Ten (mostly funny) reasons to read the Bhagavad Gita.

Via Bob Weisenberg
on Aug 8, 2011
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Gita Talk has begun! See 
Falling Head-Over-Heels In Love with the Universe.
(Gita Talk 1)

I’m pleased to announce the start of a new round of the popular online discussion of the Bhagavad Gita, Gita Talk, beginning August 22.  This will give you plenty of time to get the Stephen Mitchell text.  Order it now so you’ll be ready to begin on August 22!

This time you can look ahead if you like, because we will be following, perhaps with some additions, the original sixteen session Gita Talk.  And you can also see the Gita sliced and diced by major theme in the sequel sixteen part series Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations, which just ended recently.

Gita Talk is like an online book club.  We will read about one chapter per week and discuss it right here on Elephant.  Join our Gita Talk Facebook page for weekly notices of each new discussion blog and to get to know your fellow Gita geeks.  Each blog also gives you the short reading assignment for the next week.

I am very pleased to have Elephant writer Jennifer Cusano as my partner in running this new Gita Talk.   Jennifer will moderate the discussions and get the word out about Gita Talk in the social media.

If you’re still uncertain about whether you should join us, here are ten reasons why you should, brought to you by Elephant and Yoga Journal writer, Erica Rodefer:

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, niece, 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 (Ignore this one.  You really want the Mitchell version.  Trust me. ~ Bob W.)

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.

I’d like to have a cyber show of hands.  If you’re in for the new Gita Talk, leave a quick comment below!  And any other ideas or comments you have about the Bhagavad Gita are welcome too!


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.


55 Responses to “Ten (mostly funny) reasons to read the Bhagavad Gita.”

  1. Ronnie says:

    I'm in! 🙂

  2. misa derhy says:

    Bob, I m definitely "in", and looking forward to it!

  3. Hi, Guest. Ok, this intro. is purposely light and fun. But I hope you'll take a look at the 32 sessions of serious Gita discussion in the first Gita Talk and in Gita in a Nutshell before concluding that we are "trivializing" the Gita.

    If you still think so after looking at these, plus all the discussions on those 32 sessions, then we can agree to disagree!

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  4. ARCreated says:

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

  5. ARCreated says:

    what the???? we hold this book in high regard too… that is why we read it and want to share it with as many people as possible. and you catch more flies with honey but not with righteousness. No one owns yoga or its stories it is all things and belongs to everyone. and it is with total love that we bring the word out of the sky and to the masses…that is not irreverence that is total faith in its importance

    there is no west and non-west —– we are all one.

  6. Beth says:

    I'm in, thank you so much for your time and energy put in to this!

  7. Emily Perry says:

    I'm in~ I have it on my kindle and ready to go! I think we have all been distracted by all things shiny!

  8. Mango says:

    Count me in!

  9. Ang says:

    I have read this and am going to be honest enough to admit that I need some guidance and insight to more fully recognize the particulars of the text. I finished it so discouraged that I didn't experience a mind blowing epiphany.
    I have a feeling this is a text I will read multiple times throughout my life and will mean something different based on my own evolution.
    Needless to say – I'm in..

  10. I've got #2 covered! "You need a fresh, new bedtime story to tell your kid, niece, nephew, dog, cat or goldfish." See Gita for a Fish.


  11. Hi, Ang. I gave up on the Gita three times before growing to love it, and before it became one of the greatest influences on my life. That's partly what motivated me to start Gita Talk.

  12. Ivy says:

    catch more flies?

  13. No ridicule, William. All opinions welcome here. I personally think humor has a place in everything. And, since I married into a Jewish family and raised three Jewish kids, I know there is a lot more humor surrounding the Jewish sacred texts than I've ever heard about the Bhagavad Gita. It's built in.

  14. LA Finfinger says:

    I'm in! I just borrowed this copy from one of the studios where I teach. #'s 1, 5 and 8 for me!

  15. stephanie says:

    Count me in!

  16. William Price says:

    Thanks, Bob, perhaps I need to lighten up. Thanks for the reminder. Word. I'm in.

  17. Kyra says:

    I’m in! Looking forward to it!!

