 'inherrent' qualities! In order to be established in the Consciousness of the Soul, we need to divert our attention from this garment called the body!


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bhogaish_varya prasaktaa_naam | tayaa_pahrita cheta_saam
vyavasaa_yaat mikaa_budhi_hi | samaadhau_na vidhee_yate
(BG2:44)

Translation: Those who are attached to pleasure and power, and those whose minds are carried away by such flowery speech, cannot attain determined intellect which leads to one-pointedness in God.

trai_gunya vishayaa_vedaa | nistrai_gunyo bhavaa_rjuna
nirdvandvo nitya_satvash_tho | niryogak_shema aatmavaan
(BG2:45)

Translation: The Vedas enumerate the three attributes (gunas) of prakriti. Transcend these gunas, Arjun, and free yourself from dualities; be established in purity, unconcerned for acquisition and preservation, with your mind fully under control.

Bhagwan Shree Krishna tells Arjun to free himself from all dualities, and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and to be firmly established in his Self! The body and our senses must be controlled in order for us to reach the highest perfection. Bhagwan Shree Krishna further emphasises the fact that we are not the body:

anta_vanta ime dehaa | nitya_syoktah shari_ree_naha
anaashino_aprame yasya | tasmaad_dyu_dhyasva bhaarata
(BG2:18)

Translation: It is said that these 'bodies' of the Soul which is eternal and indestructible and incomprehensive, come to an end. Therefore fight, O Arjun!

gunaa_netaana teetya_treen | dehee_deha samud_bhavaan
janma_mrityu jaraa_dukhair | vimukto mrita_mashnu_te
(BG14:20)

Translation: When the dweller in the body has overcome the three Gunas out of which the body is evolved, he is freed from birth and death, decay and pain, and attains immortality.

In other words, this body is a result of the interaction of the 3 modes of material nature and it is doomed for destruction! So, rather than putting so much emphasis on the body, we need to focus on the True Self and direct ourselves towards spirituality. The path is not at all easy, but with faith and practice, it's achievable by His Grace! The path to self-realisation, which is a little difficult at the beginning, leads to true happiness:

yat_tadagre visha_miva | pari_naame mritopa_mam
tat_sukham saatvikam proktam | aatma_budhi prasaada_jam
(BG18:37)

Translation: That happiness, which is like poison in the beginning but like nectar in the end, is Sattvic (pure) in nature and leads to blissful knowledge of the Self.


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MOKSHA
An essay written by Dr Diljeet Kumar Bhanot
as an end-of-semester assignment for the Oxford University Online Course on Hinduism

Many a time we hear individuals justify their indulgent lifestyle with statements like "You only live once, so you might as well make the best of it". Such individuals, blatantly displaying arrogance and ignorance (avidya), are likely to go through life without an inkling of who they really are.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjun that “the embodied atman (soul) passes through childhood, youth and old age, and then acquires a different body” [BG 2.13]. This eternal and indestructible atman is the true Self of the individual, the physical body being only a temporary abode. The atman does not perish with the death of the physical body. It transmigrates to occupy another body, and reincarnates in accordance with the law of karma.

The atman is entrapped in a cycle of deaths and rebirths (samsara), a source of great suffering. Lord Krishna refers to rebirth as “miserable and temporary” [BG 8.15], and he describes this world as “devoid of happiness” [BG 9.33]. He also mentions “the problem inherent in the misery of birth, death, old age and disease” [BG 13.8].

Only after 8,400,000 births does the atman finally occupy a human body, offering it a chance to escape from the cycle of rebirths. It is up to the individual to grab this golden opportunity to attain liberation instead of trying to “make the best of it” indulging in illusionary material pleasures.

Moksha, literally meaning “release”, is the Sanskrit word for this liberation from the cycle of rebirths. Another Sanskrit word, mukti, may be used interchangeably. Moksha can be envisaged as a state of ultimate bliss (shanti), ultimate knowledge (viveka), and ultimate enlightenment (kaivalya).

The Bhagavad-gita is essentially a moksha-shastra, a spiritual instruction manual on how to attain moksha without compromising on one's dharmic duty. Starting off as a counselling session by Lord Krishna for a despondent Arjuna, persuading him to fulfill his duties as a kshatriya, it goes on to become a full discourse for mankind on the realities and truths that lie shrouded in ignorance. It addresses a whole range of philosophical and ethical issues, specifically tackling the subject of pursuing the goal of moksha while leading an active life in this world.

