Top 10 Reasons to Read the Bhagavad Gita.

Via on Jun 2, 2010

Just discovered this very funny blog by Erica from the early Yoga Journal Community!  It takes on new relevance now that we have a thriving place to talk about it at Gita Talk.

10 Reasons to Read the Bhagavad Gita

1. You were supposed to during teacher training, but only got through 20 pages. And you’ve felt guilty ever since.

2. You need a fresh, new bedtime story to tell your kid, neice, nephew, dog, cat, or goldfish.

3. “I find a solace in the Bhagavad Gita that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount. When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita. I find a verse here and a verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies – and my life has been full of external tragedies – and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teaching of Bhagavad Gita.” — Mahatma Gandhi

4. You think “Bhagavad Gita” sounds like an exotic disease that could have been prevented with a simple mosquito net. (I hear it gives you a horrendous rash!)

5. You were trying to follow your dharma, or life’s purpose, but got distracted by something shiny.

6. Learn about bhakti yoga (devotion), jnana yoga (knowledge), and karma yoga (service) and apply all of these things to your own practice.

7. It will give you something intelligent to talk about at cocktail parties. You’ll be the life of the party!

8. Shouldn’t you know more about the practice you’ve devoted so much time, effort, energy, and thought to?

9. It’s available for free online! And you’ve never been one to pass up a bargain … www.bhagabad-gita.us

10. Now you have a supportive community to share your comments and questions with.

Let’s motivate each other to get through this all-important yogic text.

–Erica

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About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

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46 Responses to “Top 10 Reasons to Read the Bhagavad Gita.”

  1. Lyricfan says:

    15. Read the book to learn more about yourself.
    This book is a present to everyone who reads it. Not only because of what it teaches us, but because of the way it was translated by S.M. Once I started reading it out loud, I understood the meaning of the text even better. Thank you for suggesting it to us.

  2. 16. Because Bob Weisenberg told ya to.

  3. In my 40 some years of studying the Bhagavad Gita and attempting to bring its teachings in my life and yoga practice, and after publishing an introduction, translation, and textual illumination of the work, and after teaching from the work in Yoga and the university setting for many years, here's one very compelling reason why one might read this writing, a reason found within the work itself:

    The narrator of the text, Sanjaya, describes it in the following words: "the supreme secret of yoga" in the concluding verses of the Gita.

    One of the most compelling reasons for studying the Bhagavad Gita is, then, perhaps to penetrate what that supreme secret of yoga is!

    Graham
    The Secret Yoga

  4. In my 40 some years of studying the Bhagavad Gita and attempting to bring its teachings in my life and yoga practice, and after publishing an introduction, translation, and textual illumination of the work, and after teaching from the work in Yoga and the university setting for many years, here's one very compelling reason why one might read this writing, a reason found within the work itself:

  5. QUESTION FOR YOU, INVITATION FOR YOU!

    Question: What has been the most difficult thing for you in understanding the teachings or narrative of the Bhagavad Gita? What philosophical or theological or existential questions do any of you have regarding any aspect of the Gita?

    Invitation: I would truly love to hear these challenges and invite you to post them on this blog. If you do, I would offer a response to any and every question. I would like to learn from you!

    Graham
    The Secret Yoga

    • Hi, Graham. Since you have made this exceptionally generous offer, a question I'd like to ask is how do you personally define the word "God" and how does your definition differ from Mitchell's?

      Bob Weisenberg

      • I am happy to hear that the short introduction was helpful to you. I purposely kept it short, packed with enough information so as to allow the reader to encounter the text itself without feeling lost and without much delay. That said, if you go to the pages following the whole translation, you will find in my section entitled, "Textual Illuminations," a page on which I place a diagram of the Gita's three literary layers: the inner dialogue, the outer dialogue, and the living dialogue (see page 256 / figure 2). And of course the surround words, explain these layers. HAPPY READING!