  18. Ang says:

    Bob – how is it that you always know just the perfect thing to say that leaves me feeling equal parts comforted and inspired? Yet another reason for anyone who is on the fence about being a part of this to get on board. Bob just has a way…

  19. tanya lee markul says:

    I'm definitely motivated now! Bring it on!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  20. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  21. No problem, William. As a side benefit from you comment, I went to look at Tikkun (wanted to see if they had a 32 session online discussion series on Genesis with thousands of readers , and if so, could they laugh about it!), liked it very much, and then recommended that our new Elephant Spirituality Editor, Ben Riggs, take a look at Tikkun for possible writers.

    They are moving from print to mostly online, and are soliciting blogs from all traditions for their Tikkun Daily Blog. I'm going to submit Gita in a Nutshell, I think. So, thank you!

  22. Louise Brooks says:

    Dear Bob,
    Count me in! This sounds interesting, insightful, and dare I say it, fun. Thanks for starting up a project like this with good humour included. We all take ourselves and yoga way too seriously sometimes.

  23. Louise Brooks says:

    Guest: keep on trolling…..

  24. Louise Brooks says:

    Oh dear William. Please stop taking yourself so seriously. You are allowed to enjoy it and the Gita!

  25. Louise says:

    I'm in … again! Loved the discussions, insights, questions, wrangling … ready for a fresh round!

  26. Peter Turner says:

    Hard to take this seriously, but not for the obvious reason. Might be better off picking a translation from someone who knows Sanskrit, like Georg Feurstein, or Babara Stoler Miller.

  27. Hi, Peter. Funny you should mention that. I just had an exchange with another reader on this important subject:


    Bob: I've been accused of being Bhagavad Gita lite because I highly recommend the Stephen Mitchell translation…

    Thaddeus: Purely out of curiousity…is Stephen Mitchell fluent in Sanskrit?

    Bob: No, not at all. His version is based on his best synthesis of over 50 English versions of the Gita. He describes his method and his purpose eloquently and, to me, convincingly in a long chapter in his book.

    Having read six other versions of the Gita repeatedly, including the Prabhupada edition mentioned above, and having made many direct comparisons between the Mitchell version and the others, I personally believe that Mitchell admirably achieved his goal of greater clarity, poetic beauty, and accessibility.

    That said, I also love the Graham Schweig version and brand new Georg Feuerstein version, too. And I'm sure there are other great versions that I haven't had the pleasure of reading yet. Since I've done a lot of direct stanza to stanza comparisons, I never worry about missing any key meaning reading any of these three.

    Great question, Thaddeus. Thank you.

    Thaddeus: Thanks Bob. I have always found stanza to stanza translation comparisons invaluable. On a side not, are you familiar with Salvatore Zambito's "The Unadorned Thread of Yoga: The Yoga-sutra of Patanjali in English?" You can purchase a copy on his institutes website at http://www.yogasutras.net/. It is amazing because, not only does it provide a word for word translation, but it also compiles 12 translations from a broad range of translators and puts them all on one page together.

    Bob: Actually that process of Zambito's is kind of similar to what Mitchell did in creating his version of the Gita–he lined all the leading translations up side by side, and tried to use his awesome poetry skill to try to come up with something completely true to the meaning, but a more poetic and natural English feel to it. The idea of combining the consensus translation skill of the most learned Sanskrit scholars with the talents of a truly first rate poet like Mitchell makes perfect sense to me.

    What do you think, Peter?

    Bob W.

  28. jdigilio says:

    I am in!

  29. Hi, Peter. Please see my thoughts below. Thanks for commenting.

  30. elephantjournal says:

    If you're cold, come over and let's drink tea. ~ W.

  31. elephantjournal says:

    Honor to have you comment here, old boss. I (used to, haven't read him forever) love Georg Feurstein (sure I still would). I'll follow Bob's suggestion down this comment thread and see where we go from there. ~ W.

  32. elephantjournal says:

    Peter, great comment, and I look forward to Bob's reply and continuing dialogue re this. We do want to be taken seriously (as per your tweet—it's our duty not to mess up folks' understanding of the books we discuss), though we don't need to take ourselves seriously…I still remember your great sense of humor and am happy to see you touch in with our site. Any time you want to write anything..! ~ W.

