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Pronunciation Lessons are Complete!

by Priya Lori Kenney,  based on an interview with Gurudevi Nirmalananda

“I’m done! Hurray!” Gurudevi  sums up her elation after completing Pronunciation Lessons for Shree Guru Gita! All 182 verses have been recorded and are posted on our Podbean Channel.  The introductory mantras are also included.

Gurudevi Nirmalananda explains. “Verse 131 says you should make a copy of the Guru Gita and give it to somebody.” She goes on, “I have known many people who have done this -- handwritten the Sanskrit and English in a beautiful blank book and pasted in photographs.  They've drawn beautiful ornamentation like peacock feathers and swans. I’ve seen many such beautiful handmade books but I’ve never seen anyone using one of those books for the chant!  They're ornamental, not useful.

"When Shiva told Parvati that she should make a copy of this beautiful text and give it to somebody, it was a couple thousand years before Gutenberg invented the printing press. The only way to make the text available to somebody else was if you sat down and copied it. That was a very important way of preserving the teachings and disseminating them to others for millennia. I considered doing that but it seemed like it would be self-indulgent. It would be about me making something pretty, a personal expression of creativity.  Yet the 'personal' part of that is what I wanted to avoid, because I know it’s not about me. I contemplated this for years. 'How can I make a copy of Shree Guru Gita to give to somebody else that really supports their sadhana, their process of Self-discovery?'”

Muktananda had already introduced thousands of people to the text.  He had it printed in books which continue to be sold by SYDA Foundation. After much contemplation about what she could do to honor this command given by Shiva, Gurudevi realized there was a way of supporting people’s experience of the text by teaching them how to pronounce the Sanskrit.

That became especially clear when she led the Guru Gita chant at the Ashram. She would be the only one chanting it, with everyone else goodheartedly stumbling through it, sometimes dissolving into laughter. This was going to take a long time! Knowing how long it took her to learn the Guru Gita, Gurudevi decided to embark on the pronunciation lessons to “make it easier for those who really want to dive in deeper. And I could follow the command of sharing the Guru Gita in this way.”

Gurudevi sums up her dedication to easing the way for all of us with the following quote. It comes from an introduction in one of Paramhansa Pranavadarshan’s books, when he’s talking about the Guru:

"After all, what is the point of understanding this knowledge of one's Real Self if it does not provide guidance all the way in one's actions or karma to the final destiny or the conquering of The 'Word' (knowing of the Self)."

As you might guess, Gurudevi is not putting the Guru Gita on the shelf. She is delighted to report that she will continue to immerse herself in this holy chant She is embarking on another project that will illuminate our understanding of this beautifully mysterious text.


-updated 8/9/2021


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