Drawing heavily on the spiritual knowledge of the ancient Upanishads, the Bhagawad-gita analyses the constituents of the Universe, making a distinction between the spiritual and material elements. The spiritual component, comprising the Supreme Being and the individual atman, is non-manifest, all-pervasive, inconceivable and eternal, while the material component, which includes the human body, is temporary, subject to change and perceptible to the senses.

The relationship between the Supreme Being and the embodied atman has been interpreted differently by the various schools of Hindu philosophy. This ranges from the


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concept of total identity (advaita) to that of total distinction (dvaita). The ultimate goal of the atman is to attain moksha.

The Advaitins view moksha as the removal of the veil of ignorance to acquire knowledge of the true nature of the Self and its identity with the Supreme Being. The Dvaitins, on the other hand, regard moksha as either a union of the atman with the Supreme Being or the entry of the atman into the abode of the Supreme Lord. In any case, the liberated soul becomes free of karmic bondage and enjoys total bliss and tranquillity.

Lord Krishna gives a fairly comprehensive discourse on the paths leading to moksha. An aspirant's choice of path depends on his personal inclinations in life as dictated by his inherent nature (sva-bhava) which is determined by his past karmas.

The true Self, bound to the physical body through attachment to action via the interplay of the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas, must transcend all three gunas to attain the spiritual goal. But the process becomes somewhat easier if the individual is predominated by the sattva-guna, characterised by purity and goodness, because most of the requirements of the paths to moksha are sattvic in nature.

The four main paths to moksha comprise karma-yoga (action), jnana-yoga (knowledge), dhyana-yoga (meditation) and bhakti-yoga (devotion). In different parts of the Bhagawad-gita, Lord Krishna places different levels of emphasis on each of these paths. They are not to be viewed as absolutely independent and separate pathways, but rather as multiple inter-connected lanes of a single broad highway leading to the highest spiritual goal.

Karma-yoga is the performance of proper action in a mood of detachment, with equanimity in the face of success or failure [BG 2.48], and without motivation by selfish desire. The yogin is expected to be involved in a life of austerity, pilgrimage, charity and spiritually motivated yajńa. The mind and senses must be fully controlled and disconnected from the sense-objects. Attachment to worldly pleasure and power, and preoccupation with the sense-objects and personal desires hinders spiritual progress [BG 2.44]. The karma-yogin, as a neutral observer of his actions, must not seek the fruits of his actions.

Developing an attachment for avoiding action goes against the spirit of karma-yoga.[BG 2.47]. Inaction motivated by personal desire is without spiritual benefit and produces a result, thus being subject to the law of karma.

The Bhagavad-gita differentiates karma-yoga from karma, the latter being action motivated by desire, with attachment to the fruits of action and subject to the law of karma. One's mental attitude and state of consciousness is more crucial a factor than the nature of the action itself in distinguishing between karma-yoga and karma.

The karma-yogin is free of both virtue (sukrita) and sin (dushkrita) [BG 2.50], and thus breaks free from the control of the law of karma. A deluded mind thinks that “I am the doer”, but one who has realised the true Self knows that all human actions are ultimately performed by the interaction of the gunas, which are inherent in prakriti (matter) [BG 3.27].


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Performing the Vedic rituals and sacrifices (yajna) with spiritual rather than material motivation is also considered a form of karma-yoga. The word yajna refers to sacrifices performed not only with objects (dravya) but also through religious austerities and vows, yoga techniques, knowledge and recitation of the sacred texts, and pranayama (regulation of the breath) [BG 4.28 – 4.29].

The jnana-yogin endeavours to acquire higher knowledge of the atman as the true Self of the individual, the identity of the atman and the Supreme Being, and the existence of one absolute Reality (brahman). Lord Krishna says that “when you have acquired this knowledge, you never again fall prey to illusion and you will see that all living beings are within your own self and moreover within me” [BG 4.35]. The quest for knowledge of the inner reality requires faith, dedication, detachment from desire and anger, and absolute control over the mind and senses [BG 4.39, 5.26]. The Bhagawad-gita refers to the gaining of higher knowledge as jnana-yajna, a form of spiritual sacrifice far superior to dravya-yajna which involves sacrifice with physical objects [BG 4.33]. This higher knowledge is acquired through submission, inquiry and humble service from a suitably qualified guru (teacher). [BG 4.34].

