When I published my book, “Yoga Sutra Made Simple”, based on the translation and comments of Srila Hridayananda Das Goswami Acharyadeva, it occurred to me that I could teach its 196 sutras in one weekend. I thought that this could be an attractive preaching opportunity, giving the yoga crowd a chance to really understand the meaning and message of Patajali’s Yoga Sutra. I have since done several of these intense 14 hour weekend workshops in different cities of Brazil (this book is currently available only in Portuguese and Chinese, but we’re working on an English edition).
One of the first ones I did was in Rio de Janeiro, hosted by a small but very nice yoga studio there. The group and the owners of the yoga studio in question liked it so much, they wanted more. So, I offered them a complete course on the Bhagavad-gita, covering every single one of its 701 verses, in nine modules. Twelve hours per module, six on Saturday, six on Sunday. Since I live in Brasilia (1000 km away), we decided to have one module every two months.
Well, this last weekend we just had our 7th module, covering chapters 13 and 14 of the Gita!
Amazing transformations have occurred with the small group of dedicated students who are still doing it. These people have little or no contact with the local ISKCON Temple (the standard ISKCON programs aren’t attractive to them), yet, having imbibed the nectar of the Gita, and following my recommendations, their lives are very different from what they were when they started, back in 2006.
The story of one of them, a 55 year old restaurant owner, is specially interesting. Ever since the first Yoga Sutra course, I made it clear to the students how important it was to become a vegetarian (“prasadatarian!”). By the second of third Gita module, this lady had become a vegetarian. Thereafter, at every new module, I emphasized how important it was for her to change her restaurant, and stop serving meat. Changing your own dietary habits after the age of 50 is tough enough, changing your restaurant’s menu to vegetarian is harder still! But she did it! She fought off the bitter complaints of her long-time clients, family members and friends to do it too! Her restaurant is now vegetarian (she just re-opened it recently) and will soon be a prasadam restaurant (she is still learning to cook without onion and garlic and is preparing a special place to offer the bhoga).
All the other students too, are changed. All of them have become vegetarians, all are chanting japa, and several have bought and are reading the Srimad Bhagavatam collection. All this with very little direct association from devotees, just our weekend courses every two months or so!
This is the power of hearing the pure message of the Bhagavad-gita!