Reflections on The Bhagavad Gita by Amanda Jameson

On the current Ashram Yoga Teacher Training Course, the student teachers have been guided in their study of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the core inspirational texts of the Yoga tradition. Their latest assignment was:

In a few paragraphs, give a summary of:

1. the core impact that the Gita study has had on you to date

2. the key verse, or teaching, that you have been practising in your daily life

3. in brief, how would you describe the Gita to your students? 

Following is the assignment of Amanda Jameson, from Lincolnshire, copied here with her permission:

The main impact that the Bhagavad Gita has had on me is not to be afraid and face things head on. It has given me the strength and courage to deal and accept what is going on in my life. I now trust that I have no influence really on events. I am just on this journey of life to observe and witness. It has helped me spiritually realise that to be truly happy in this life it to just accept and trust and live my life the best way possible to serve myself and others so we can inhabit this beautiful earth in harmony and peace. It has helped to clear any doubts that I have in my life and to trust.

I believe that one of the key purposes of the Gita is to help us not to fear death as it is inevitable. To remain happy and open to life’s possibilities.

The key verse for me right now is chapter 3 – verse 21 – by setting an example to others. If I live my life selflessly with compassion for myself and others, sharing my knowledge, taking joy from each moment and spreading that sense of joy ……… it is contagious. Living with positive energy that passes through me to my friends, family, students and even a stranger on the street. The happiness I am feeling right now helping people and sharing my knowledge of yoga has been profound. I know we do not have to be concerned with the outcome, it is the journey that matters, but it’s a beautiful journey and to share that feels wonderful.

I would explain the Bhagavad Gita to students as a book to gain spiritual awareness if that is their purpose. To digest it slowly and enjoy the message its conveying. It can be a book to turn to when you are in need of answers to life questions. It will help to clear your doubts and trust your instincts.

I must add that I now keep my copy of the Gita by my bed so it is there to read whenever I need it.

Three Pillars of Yoga By Swami Krishnapremananda

This short article draws from three pillars of Yoga that are directly pertinent to the present uncertain and changing times.

Firstly, yoga practice holds the promise of many things, but key amongst them at present is that of a refuge; finding some quality time and space daily in which we can gain some space from current affairs, family issues and responsibilities. Even a little time spent on the yoga mat and cushion can put us in touch with this sense of refuge. For example, by exploring yogic postures which bring the body back into alignment, harmonising our internal energy pathways; simple pranayama practices which can calm and energise our system, or simply bring us back home to the present moment through breath awareness; meditation and chanting bring more spaciousness to the mind, thereby releasing the heart; moments or times of relaxation/ Yoga Nidra offer the body and mind the blessing of deeply letting go. The problems of life do not just magically disappear, but our capacity to handle them is enhanced through releasing into such a refuge each day through simple yoga practice. 

As the Bhagavad Gita says – ‘No effort is ever lost and even a little practice can protect us from fear’ (2:40)

A second pillar is that of gratitude. We will always have ideas for how life can be improved. Yet consciously cultivating a sense of gratitude for what we have – time in nature, simple gifts of everyday life, the food on our plate and so on – helps to soften the heart and lift our spirits. The glass is seen as half full. We are often programmed to have a negativity bias, which puts more weight on what we do not have, or our problems in life. Gratitude counteracts this, shifting our perspective, and reminding us of the maybe small yet valuable blessings we already have. 

Alongside the previous two, the third pillar is simply the willingness to be of service in whatever small or practical way to those around us. Service, especially if offered selflessly (or as close to this as we can), connects us to the Oneness of Life, whether we know it or not. This connection is why we often feel uplifted through our intention to give. Whatever our present situation, can we offer something constructive through our words, our actions, our silence, or simply our centred presence?  Yes, we may forget and ‘fall down’ many times, yet this is not a problem if we are willing to stand up again, learning from experience, and being available in the service of life.  

Using our practice to find daily refuge, being open to gratitude for what we have, and the willingness to be of service to the situation we are in. These three pillars of yoga practice, amongst others, are readily available to us as we continue to navigate our way through the current uncertain waters.  

Bhagavad Gita – the Yoga of Right Action

by Swami Nishchalananda

(Note: this article is also given in Swamiji’s book ‘The Edge of Infinity’ (chapter 7), published by Mandala Yoga Ashram).

The Bhagavad Gita (lit., the ‘Song of the Divine’) is a superb classical Sanskrit text on the practical and mystical teachings of Yoga. It is a scripture on Brahma Vidya (the ‘Science of Consciousness’), showing us how Yoga can be lived moment to moment in daily life and how our actions can be a way to transcendence. 

The Unreal has no existence, the Real will always be.

A commentary on Verse 16 of Chapter 2 from the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Nishchalananda, extracted from a longer online transmission given to a group of people from Europe and the UK.

Swami Nishchalananda studied with his teacher, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, in India for 14 years and during that time explored the rich history of Yoga and Tantra in the land of their origin. The Bhagavad Gita is an astonishing text. It doesn’t matter whether it narrates a historical event or whether it is allegorical myth; the Wisdom expressed is profound. The translation Swamiji is using is that of Swami Sivananda Saraswati, the Teacher and Guru of Swami Satyananda.