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Bhakti Vinoda Swami | (Pic by Sassanda Liyanarachchi)

A selected group of corporate sector individuals got to experience the bliss of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) teachings at a six-day spiritual programme which was conducted under the tutelage of Bhakti Vinoda Swami in Colombo, from December 19 to 24.

The handpicked individuals for the course were successful members of the corporate sector, but they knew very little about what glories lie in worshipping and surrendering to God.

Bhakti Vinoda Swami in an interview with Nation said that he threw light on the two most common questions raised by many working people which are, ‘who are we and what is happening to us,’ during the lectures.

According to this sanyasin (a person who has renounced the material world) people give into the temptations caused by the senses and thus run the risk of being disappointed. The participants at the lecture were educated about the blissful world that exists outside the corporate world. The participants were taught Krishna Consciousness which makes you aware of the real world out there which is devoid of illusion.

“All these teachings are in the Bhagavad Gita, which offers principles which are universally applicable,” said Bhakti Vinoda Swami, from India. He said that these teachings help individuals interface with the material world. The participants at the course were taught how to be better prepared to deal with organizational challenges, personal challenges and inter-relationship challenges.

Bhakti Vinoda Swami, a successful academic, was a working professional armed with a chemical engineering degree. “The teachings in the Bhagavad Gita challenged my intelligence. After reading it I experienced a great calling to get out of this material world and serve God,” the spiritual teacher said.

The yoga that Krishna had taught Arjuna during the ‘Battle of Kurukshetra’ is applicable to the modern age. Bhakti Vinoda Swami propagates ‘Bhakti Yoga’ (Devotion to God) and states that it is the most exalted. Like all teachers have stressed to their pupils in the succession of master and pupil relationship, he too underscores the fact that this is Kali Yuga (the era of the devil) and chanting the name of God alone brings the best spiritual results.

“Chanting of God’s name accelerates enquiry and understanding of the self,” he affirmed. During the interview he related the Maha Mantra ‘Hare Krishna Hare Krisha Krishna hare hare…’ and went on to state that this chanting destroys all the inauspiciousness of the age of Kali. “This is the conclusion of all the Vedas,” he affirmed.

He stressed during the lecture that all teachings at their respective professional academic institutes didn’t address man’s need to pursue inner realization. “The Bhagavad Gita serves as a life manual,” he said.

Bhakti Vinoda Swami stressed that there were participants who had not read this book. There were some who had read it, but didn’t quite really grasp its teachings. He underscored the fact that there were several interpretations and translations of the Bhagavad Gita which often distorted the teachings of Krishna. “The book that the founder of ISKCON A. C Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada penned ‘Bhagavad Gita as it is’ is simple and clear and is the most selling version of this book. It’s the voice of old intelligence,” he said.

Bhakti Vinoda Swami quickly laid to rest any doubts whether traditional Hindus acknowledge the existence of this organization called ISKCON where devotees worship Lord Krishna. “Hindus greatly appreciate ISKCON. Even in Sri Lanka I can see that ISKCON is pretty well established,” he said.

The Bhgavad Gita as a manual helped Bhakti Vinoda Swami during his religious awakening and helped him embark on an exciting internal journey. He said he recommends kids to be introduced to these teachings during the latter part of adolescent age. “Love yourself and love others and live in full consciousness of the self. Live in the now, fearlessly,” he said.

He said ISKCON is a society where its members get the opportunity to have fun through chanting and learning religious philosophy at the same time. But still he gave a warning to everyone. “One can still make a slip and fall in life. This is human nature. But the Bhagavad Gita states that if you are under God’s care, you will still be saved,” he affirmed.

His message to Sri Lankans is to look at yourself as an individual and change for the better. “When the individual changes, it will help change the society,” he said.

Bhakti Vinoda Swami stressed the importance of having mercy not only for humans, but animals as well. He said that this way of thinking will create gentlemen and compassionate beings in society. Teachers like Bhakti Vinoda Swami propagate teachings of Lord Krishna and have dedicated their lives to make the world a better place.