2/14/2012 2:47:09 AM
This is an excellent introduction to the Bhagavad Gita with its viewpoint reflecting that of Advaita Vedanta. Swami Ranganathananda was inducted into Vedanta through his contact and association with the Ramakrishna Mission. This book is an in-depth analysis of Gita using a concise and easy-to-read format. Swamiji has given discourses on the Gita in Hyderabad, India in the 1990's and this book is a transcribed version of those discourses. Swamiji provides the essence of those Gita lectures through this book with precise explanations, examples and anecdotes. Sometimes it can make the reader feel that he/she has been taken far away from the central theme.
One of the positive aspects of this book is that this learned scholar has injected the discussion of modern problems and demonstrated how to resolve them in the light of Vedanta. In performing this task, he is very informative and instructive and introduces the importance of morality in life. Swamiji persuasively explains the universal and human teachings of Bhagavad Gita in the context of modern thought and modern needs. This set of three volumes would provide a unique opportunity to the reader to undertake a serious study of the Gita. The reader who has gone through shorter texts such as that by Edwin Arnold (The Bhagavad Gita – the song celestial) would be able to appreciate the efforts of Swamiji. The book is packed with many magnificently inspirational ideas drawing upon the works of eminent national and international poets, scientists, authors and historians.
The author has been quite active in integrating the religious thoughts of diverse India and this book illustrates his sincere efforts in finding unity in diversity. This book summarises lectures given at different times: Volume 1 (chapters 1 to 4) was completed in July 2000; Volume 2 (chapters 5 to 11) was completed during December 2000 and Volume 3 (chapters 12 to 18) was completed during June 2001. Though the book volumes were written at different points of time, the author has maintained the theme – ‘An Exposition of the Gita in the Light of Modern Thought and Modern Needs.’
The book contains all the 700 verses of Gita in Devanagari script with transliteration and English translation. Readers are cautioned that this book does not contain word by word English translation. The book is more oriented to cater for the interest and needs of readers from India and those who are familiar with the Indian religious and political situations.
The author has followed standard transliteration and volume 1 provides details of how it was done along with useful hints for pronunciation. The book provides extensive imaginative discussions for the key verses of the Gita in addition to what has been provided in texts such as ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ by Dr. Radhakrishnan. After reading very few pages of this book the reader will be able to appreciate Swamiji’s deep understanding of both Gita and Upanishads. He is quite persuasive in making the reader understand the importance of keeping a positive mental attitude. Swamiji makes it very clear that a positive mental attitude can be achieved by knowing one’s own True Divine Nature. While explaining the meaning of Karma Yoga, he points out that this verse (Gita chapter 2, verse 47) emphasizes the importance of working with a higher motive. For modern needs, such understanding of the Gita is quite necessary and the book explores new expositions in the light of modern thought!
The book presents the practical aspects of the Gita in three volumes (close to 1000 pages and reasonably priced at $48.00). The views are more in tune with the vision of Ramakrishna Mission and traditional Vedantins are likely to have some objections. The index contains all the key Sanskrit words used along with translation and with appropriate references.
Swamiji states the essence of Vedanta by quoting two verses from Katha Upanishad (I. ii 20-21): ‘The Atman is smaller than an atom and larger than the cosmos; It is present in the cavity of the heart of all beings as their Self; Its glory is realized by the person who has renounced all desires and has gained full control over the mind and sense organs; he or she then becomes free from all sorrow.’ There are many profound statements such as the above at many places in the book.
This is a verse-by-verse exposition of the Gita by the Swami Ranganathananda, who headed the Ramakrishna Math in India. This commentary was originally given as Sunday discourses and released in audio and video formats. Packed with many stimulating and delightfully refreshing ideas, and drawing upon the works of eminent national and international poets, scientists, authors and historians, this commentary explains the universal and humanistic teachings of The Song Celestial, as Edwin Arnold called the Gita, in the context of modern thought and modern needs.
PublisherAdvaita AshramaDate Of Publication2004