This is a feedback post for Gita Gyan Yajna sent by Prof S.Sailanathan L-47279 G, Mrs Padma Sailanathan L47292, Coimbatore 641041, Tamilnadu.

My dear ones of the Shimla Retreat and the Kendra,

Jai Guru and Namaskar,

I wish to place on record some of my thoughts on the Retreat I attended with my wife recently at your Retreat. Kindly post it on your web site for others to know my thoughts and, if possible, send a copy of it to YSS, Ranchi for their knowledge. Thank you.

The Gita Gyana Yajna Retreat held in Shimla between 11 June and 18 June, and conducted by YSS was not only the first of its kind for the choice of theme, but also for the planning and its execution with such finesse and thoroughness. It was indeed a unique effort to give the devotees a flavour of the Guru’s immortal Commentary on the Gita ‘God Talks with Arjuna’. The Bhagavad Gita containing the quintessence of the Hindu Upanishads and Yoga Shastras is the ultimate Brahma Vidya itself. Its importance in the spiritual sadhana of a ‘Beginner-Yogi’, to use the phrase of Guruji, cannot be overstated.

I was one of the blessed souls to be a part of it along with my wife Padma. I am
back to the privacy of my home, and in a tranquil and recollecting mood, I am overflowing with feelings of gratitude to the Gurus, and Sw Krishananda ji for having scripted one of the most successful stories in the history of YSS.

Shri Adi Shankara stresses, in his ‘Bhaja Govindam’, that even a little partaking of the Gita cleanses one’s mind to such an extent that he has no dispute with Yama, the god of Death. But Sw Krishananda ji who was the Acharya of this Yajna gave us pots and pots of the Gita Amruth (the drink that bestows immortality) that we remained in a God-drunken state all through the 8 days of the Gita Gyana Yajna.

The design of the Yajna as presented by the Swamiji showcased the technical excellence the Swamis of the YSS are capable of. The Shimla Retreat was indeed a sylvan retreat from the urban stress and the suffocating squeeze of delusion. The Guru in the ‘Krishna’-form, the Ashram Retreat, the forest environment—nothing could beat the ambience of the Vedic times of yore.

The various components of the Yajna were the Chanting of the Gita, the Paraphrasing of each verse, the Group Discussion, the mutual sharing of the Gita knowledge and the wisdom it contained, a Visual Treat of the outer Mahabharat, the devotional Bhajans, the Musical Recitals, the elevating Satsang on the core of the Gita, the Fire Rite on Vasudeva, the usual Energization Exercises and Meditation, the Quiz on the Gita for self-appraisal. Each shone like a star in its own right, but, together, presented a view of a remarkable Constellation, radiating wisdom, peace and bliss.

Please permit me to dwell a little on the various aspects of the Yajna that have left a lasting impression on our minds.

The Gita Chanting : The loud chanting of a few Chapters of the Gita everyday stirred our souls to a higher vibratory devotion. Accompanying the audio-recital in a CD by the Chinmaya Mission, the devotees joined the Swamiji and raised themselves to a Heavenly experience. The piety was indeed well-pronounced. The marathon chanting of the all the 18 Chapters of the Gita on the penultimate day lasting for three and a half hours was a never-before experience of a unique sort. The paraphrasing of the verses by Sw Krishnananda gave us an idea of things to come later in the day.

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The Satsang : This was one of the core areas where we built up our knowledge of the essence of the Gita. The Satsang by Sw Krishananda ji was inspiring as well as exhaustively informative. Topics such as Allegory of the Mahabharata, The Subtleties of the Ego, Humility, True Devotion, Renunciation, the Sadhana, The Kriya Yoga etc., all motivated us to newer resolves in our sadhana. His exposition of the Gita bore the stamp of scholarship and his high state of consciousness. We were indeed the most blessed.

The Group Discussion : This is another area which had all the markings of a Corporate approach to a subject of learning. The participants were divided into five Groups led by a leader who would moderate all discussions and present an oral report to the audience and the Swami ji. 20 to 25 questions on 2/3 Chapters of the Gita were given every day to all the devotees to examine, discuss and share the answers. Every participant was expected to be familiar with the answers with his own personal reading. Questions and doubts were
presented to the Swami ji for his clarifications. His elaborations enriched our knowledge and honed our wisdom. By the last day of the Gita Gyana Yajna, we felt like the twinkling stars of the Gita.

The Quiz : When a Quiz Programme on the Gita was announced, the idea of an academic competition among the Groups made everyone scary. But it became one of the finest features of the Yajna. Conducted by Dr Keshav Sharma with a professional touch, it turned out to be a jolly Merry-Go-Round of questions and a hilarious session with Groups virtually ‘jostling’ with each other like school kids. We revelled in the joy of hits and near-misses. The sporting spirit was at its best. No matter which Group won or lost, we all had the blessed gift of a piece of the sacred cloth worn by the Guru, a souvenir, memorable and beyond compare.

The Concluding session and the Fire Rite : The Yajna had a grand finale at the YSDK, The Ridge in Shimla. Serene and grand at once, the atmosphere was soul-inspiring. Sw Krishnananda’s the concluding message of the Gita, the Pushpanjali and the ‘Krishna’ prasad we received from him rung the curtain on the Yajna in a formal way and left us in tears of joy and gratitude. The Fire Rite Ceremony or the Havan performed late in the evening on the last day invoking the blessing of Lord Vasudeva was the crowning event of the Programme.

The Kabir Jayanthi : This was celebrated on the 15th of June, the birth anniversary of the great Indian saint, a devotee of Ram, one of the divine avatars of the Lord. An audio feature on his biography fanned the devotional fire in the hearts of the participants.

Video shows, the Bhajans and the Musical recital : Selected scenes from the TV serial The Mahabharat were video-cast for devotees for a greater understanding of the outer and inner Mahabharat so wonderfully amplified by the Guru. The Bhajans, an enthralling session of devotional songs by Dr Keshav Sharma and his kin, and a sitar recital by the former struck a chord with the devotees and took us to sublime levels of Bhakti.

The Retreat Oraganizers : I shall be totally failing in my duty if I do not single out the Retreat and the Kendra oraganizers of the Shimla for their unrivalled dedication, matchless enthusiasm in service-related activities and the extreme humility with which they have gone about this Gita Gyana Yajna of our YSS.

The overwhelming number of participants—45 in number— beyond the accommodation capacity of the retreat was excellently managed both by the organizers and the participants. The sharing of comforts as well as the difficulties in such situations so characteristic of a Yogadan was once again demonstrated by the participants. The organizers provided us with the best of comforts—from quality bed linen to Copies of God Talks with Arjuna, an alarm clock, candles, umbrellas and so on.

The Kitchen was perhaps one of the best-managed areas of the Yajna. Devotees served here selflessly, often forgetting self, for 16 to 18 hours a day. They pampered our palates with South and North Indian dishes.

The fee of Rs 1000/= per head for Participation, 8 to 10 days of accommodation with food is certainly far below the minimum actual expenses.

I must personally thank all of them, particularly Mr Anil Sharma, for helping us, as my wife had a fractured arm on the way to the retreat. Words cannot fully express our gratitude.

On behalf of all the participants I bow at the feet of the Gurus and Sw Krishananda ji for planning this Gita Gyana Yajna, restoring the glory of the Gita and our Guruji’s Commentary, and for raising our understanding and consciousness to higher levels. It is our humble opinion that such Gita Gyana Yajnas must spread all over India and elsewhere to reach the rank and file of our Guru’s devotees.

Thank you.

In Divine Love,

Padma Sailanathan