Bhagvad-gita, A Book Review

Bhagvad-gita, A Book Review

Coming From A Different Perspective


Sacred Books of the East

There are numerous translations of the Bhagvad-gita and one of those particular translations came into my hands just a few days ago.  "The Sacred Books of The East" series edited by F. Max Müller and first published by Clarendon Press, in 1882.  It is actually one of the oldest and largest translations series of the past. It includes the Bhagvad-gita and other sacred texts translated ino the English language and additionally it is presented by some very distinguished scholars of the past.   

The Bhagvad-gita forms a part of the Bishma Parvan, a portion of the Mahabharata, one of the two better-known national epics of India and Hindi culture.  It is considered by many to be "the divine song" so keeping in mind that it occupies a spiritual veneration for some and a philosophy to others, and how people view and interpret the world is very important especially when viewing this text.  The translator, notes this and then sets forth an introduction that both explores various questions related to the text and his personal views on the matter.

 The translator also dives into various other circumstances and evidences surrounding the text in question providing various perspectives of the time on various parts of the text.  This is uniquely helpful for those wishing to track the history of how people look at a text and interpret it according to their own view of the past and the ideas being transmitted from there. What follows the introduction is the text itself translated with notes.  The translation is fairly easy to read and understand but it is written with an audience in mind that exists in our past.  I would have to say, "To each his own," as far as readability on this one; although the author does provide excellent notes to help limping readers along in the text.

In my own estimation, this is one of the finest pieces of literature I have read up to this point in which action, dialogue, imagery, and philosophy reach a peak of incomparable music.  That is without ascribing, out of necessity or at all, to the philosophy involved either.   It makes for a very interesting read no matter what your perspective might be and certainly serves to help illuminate another aspect of an ancient culture.