Bailey Cove Classics: The Bhagavad Gita
Part 1 of 2 discussions to take place in September and October. (This title may also be freely downloaded as an ebook from HMCPL's Digital Media Zone Public Domain Collection.) The Bhagavad Gita first captured the American imagination in the mid-19th century, when Henry Thoreau and other self-styled "Brahmins" found fresh, contemporary wisdom in India's ancient sacred text. Despite more than 200 English versions since then, few translators have captured the urgency and sagacity of Arjuna's pre-battle dialogue with the god Krishna more expertly than Mitchell, whose translation of the Tao te Ching has sold more than half a million copies and garnered much praise. Mitchell is, refreshingly, as frustrated by the Gita's bewitching circularity as many of its readers have been, and does not shrink from challenging some of the poem's conclusions. Concerning war, for example, he asks, "How indeed can an enlightened sage, who cherishes all beings with equal compassion because he sees all beings within himself and himself within God, inflict harm on anyone, even wicked men who have launched an unjust war?" Mitchell's translation is intimate and personal; he encourages readers to stand in Arjuna's place, asking themselves how they should live. Mitchell emphasizes that the poem is a guide to the path of bhakti yoga (devotion) more than it is merely a philosophical discussion. "The Gita is a love song to reality, a hymn in praise of everything excellent and beautiful and brave," he notes. (Oct.) .