By Yogesh Subramaniam(Chinmaya Balavihar)
Chinmaya Mission Brisbane very recently held an event where our beloved Guru – Mukhya Swamiji, Swami Swaroopanandaji (Global Head of Chinmaya Mission), held free public talks based on the “Yogas of the Geeta”. Meanwhile, all children were also taught this topic in a way more understandable for us by our local Acharya, Swami Shrikaranandaji (Swamiji), who is the Acharya of Chinmaya Mission NSW/ACT/QLD). Through this write up I will share what amazing things we have learnt over these 5 days of knowledge and fun.
The first day began by Swamiji telling us a story. The story was about a king who had a terrible accident in the early morning causing him to forget his identity. All the ministers were searching for the king unknowing of the fact that he was in a beggar state. One minister happened to come by the king and was surprised to see the great king as a poor ‘beggar’. The minister soon figured out that the king had completely forgotten everything and devised a plan to help him understand. To do this the minister greeted the king, now in a beggar state, with a picture of the king before he forgot his identity. Then the minister gave him a mirror and to the ‘beggar’s’ surprise he matched the picture of the king. Despite the minister’s efforts, the king did not believe him. Likewise, Swamiji taught us that Lord Krishna tells us we are supreme, all mighty, all knowing and all encompassing. However we think we are still learning, don’t have everything, that we are not good and that we can be boring. Our life is sometimes joyful, sometimes sorrowful and sometimes miserable. We learnt that we must remove our likes and dislikes to have 100% happiness and that our Mind is the cause of our likes and dislikes. We then delved into the BMI Chart (special chart which describes our personality devised by Gurudev, H.H. Swami Chinmayananda) to show why we experience likes and dislikes, happiness and unhappiness. We have the three main components; Body, Mind and Intellect. However, we tend to not use our intellect as much as our body and mind, even though they are equally important. Therefore we learnt that to achieve and become the ‘king’ we must use our intellect effectively and remove our likes and dislikes. Then we will be able to see Lord Krishna in our hearts. After this we did a craft activity designing a gratitude journal, in which we write five things daily that we are grateful. This makes each of us more grateful, cheerful and selfless.
On the second day, we had a gathering of more new people to listen to the teachings of learned masters. But this did not stop us from learning anything new. We listened to a fascinating true story about one of Gurudev’s western devotees (we will call her aunty) and Gurudev. Aunty was preparing a bhiksa for Gurudev and was planning to make spinach and cheese triangles. So Aunty went to the shop and bought some pastry sheets, spinach and cheese and then started cooking. When she was finished she proudly brought them to Gurudev happy with her efforts. Gurudev gratefully accepted the food knowing that she had made it, however when he received the food he asked Aunty, ‘ Did you make this?’ Of course, Aunty responded, ‘ Yes Gurudev’. Then Gurudev asked Aunty, ‘ Which part did you make?’ Then Aunty realised that we must show gratitude to everybody involved in a process. Who made the cheese and spinach? Who transported it and packaged it?
We learnt that in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna says that there are 5 things in this world that we are forever indebted to, we must always be grateful for and always remember them when we determine what is good and bad actions, and what our duty is. Main duty is to serve the 5. What are the 5?
- Rishi Rin – To our Guru, Guru’s lineage, teachers where we got the knowledge of the Self, Lord, worldly knowledge
- Pitru Rin – To our parents and ancestors – who have given us culture, tradition and of course our body etc.
- Nr Rin – To our society (humans) who has helped us throughout our life
- Bhuta Rin – Other beings eg. Worms have helped in the soil, hence we can grow food, dogs and cats etc
- Deva Rin – nature that has given us air, fire, water etc and all the cosmic powers that look after the universe
Not to forget God (not included in the 5) – the Supreme who looks after us, gives us life (Atma), blesses and guides. The Lord is our Friend, ultimate parent, Guru etc.
Thus, we must ever be grateful. Our craft activity for the day was to make an altar to worship our ishta devata (our favourite form of God).
During the third day we were taught that to be able to see Lord Krishna in our heart and accomplish our tasks, and even when it seems hard we must have a calm mind. Aunty Priya (Sevika) showed us how we could keep a calm mind through some simple yoga techniques (From Ashtanga Yoga) one of these including pranayama. This would help us divert a stressful and angry mind into a calm mind. Thus, helping us to becoming one step closer to seeing Lord Krishna in our heart and also a terrific way to accomplish difficult tasks. This adds onto the next point we learnt from Swamiji. Everything God throws at us – obstacles, activities or challenges – are always within our ability to accomplish. God will never give us something that cannot be done. You will never face something insurmountable.
We listened to another engaging and thrilling story by Swamiji on the fourth day. The story was about these two neighboring families, one of which started growing a mango tree to eat sweet mango. However, all the mangoes turned out to be sour so the family felt sad. The neigbouring family asked them if she could have the mango tree and they would swap houses. The first family happily agreed with this as the sour mango tree rendered the houses’ value to a minimum. On the other hand, the neighbouring family also wanted sweet mangoes but had a calm mind to overcome the problem that had arisen. She used the sour mangoes to make pickle and then sold the pickle to the community. From the money that she gained she used it to import sweet mangoes from India and planted them in the same place that the old mango tree stood. The neigbouring family them had the benefit of sweet mangoes because they overcomed the problem with a calm mind looking for solutions and working with what they had. Another method we learnt to restore our mind to calmness, bring about love for God and give us Concentration was by doing Japa Meditation. Therefore, every single one of us made a Japa Mala using beads and string. After that each one of us were given a mantra by Swamiji to recite when using our Japa Mala based on our favourite form of God.
The fifth day was the final day, and we listened to another story about a genie and a sevak who helped in the ashram. The sevak asked his Guru for a genie because he said that he had so much work. The Guru granted the sevak’s wish under one condition; that if the genie was not given any work the genie would eat the Sevak up. This genie is just like our Mind. We must always use it to do useful work; that which benefits yourself and the society (remember the 5 we are indebted to and need to be grateful to, remember all the time).
Swamiji’s another story taught us that we must believe that God is present when we are doing our Pooja or praying etc, don’t just do it mechanically. Then we will experience the Lord.
At the conclusion of the last day, we also received our gratitude journal, our Japa Mala and our altar. This all came wrapped up in a small package for us and it just felt so exciting and marvelous to see what astonishing things we had done and learnt over a period of just five days of fun, which will be our tools of life, which will remove our likes and dislikes, bring a calm mind full of love, ability to serve all and to gain that Supreme Knowledge of the Lord and one’s own Self which will lead us to permanent happiness in this life and forever.
A sloka that we all learnt to sum up all the knowledge we gained is:
Karmanye vaadhikaaraste Maa phaleshu kadaachanaa,
Maa karmaphalaaheturbhur Ma te sangostvakarmani
“Your right is only to Work (useful actions that will benefit yourself and the world for the long run and not to useless actions)”. You have no right to the reward as the reward comes in the future and is determined by various factors. Hence focus on the work at hand and do your best. Accept cheerfully what comes as Prasad (Gift from the Lord, be grateful).
For all the people reading this who didn’t attend, I strongly recommend and advise sending your children to this event in the coming years and for the parents to attend Mukya Swamiji, Swami Swaroopanadaji’s talks or our beloved Swami Shrikaranandaji’s talks. This is one opportunity you must not miss!
We also have a holiday camp coming up during the June school holidays where you will be able to meet Swami Shrikaranadaji, learn lots of new things and have heaps of fun. Please visit our website https://www.chinmaya.com.au for more details closer to the date.