Published: 29th July 2020
India is a spiritual country, but we're still not taking the wealth of the Bhagavad Gita: Vedanta scholar Jaya Row
Row spoke about how people needed to move beyond desires — something the pandemic had shown we do not really need — and advance towards embracing our inner intellectualism
Though India is perceived as a spiritual country at the heart of it, there's still a lot more that its citizens can and ought to draw from the Bhagavad Gita, said renowned Vedanta scholar Jaya Row. "We are not taking the wealth of the Gita and are still looking westward. We are only taking concepts from the surface that have been marketed. The modern world is promoting and nourishing desire and the financial world is based on desire," said Row, during e-expressions, a virtual dialogue organised by The New Indian Express. The session also included TNIE's Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla and Author and Journalist Kaveree Bamzai.
Row also spoke about how they were trying to reach more people through sensible influencer targeting, "We should look at COVID as nature's way to course-correct. If a few leaders of society do it then the rest will follow. It's like promoting veganism. The goal was to get the top 7% of America to do it because they knew the world will follow. We are trying to reach thinkers and intellectuals so that more people follow the path," she added that, "Hollywood stars like Will Smith and Julia Roberts have already said that they are reading the Gita."
Row, who is an established lecturer and speaker and has served as the Managing Trustee of the Vedanta Trust, said that she had faith in the country because of its deep spiritual ties, "I am optimistic because of the aspirations of people. There are people in small towns who will work to realise their aspirations. This is what is keeping India going. India is still a spiritual country. Talk to people about it and it will touch a chord. This will not happen anywhere else in the world." This spirituality is vital, according to her, in keeping your immunity up during these troubled pandemic times, "We have spiritual immunity, especially among the poor, that is helping them cope. I think it's positive where people understand challenges will come and that it will pass."
Responding to a question about why people only turn to spirituality when hit by personal loss, Row explained that it was inevitable as it was hardcoded into human nature, "The majority of people turn to spirituality when they face some loss or bereavement or tragedy in life."
But will this lockdown and the threat of COVID have steered more people towards embracing their inner spirituality? Row confessed that she had cautious optimism in this regard, "I'm not sure if people will return to nature. I think it is a temporary hiatus and that people will resume their life with a bang. There are people who have used this opportunity to do things they have never had the time to. Even businessmen have turned to the path of enlightenment. Vedanta has a longlasting effect on people even if they are materialistic, to the extent they are receptive and use it."
When asked what her number one lesson from this lockdown was, Row, who is currently in Mumbai, said, "There are so many things denied to us during the lockdown and yet life moved on. The lesson is that we don't really need it. It has helped us to look inward to find happiness." And is there a secret formula to achieve happiness? She promptly replies, "The Gita gives a formula for happiness: Happiness = Number of desires fulfilled/Number of desires harboured. If you bring down the denominator to zero, you hit infinity!"