Tag Archives: Gita

Gita Workshop in Porto Alegre

Last weekend I gave my first Bhagavad-gita weekend workshop in Porto Alegre, in the southernmost State of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul.

We studied chapters 1 and 2.

We had 16 participants, including yoga teachers, doctors, public servants and psychologists. Interestingly, for the first time in my experience, four people paid the full value of the course (approx. US$60) just to listen to a recording of it later, as they could not be present in person for that weekend.

The participants expressed their gratitude for the experience and we have set the date for the next module in March of 2009.

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Weekend Gita Course in Rio

Over the weekend I taught the eighth of a series of nine Bhagavad-gita weekend courses in Rio de Janeiro. We studied chapters 15 and 16. We have one final weekend course and then we’ll be finished!

While preparing for the course I had a nice realization: it just struck me how the Gita is our oasis. As soon as you take shelter of the Gita, worshiping Krishna with your intelligence by studying its contents, illusion is just blown away. It becomes easy to be Krishna Conscious when Prabhupada’s Gita is open before us. The Gita is always there, ready to bless us, ready to push us forward back home, back to Godhead!

Next weekend I’m off to Porto Alegre to start a new series of weekend Gita courses there. Let’s hope we manage to complete the series there, too. And the weekend after that, we’re doing one more chapter here in Brasilia, chapter 13.

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Weekend Gita Course

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!

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