  33. Hi, Peter. Hmmm, not sure I know how to deal with someone who is ready to issue a derisive dismissal of something he's never seen. But I don't doubt that you might very well feel the same about Mitchell's marvelous Gita, too, if and when you read it. And then we can just cordially agree to disagree!

    I guess all I can do at the moment is hope that you will stick around for the discussion. I'm hoping to get Mitchell himself here. I'm sure he'd be up to the interesting challenge of dealing with your critique, although he will probably prefer if you have read a little of it first, if possible.

    As you can imagine, having Graham Schweig in for a discussion of the Mitchell Gita was interesting, to say the least. (And the "robust" conversation is all still there for the reading. Gita Talk #8: Very Special Guest Graham Schweig 1,192 views, 176 comments.)

    I'm sure you will discover that, regardless of philosophical disagreements, you will find Mitchell an intellectual and spiritual force to be reckoned with. But then, that will just make the debate all the more interesting, because we admire you as a formidable intellectual and spiritual force as well, of course.

    I agree that the Gita is a remarkably complex and subtle document. So are the Upanishads. But many of us believe that the Yoga philosophy they espouse is exactly the opposite–sublimely simple, profound, and livable–simple almost to the extent of one-pointedness: "Sat Chit Ananda" ("Reality Consciousness Bliss") and "I am That".

    I hope you will join us, and bring all your friends. We'll have a ball.

    As a final important note, I should add that Gita Talk and Gita in a Nutshell are really independent of Mitchell anyway. We've always had readers who preferred a different version and had no trouble engaging in all the discussions. I've tested Gita in a Nutshell stanza references with Schweig and Feuerstein instead of Mitchell, and the meaning is still the same. Even the introduction says, "open up your Mitchell Gita (or any Gita) to find the most powerful passages on that topic."

    Thanks for being here,


  34. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  35. Yogini5 says:

    And I have been linking to the first Gita in a Nutshell series over at my blogsite. These are people who look to me for philosophical guidance on Zen and on yoga …

  36. Yogini5 says:

    "Give a man a fish, he has food for a day

    "Teach a man to fish, he has food for a lifetime."

    –Lao Tzu

    In a sense, this Gita in a Nutshell is teaching someone how to fish for the good stuff in the Gita ..

  37. I really like that idea!

  38. Hasu says:

    In. Now that I am in Yoga Teacher Training it is perfect timing 🙂 Jai Bhagwan

  39. lucid says:

    yes! it cannot be read too many times!

  40. Maria says:

    I'm new. I meant to join the last read-along but didn't have time until now. Finally!

  41. nmm says:

    Read it – most likely IN

  42. pweiss2323 says:

    Reading the Gita is long overdue for me… I look forward to joining you!

  43. Shannon says:

    I am in too. I am in the process of doing a teacher training and its on my list to read so you can all help me with my homework.

  44. My teacher of 10 years, Dr. Douglas Brooks, has written a beautiful & clear guide to the Gita called "Poised for Grace: Annotations on the Bhagavad Gita from a Tantric Point of View," which is a spectacular chapter by chapter discussion of the major themes – easily read & highly informative. If you are interested in crystal-clear commentary, this is it. Douglas is a professor of Eastern Religions & Sanskrit at the University of Rochester. His favored translation is by Van Buitenen – easily found on Amazon. I've read the Juan Mascaro many times, which is beautiful, but sometimes seen as having a slightly Judeo-Christian tradition tone to it. In any case, it is great to start anywhere & then expand from there!

  45. […] Ten (mostly funny) reasons to read the Bhagavad Gita. […]

  46. Jen says:

    My hand is up!

  47. JaoNegro says:

    …how can any sane human not laugh at our attempts to live a purposeful life? Comedy has to be one of mankind's greatest gifts in coping with failure.

  48. JaoNegro says:

    Raising my hand. Read some online versions. Winced at the semiliteral English translation. Argued a lot with it in my head. Some 'splaining would make it better.