Welcoming Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji to Sahasragala Bhagavad Gita Chanting – Chanting by more than 2000 Children an Adults Prakasarao V Velagapudi, PhD (Shorter version was delivered welcoming Sri Swamiji)

10 Aug 2022 137 Views

Jai Guru Datta. Sri Guru Datta.

Our prostrations at the Lotus feet of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji. Let us welcome Sri Swamiji to Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple with a round of applause. 

Why Bhagavad Gita?

On behalf of all the memorizers, fluent readers, their family members and all the devotees across the globe, let us invite Sri Swamiji to organize and participate in Sahasragala Gita Chanting which will take place on August 13th. In 2015, Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swami has made a history by inspiring, encouraging, guiding and blessing children of ages 6 thru 14 to memorize all 700 verses of Bhagavad Gita and chant in His presence. On July 17, 2016 43 children chanted Bhagavad Gita without looking at the book sitting for more than four hours creating vibrations and spreading the energy waves across the space. These children’s lives have changed forever as these verses have permeated their body, mind and soul. Since that time nearly 2000 children in the USA memorized Bhagavad Gita and another magnificent history is going to be made with nobody on the horizon. Sri Swamiji is the sole visionary, lone dreamer and a singular champion in propagating and instilling the imperishable seeds in the Children and adults.

We have to address three questions:

1)      Now the question is why did Sri Swamiji select Bhagavad Gita?

2)      Why did he ask Children learn Bhagavad Gita?

3)      Why did Sri Swamiji ask them to memorize it?

Of all the thousands of scriptures, why did Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji select Bhagavad Gita to be chanted by children? Sri Swamiji with His divine vision, felt that Bhagavad Gita would equip the children and youth to cope with the challenges they face in life; trials and tribulations they encounter daily; problems they meet in the modern world; frustrations they may be bounced into the competitive world of work; and adjustment they have to make in the family lifeBhagavad Gita would enable them to utilize the ancient wisdom that might help them to differentiate between the dharmic and adharmic values; exercise their freedom to make wise decisions; and cope with the stress they might face in their hectic, hurried, harried and materialistic world.  Bhagavad Gita would teach the high morals that promote peace and harmony.

The message of Bhagavad Gita is to perform one’s duty to oneself, to the society and to the universe in order to create unity, peace, harmony, equanimity, and balance. It shows the path to overcome troubles, eliminate delusions, hope for the hopeless, awaken curious minds, provides clarity to the confused, removes ignorance and inculcates age old wisdom. Thus, it inspired from a common man to a student, a scientist, a management expert and even Nobel laureates in their pursuit for excellence. It has become an all-time best seller and a spiritual book that has been adopted by many business schools all over the world, inspirational book for many top executives in many companies, and stimulated the probing minds of the scientists. It skillfully intertwines work, life and spiritualism to lead a fruitful and successful life. “How Bhagavad Gita has charmed US corporates” describing how many top executives of different corporations attended the seminars to learn about the Indian philosophy in order to balance the business ideas of amassing wealth with the desire to live with inner happiness.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavat Geeta. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.”2

Henry David Thoreau wrote “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogenic philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”

Aldous Huxley: It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.

                Sri Swamiji wanted to impress upon the children the timeless, eternal, perennial and universal Gita can offer them for the rest of their life by learning the basic principles of life that will shape, guide, direct and mold their personalities. One would learn about discharging his own dharma, doing his responsibility with no attachment for the fruits of the action, establishing the balance between material and spiritual fields, importance of Sadguru in one’s own life, learning the art of maintaining Stithipragna (controlling the mind), the virtues of freedom and independence, acquiring the courage and strength in face of distraught and hopelessness, and handling with the confusion and troubles that beset the modern world.

                The relevance and importance of Bhagavad Gita is emphasized by  Ananda K Coomaraswamy, "....We must, however, specially mention the Bhagavad Gita as probably the most important single work ever produced in India; this book of eighteen chapters is not, as it has been sometimes called, a "sectarian " work, but one universally studied and often repeated daily from memory by millions of Indians of all persuasions; it may be described as a compendium of the whole Vedic doctrine to be found in the earlier Vedas, Brahmanas, and Upanishads, and being therefore the basis of all the later developments, it can be regarded at the focus of all Indian religion.”