The reclusive path of dhyana-yoga is the art and science of meditation and inner tranquillity. Prior practice of karma-yoga moulds a state of mind that is more conducive for practising dhyana-yoga. Renunciation is an inherent feature of dhyana-yoga, requiring the yogin to withdraw his consciousness from worldly ambitions. He has to disengage his mind and senses from the external material world and redirect his attention inwards to directly perceive the inner reality of the atman as his true Self. “Thus finding satisfaction within the atman, the yogin experiences unlimited joy and bliss” [BG 6.18 – 6.22]. The Bhagawad-gita describes the techniques of meditation and inward contemplation which involve sensual restraint, virtuous conduct, asana (posture), pranayama (regulated breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (regulation of the mind) and dhyana (focussing of the mind on the atman) to attain samadhi (state of enlightenment with different perception of existence).

Bhakti is absolute devotion for the Supreme Deity. It involves practising meditation and worship with undeviating and unconditional love for the Supreme Being. Lord Krishna regards bhakti-yoga as the best spiritual path, invoking his divine grace by which the devotee is ultimately granted moksha, thus exempting the devotee from the intense personal effort required in pursuing the other paths. Lord Krishna says that “only those who surrender to me cross beyond this divine maya of mine consisting of the gunas” [BG 7.14], and “for those who are devoted to me, dedicating all their actions to me, meditating on me and worshipping me through single-pointed yoga, I become their Uplifter from the ocean of death and rebirth, for their consciousness is absorbed in me” [BG 12.6–12.7]. He points out that “one who performs his deeds for me, dedicates himself to me as my devotee, remains free of attachments and has no hatred for any living being will come to me” [BG11.55].

By learning and knowing the truth about the birth and activities of the Supreme Deity, one can advance towards the goal of moksha [BG 4.9]. Similarly, by remembering the Supreme Deity and reciting “om” at the time of death, one becomes eligible for liberation. Thus, it is imperative to condition oneself to fix the mind on the Supreme Deity at all times.


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Desire, anger and egoism, resulting from ignorance, are the main stumbling blocks along the path to moksha. Desire, arising from the rajas-guna, is a “great source of sin” [3.37]. “Dwelling in the senses, the mind and the intellect, desire covers true knowledge to create delusion, thus posing a threat to one who possesses or is in pursuit of knowledge” [3.39-3.40]. Desire can be subdued by regulating the senses and understanding one's inner Self.

Spiritual progress is cumulative and is never lost, but one's endeavour to achieve moksha may extend over several lifetimes, moving steadily towards the final goal. The Bhagavad-gita says that “there is nothing to lose in this attempt and neither can there be any failure for even a slight engagement in this dharma frees one from great danger” [BG 2.40].

The Bhagwad-gita says that “Even whilst they are still in this world, persons whose minds are fixed in a state of equanimity conquer the process of creation. Brahman is free of blemish and always the same, and so they are situated in brahman” [BG 5.19]. This suggests that moksha can be attained by some individuals even in this very life (jivanmukti).

For such an enlightened individual (jivanmukta), the ignorance shrouding the inner self has been destroyed by higher knowledge [BG 5.16]. He does not grieve over worldly sorrows, and remains untouched by the joys of life. He is free of passion, fear, anger, egoism, delusion, duality, anxiety, desire, attachment, hatred, jealousy and contempt. The enlightened person does not delight in pleasures arising from sensual contacts [BG 5.22].

Lord Krishna reaffirms that “one whose happiness is within, whose pleasure is within and whose light is within attains the state of brahma-nirvana” [BG 5.24]. Such a person takes delight in the welfare of all beings [BG 5.25]. The jivanmukta continues to perform his duties towards his body, his family and society, but without any desire, attachment or anxiety. Recognising that the atmans of all other living beings are non-different from his own, he shows compassion and unconditional love for all.

