God Talks With Arjuna in Hindi is Released
On November 15, 2017, the Honorable President of India, Sri Ram Nath Kovind, visited Yogoda Satsanga Society of India’s Ranchi Ashram in honour of the official release of the Hindi translation of Paramahansa Yogananda’s God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita. Accompanying Sri Kovind were the Governor of Jharkhand, Srimati Draupadi Murmu; the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Sri Raghubar Das (see photo right), as well as several other dignitaries. Swami Chidanandaji, president of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India/Self-Realization Fellowship, led the contingent of YSS and SRF monastics who hosted the honoured guests. Additionally, nearly 3,000 YSS members and friends gathered for the occasion, which took place during the 2017 YSS Sharad Sangam honouring the society’s centenary (1917-2017).
The festivities began with the singing of the Indian national anthem, after which Swami Chidananda Giri and members of the YSS Board of Directors formally welcomed the honoured guests with flower bouquets and shawls. Sri Kovind, Srimati Murmu, and Sri Das then joined in the lighting of the ceremonial lamp. As the audience broke into applause, the Hindi edition of God Talks With Arjuna was officially released by the Governor of Jharkhand. She then handed the first copy to the President of India. Swami Smaranananda, General Secretary of YSS, then spoke about the significance of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Bhagavad Gita commentary, focusing on his singular contribution to the understanding of this sacred scripture of yoga. He explained: “The Bhagavad Gita has been a favorite scripture of many, many saints of various religions down the centuries. Numerous interpretations of the Gita are available. Is there a need for yet another interpretation? Yes. Because God Talks With Arjuna is not simply another interpretation. It is unique as a new revelation of the Gita, particularly relevant to the science of yoga.”
Remarks by Swami Chidananda Giri
Swami Chidanandaji then addressed the gathering, summarizing how God Talks With Arjuna came into manifestation and speaking of Paramahansaji’s mission of bringing the quintessence of India’s spirituality first to the West and then to all the world, including back to India.
He concluded his talk with these words: “Honourable President, Governor, Chief Minister, let us acknowledge and joyfully celebrate that today you are not just releasing this beautiful new edition of Paramahansaji’s world-acclaimed Gita commentary; you are, most especially, affirming and acknowledging the unique and most powerful gift of India to the world. Truly, civilization cannot survive without a universal scientific spirituality such as that which India has safeguarded and protected, and is now most generously sharing with the world family of nations. It is that important, for a spiritual consciousness that unites, not divides—a spirituality that awakens the limitless divine potentials in every soul, in each human soul, and reveals that, spiritually speaking, all souls are brothers and sisters under the one Fatherhood of the one God — is the principal need for the true upward progress, indeed for the very survival, of humanity at this critical juncture of world history.
“Therefore, in closing, I pray that the light of this great scripture, the holy Bhagavad Gita as divinely revealed by Sri Sri Paramahansa Yoganandaji, may illumine the path for all of us, for all of India, for all the world. God bless you all. Aum. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.”
The President of India’s Address
Next, President Kovind addressed the audience in Hindi. He began by saying how impressed he had been walking through the ashram grounds, which he felt had a unique combination of natural beauty and spirituality. Acknowledging the presence of devotees from all parts of India and other countries, he warmly expressed in English his appreciation for their path of meditation and extended his greetings to them all.
Sri Kovind went on to say, “I congratulate Yogoda Satsanga Society of India on having completed one hundred years of ceaseless service to all mankind, and I extend my compliments to every individual connected with Paramahansa Yogananda’s thoughts and ideals.” He added, “Paramahansa Yogananda’s message is a message of spirituality. Going beyond the confines of religion, his is a message of respecting all religions; his perspective is of world brotherhood.”
President Kovind also commended YSS for bringing out Paramahansaji’s Gita commentary in Hindi, saying, “Through the publication of this Hindi translation, the wisdom-imparting teachings implicit in this book, which are of much assistance in everyday life, are now made available to a very large readership.” He also affirmed his belief that “everyone who incorporates the teachings of the Gita in their conduct will be able to remain calm, peaceful, and continue marching forward in the face of adversities.” He expressed hope that “millions of people will be able to know themselves better, and recognize the way to make their lives better, through Paramahansa Yogananda’s Gita commentary, now that it is available in Hindi.”
In appreciation of Paramahansa Yogananda’s spiritual impact on today’s world, the President said: “Paramahansa Yogananda has also deeply impressed today’s young generation, which is surrounded by materialism and competition. Achieving prosperity and success on an international level amidst fierce struggle, many young people credit their accomplishments to [Paramahansaji’s] Autobiography of a Yogi. This is a very renowned book, and I think most of you have read it; I too have had that opportunity. This book illumines the right course for all to follow in life.”
A Moment of Reflection Before Departure
After the event, President Kovind expressed an interest in visiting Paramahansaji’s living quarters, now maintained as a shrine. Swami Chidananda escorted him and the other dignitaries to this sacred space, where they spent a few moments in silence. Visibly moved by the experience, President Kovind then took his leave, expressing how much he had appreciated his visit to the ashram.
Excerpts from the President’s speech were broadcast on Indian television and reports were published in newspapers the following day. A video of his speech (in Hindi) was also posted on his official YouTube channel (see below).