      • Bob, I'm not used to this blog thing, so I'm not sure how these messages of mine are getting up there. Your question about "God." Do you know that there is no word in Sanskrit that is equivalent to "God"? And thus, you will not find in any of my verses the employment of the word. About 82 per cent of Americans think of God as the creator of the world. And coming from the Semitic or Abrahamic traditions, this is understandable. However, creation in Indian traditions is not nearly as big a deal; it is subcontracted out by the higher notion of Ishvara, or the Supreme Being. The word Brahman means "absolute spirit" or "ultimate reality", and Bhagavan, as I've translated it means, "Beloved Lord," or more specifically, "the One who possesses all Excellences in Full". So, without knowing Mitchell's use of the word God, I can tell you that the Bhagavad Gita really doesn't employ the word! How's that for a provocative response? Happy to respond further if you like . . . just keep pushing me until you get what you need. :-)

        Graham
        The Secret Yoga

        • I kind of know how the Gita defines Brahman, which is what I mean when I use the word "God". Defining Brahman, it seems to me, is the primary subject of the Gita. I'm more interested in how you personally define God, or, if you prefer, how you define "Beloved Lord".

          It seems to me that calling Brahman "the One" or "the Lord" is already an extreme form of metaphor, as is, then, everything the Gita has the Lord saying. The question I'm interested in is how do you personally define the reality of Brahman behind this metaphor of a someone who speaks to us just as if he or she were a person?

          • Hey! I'm thrilled that you're thrilled. I have a few minutes, so I'll take your first point. But before I do, I'll comment briefly on the "Love" aspect of the Gita. As I explain toward the end of the Textual Illuminations portion of the book, these verses are saturated with divine affection for souls. When I began my journey into translating the text, I searched for the verses in the text that tell us, the reader, how it wants us to understand its words. I sought out that one verse in which I could discover the very hermeneutic embedded in the text for illuminating every other verse in the text. This verse I reveal in Textual Illuminations.

    • Kaoverii Weber Kaoverii says:

      Wow! I'm so thrilled that you are here commenting Professor Schweig. And thanks for the offer – I'd love to ply you with questions! I was attracted to your commentary on the Gita frankly because of all the "Love" in the title and it's my current translation of choice. I use the epistemological paradigm you quote in the intro, which Krishna sets out in chapter 4 – pranipatena, pariprashnena, sevaya – as a framework for my yoga teacher training program. I think it's interesting that you translate pariprashna as "thorough inquiry" as previously I've heard it only as "asking the right questions." So I'd love it if you could write about that.

      One other question, maybe even larger and broader, if you'd be willing to talk about the relevance/importance of Krishna in his Vraja vs Parthasarathi roles, I would love to read your thoughts on that.

      And I have heaps more questions but I'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much!!!

    • svan says:

      Thank you, Graham!

      I wondering how you would compare Bhakti Yoga in the Gita with Bodhicitta in Buddhism or Ishvarapranidhana in the Yoga Sutras?

  6. A long P.S. By the way, I am certainly open to discussing any of the challenges that I had in translating the Sanskrit of this text. Steven Mitchell, as many of you know, does not know Sanskrit, and thus produced a popularized rendition of the text, utilizing other translations, mixing and matching, and he has achieved, in his own way, a Mitchellized rendition of the work that can be very approachable and appealing. What I sought to do was to bring to the non-Sanskrit reader a very accurate translation that respects even the sequencing of ideas while also conveying the poetic sense of the text the way a Sanskrit reader hears it and feels it. Additionally, I attempted to bring out the philosophical power embedded in the Sanskrit words themselves by reincarnating the effect and experience of the Gita's ideas. Each verse is meant to be a meditation, something to be pondered over and over, the same way asanas are practiced over and over, in order that they sink in more deeply. I spent many years at Harvard University and in India learning Sanskrit, and along with a deep meditation practice, these verses, after pondering them for decades, finally came alive. Hope it comes through to you!

    Graham
    The Secret Yoga

    • lorraineya says:

      I am enjoying the dialogue here. Are Brahmin and Beloved Lord two separate entities? Is Beloved Lord actually someone who is fully enlightened? So you know, I am a first-time Gita reader and have read through Chapter 8. Thank you for your participation here!