The jivanmukta thus exists in a transcendental state while still living in this material world. When the jivanmukta dies he achieves videhamukti without entailing any further spiritual liberation.

The Bhagawad-gita refrains from any concrete discussion about the actual nature of moksha. Nor does Lord Krishna talk specifically about the form or state in which one exists after attaining moksha. This could possibly be due to the subject being beyond the reach of the human mind. He does, however, frequently touch on the issue by referring to the state of Krishna's own existence, a joyful state of utter bliss from which there is no return to the miseries of samsara.

Blinded by ignorance, most human beings continue to seek illusionary goals of transient happiness in this material world while our inner Self, entrapped in the cycle of rebirths, seeks to escape from this misery. Lord Krishna has provided the means for the atman to seek and attain the eternal state of moksha. It is up to us to add some elements of the formula into our lives so that we can make steady cumulative spiritual progress towards that ultimate goal.


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TRUE SPIRITUALITY
by Swamiji Maharaj (translated by Dr Abhay Prasad)

Let there be, everyday, progress and improvement in our good thoughts, sattvic tendencies and divine endowments. Let the healthy body be the sanctified temple of the soul. Let us be wary and careful to avoid the blows of unnecessary illusions, petty desires, doubts and the web of maya (illusion). Let each of us become the observer of our mind, intellect and senses and increase our determination day by day and perform actions in accordance with the wishes of the Lord.

Let there be undiminished and unhindered motivation to spread the great knowledge of the Divine. Let there be healthy dedication to make and keep happy lakhs and crores of God's children.

This is the true application of Spirituality - to love the other person's life. There is no place for communal religions and stereotypes. Guidance comes from the Divine powers of spiritual life, driven by an internal consciousness.

There is no place for wealth, glory, poverty, etc. in the precious life of this individual. The truely spiritual person becomes an introvert and obtains internal bliss. Showing off, external worship, exhibitions of grandeur are abandoned by the spiritual person. He has no interest in satisfying his own desires and is the master of his senses. The spiritual person has an awareness of his Soul, and in his daily life develops total abandonment and yet achieves success. He is able to utilise fully his body, emotions, impulses and good thoughts. Such a person thus illumines his Soul, and does not get entangled in emotions and thoughts. He transcends these factors and understands their secrets. Becoming more adept in his work, he performs his duties wisely.

The eyes see the whole world but are not able to see themselves. It is only by self-introspection that spirituality can be practised and experienced perfectly. It cannot be taught in a classroom.

Every person, endowed with a Soul, should consider himself the centre of that omniscient power and should behave in the appropriate manner.

Verily, as this feeling becomes stronger and stronger, that much worldly power he shall be able to accumulate within himself. The effort to experience pure spiritual power in every moment is the entry-door of life. One should accept one's true identity as the Soul in every moment of one's existence and in one's daily life.


