Hey!! Quick read for you here!
In this modern age of yoga studios being about as prevalent as Starbucks throughout the cities of America, I’m wondering where all the voting yogis are? The reason I ask this is because for the first time that I can think of, we actually have a yogi running for President here in the United States of America. You heard me right. And, she’s a WOMAN! So, it leaves me a little confused why this isn’t being spoken more of within the yoga community. I mean, after doing a google search, it appeared that as of 2016, there were 36 million people practicing yoga in America. Google also indicated that around 125 million of the American voting population voted in 2016. That being said, if the yoga practitioners of America all voted then, they would’ve accounted for 28.8% of the vote count. That’s a big number. That’s a number that can make a difference.
The woman running for president is Tulsi Gabbard. She is a 38 year old combat veteran who was brought up in the Bhakti Yoga tradition. She currently is the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district and is a member of the Democratic Party. Does that get any of your attention? It should. She’s smart, she’s able, and she studies the Bhagavad Gita which happens to be one of the most important pieces of wisdom literature in the Yoga tradition. If you’re not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, get familiar. Don’t want to take my word for it? Take Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Tupac, or even Will Smith’s word then! The Bhagavad Gita has been studied by numerous philosophers over the years and is considered to be one of the most influential epics ever written. It is also what may be considered to be the backbone and foundation of the Bhakti Yoga tradition; otherwise known as the Yoga of Love or Devotion. You know those little things in Yoga called the Yamas and Niyamas (ethical guidelines of what not and what to do), well yea, the last niyama, Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender or devotion to a higher power) is a focal point of the Bhagavad Gita. Fittingly, the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation that was recorded on a battlefield during a huge war between millions of people. The conversation has been analyzed by many and there are multiple interpretations of this epic.
Back to the point here. The Bhagavad Gita is pretty much required reading in any Yoga Teacher Training and as stated previously, is one of the most important parts of Yoga. It teaches one to see what is best for the greater good and how to act within one’s dharma (service or duty). Tulsi Gabbard has studied the Bhagavad Gita her whole life and is a practicing Bhakti Yogi. This book has changed millions of lives and after my quick google search, I found that Bhagavad Gita: As It Is, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, has sold 503,385,383 copies as of 2017. I’m just curious why American Yogis don’t seem to be talking about this at all. Why wouldn’t we want a Bhakti Yogi; someone that leads with selfless service and the greater good in mind? Do we just not know about her? Do we not really know Yoga or it’s purpose? Either way, I just thought I’d write this quick blog and at least get some people thinking. Vote for who you’d like to. I just wanted to inform the yoga community of Tulsi Gabbard, her credentials, and her yoga practice.
I feel very unqualified to be writing on this subject matter. Thank you all for reading and I thank my teachers and their teachers before them for passing this ancient tradition down to me.
Here are a few particularly relevant verses from the Bhagavad Gita: As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami that I feel would serve right in the mind of the President of the United States of America along with others in powerful positions-
Chapter 2, Verse 35 - The great generals who have highly esteemed your name and fame will think that you have left the battlefield out of fear only, and thus they will consider you a coward.
Purport - "Do not think that the great generals like Duryodhana, Karna, and other contemporaries will think that you have left the battlefield out of compassion for your brothers and grandfather. They will think that you have left out of fear for your life. And thus their high estimation of your personality will go to hell."
Layman’s Terms - Don’t let others mistake your kindness for weakness. This verse is spoken to the General as he is contemplating not fighting the evil forces out of compassion because he does not want to fight them.
Chapter 3, Verse 21 - Whatever action is performed by a great person, common people will follow the footsteps. And whatever standards one sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
Excerpts from Purport- Whatever action is performed by a great person, common people follow in the footsteps. And whatever standards one sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. The king or the executive head of a state, the father/mother and the school teacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependants; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes.
Layman’s Terms- Lead by example and truth!
Chapter 6, Verse 6 - For one who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, one’s very mind will be the greatest enemy.
Excerpt from Purport - Unless the mind is controlled, the practice of yoga (for show) is simply a waste of time. One who cannot control the mind lives always with the greatest enemy, and thus life and its mission are spoiled. As long as one's mind remains an unconquered enemy, one has to serve the dictations of lust, anger, avarice, illusion, etc.
Layman’s Terms - We must control our minds as it will constantly be attracted to sense gratification and to the false ego (what we relate ourselves as), but not always what is best for us or the greater good.
Again, thank you all for reading and I hope you were able to gain something positive from this.