Eastern & Western religious philosophy is one of my areas of interest about which I write essays exploring the nature of reality and being.
Paramahansa Yogananda's The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita was published in 2007 by Self-Realization Fellowship. This useful volume serves to summarize and introduce the two volume classic, God Talks with Arjuna, which is destined to become the definitive translation and explication of the scripture known as the Bhagavad Gita.
The sacred text of the Bhagavad Gita is often quoted by Western thinkers, scholars, and critics. Until Paramahansa Yogananda's translation and thorough explication of the text, much misunderstanding has continued to appear regarding the meaning of the symbolism employed in that text. Ineffable subjects must be expressed in language more akin to poetry than prose; thus, a special reading is needed to interpret the text, not only because of its poetic nature but also because explaining the nature of God, Who is beyond nature and sense awareness, must be done by one who has become God-realized—one such as Paramahansa Yogananda.
This great guru's translation and explication is becoming the standard for understanding this wisdom of Eastern philosophy and religion. It will take its place alongside Paramahansa Yogananda's classic work, Autobiography of a Yogi, which is now studied in over 300 university classes worldwide.
In the Preface, a quotation from Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Self-Realization Fellowship and Kriya Yoga teacher, asserts, "Sri Krishna's message in the Bhagavad Gita is the perfect answer for the modern age, and any age: Yoga of dutiful action, of nonattachment, and of meditation for God-realization."
The Gita offers "a timeless prescription for the happiness and balanced success of everyday life." Such descriptions might lead a reader to think the Gita a self-help book rather than a poem. While the Gita has been translated by many who have grasped the surface of its meaning, now the full significance of this scripture can be experienced through Yogananda's enlightened translation.
Many translations and explanations of this sacred Hindu scriptural poem have been offered over the centuries, but for the first time, the world is experiencing a translation and explication that is truly authentic as well as accurate: "What distinguishes the original translation by Paramahansa Yogananda is that, for the first time, the English rendering was done with an understanding of the profound inner symbology hidden in the Sanskrit verses."
The Preface of this text explains that the historical battle dramatized in the Gita is "an allegory of the inner conflict between man's base materialistic instincts and his innate yearning to attain the blissful spiritual consciousness of the oneness with the Divine." The names of the characters appearing the poem are symbols, and Yogananda expertly interprets the meaning of the symbology.
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Parts 1 and 2
Part 1: Keys to the Gita's Wisdom
Introducing the sacred poem, Paramahansa Yogananda explains that the meaning of "Bhagavad Gita" is "the song of the spirit." The text is the Hindu's "Holy Testament" or Bible. He remarks, "the entire knowledge of the cosmos is packed into the Gita." The spirituality of the Gita is displayed in its "rhetoric, alliteration, diction, style, and harmony"—all which give testimony that it exists from a former "glorious golden age."
Part 1 goes on to offer valuable tools for understanding the metaphoric language and symbology of the great epic with the following section titles: "The Spiritual Battle of Everyday Life," "Yoga: The Method of Victory," "The Psychological Forces That Oppose the Soul," "The Triumph of the Soul through Practice of Yoga."
Part 2: The Bhagavad Gita (translation by Paramahansa Yogananda)
Part 2 of this great text offers a summary of the Gita, with the following section titles: "The Despondency of Arjuna," "Sankhya and Yoga: Cosmic Wisdom and the Method of Its Attainment," "Karma Yoga: The Path of Spiritual Action," "The Supreme Science of Knowing God," "Freedom Through Inner Renunciation," and twelve additional sections.
Conclusion: "Arise! Before you is the royal path!"
The parting words of the Conclusion to The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita are an enticement to follow that "royal path." It makes clear that the Gita is a profound poem and a living scripture based on the scientific principles that inform yoga. Many folks live under the mistaken notion that poetry and science have nothing in common, that they are, in fact, polar opposites. The science of the Bhagavad Gita is unmistakably clear, and its poetry can now become clear through this authoritative volume offered by a self-realized master.
This sacred epic as demonstrated by Paramahansa Yogananda's accurate translation and thorough interpretation combines the art of both science and poetry in service of showing humankind the story that leads each soul back to its Origin. All great spiritual leaders and founders of the world's great religions have averred that the journey back to the Creator is one that each soul must undertake at some point in its existence. And that journey back is the purpose of every scripture in every religion, and each scripture requires interpretation because of the necessarily metaphysical nature of that writing.
© 2019 Linda Sue Grimes