      • I am happy to hear that you're enjoying the talk here. I am too. Your question would be in some ways responded to in what I've responded to Bob's question above. But I should add here that the Beloved Lord, which translates Bhagavan, which is the same as Bhagavad in the title of the work "Bhagavad Gita", is Krishna, who is the voice of the innermost core of all being, of the Brahman. The ancient Indian traditions are saying to us, "if the absolute reality could speak, if the ultimate level of being and the whole of reality that contains absolutely everything could have a voice, it would be Bhagavan Sri Krishna." So, in short, Brahman is the whole of reality, and The Beloved Lord is that divine being, at the very core of it, that divine being from whom the Brahman comes! It is a very rich vision.

        Graham http://www.secretyoga.com

      • integralhack says:

        Good questions. Looking forward to hearing your take on this as well, Graham.

  7. AMY CHAMP says:

    Peter Brook's Mahabharata has a Gita segment and makes use of the narrator. It's quite eloquent. Here is the clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B4Z1PB97KY

  8. A long P.S. By the way, I am certainly open to discussing any of the challenges that I had in translating the Sanskrit of this text. Steven Mitchell, as many of you know, does not know Sanskrit, and thus produced a popularized rendition of the text, utilizing other translations, mixing and matching, and he has achieved, in his own way, a Mitchellized rendition of the work that can be very approachable and appealing. What I sought to do was to bring to the non-Sanskrit reader a very accurate translation that respects even the sequencing of ideas while also conveying the poetic sense of the text the way a Sanskrit reader hears it and feels it. Additionally, I attempted to bring out the philosophical power embedded in the Sanskrit words themselves by reincarnating the effect and experience of the Gita's ideas. Each verse is meant to be a meditation, something to be pondered over and over, the same way asanas are practiced over and over, in order that they sink in more deeply. I spent many years at Harvard University and in India learning Sanskrit, and along with a deep meditation practice, these verses, after pondering them for decades, finally came alive. Hope it comes through to you!

  9. I've transferred the conversation with Graham over to Gita Talk #8: Very Special Guest Graham Schweig

  10. YogaSweetie says:

    What a fantastic idea to encourage people to read the Gita & have a forum for discussion & questions while doing so! I'm sorry I've not been able to read along due to being swamped with YTT work, but thought I'd make a quick comment anyway…

    Like Erica's blog, I fall into the 'had to read Gita for YTT and only managed 20 pages' camp. Although in my case I probably read about 50 pages. And had a very strong reaction. I thought I would absolutely love the Gita – I love story telling, and after all its one of the key yogic texts… I didn't quite hate it but really struggled with it, and felt very conflicted by a lot of its themes, notably war and non-attachment.

    Then a kindly soul on Twitter (a.k.a. Bob Weisenberg) helped me to think of the Gita as a metaphor for life's struggle, and it got a bit easier. Still haven't finished it mind you. The commentary in the version we were studying on my YTT was very detailed & I think it got in the way a bit.

    So I'm looking forward to my summer holiday in Provence, as I'm planning to take the Stephen Mitchell version with me! I do hope the discussion boards will still be accessible in a few months time cos I'd love to come back & read everyone's views.

    • Thanks for writing, YogaSweetie. Yes, absolutely, Gita Talk will be available. I've started calling it a "self-paced seminar" to make it clear that you can start anytime and go at your own pace. I hope lots of people will take advantage. Plus, I get e-mail notification for all new comments, so I will be responding to all new readers whenever they write.

      This experience you describe of struggling with your first encounter with the Gita is so common that I took the initiative and made it the subject of Gita Talk #4: Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First?. I think you will find it particularly helpful.

      Knowing people would be coming in later and going at their own pace, I also created a roadmap blog at Welcome to Gita Talk

      Bob Weisenberg

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  17. I am happy to hear that the short introduction was helpful to you. I purposely kept it short, packed with enough information so as to allow the reader to encounter the text itself without feeling lost and without much delay. That said, if you go to the pages following the whole translation, you will find in my section entitled, "Textual Illuminations," a page on which I place a diagram of the Gita's three literary layers: the inner dialogue, the outer dialogue, and the living dialogue (see page 256 / figure 2). And of course the surround words, explain these layers. HAPPY READING!

    Graham
    The Secret Yoga

  18. I found myself swept away by Graham's enthusiasm in his "Textual Illuminations". It has a similar emotional feel to "The Secret Yoga" video, only with all the textual and scholarly details filled in, which makes it even more powerful.

  19. lorraineya says:

    Excellent! I love it!

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