Greatness of Bhagavad Gita

Sri Swamiji says, "If the Upanishads present the aim and purpose of human life, the Bhagavad Gita indicates the way to attain them and live a life of fulfillment. By faithfully following that path shown by the Bhagavad Gita, man can make his life sublime, leave behind his footprints on the sands of time."

Also says, ““Each chapter of Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata are like moral lessons. Do not treat them as mythological stories. If you treat so, many silly doubts and questions crop up. Study its inner meaning. Study Bhagavad Gita. Memorize and understand the verses. It has all the answers for the modern-day perturbed mind.”

The Gita concludes with Sanjay’s assessment of the message of Lord Krishna to Dhritarashtra. Sanjay says that his hair stood up as he listened to the dialogue between Vasudeva and Arjuna through the grace of Sage Vyasa who blessed him with the vision of the Cosmic form of Lord Krishna. He concludes with the statement: “Wherever is Krishna the Lord of Yoga, wherever is Partha, the wielder of the bow, there prevails prosperity, victory, glory and righteousness; that is my conviction.” (18:78). This verse is called ekashloki Gita and is Sanjaya’s answer to Dhritarashtra’s question about the war. Sanjaya says indirectly that there is no doubt that the Pandavas will win the war.

The Mahabharata says "sarva shaastramayii giitaa" meaning that the Gita comprises all the scriptures. The Lord Krishna Himself says in the Varaha Purana that, “Where the Gita is read, forthwith comes help. Where the Gita is discussed, recited, taught, or heard, there, O Earth, beyond a doubt, do I Myself unfailingly reside.” Where the Bhagavad Gita book is kept and the study is conducted, there all the sacred places, the sacred rivers and all holiness are present. It is also said, where the Gita is read, help comes quickly. It has become a source of inspiration to Mahatma Gandhi to lead the Independence movement and became a good friend during his imprisonment. “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day".

Why Children?

Why did Sri Swamiji encourage children to learn Bhagavad Gita? Do they learn faster and better than adults? Do they absorb and digest better than adults? Do they retain more information than adults?

It is believed that children’s brain can absorb and soak up information like a sponge. Is there any scientific evidence to prove it?  Scientists reveal that there is a fundamental difference between the learning processes between children and adults known as synaptogenesis and synapse elimination or pruning, respectively.

                Children who have more neurons start establishing more and more connections with other neurons as they start learning. Every sound they hear, every sensation they experience, every movement they make, and every stimulation they are prodded to store it in the brain.  These neural connections cause the brain to learn anything and everything as the brain is developing at a faster rate with very little effort. This learning process is known as synaptogenesis.

                Among adults, the learning process is different. Brain starts to discriminate and try to specialize the areas that need to be stored. At this stage, the brain collects a lot of useful as well as useless information by spending more energy. Instead of overloading the energy, adults use their brain to eliminate the pathways/ neural connections to reduce the overload. An effort will be made as to what is useful and relevant based on special interest and start eliminating or pruning the information instead of storing everything that comes to the brain. This process is called synapse elimination or pruning.

Most of the experts believe that children have the ability to connect their neurons with other neurons more in number compared to adults. As a result, they can learn much more easily than adults can do. Thus, it is advised that it is better for parents or teachers to expose their children to lots of different stimulations and experiences to allow more and more connections to be formed as often as possible. Some experts also proved that the foreign words are easier to remember in childhood age than in adult age. Secondly, research also showed that joy, energy and innocence peak between the ages of six and nine years, before children start worrying about how they look, what their friends think and how well they do at school. The Galaxy Research poll of Australian parents found that children are bestowed with boundless energy and enthusiasm, have retained a sense of awe and wonder with the world and remain uninhibited in their behavior at this age. It is the best time for children to learn about many things such as foreign languages or any new material. 

According to Alison Gopnikchildren’s “brains are more active and more flexible, with more connections per brain cell, than the brains of adult human beings, the researchers have discovered. By age three, the child's brain is actually twice as active as an adult's. It has some 15,000 synapses or connections per neuron, many more than in the adult brain.” The more you stimulate their brain, the more connections to neurons are established. With more connections, they will think better, learn faster, and draw logical conclusions.

Researchers also reveal that “If we teach our children early enough, it will affect the organization or 'wiring,' of their brains." It will stay with them whatever they learn during their formative years even if they discontinue the process. Chugani says, "Once a child has learned an instrument, he or she can stop playing, then pick up the instrument 20 years later and do much better than an adult just starting out." In fact, Martha Pierson, a neurobiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, argues that "Children need a flood of information, a banquet, a feast." Early education, she adds, "shapes the basic architecture of the computer (brain). If you are exposed to enough things, you'll develop a processor that can handle the flood of data that life throws at you later."

