This weekend we had the 2nd module of the Gita Workshop in Rio de Janeiro. We had 10 participants (11 if you count 5 month old baby Theo). Everyone enthusiastically drank the nectar of Krishna’s teachings. We covered chapters 3 and 4.
It never ceases to amaze me how the Gita endlessly gives us more and more, at each and every reading. This time, one of my realizations was that Krishna uses the word “karma” in the sense of “that dharmic activity one should naturally perform according to one’s gunas“, translated by Prabhupada as “prescribed duty”. We normally think of “karma” as any sort of mundane activity, but here it seems Krishna uses it strictly in the sense of dharmic duty. When Krishna later introduces the term “vikarma“, “bad action”, we get further support for this idea. I also had a new take on the list of yajnas found in the end of the 4th Chapter (verses 25-29). This time I could see that Krishna glorifies them all, without pointing out any faults, even though the list includes things we normally “look down upon”, such as simple pranayama, giving up eating, and demigod worship.
I was also invited to give class at the Sunday Program in Rio’s Jagannatha Temple. I gave the class on verse 4.34, taking the opportunity to present a series of important points on the topic of guru. I described the culture of general respect we find in the Vedas, the psychological advantage of respecting the guru in absorbing the teachings transmitted by him/her, Prabhupada on gurus and how he urged us hundreds of times to become gurus following Lord C’s order*, definitions of a “pure devotee” and an “uttama–adhikari“, gurus in ISKCON and, lastly, the special position of Srila Prabhupada as founder-acharya of ISKCON. Several people expressed their gratitude for the class and for clearing up their confusion on the topic.
In short, it was an amazing weekend, packed full with nice service! Jaya Prabhupada! Jaya Jagannatha!
*“yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa”, Caitanya–caritamrta, Madhya–lila 7.128