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MAIN CHARACTERS OF THE MAHABHARATA Part 2
Source: Vahini.org (adapted by Dr D K Bhanot)
KAMSA (or KANSA): Maternal uncle of Krishna who usurped the throne from his father, Ugrasena. He was killed by Krishna. Details of his life are found in the Bhagavata Purana.   Karna Eldest son of Kunti, sired by the Sun God; Friend of Duryodhana; Raised by a charioteer when his mother abandoned him at birth. Karna was a tremendous archer, famed for his generosity and loyalty. He pledged himself to Duryodhana and became an enemy of the Pandavas. Karna had a passionate rivalry and hatred for Arjuna in particular.
KRIPACHARYA: Teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas but ended up fighting for Kauravas. Son of the sage Saradvan, who was once practicing asceticism in the forest when he saw the apsara Janapadi. He passed semen, which fell into a clump of reeds, and a boy and girl were born from it. They were named Kripa and Kripi (sister married to Drona). The two children were found and brought to King Shantanu. Kripa was taught Dhanurveda, the martial arts, by his father, and he became one of the Kurus' martial teachers. Kripa survived the Kurukshetra war and counseled the Pandavas when they ruled the world. Later, they appointed him preceptor of their grandson and heir, Pariksit.
KRIPI: Twin sister of Kripacharya. Married to Drona.
KRISHNA: Incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who delivered Bhagavad Gita; ?cousin of Kunti; Friend, brother-in-law and Charioteer of Arjuna; Chief councilor of the Pandavas. Born to Devaki and Vasudeva in a prison cell, but brought up by Yashoda.
KUNTI: The Pandavas' mother. She was the sister of Vasudeva, Krishna's father. Her own father, Surasena, had given her as a baby to his close friend King Kuntibhoja, who had no children. She was named Pritha at birth, but became better known as Kunti after being raised by Kuntibhoja. She married Pandu.
KURU: Ancient king and founder of the Kuru dynasty. Due to his performance of sacrifice and asceticism at the site, the place known as Kurukshetra, named after Kuru, is considered sacred.
MADRI: Second wife of Pandu; Mother of Nakul and Sahdeva; daughter of King Shalya.
NAKULA: Son of Madri and Pandu, known for patience
PANDU: Younger brother of Dhritarastra; husband of Kunti; Father of the Pandavas; born to Vichitravirya's widow queen Ambalika (by Vyasa).
PARASARA: A powerful rishi, grandson of Vasishta, Father of Vyasa. Satyavati ferried the sage across a river and he was attracted by her beauty. Parasara asked if he could have union with her, promising that by his mystic power she would not lose her virginity. She agreed and they united on an island in the middle of the river, which Parasara shrouded from view by creating volumes of mist. Vyasa was born immediately, fully grown.
PARASHURAMA: A rishi said to be an empowered incarnation of Vishnu. He is famous for having annihilated all the kshatriyas of the world after his father, Jamadagni, had been killed by a kshatriya named Kartavirya. An expert in the Vedic military arts, Parashurama was the martial teacher of Bhishma, Drona and Karna.
PARIKSHIT: Posthumous son of Abhimanyu, heir of the Pandavas. Pariksit means 'the examiner', as the brahmins said he would come to examine all men in his search for the Supreme Lord, whom he saw while still an embryo in his mother's womb.
SAHADEVA: Second son of Madri and Pandu; The youngest Pandava. One of the two twin sons of Madri fathered by the Ashvini gods. He conquered southern Bharata before Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice. Famous for his perceptive powers and intelligence, he was appointed as Yudhisthira's personal advisor after the Kurukshetra war. Besides being married to Draupadî, he married a princess of Madra named Vijaya.
SATYAVATI (formerly MATSYAGANDHA): Mother of Vyasa (from the union with Parasara Rishi), Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Step-mother of Bhisma. She married Shantanu.
SANJAYA: Dhritarastra's charioteer and secretary. Although he belonged to the suta caste, he was a spiritually advanced disciple of Vyasa, who gave him the power to see the events during the Kurukshetra war. Consequently, he narrated all the battle scenes to Dhritarastra.
SHAKUNI:  Younger brother of Gandhari; maternal uncle of Duryodhana; An expert dice player.

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SHANTANU (or SANTANU): Great grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas; Father of Bhishma, Chitranga and Vichitravirya; Married to Ganga and Satyavati.
SISHUPALA: King of Chedi and an avowed enemy of Krishna. His mother got a boon from Krishna that he would forgive Shishupala a hundred times. Krishna killed him at Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice.
SUBHADRA: Krishna's sister (daughter of Devaki and Vasudeva). She married Arjuna and they had a son named Abhimanyu. Unlike her co-wife Draupadi, no details are given in the original text about how she ended her life.
UTTARA: Princess of Virata, pupil of Arjuna as Brihhannala (his disguised identity as the eunuch dance teacher during the Pandavas final year of exile). She married Abhimanyu and their son was named Parikshit.
VASUDEVA: Krishna's father, husband of Devaki.
VIDURA: Son of Vyasa and a palace maidservant; Brother to Dhritarstra and Pandu; counsel to the King of Hatinapur. Vidura was said to be an expansion of Yamaraja, the lord of justice. Once a rishi named Mandavya was mistaken for a robber. The king arrested and punished him by having him pierced by a lance. The sage later went to Yamarâja and asked why this had happened and was told that in his childhood he had pierced an insect with a blade of grass. Hearing that he had received punishment for a mistake made when he was still an ignorant child, the sage cursed Yamaraja to take birth on earth as a sűdra. Thus he became Vidura.
VIRATA: King of Matsya- where the Pandavas spent their final year of exile in disguise. Virata's daughter Uttara married Arjuna's son Abhimanyu and so Virata joined the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war. Drona killed him in the battle.
VYASA: The sage who authored the Mahabharata. Born from the union of Parasara Rishi and Satyavati, he is also known as Krishna Dwaipayana because he was born on an island and dark skinned. Father of Dhritarastra and Pandu. Grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas.
YUDHISTHIRA: Eldest Pândava, born from the union of Kunti and the god Dharma. Famous for his adherence to virtue and truth, he is also known as Dharmaraja, as well as Ajatashatru, which means "one who has no enemies." After the war he ruled the world for thirty-six years and was succeeded by Parikshit.
YUYUTSU: Son of Dhritrashtra with a Vaishya woman named Sughada. Conceived under the fear that Gandhari couldn't produce any children. As old as the Kaurava brothers. Only son of Dhritarashtra who survived the Kurukshetra war. After the war he was made the King of Indraprastha.


