Oza’s discourse on Bhagwat Puran overflowing with emotion

By Neena Badhwar

Shrimad Bhagwat Katha was being told to Sydney audience for the last eight days by respected Ramesh Bhai Oza in Minto. Thousands came to listen to the discourse which at times overwhelmed not just the audience but the story teller (kathvachak) too. His voice would break at places, love flowing through his lips for Lord Krishna.

Oza ji has this great mastery over his oratory skills as he uses simple day today examples and laces them with humour ”“ husband wife little jokes. At times he randomly falls back into Gujarati dialect as most of the audience is actually Gujarati. With ladies clad in mirror work saris with pallu tucked up in the front.

Their outfit does not hamper their work with over thirty volunteers working from morning to night feeding almost thousand devotees each days. Led by Jasumati Ben Kana the team used to cook up breakfast, non-stop hot tea, lunch and dinner. Breakfast to around 200 people, then lunch number could vary from 500 to a thousand and dinner again for 200 plus. Everyday the menu is different. Pickles being made on the spot, a team of ladies to do the chopping of vegetables and another team of who would cook. Says Dr. Jasumati, yes a doctor by profession who took time off work to devote her time in the kitchen, “We had very generous donors for the ingredients, rice, flour, vegetables. The pantry never ran out.” One does not notice any tiredness as they frantically mix in front of you ten kilos of sliced carrots, green apples slices into a ready pickle which is just a side dish to go with rice, rotis, daal, aloo sabzi, sweet. Volunteers are all over the place, some directing the traffic the whole day others taking your plates and a keen garbage collector who changes bags after bags with same devotion.

Inside the big marquee which can house around a thousand chairs, Krishna Leela discourse is being told to avid listeners who are ready to sit for hours and listen to Shri Krishna Katha with the same intensity as what is outside in volunteers who have manned each and every activity. Organising such an event of this huge scale is no mean task. It was announced a year ago with committees being formed and meetings through out the year.

Says Manju Sharma how she felt, “Bhai Ji says that before you go on to read Gita, you must read Shrimad Bhagwat because it is this epic that first creates curiosity and love for Lord Krishna.”

Another Dr. Reena Mehta says, “For me Ramesh Bhai Oza’s discourse gave me answers that in life you must adapt to people, he does it through very simple examples, drawn from life. And he makes you laugh.”

Shrimad Bhagwat is the story when King Parikshat was told the story by Sut ji. When the king asked about the mystery of life, why we live, what is our purpose, where do we go once we die. It is sometimes called the ”˜fifth veda’ and is the source of popular stories of Sri Krishna, says one Western expert who has translated it that Bhagwat Purana is the essence of all Upnishads and Vedanta literature.

Oza Bhai says that the thought we should have satsang is the culmination of what we are witnessing today, “God created the Srishti only because of the ”˜Vichar’. Happiness cannot be derived from selfishness. One enjoys happiness in togetherness. The wise spend it to enjoy with everyone.”

In between his talks, his musicians sing popular bhajans, ”˜Bata do koi kaun gali gaye Shyam.’

Oza insists that our home should hold a library ”“ if the devalya is the ”˜heart’ of the house then good books are the ”˜brain’. He says, “God is not someone sitting in some seventh heaven up there. He is in us, with us, like the milk which has ghee in it but we cannot see.”

Oza is as overpowered with emotion as much as the listeners relating antics of naught Krishna and Yashodha maiya when gopis come complaining that he stole their butter or broke their matkis. How when one days he ate ”˜matti’ and his mother asked him to open his mouth, she saw not just one our universe but multiverses only to forget as Lord Krishna wanted her to be the loving mother that she is.

Bhai ji says with the end of Krishna’s Dwapar yug started the Kalyug, “We are lucky to be in this yug as just chanting the name of ”˜God’ will help us cross the ”˜bhavsagar’.”

Devotees congregated from far off places in Sydney to listen to the eight day discourse, many missing not even one day, with one who said he stood whole day directing the cars to parking area in and out for all those days. Such is the devotion as the story of Lord Krishna is being told by this great orator, Ramesh Bhai Oza. He relates the story of ‘Takshak’ at the end, Bhagwat Purana text which consists of twelve books (skandhas) totalling 332 chapters (adhyayas) and between 16,000 and 18,000 verses depending on the recension, Oza says it will take many a satsang like this one to learn the mystery of life, in fact many lives, to finally get its gist. To imbibe its true essence, the philosophy of life, death, everyday living and understand the interconnectedness in us all who are His creation. “The katha only just has started…” he says, “Live your life, enjoy, be happy as ‘Life is to be enjoyed’, with everyone of course.”



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