The Vedic texts are the panacea for all problems for all times; they give a crystal clear understanding of all the fundamental and essential truths of life including who we are, what the true goal of life is and-how we can attain permanent happiness.
Unfortunately however, in the modem times, the Vedas have generally been misunderstood to be books of sentiment and blind faith or a bunch of empty rituals. And due to such preconceived misconceptions, the scientifically minded youth have reservations in even approaching them. Also, these texts being in intricate Sanskrit are not easily accessible to them.
With these considerations in mind, a need was felt for a systematic and scientific presentation of the five essential themes of the Bhagavad-gita: ishvara (the Lord),jiva (the living entity),prakriti (nature), kala (time) and karma (activity). A humble attempt towards making such a compilation was first made in 1994. Those notes were based on the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, who is internationally acclaimed as an erudite Vedic scholar and as the greatest exponent of Krishna consciousness in the modem times. References were also taken from Back to Godhead magazine articles and from discourses by senior devotees of ISKCON like His Grace Devamrita Prabhu, His Grace Radha Gopinath Prabhu and His Grace Krishna Smaran Prabhu. Those notes were refined over the years as we came to know more about the nature of doubts and questions that youths generally have.
Now we are presenting those refined notes in a handy form as a series of five books, entitled the Spirituality for the Modern Youth series. The books in this series are 'Discover Your Self', 'Your Best Friend', 'Your Secret Journey', 'Victory over Death', 'and 'Yoga of Love '.
We have been using these notes for vigorous youth preaching in Vedic Oasis for Inspiration, Culture & Education (VOICE), Pune. VOICE, Pune was started and is being run by the divine inspiration and blessings given by H.H. Radhanath Swami Maharaj, H.H. Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, H.H. Lokanath Swami Maharaj, H.G. Devamrita Prabhu, devotees of Shri Shri Radha Gopinath Mandir, Chowpatty, Mumbai and Shri Shri Radha Kunjabihari Mandir, Pune.
The approach of having a systematic presentation of the Bhagavad-gita has produced amazing results in effectively conveying the message to the youth and inspiring them to take to Krishna consciousness seriously. VOICE presently has hundreds of engineering students, who are chanting Hare Krishna and leading a pure life free from all bad habits like meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling.
We hope that this book will therefore act as a beacon light for every sincere seeker of the truth, especially among the youth and the young at heart. It is our hope that the book will also serve as a useful guide for all preachers throughout the world in their attempts to take Krishna consciousness to the youth in particular and to the masses at large.
This book is nothing but a systematic presentation of the remnants of the bold preacher, Srila Prabhupada, and my beloved spiritual master. It is therefore a humble offering at their lotus feet. We will consider our humble efforts successful if this endeavor can assist in fulfilling their pure desire to flood the entire world with Krishna consciousness.
The modem times have seen remarkable discoveries in the various sciences. These discoveries have revolutionized the lifestyles of people all over the world, with sophisticated gadgets being used for practically every activity. No wonder then that the present age is said to be the age of technology.
Yet a disconcerting undercurrent of emptiness pervades the entire society. Even individuals having the best of all that the modem world can offer - wealth, fame, prestige, the latest technological appliances, the maximum comforts - are prone to depression, stress, hypertension and even suicide, as is evident from statistical surveys in the prosperous Western countries, especially the US.
Intelligent thinkers worldwide have concluded that this state of affairs has resulted because man has neglected his inner self. Man has been extremely enthusiastic in trying to discover the world around him, but he has been almost equally averse to trying to discover the world within him. This imbalance has lead to a serious identity crisis; the modem man doesn't know who he is and what the actual goal of his life is. When the very foundation of life - the individual's understanding of his own self - is so shaky, the collapse of the individual and the society at large is natural and inevitable.
