May 17, 2010

Welcome to Gita Talk: Self-Paced Virtual Seminar on the Bhagavad Gita. (Original Round)

Welcome!  We’re glad you’re here.  This the original sixteen session of Gita Talk, an online discussion of the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell.

All the blogs below and the rich discussions are still open.  Just dive in, go at your own pace.  Tell us what’s on your mind.  Ask us the questions you were asking yourself as you were reading.  Read other readers comments.

You will always get a personal response from me.  (If you don’t hear back within a few days, please let me know on Facebook.)  I’m always anxious to talk to anyone about the Gita.

For an overview of the Bhagavad Gita, a good place to start is:

Gita in a Nutshell:
Big Ideas and Best Quotations

Please be sure to let me know if I can help you in any way.


The Complete Gita Talk (Original Round)
(All remain open for further discussion)

Top Ten Reasons to read the Bhagavad Gita

Gita Talk–An Experiment in Online Book Discussion

Gita Talk #1: First Assignment–Read the Introduction

Gita Talk #2: Greetings, Gita Geeks. How is your reading coming?

Gita Talk #3: It’s Showtime. Please Start Talking All At Once!

Gita Talk #4: Why Is the Gita So Upsetting At First?

Gita Talk #4a: Gandhi’s Bible or a Call to War?

Highlights (Gita Talk #4): “What is God to You?” & “Dealing with Our Emotions”

Gita Talk #5: Sublimely Simple, Profound and Livable

Gita Talk #6: And Now for Something Completely Different

Gita Talk #7: What’s Your Favorite Passage?

Graham Schweig’s Rapturous Vision of the Gita

Gita Talk #8: Very Special Guest Graham Schweig

Gita Talk #9: First Date with the Gita? If Not, Remember Yours?

Gita Talk #10: Pretend We’re All Just Sitting Around In My Living Room Together

Gita Talk #11: Different Yoga Strokes for Different Yoga Folks

Gita Talk #12: Does the Infinitely Wondrous Universe
Give a Damn About You and Me?

Gita Talk #13: “The Infinite God, Composed of All Wonders”

Gita Talk #14: A Warm and Wonderful Article by Special Guest Amy Champ

Gita Talk #15: Nearing the Conclusion of Gita Talk / How are We Doing?

Gita Talk #16: In a Nutshell: The Big Ideas and Best Quotations


A Little Background Material

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the “big three” ancient Yoga texts, along with the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutra.  The Yoga Sutra gets 95% of the attention, but it is quite incomplete without the other two.  The three together are nothing short of astounding.

My own feelings about the Bhagavad Gita are well expressed in my review last year of Mitchell’s version:

 Falling Head-Over-Heals 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 diety.  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 ecstatic union with the divine.  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.


Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified


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and to meet fellow participants.

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