Why Memorize?                 

Why did Sri Swamiji say that the children should memorize and chant? Are there any benefits of chanting that may help children as they grow up? Memorization of information based on repetition is as old as human history. It served the purpose of preserving the cultures and helped develop the individual personalities. In every society we find children learning the alphabets of their mother tongue and other languages.  Similarly, if we look at all school going children, they will be learning the multiplication of the tables and the spelling of the words. As they move up to middle school and high schools, they will be memorizing a number of mathematical formulas, algorithms, chemical numbers, poetry and historical dates.  At the high school level, the elements and their chemical numbers must be memorized by rote. Many times, teachers use rote learning without even realizing they do so.

In the early stages of civilization and even before writing on palm leaves started, the vast reserves of material was passed on orally from one generation to another.  It has become an end itself.  The information acquired by rote learning cannot be stripped from the learner, it is always with him, and travels along with him allowing him to tap the knowledge at will. At an early age they may not know the meaning of the scriptures they learn by heart, but they will slowly absorb, digest and dissect the meaning of the scriptures they memorized. Vyaas Houston says, “Learning in his tradition is a yajna, an act of offering rather than possessing. Tapping into an unlimited memory is a constant and wondrous process of discovery that is without doubt unique to every individual.”

Memorization will allow us to absorb the information that can be stored and retrieved at one’s will. Memorization will help you to learn difficult phrases at early age; permit you to hammer every word for precise pronunciation; make you twist your tongue for proper clarity and crispness; and save so much time that could have been wasted by repeatedly looking for the same information, and infuse confidence in knowing that he can retrieve the information from the memory bank.

As we memorize the sloka and chant the slokas, they keep reverberating in our mind, instilling energy, minimizing the evil tendencies and accumulating the dharmic virtues. One would enjoy repeating the mantras as he gets more pleasure and happiness. One can chant these mantras during the whole day before getting down from the bed, while cooking food, eating food, going to school, before the exam time, before going to bed and so on to avert any potential problems. They will help us to stop worrying and keep remembering the essence of the mantras directed toward a specific deity. It becomes addictive and you can’t stop it.     

According to Brad Leithauser, “The best argument for verse memorization may be that it provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety: you take the poem inside you, into your brain chemistry if not your blood, and you know it at a deeper, bodily level than if you simply read it off a screen.”  Catherine Robson puts the point succinctly: “If we do not learn by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.”

Mahatma Gandhi says it is important to understand the meaning of mantra and the purpose of chanting a mantra. “There is a definite advantage in memorizing these scriptures. It will stay with us all the time even when our faculties may get impaired. It will prove to be a guiding light during moments of despair and distress. One cannot imagine any other source more reliable than Gita during such disasters.”

History was made

                With this Sahasragala Gita Chanting, Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swami is creating a history by inspiring, encouraging, guiding and blessing nearly 1700 memorizers and about 500-500 fluent readers on August 13th. These children’s lives have changed forever as these verses have permeated their body, mind and soul. It is also time to remember that Lord resides in each of these verses to mean that Lord Krishna will be there with them and in them.  By memorizing, they have absorbed the eternal message, improved their intelligence and expanded their memory bank. The power of the Sanskrit and vibrations created by chanting the mantras (verses), would live with them forever.

As per Sri Swamiji Bhagavad Gita will help them to face numerous roadblocks with little difficulty. The eternal universal message will guide them throughout their lives. Bhagavad Gita equipped them with a lifelong friend who travels with them wherever they go. It never fails them. Many scholars, researchers, philosophers, politicians reaped the benefit in their daily pursuits as well as their academic pursuits. By commanding the children to learn Bhagavad Gita, Sri Swamiji instilled curiosity in them, helped them to memorize all 700 verses of Bhagavad Gita, implanted courage in them, infused confidence, helped expand their memory power, and shaped their personalities for life. With Sri Swamiji’s blessings, these kids will be the role models for the other children and their parents to pursue the talent and become ambassadors to the richness of Sanatana dharma.

Krishnam Jagadgurum

Let us invite Jagad Guru Sri Swamiji to Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple and to profusely bless all the participants in Sahasragala Gita Chanting. 

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