Monday, March 21, 2016

Bhagavad Gita: The Oxford Centr for Hindu Studies Guide by Nicholas Sutton (2014)


The study of religion and religions, both for intellectual learning and for spiritual exploration, has constituted a large part of my mental world for my entire adult life.  Now in midlife, I'm starting to reconcile my desire to "land" in a religious home with the fact that said landing is unlikely to happen in a predefined way.  I've accepted that it's just fine for me to go where the wind takes me.  Every year, I take that "Belief-O-Matic" quiz online (link), and every year, my top two are Neopagan and Unitarian Universalist.  So the world is my buffet, and there's no shame in that. 

This is my second translation of the Gita, which I picked up because I liked the way it dealt with commentary.  No footnotes on this one.  Here are four or five verses, and then some commentary, with a summary at the end of each chapter.  I don't know Sanskrit, so I don't have the tools to comment on the translation.  The commentary includes many references to how certain phrases were translated, however.  The commentary also gives nods to different ways certain passages have been interpreted by different schools of thought.  This was personally gratifying to me, because it told me that not everyone in the Hindu thinking world thinks that each of us is God.  Happily, Nicholas Sutton does not take sides, though he will give his academic opinion regarding which interpretation seems to be most likely to be the intended one. 

I have learned a lot, and will keep this electronic text (which is only available as an e-book).  I spent a lot more time than usual on my first read-through.  I didn't see a point in rushing it.  I read small portions at a time.  I also discovered that there is much here that affirms and adds to what I've been observing spiritually on my own. 

The previous translation I read was for a course in Indian philosophy.  It was Barbara Stoller Miller's, which is also very accessible and was perfect for the context of that class.

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