We have two dogs: Maha and Kali. In every conversation, Swami Bhoomananda is animatedly curious about our pets, asking several questions about them. And not your usual small talk asking how they’re doing, but questions along the lines of these:
Did Maha and Kali run away again? Yes, Swamiji, a few days ago.
But why? The gate was open.
Do they not love you? We believe they do, Swamiji.
How do you know? We never thought about it, Swamiji. We love them, isn’t that all that matters?
So that’s life, questions always come up. As do issues, as do choices, as do actions and reactions. As for the answers… well, Swami Bhoomananda insists we have the excellence, the majesty, the characteral elegance, the vast, infinite ability to answer our own doubts, and be our own best guide. So he set us on the path to that achievement with this singular premise – that it was time to pluck the Bhagavad Gita from the confines of religion and use it as the historically proven, practical way-of-life guide that it is for every human, regardless of age or background. When the Los Angeles chapter of the Center for Inner Resources was built in 2016, the Global Bhagavad Gita Convention, Swamiji’s brain child, was our first task.
The Global Bhagavad Gita Convention(GBGC) of 2017 was in my hometown Irvine, California. Once our small chapter of six people got to work, the doors of possibilities flew open. It wasn’t just the Beatles and Albert Einstein who seemed to take this book to heart – it was scientists, businessmen, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and inquirers in every walk of life. We had 425 attendees for each day of the two-day conference and 700 registrants online. The first speaker, Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda, explained it best when he said this about Americans: “We will use it if it works, and the Bhagavad Gita has held up to that reputation”. There was something for everyone at that conference, especially those who were self-reliant and rational.
The following year, GBGC 2018 was held at the Center for the Arts, Concert Hall, George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, with the theme “A Call for Personal Growth and Universal Well-Being.” Months of deliberation resulted in almost double the attendance from the year before and featured yet another lineup of speakers who seemed to make a sport out of evoking “a-ha” moments. The lineup included people such as Professor Graham Schweig, Swami Sarvapriyananda, and Swami Nirviseshananda who talked about the steps of attaining fearlessness. And last but not least, Poojya Swami, who, at 85 years old, blazed about the stage like a ball of fire, imploring us to examine our thoughts, our intellect, and our purpose before ending on the triumphant note that we all have the capacity to live joyously.
This year’s GBGC is in San Jose State University , San Jose California on October 19-20 (https://globalgita.org/). The final program, speakers, and panelists are being confirmed as I write this. A great sample of what is to come for the program is Gopi Kallayil from Google, who has graciously accepted being one of our keynote speakers. We will especially be looking for young adults in the audience, as a concerted focus area of outreach for this year’s conference. I hope many people take just two days out of their intense lives to attend and go further with more meaning and intention in their already amazing journeys in life.
The Center of Inner Resources, North America (CIRD-NA) is a lofty ideal, even more than it is an organization. By attending the conferences, I haven’t transformed or become more extraordinary. More than anything else, what I have gained is a profound curiosity to examine myself and a trust in that process with the Bhagavad Gita. Human capacity is a thing of wonder. But coming back to the issue with which we started this account – Maha and Kali ran out again the other day. It must be their nature.
Although born in Vishakapatnam, India, Sravani spent much of her early life growing up as a world citizen in the West Indies, England, Ireland, Denmark and Norway before she moved to the US. Holding a Bachelors in Biology from WSU, Detroit and a Masters in Public Health from UCLA, she has always taken an interest in expressions of art and promoting arts activities. Over the last few years, she served as Program and Fund Development Director for the Indo American Cultural Center (now Artwallah). Recently she helped start Dance-Construct and the Courtyard Series (youth concerts), both born out of her love for seeing art awareness, understanding and appreciation grow as well to provide forums for expression in the youth community. Along with her husband Ravi, she has helped support various community artistic ventures and lives in Irvine with her daughter Lekha and son Dakshin.