Falling Head-Over-Heels In Love with the Universe
For those of you who have always wanted to absorb the spectacular wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita, but have found it difficult, I highly recommend Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell. This is my fourth version and sixth reading of the Bhagavad Gita. I have gotten a lot from all four versions, but Mitchell’s is clearly the most accessible and enjoyable, without sacrificing any of the meaning.
The Bhagavad Gita is quite literally about falling in love with the indescribable wonder of the universe, that is to say, God. These two are synonymous in the Gita. (Believe it or not, the text itself says that you can approach God as either an unfathomable cosmic life-force or as an intimate personal deity. Either leads you to the same boundless love and joy.)
The Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutra are two of the most important ancient texts of Yoga. They could not be more different. The Yoga Sutra is mostly secular in nature, and mentions God only briefly and perfunctorily. The Bhagavad Gita, in contrast, is literally “The Song of the Beloved Lord”, and most of the text is the voice of the awesome life-force of the universe itself.
The Yoga Sutra is a cookbook for achieving inner peace. The Bhagavad Gita, in contrast, won’t settle for anything less than the ecstatic experience of the wondrous universe and our wondrous selves. Put them together and you have the astounding whole of Yoga philosophy in two relatively short texts.
Try Mitchell’s version of the Bhagavad Gita. You’ll be glad you did.
(A good companion for the Bhagavad Gita is
Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas and Best Quotations
at Elephant Journal.)