Pagan Paths - Eastern
- Category: Reviews
Bhagavad Gita for
by Swami Sadashiva Tirtha
Sat Yuga Press, 2007
When I read the introductory chapter of this book I was very excited. I often get asked “What’s a good place for those interested in the Hindu tradition to begin their explorations?” The Bhagavad Gita for Modern Times may fit the bill for many seekers.
The author makes a concerted effort to stress the universal application of the text by drawing interfaith comparisons of the principles and lessons of the Gita. These comparisons are mostly drawn from the Judeo-Christian tradition, and considering that he was writing to a general Western audience, this makes sense. While some NeoPagan readers may find this somewhat grating, most will likely find it interesting to see the points of agreement between these seemingly disparate religions. I award the author extra brownie-points for referring to the Divine in both male and female terms throughout, and also for repeatedly mentioning that even those who are not inclined towards the concept of Deity can utilize the lessons in the Gita by thinking of the Divine as their Highest Ideals. After all, the core of the Bhagavad Gita is about learning to become the most compassionate person that we can be, reaching our potential, and serving Creation. These are values and goals that anyone
I have two main critiques of this book, the first being the formatting. The actual scriptural translations of the Gita are printed in a much smaller font than the commentary, making it annoying when trying to read the scripture itself, and very tempting to just skip the scared text altogether and stick just to the author’s elaborations. I fear that many who are new to the subject may just do that, and by doing so would rob themselves of the true beauty of the poetic verse. I also feel that many points were grossly oversimplified – but perhaps for those brand new to the topic this is helpful in that it will not overwhelm them.
On an eco-conscious note, Sat Yuga Press prints exclusively on recycled paper, using only organic and non-toxic printing products. Their books are also available in e-format for those who wish to forgo paper altogether.
Overall, I feel that The Bhagavad Gita for Modern Times makes a very good first introduction to the Gita and Eastern spirituality. Those who are experienced in reading sacred texts from various traditions, or already have a firm grasp on Eastern vocabulary and theology will likely find this text too elementary, though some may find its modern perspectives refreshing. If you are interested in Hindusim but don’t know where to start — start here.
RATING: 4 Broomsticks
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