The Gita is considered to be one of the most exhaustive scriptures on the spiritual ascent of man in the form of a dialogue with God. Specially focusing on man’s pursuit of happiness, the book attempts to summarise the entire Gita teaching into a two-part recipe for finding the happiness within oneself, namely ‘Take lightly all that happens to you. And take all our obligations seriously, without fear of results or favour of rewards.’
To arrive at this methodology for action; the author relics heavily on the Vedantic school of advaita (non-duality and its maxim, “The real ‘I’ is neither the doer nor the experiencer.” The philosophy of non-duality itself is explained in the simplest terms through a long conversation. Unusual diagramatical presentations of the core content of the book add clarity to the comprehension.
Dr. V. Krishnamurthy (b. 1927), ex-Director of K.K. Birla Academy, New Delhi, and former Dy. Director and Prof. of Mathematics at BITS, Pilani for more than two decades, is an authority on Hindu religion and philosophy. Besides a number of research papers, he has to his credit many books including Essentials of Hinduism; Hinduism for the next Generation; and The Ten Commandments of Hinduism.
Prof. Krishnamurthy was awarded with Distinguished Service Award by the Mathematics Association of India, Seva Ratna award by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai, Vocational Service Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education by the Rotary Clubs of Guindy and Chennai Samudra.
The Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit is considered to be the most exhaustive scripture on the spiritual ascent of Man in the form of a dialogue between Man and God. Several authoritative commentaries have been written from ancient times by Masters on the scripture and there are numerous other modern expositions of the same written by scholars. Having had the good fortune to be exposed to some of these writings, as well as to the oral and written expositions of his own father Shri R. Visvanatha Sastrigal, the author makes bold to submit before the general reader this book on the Gita in the hope of achieving the following distinct features:
• Even those who have had no exposure to ideas on spirituality, particularly from Hindu religious thought, may be able to use this book as their first primer on Vedanta, that is, the philosophical heights of the Vedas.
• Instead of taking the arduous route of chapter wise coverage of the Gita, we take it subject-wise and walk smoothly through the whole Gita, annotating it from rock bottom up. In the process, around 150 verses of the Gita get quoted, translated and explained. An index of these verses can be seen at the end.
• By the strategy of a spiral presentation, a concept grossly presented in an earlier chapter gets its proper meaning and fuller explanation in a later context. In other words, the same topic is touched upon more than once but each time it occurs it gains depth and coverage. This also smoothens the difficulty of having to contend with a lot of technical jargon upfront.
• Any reader of books on spirituality would be wanting to ask several questions as he goes along. Anticipating this, the book itself raises the questions at the crucial places and attempts to answer them.
The central theme, namely, ‘Pursuit of Happiness,’ is never lost sight of in the presentation. Throughout, the focus is on the message of the Gita on how we should live our daily life — and the Gita assures us that it is the only way to be ever-happy.
The core essence of the Gita is Vedanta. One major school of Vedanta is Advaita or non-duality What is non- duality? A 60-page frank dialogue on this topic between teacher and disciple constitutes the last chapter. This unusual two-way dialogue actually is itself a mini-book, explaining, fairly exhaustively, the philosophy of no n-duality in the simplest of terms. The undercurrent of non-duality present everywhere in the rest of the book should not, therefore, provide an obstacle to the understanding.
Since the Gita admits reasonable scope also for philosophies other than non-duality even though the emphasis in this book has been on non-dualistic way of thinking, the emphasis automatically blurs away when such an emphasis is likely to lead one into technical hair-splitting. This softening helps the common reader and makes the book equally accessible and worthwhile to both the general reader and the scholar.
Knowledge of Sanskrit — or for that matter, a familiarity with Hindu culture and Indian traditions---is not necessary for the understanding of the book. Every Sanskrit term or passage is generally explained then and there. Where this does not occur, the index is ready with help.
By continuously keeping a global track of the journey the book sustains the interest of even a casual reader through the labyrinth of technicalities that it ventures through.
The core content of the book is focused through a diagrammatic presentation, unique in such literature, in the form of four charts that add clarity to the comprehension.
The genesis of the book goes back to a series of twelve lectures given during the winter of 2003-04 to a group of fellow seekers of Indian origin in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. It turned out to be very successful in terms of effective communication, because the group spent a good time discussing the questions that arose on the presentation. The author takes this opportunity to record his indebtedness to Giddu Sriram and all the other members of that group for being the motivation for him to deliver the lectures and write this book. An earlier outline version of the book was made available on the web at.
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