The Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation
by Gavin Flood and Charles Martin
W.W. Norton, 2012
167 pages / $13.95 buy from Powell’s
1. The Gita is a 700-verse scripture which is excerpted from the Hindu epic The Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is the longest Sanskrit epic known to date. The Mahabharata is over 200,000 verse lines, totaling roughly 1.8 million words and is ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.
2. The introduction of this translated version quotes Philip Larkin’s poem “The Explosion.” So cool.
3. I have anxiety and decided I am going to read every religious text published this year. I have never read The Bible. I am going to.
4. This section of the Mahabharata is a conversation between a prince named Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna is God for all intents and purposes. Arjuna has to go into battle but it means fighting people he loves and Krishna is trying to get him to go into battle. It’s a tough break for everybody.
5. Arjuna and Krishna volley back and forth questions from student, answers from teacher. I also wondered if they were volleying back and forth with some tongue-in-cheek humor because they kept calling each other things like, “O Blameless One” and “O Perfect Haired One.” I was nervous though that making this claim would be disrespectful to say, one of the oldest most important religious texts in history. I wrote to one of the translators of this book. He told me that he never thought of it that way and that there have been no studies on this theory but that I quote, “Might be right, might be onto something,” and that, “It is a really interesting theory.” Well that was flattering.
6. I picture Arjuna and Krishna on a basketball court going back and forth in each other’s faces arguing except they’re arguing about the disposition of man.
7. The underlying metaphor is of course the battle for the conscious, the battle for the soul, the battle on how to live one’s life.
8. Gandhi called The Gita “his spiritual dictionary.”
9. I felt better while reading this book.
10. In the book Krishna says the way to change yourself is to focus on breathing in and out. No-matter the situation, just focus on breathing and you will be changing yourself.
11. I tried to go to a yoga class once. My friend and I had been drinking earlier in the day and we were falling over and laughing so hard the entire class was horrified and the yoga teacher asked us to leave the room and never come back.
12. I tried to go to another yoga class five years later and my face was laying on a mat sideways and when I opened my eyes this boy next to me was laying his face on a mat and he was staring at me and then after class he asked me, “Who are you?” and I ran away and don’t know his name or anything like that.
13. I went to a yoga class in New York and the instructor came up to me and tried to reposition my hips and said, “It hurts?” and I said “Yes,” but I meant everywhere.
14. Some of the quotes in this book will make you cry, observe:
“Man is made of faith, Arjuna,
and man is the very faith that he has.”
15. I’m told that as a fiction writer I am at a great disadvantage for not having read religious texts because they are good examples of things such as human interaction, story and history.
16. This book is about a guy who is stubborn.
17. This version is incredibly accessible and universally easy to understand.
18. Basically I’m like well Gandhi was cool, so…
19. I am interested that at one point the book basically says that women should be treated well because if they aren’t then they will have children of mixed race but I will ask somebody about that because well that one bothered me but maybe things were different in the 3102 B.C. which is when this conversation between Arjuna and Krishna happened, though some people are still arguing on when this conversation happened.
20. It’s really intense the way Arjuna had like the same problems in his heart that everyone has in their heart now.
21. You can read this thing in one day or night it’s only like 167 pages.
22. Also the cover art is amazing and apparently is an illustration that dates back to 1763 which apparently sits right now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, which, good acquisition.
23. I feel like making this version so easily readable for people was very Gita-ish.
24. It’s a very good narrative poem, this thing.
25. Namaste, OM, make love not war, etc.