“The Bhagavad Gita has been called India’s greatest contribution to the world. For more than five thousand years, this great scripture has shown millions in the East how to fill their lives with serenity and love. In these pages, Jack Hawley brings these ancient secrets to Western seekers in a beautiful prose version that makes the story of the Gita clear and exciting, and makes its truths understandable and easy to apply to our busy lives.
The Gita is a universal love song sung by God to His friend man. It can’t be confined by any creed. It is a statement of the truths at the core of what we all already believe, only it makes those truths clearer, so they become immediately useful in our daily lives. These truths are for our hearts, not just our heads.
The Gita is more than just a book, more than mere words or concepts. There is an accumulated potency in it. To read the Gita is to be inspired in the true sense of the term: to be ‘in-spirited,’ to inhale the ancient and ever-new breath of spiritual energy.” — back cover
Mahabharata by William Buck, introduced by B A van Nooten, illustrated by Shirley Triest, a 4th printing of the 1981 paperback from University of California (Berkeley) Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“In 1955 Bill Buck discovered an elaborate nineteenth century edition of The Sacred Song of the Lord, the Bhagavad-Gita of Lord Krishna, in a state library in Carson City, Nevada. Immediately captivated, he plunged into a study of Indian literature which has resulted in this rendering of the Mahabharata, one of the Ramayana, and an unfinished manuscript of Harivamsa—unfinished because of the death of Bill Buck in 1970 at the age of 37.
His discovery of the Bhagavad-Gita moved Bill Buck to read the Mahabharata, and he would be satisfied with nothing but the full translation, an eleven volume set of which was then being reprinted in India. So determined was he that he subsidized the reprinting when it became apparent that the publisher had insufficient funds to complete his task.
Midway through his reading of volume 3, Buck decided the Mahabharata should be rewritten for a modern English-speaking audience. In his own words, ‘Mahabharat was about 5000 pages, and Ramayana much shorter. When I read these translations I thought how nice to tell the story so it wouldn’t be so hard to read. We talk about all the repetition and digression of the originals, but as you read all that endless impossible prose a very definite character comes to each actor in the story, and the land and times are most clearly shown. I wanted to transfer this story to a readable book.’
To this end, Bill Buck began years of reading and rereading the translations, studying Sanskrit, planning, and writing. One of his approaches to his task was to decipher all the elaborate appellatives used for heroes and gods, kings and princesses which were used in the original text, often in place of names. These were qualities related to the characters, of which Buck compiled lists. He later used the adjectives interlaced with descriptions to preserve the mood and meanings of the characters in his own renderings. He also read all available English translations and versions of the two great epics, later saying of them, ‘I have never seen any versions of either story in English that were not mere outlines, or incomplete, except for the two literal translations.’ He was always aware that the epics were originally sung, so reading aloud both the original translations and his own work became part of the Buck family life. But the writing was done in seclusion, many hours at a time, with only the finished chapters presented to the family.” — from Publisher’s Preface
Noticed someone watching a video which juxtaposes verses from the Bhagavad Gita and Liber AL at Bhagavad-legis -english- which was in a “Dark Ambient Music” playlist at Dark Ambient Musick which has other videos which may be of interest.
The music in the video is Peter Gabriel’s work for The Last Temptation of Christ. The novel is good too, worth reading. I found the introduction to the novel to be really enlightening at the time that I read it many years ago now.
The flick rocks. I’m reminded just now of Kevin Smith talking about Last Temptation on A Night With Kevin Smith 2.
Also, Passion and Passion Sources are fantastic collections of music.
Some of the other videos include a slideshow of Golden Dawn temples and music apparently made only with human bones.