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Satya Kalra speaks on Dharma at Cal varsity

May 09
01:00 2011

BERKELEY, CA: The Bhagavad Gita and Dharma was discussed in the University of California at Berkeley for the class of studying Ethics of Rights, Gender and Global Justice: East & West.
On Feb 16, (Mrs) Satya Kalra, founder of Path to Anandam was invited to speak on Adharma and Dharma to the class studying Ethics of Rights, Gender and Global Justice: East & West in the University of California at Berkeley. She presented vignettes from her recent book, “My questions and God’s Answers” based on the Bhagavad Gita.
The course is part of the Religious Studies Major, a program initiative in the College of Letters of Science, supported by Philosophy and Human Rights Minor. It was devised and is being taught by Dr Purushottama Bilimoria, a philosopher with a training in Sanskrit and world religions, who teaches both in Australia and in America and researches on issues in social justice and personal laws in India.
The course examined major theories in morality for cultural values, religious beliefs and practices, law, justice and human rights, and ecological attitudes.
While the students primarily study these theories through several texts and readings, such as the Nobel Laureate and Padma Bhushan awardee, Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice, Dr Bilimoria also introduces the class to concepts of Dharma, Adhikara, Duty, Karma and Equanimity, and since teachings are highlighted in a condensed form in the Bhagavad-Gita, he welcomed copies of Satya Karla’s book to be distributed to the class.
With the use of Power-Point, she began with a background on how she came upon the spiritual teachings of Hinduism and what led her to write the book, and why she believes the Bhagavad Gita contains an essential message for contemporary times and the younger generation in particular. She said in elucidating her approach and ‘take’ on the teachings, which she was at pains to explain was not out of any scholarly desire to translate or write yet another commentary on the much-celebrated ‘Song of the Lord’, but to bring out through her own personal experiences and encounter with the broader philosophy of the tradition, the salient features of what is meant by doctrines such as Dharma and Karma, and how they might have relevance to thinking on ethics, justice, rights and duties.
She started her presentation with the story of Arjuna’s vishad in the opening scene of the Bhagavad-Gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, which is also Dharmakshetra. The story of the battle between the forces of dharmic justice adharmic avarice and vanity is described in symbolic imagery of the internal battle between temptations, ego, and the intellect or conscience which only seeks atman-realization and freedom from the cycle of death and birth (samsara).
Arjuna is then taught by his mentor and friend, Krishna, poised by the chariot, on the some eighteen ‘yogas’, inculcating paths to discriminating between dharma (right conduct) and adharma (untoward conduct), and move through karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and bhakti-yoga as well as disciplines of austerity, self-sacrifice and giving.
The effect of adharma on the body, mind, intellect, memory, and general state of being is also explored in the closing part of the lecture. The lecture ended with a sanguine comment on how the Bhagavad Gita continues to be relevant for contemporary life, given that the tendency toward adharma is on the rise in more ways than we might realize.
Satya Karla was able to simplify the otherwise bewildering and complex teachings of the Gita and present in terms an accessible to students and general audience, without compromising on the depth of the transcendental wisdom of the most commented upon scriptures in the Hindu tradition.

India Post News Service

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