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JANMASHTAMI 2014
17 August 2014

PICTORIAL HIGHLIGHTS




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CHILD SPEAKER Nikhil Pandey 7 September 2014

Brahmapanam Brahma Havir Braahmagnau Brahmana Hutam
Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavya Brahmakarma Samadhinaha

Today I am going to speak on Verse 24 of Chapter 4 - a prayer to be recited before eating, a prayer for food. I have learned this verse since I joined Geeta Ashram. Honestly I barely say this verse because my mind always gets so tempted just waiting to get the delicious treat into my tummy. A kid doesn't really understand the importance of reciting this verse because everything we do seems to need a prayer to be done first. Why can't we just make life simple? God knows we need to eat and we know he exists within us. I don't understand. What if we are non-vegetarians? Do we recite this verse and then swallow a life we killed for our own satisfaction? How do I even recite this prayer in front of my friends or others if I am at a birthday party?

When I was sick my mom said "say your prayer and swallow the medicine so that you will not throw up". I felt bad that I had to say the prayer just to get well. I did it anyway, and it worked. I did not throw up. Finally mom told me not to feel bad as God understands, so whenever I can I should recite it silently in my heart before having my food if I don't want to do it in front of my friends. When I did not throw up after the medication, I realised that everything comes from Bhagwan. When we eat, or wear new clothes, we say this verse to remind ourselves that this is Bhagwan's Grace.

This verse is Brahmaparnam before taking food. When it is offered to Brahman, the food becomes sacrificial food or parsadam. It becomes sacred. It doesn't have any defect and all impurities are removed. I know now that it is very important to recite a prayer before eating because, like it is said in Geeta, "The act of offering in sacrifice is Brahman, the sacrificer himself is Brahman. Brahman verily he attains who realises the presence of Brahman in action". I know now that even at a party or in front of friends, I can say the prayer silently in my heart. I should not worry whether the food is vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

My teachers have taught me that every verse in the Geeta is important and very powerful. I really appreciate what I have learned, and with Bhagwan's grace I will keep learning more on the Bhagavad Geeta verses. Thank you very much to my dear Ashram teachers Uncle Chandru and Aunty Asha who are my guiding angels.

HARI AUM TAT SAT.


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BHAJAN VIDEO WITH LYRICS
Rădhă dhoondh rahi ...



RĂDHĂ DHOONDH RAHI

Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)
Shyăm dekhă Ghanshyăm dekhă (2)
Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)

Rădhă teră Shyăm hamne Mathură men dekhă (4)
Bansi bajăte huye o Rădhă teră Shyăm dekhă (2)
Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)

Rădhă teră Shyăm hamne Gokul men dekhă (4)
Gaiyăn charăte huye o Rădhă teră Shyăm dekhă (2)
Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)

Rădhă teră Shyăm Vrindăvan men dekhă (4)
Răs rachăte huye o Rădhă teră Shyăm dekhă (2)
Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)

Rădhă teră Shyăm hamne Jatipur men dekhă (4)
Parvat uthăte huye o Rădhă teră Shyăm dekhă (2)
Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)

Rădhă teră Shyăm sarva jagat men dekhă (4)
Rădhe Rădhe japte huye o Rădhă teră Shyăm dekhă (2)
Rădhă dhoondh rahi, kisine meră Shyăm dekhă (2)




