We have wonderful news about the launch of the “Living the Gita” course this past weekend in Gurgaon. A powerful new vehicle has been created that offers to non-devotees the “why’s” and “how’s” of changing our consciousness and finding happiness. All the content is drawn from Master’s techniques and teachings, especially from The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.
As you may know, our team of Ananda devotees from India and the US have been working on this project for a year, with the core group flying back and forth across the globe to develop the course. Many months of creative and expansive thought, and prayers for inner guidance, have gone into the course.
The first thought was to create a Leadership Institute, but soon we realized that this was far too limited in its scope. Last fall we understood that what was trying to happen was an institute similar to what Swamiji had envisioned with his Delhi project many years ago: a beautiful setting where people of all faiths, or no faith at all, could find upliftment.
We realized that the “signature course” should be based on Master’s explanation of the Bhagavad Gita and presented in such a way that it would appeal to non-devotees. People in India have grown up with the Gita and love it, but don’t have any depth of understanding of its true meaning.
We wanted to give newcomers both insight into the relevancy of the Gita in daily life, and the techniques of our path to change consciousness. This new approach for sharing Master’s teachings, called “Living the Gita,” would be the foundation stone of a new spiritual learning hub located in Delhi: the Yogananda Institute.
We presented our first version of the course at Inner Renewal Week in February 2019 at Ananda Village. After this week-long program, we realized that far too much material had been presented. We needed to simplify and deepen what we covered, and make it more experiential.
Working with our global team, we created a three-day program for “Living the Gita,” which could be for either day guests or, if the venue allowed, residential students. With a group of dedicated and talented devotees, we:
- refined and condensed what material would be covered,
- created beautiful graphics, including slides and videos,
- developed effective handouts for self-analysis,
- selected short clips of Swamiji’s Gita videos to be shown throughout the course,
- trained individual mentors to lead small breakout groups,
- and created a multifaceted, interactive schedule that would keep the energy high and engaging for three days.
Finally, on September 20–22 we were ready to launch, and offered the first program at the Gurgaon center, which had been beautified for this purpose. The center will be the temporary home for the Yogananda Institute until permanent facilities are built in Delhi. (Plans for this are already underway.)
Those attending the course were there by invitation and were friends, relatives, and colleagues of the center staff. We wanted to have a true target audience rather than Ananda devotees. There was a limit of thirty people for the three-day program in order to provide lots of time for personal interaction. In the future we’ll continue with a group of this size.
The basic flow for the three days was this:
On Friday, we covered an overview of the course and taught the “Gita Navaratna,” or nine basic themes from the Gita that are progressive guides to daily life: Inner Conflict, the Imperishable Soul, Self-Offering, Directional Development, Karma, Dharma, Knowing Truth, Devotion, and Self-Realization.
For techniques, Dr. Aditya taught the principles of the Energization Exercises and a shortened set of eight of them. We also gave basic instruction in pranayama, meditation, and the Hong-Sau technique.
Throughout all three days we showed video clips of Swamiji’s relating to the content of each class, as well as tools for introspection, question-and-answer sessions, and discussions with small groups led by mentors. Each day began and ended with a guided meditation.
On Saturday, we focused on “Inner Conflict,” and went deeply into the allegorical nature of the Gita and the symbolism of its characters. This interpretation is unique amid the myriad of approaches to the Gita that are offered throughout India. The students said that Master’s explanation was a revelation for them.
In the afternoon we also taught the principles and practice of affirmations, and worked with the affirmation we’d created for “Inner Conflict.”
Finally on Sunday, we focused on “The Integrated Person,” showing the building blocks for changing our consciousness on physical, energetic, mental/emotional, and spiritual levels. This reinforced the practical nature of personal transformation.
After a great lunch (we had wonderful meals and teas prepared each day), we wanted to shift the energy, so everyone went outside into a lovely garden area. Dr. Aditya led us in several of Bharat’s nature games. The students loved them and drew deep insight from their experiences which they later shared. Thank you, Bharat, for your genius and inspiration in designing these.
In the last session each person created a personal strategy for how they would continue to practice what they’d learned in the days and weeks ahead. They also had the opportunity to sign up for a follow-up six-week online coaching and inspirational program with their mentor. All but two of the group opted in.
We closed with a fire ceremony and gave each person a gift copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. The feedback form that people filled out at the end showed that people’s lives had been changed.
We’ll offer this program three more times while we’re in India: next weekend, Sept. 27–29, again in Gurgaon; Oct. 11–13 in Delhi, and Nov. 15–17 at the Khandala Retreat.
We want to thank you all for your interest, support, and prayers for “Living the Gita” and the Yogananda Institute. There was a tangible feeling of blessings from our Gurus flowing throughout the weekend. We feel that this is a powerful new way for Ananda India to reach countless new people with the great gift of Master’s teachings.
Here’s a link to a beautiful testimonial from one of the participants. And we’ve included a couple of photos below.
With great joy (and relief),
Jyotish and Devi