Although I had heard of the Bhagavad-gita since childhood, I never really felt impelled to read it. I considered that religious study was for old people, and that such literature would have little or no relevance to my life. Over the years, however, I became more and more curious to understand the world in a more profound way, and my interest in spirituality grew significantly. One morning, when a good friend randomly handed me the Bhagavad-gita in an Economics class, it struck me as a mystical occurrence. I was an inquisitive 16 year-old, keen to learn more, and maybe this book was the key that would open up many doors of understanding. Holding that sacred text in my hand, I had an overwhelming feeling that it would change my life forever. The thought of accessing universal knowledge beyond time and space was exciting. What secrets awaited me in this transcendental conversation?
I rushed home, went to my room, locked the door, and eagerly prepared myself to begin reading. In great anticipation, I was ready to be blown away. After reading a few pages, however, I received a severe reality check! I found the language complex and the concepts too difficult to grasp. I struggled to connect with the text and understand its application in my life. I was only four pages into this book and I was already completely baffled. I didn’t consider it an anti-climax however, and neither was I frustrated. I maintained the conviction that the Bhagavad-gita had something amazing to offer me, but accepted that I would have to explore it with greater effort and scrutiny.
Thankfully, that’s what I did. I asked many questions, attended different seminars, and conversed with experienced practitioners of the tradition. I learned that access to spiritual wisdom in its greatest depth requires more than just personal reading. Books like the Bhagavad-gita are better understood when discussed, debated and imbibed with the input of realised teachers. Many years later, the Bhagavad-gita remains an amazing source of inspiration and insight for me. I can resonate with Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “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 the 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 everyday.”