Nurture the intellect for a strong mind, advocates Swami Parthasarathy.

Swami Parthasarathy needs no introduction to Chennai residents, especially those inclined to Vedanta. The swamiji is making his annual visit to the city for a six-day lecture series beginning on Sunday, July 7. He will speak on Mundakopanishad at Narada Gana Sabha, TTK Road, 7-8.15 a.m.

“He needs no publicity, but we want people to know about his visit and benefit from his lectures,” says a member of the Vedanta Institute, Chennai chapter. “Age means nothing to him; he is young at heart, plays cricket and is agile but we can’t brush aside the fact that he is 86 and hence should make the most of his presence. He has completed lectures of the 18 chapters of the Gita twice. He does not deal with subjects at random. Those who were present at his discourses of the second cycle were therefore lucky,” she adds.

Everyday is a learning experience for those who are closely associated with the Swamiji, who has made the Gita a way of life. That everybody can do it with some exercise of the intellect, is the swami’s dictum. Intelligence vs intellect has been his favourite subject. Trained intellect will rise above emotions and that detachment is crucial in decision making, whatever the situation, he says. “At a personal level, Swamiji’s association and absorption of his teachings over a period of time has helped us overcome challenges, tragedies and adversities,” vouch his followers. “He leads by example and that is a great inspiration,” they add.

From corporate management, matrimonial harmony to contentment in life Swamiji applies the concepts of the Gita to all spheres. It is the youth he wants to reach out to. Vedanta Academy, set on a sprawling campus in Malavli, 108 km from Mumbai, has thousands of young students studying philosophy. “Bhakti is not absent but the accent is on the intellect,” explains a resident.

There are students, who after completing the three-year course, prefer to stay on - to teach, to research or simply serve the institution in some capacity. Gita being the universal truth, religion plays a subtle role here. Thus the Swamiji has followers of all faiths and the Academy has learners from across the globe.

“I developed an interest in Indian philosophy even in teenage and was happy when I was led to the Academy,” says Irina, Russian, who moved here eight years ago. Apart from the visits she makes to her home country, she remains here, pursuing Vedanta and serving the institute. “My mother has learnt English and become a follower of the swamiji,” she laughs. Irina helps with translation and interpretation when Swamiji visits Russia on lecture tours. “The youth in my home country turn up in large numbers to listen to his lectures,” she informs.

Low tolerance level, violence and lack of contentment are plaguing society. Address the intellect, gain wisdom and things will fall in place, says Swami Parthasarathy. ‘Select English Poems’ that he has compiled is an interesting collection. There is a message in every poem, sometimes obvious, otherwise hidden.

The volume includes ‘Abou Ben Adhem,’ ‘Casablanca,’ ‘On His Blindness,’ ‘The Village Preacher’ and ‘The Daffodils.’ The three long poems – Laodamia, Sohrab And Rustum and Andrea del Sarto – have lessons in detachment. At the end of each poem the Swamiji sums up the truth contained in it. Poetic way to teach philosophy indeed!

The path to peace and harmony lies within. All it needs is a sincere attempt to find that way. Gnana or intellect is the key to bliss, he exhorts through his live lectures, audio releases and books. The Vedanta Institute (9444278830) invites people, both regulars who will not miss the opportunity and the uninitiated, to attend the discourses.

Sunandaji, Swamiji’s daughter and disciple, will deliver lectures on the Gita – Chapter 9, July 7-11, 6.30-8 p.m., at the Music Academy. Both series can be watched live at www.vedantaworld.org.