Friday, August 1, 2008

What is your Karma? A talk by Geeta Iyengar on Bhagvat Gita

My last visit to RIMYI was last evening to attend at talk by Geetaji on Bhagvat Gita. I could only be there for an hour, and had to leave early, but I learnt something very important about Karma.

What is my Karma? Its a question I ask frequently of myself. We hear about Karma in so many different forms. Anytime an event happens either good or bad in your life, especially something bad or unpleasant the Indian way of explaining it away is "its your karma". It implies its predestined. It seems like Karma is used interchangeably as destiny by many. It only adds to my confusion about the true meaning of this word. Readers please enlighten me with your interpretations of Karma.

Karma is also used as another word for "action" and we are born with many Karmas. That is what Geetaji discussed in the context of Arjun's reluctance initially to wage war against his family of cousins and uncle. Lord Krishna told him that as a warrior it was his Karma to fight in war and fight injustice. I listened intently as she described how every action in your life, including bodily functions are "Karmas". There are good Karmas and there are bad Karmas.

She talked about "Prakruti", which I equated to our nature, or state of being. We are born with Karmas and Prakruti. The ask question I ask is are we born with the Karma that is predestined? Do these Karmic actions drive the destiny? Is Karma both action and consequence of random events? Does Karma drive destiny and kismat? Are fate and Karma the same?

These thoughts about Karma stimulated my mind, as I left the talk prematurely last night. I just couldn't stay past an hour, as I had another predestined Karma, a short walk from the center at the Shahani residence. It included bringing a box of American chocolates for my former hosts and foster family, a chance to see them again, and not the least to get some badly needed home cooked Indian food. I wish I could have stayed longer to listen to the complete talk but my next Karma was equally important.

I wish I had some time to chat with my teacher Nina Pileggi, who had just arrived in Pune. It looked like she quickly immersed herself into India with the Indian dress she wore. Nina, you looked like a pucca local! We sat next to each other, but never spoke a word. We both seemed to be constantly interchanging in various sitting positions such as Sukhasana and Badakonasana and some new and improved variations as I desperately tried to avoid a flock of blood sucking mosquitoes approaching my face for dinner. I guess filling their stomachs with my blood is part of their karma. The only way I could deny them was to escape.

That was our only communication Neena and I had in Pune. It was not my in Karma to speak to her - to get her first impressions of India and Pune. I had to leave, and I hope I didn't offend anyone or break any unknown rules. I had no idea Geetaji's talk would go beyond an hour and I had commuted for nearly an hour to get their on time that evening. It was in my Karma though to introduce myself to Suneeta Iyengar earlier, to touch her feet and thank her for making it possible to take classes in April which were life changing. Her smile was infectious and she ranted out her new email id to me.

I had a great Marathi dinner with my former hosts Neena and Manu Shahani - enjoyed the meal, the company, and a great conversation on Life, Yoga, Spirituality and Philosophy. Its home away from home, and I missed not staying at their holistic place. "You look much more relaxed in this trip" remarked Neena. Yes I was, as I have really gained strength to detach, de-stress and endure challenges, but at the same time be centered and accomplish what I planned to do at work while getting a chance to practice yoga every day.

"Chithavriti-Nirodha" is the ultimate goal. Its a possibility that can be achieved with the power of Iyengar Yoga and the learning I get from all my teachers. Along with all this serious stuff, lets not forget to add some humor or laughing yoga along the way. Skeptic Yogi you are right, some tongue and cheek humor about blowing your ex - "the office cube" goes a long way. I have to stop taking everything so seriously.


The Yogi.

No comments: