Author Tags: Religion
Having moved with her family in 1999 from Los Angeles to the Sharanagati Valley, in the Venables Valley, near Ashcroft, B.C., Visakha Dasi has written a contemplative and humourous memoir, Harmony and the Bhagavad-gita: Lessons from a Life-Changing Move to the Wilderness (Torchlight $14.95 U.S.) to demystify the age-old wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, the immortal Hindu text, revered by 850 million people.
Following the interpretations of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, born in Calcutta in 1896, Harmony discusses contemporary concerns such as ecology, stewardship, interpersonal conflict and peaceful living.
“We moved with our young daughter to a raw, enchanting British Columbia valley,” she writes, “and there we [have] shared open air and ample space with Canadian loons, black bears, aphids, ants, forest fires, and rugged, spiritually inclined individualists who were inspired by a culture as old as history… And there we got a glimpse of harmony.”
Visakha Dasi (Jean Papert Griesser) received an Associate of Applied Science degree with honors from Rochester Institute of Technology and shortly afterward published her first book, Photomacrography: Art and Techniques. She has written articles for Back to Godhead magazine and two books, Our Most Dear Friend: A Bhagavad-gita for Children (1996) and Bhagavad-gita, A Photographic Essay, A Visual Guide to the World's Greatest Spiritual Dialog, an illustrated study for young adults.
The Sharanagati Vedic Village is a community of devotees who live in service to Swami Prabhupada. The word Sharanagati means surrender in Sanskrit. In 1950 Swami Prabhupada retired from married life and devoted himself to learning and education, particularly in the West. In 1972, he introduced the Vedic system of primary and secondary education by founding the gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. Similar schools have since been established throughout the world.
“I first heard of Bhagavad-gita when I was trekking with my then boyfriend (now husband) John in the Himalayas way back in the summer of ’71,” writes Vishakha Dasi. “We were at the snow line, 10,000 feet at that time of year, and decided to spend a few restful days in an abandoned cowshed. From deep inside his backpack John pulled out a blue paperback with a line drawing of a regal, four-armed person on the cover.
“During our stay, I sat for hours surrounded by towering snowy peaks in crystal-clear air, with no other humans around, trying to read this early edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I understood little but I was intrigued.
“The idea of tolerating dualities and remaining equipoised in their midst enticed me, as did the concept of an eternal spiritual presence within all living beings. And the Gita opened me to the thought that I could improve my character as well as the quality of my life through knowledge.
“Over the years, as I continued studying Bhagavad-gita and practicing its precepts, my respect for its wisdom, relevance, and comprehensiveness grew. Gradually Bhagavad-gita revolutionized my life.”
The Story of Our Search for Simplicity and Harmony
Press Release (2011)
Badger, CA (March 2011) Henry David Thoreau, who read and admired Bhagavad-gita, stimulated the American imagination with Walden. In Harmony and the Bhagavad-gita, Visakha and her family follow Thoreau’s path, stepping out of the daily grind into a simple, introspective life in the woods, with Bhagavad-gita lighting their way.
Harmony is a contemplative memoir accompanied by sixty-two lyrical, black-and-white photographs. Weaving the Bhagavad-gita’s age-old wisdom with contemporary concerns, this book explores an enduring basis for personal, ecological, and social harmony. Harmony serves as a spiritual compass for those who dare to look afresh at the attitudes and goals we sometimes blindly accept. The author, her husband, and daughter lived ordinary lives in an ordinary home on an ordinary street in Los Angeles. Longing for something more, they gathered their savings and gumption and, in the summer of 1999, made a leap to a rustic homestead in a pristine, raw 1,600-acre valley in British Columbia. There they shared the open air and changing seasons with loons, black bears, aphids, ants, forest fires and rugged, spiritually-inclined individualists who were inspired by a culture as old as history. There they took in soul-stirring, sweeping life lessons that are suited for any time, place and circumstance.