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RECIPE: GULAB JAMUN
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Gulab-Jamun/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

A traditional Indian dessert of spongy milky balls soaked in rose-scented syrup. Delicious with fresh cream, kulfi, ice cream, etc. Make it even more fancy by sprinkling gold-leaf on top of each serving. This recipe will make 20 balls.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry milk powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), melted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tablespoon chopped almonds (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped pistachio nuts (optional)
1 tablespoon golden raisins (optional)
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 quart vegetable oil for deep frying
1 1/4 cups white sugar
7 fluid ounces water
1 teaspoon rose water
1 pinch ground cardamom

Method:
1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk powder, flour, baking powder, and cardamom. Stir in the almonds, pistachios and golden raisins. Mix in the melted ghee, then pour in the milk, and continue to mix until well blended. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
2. In a large skillet, stir together the sugar, water, rose water and a pinch of cardamom. Bring to a boil, and simmer for just a minute. Set aside.
3. Fill a large heavy skillet halfway with oil. Heat over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Knead the dough, and form into about 20 small balls. Reduce the heat of the oil to low, and fry the balls in one or two batches. After about 5 minutes, they will start to float, and expand to twice their original size, but the color will not change much. After the jamun float, increase the heat to medium, and turn them frequently until light golden. Remove from the oil to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool slightly.
4. Place the balls into the skillet with the syrup. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, squeezing them gently to soak up the syrup. Serve immediately, or chilled.


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GEETA ASHRAM MALAYSIA: Recent and Upcoming Activities
by Shrimati Tangamani Menon

Ongoing Activities
Everyday: A short pooja is performed at sunrise and sunset.
Tuesdays: 8.00-9.00 p.m. Hanuman Chalisa recitation (5 times) & related anecdotes by Panditji
Wednesdays: 7.30-9.00 p.m. Better Living Yoga Course for Householders from a holistic approach based on theoretical and practical aspects of the Patanjali Yoga system being offered by Ms. Nirmlah Dahvy.
Thursdays: 7.30-8.45 p.m. Bhagavad Geeta study and discussion classes in English by Mr. Ashok Bherumal.
Fridays: 7.30-8.30 p.m. Sanskrit classes by Panditji
Saturdays: 6.00-7.00 p.m. Hindi classes by Panditji   7.30-8.30p.m. Geeta Recitation classes by Panditji
Sundays: (a) 11.00 a.m.-1.00 p.m. Geeta satsang, bhajans, recitation and explanation of seven verses of the Geeta. (b) 11.00 a.m.-12.30 p.m. Children’s class conducted by Ms Asha Devi & Mr Chandru Binwani.

Every Purnima all 18 chapters of the Geeta are recited followed by a get-together and sharing of prashad (pot-luck style) brought by devotees. Upcoming Purnima dates are: 8 October, 6 November & 6 December 2014.

Community Services
Mobile Geeta brought to your home/venue on request anywhere within the Klang valley consisting of:
(1) A one hour satsang, or
(2) 2 ˝ hours recitation of the entire Geeta

Celebrations during the 3rd quarter of 2014:
1) Guru Purnima (Saturday, 12 July 2014): A Geeta Havan was performed in the morning before the usual paadapooja by Panditji and Guru dakshina offering by disciples. It culminated with preeti bhojan (lunch). A fund-raising dinner, held in the evening for the on-going Ashram renovations, was a grand success.
2) Shri Krishna Janmashtami (17 August 2014): Celebrations began with a Geeta Havan in the morning and culminated with the usual grand programme in the evening.
3) Hanuman Pooja (40 days - from 13 September to 21 October 2014): Devotees interested in participating may contact Panditji for further details.

Upcoming Events:
1) Annual 18-day Geeta Jayanti celebrations from 15 November to 2 December 2014.
2) Shri Vishnu Sahasranamam Pooja on 31 December 2014.

Hosting a Sunday Satsang:
In commemorating a birthday, anniversary or simply in memory of loved ones, devotees may host a Sunday satsang lunch. Please contact the Ashram at Tel. No. 79564267 (9.30 am - 12.30 pm) for info / reservations.


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Building Renovations

FUNDRAISING DINNER
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FUNDRAISING DINNER IN PICTURES