This has given rise to a new brand of self-help teachers, who provide techniques for everything from making friends to earning money, from becoming happy to tapping the subconscious. But nothing works; one of the most popular of such teachers, who has written best selling books on how to win friends, spent his life in utter loneliness and ultimately committed suicide! The condition of the other teachers is not much different. Instead of life being 'a continuous discovery of joy', the only discovery that everyone - with no exception whatsoever - makes everyday is that misery comes in ever new ways in life.
Is man condemned to live in the constant company of misery throughout his life? Is there no higher dimension to life - one of true love, real happiness and perfect peace? If there is, why is it not universally accessible? Why do all our efforts to achieve such a life invariably end in frustration?
"Try, try, but don't cry", the die-hards will tell you. But for how long? Their unspoken reply, "Try, try, try, till you die."
A blind man cannot see the world around him just by repeated trying. He may diligently keep trying lifelong, but failure will crown his efforts with equal diligence. That however does not mean that he is cursed to be blind forever. In order to regain his eyesight, he has to follow a bona fide remedial process - have a surgical operation performed.
Similarly introspection, no matter how penetrating it may be, will always fall short, if it is based on one's own efforts. But if one follows the right process - takes the help of the revealed scriptures, one can get the vision to see both the world within and the world without - in truth.
The Vedic scriptures address all living entities as 'children of immortality'. And they give a clarion call to all human beings: uttisthata jagruta prapya varam nibodhata. "Awake, arise and drink the nectar of immortality that is due to you as a human being." Only a human being is capable of the metaphysical quest by which he can enquire into the higher truths of life. The Vedic scriptures therefore exhort the human being not to waste his life in the animalistic business of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, but to pursue the ultimate business of self-realization.
And as soon as the seeker steps onto the threshold of the house of the Vedas, the most fascinating discovery of all awaits him. He understands his identity to be that of an infinitesimal particle of spirit, eternally cognizant and joyful. This atman is the invisible driver and animator of the bodily machine.
And as the seeker steps forward on the path delineated by the Vedas, his life becomes an exciting journey of self-discovery as he realizes more and more his identity as a blissful, conscious eternal being, distinct from the miserable, ignorant, perishable body around him. Ultimately his real identity is proved to him by the method beyond all doubts - by direct experience from within.
Self-discovery is not an exercise in selfish seclusion, with no concern for anyone else. When the seeker understands his actual identity as a part of the Supreme Spirit, as a son of the Supreme Father, God, he also gets the eyes to see all living beings as his dear brothers. Therefore he sees others suffering as his own suffering and works for helping them in re-establishing their lost relationship with the Supreme, as the well-wishing friend of all. Thus universal brotherhood naturally follows for him as he has accepted the Universal Father.
Hence today when 'the world is divided into numerous fragments by narrow domestic walls', Discover Your Self will undoubtedly be a invaluable guide for all thoughtful people throughout the world; all the more so for the intelligent youth who are trying to discover life. This first book in the Spirituality for the Modern Youth series will help them extend their horizons to an hitherto unexplored dimension -the discovery of their own selves.
His Grace Radheshyam Das has his creditable engineering side, as a M.Tech. graduate from lIT Powai and a spiritual side of being trained by able spiritual professors coming in the line of Srila Prabhupada. Thus he is a living example of this spirit of self- discovery. After working in prestigious positions in some of the top multinational companies, his relentless quest for self-discovery inspired him to dedicate his entire life to studying, practicing and preaching the message of the Vedic scriptures. As the Director of the Vedic Oasis for Inspiration, Culture and Education (VOICE), in youth wing of VOICE, he has brought substance and direction to the lives of hundreds of youths by inspiring and guiding them to embark on journey to discover their forgotten and forsaken inner selves. As a vigorous preacher and author of several books, he is helping multitudes of people to reach the wealth within their own hearts by taking to Krishna consciousness. His books are unique in that he has adopted the approach of systematic study standard in the academic world in his presentations of the Vedic scriptures. Herein, one finds the most profound philosophy explained in a cogent and lucid manner perfectly suited for the modern mind.
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