On February 26, Radhanath Swami appeared at the award-giving ceremony of the Gita Champions League, at the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan in Mumbai, India. The Gita Champions League (GLC) was the brainchild of the local branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who wanted to promote the values and wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita among school children. With nearly 5000 participants, the contest turned out to be a fun and inspiring way to help everyone absorb their minds in the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita.
The ceremony was the culmination of a month-long competition in which students were tested on their understanding of the Gita, as presented through the translation of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. At the final ceremony, individual winners and the highest-ranking schools were awarded monetary prizes for both maximum participation as well as higher performance. It was exciting and fulfilling to see students receiving their awards with such grace and enthusiasm.
One of the organizers of the festival, Shubha Vilas Das, spoke of the League’s motivation to help young people identify with the great hero of the Gita, Arjuna. “Children today identify with so many ‘external’ heroes but none of them can compare with Arjuna, who represents not just outer competence but also inner character which does not bend in any situation.”
Last year, the GCL was organized in Pune and Ahmednagar, where a total of 5,000 students participated in the contest. “We were pleasantly surprised”, said Shubha Vilas Das, “to find that not only were children eagerly studying Gita but entire families were getting involved.” As a result, this year, the contest has included a second category for participants above the age of 15. Regarding the motivation behind the event, he added, “this contest will simply attract more people to read a book which has the potential to change lives. It can help children discriminate between right and wrong and think with a balanced mind. For many years now, the Bhagavad-gita has been sitting on the shelves of millions of homes as a book of worship, but the Gita is essentially a book of knowledge and the only way to worship it is to read it.”
After the award ceremony, Radhanath Swami spoke of the sacred importance of the Bhagavad-gita. “My guru, Srila Prabhupada explained, if the material powers of the West harmonize with spiritual wisdom of the East the whole world can be transformed. And If there is anything of India that has deeply affected the world, it is the wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita. In today’s world where India is becoming an economic, political, and military power, the people of India should not forget the very foundational base of the real wealth of India, and that is the wisdom of Bhagavad-gita.”
He added that “many of the world’s greatest scholars and thinkers that molded Western thought took inspiration from the Bhagavad-gita, because it is not a sectarian scripture.” Comparing the Gita to a great map, Swami added that “ the Bhagavad-gita is a perfect road map for human life. It teaches us how to overcome all the inevitable challenges, impediments, and crises that will come in life, and it will help us to grow in the process. The Gita teaches us who we are. It embodies universal principles that can help anyone to live a perfect life and be an instrument of positive spiritual change within the world.”
Swami concluded with words of encouragement for the students. “Gita teaches us the highest morality, the highest ethics and how to apply them with integrity in the greatest challenges of life. Real fulfillment in life means to live in truth; to not give way to temptations or fears. Bhagavad-gita equips us with the power of God to live a life of true compassion and we are so proud of every single student who participated and those who, like the Arjuna’s, have won the contest. But actually wining the contest doesn’t mean receiving this little trophy but receiving the trophy as an emblem in the core of your heart as the Trophy of God’s grace. Each one you are victorious. They always win who side with God.”