View Full Version : The Bhagavad-Gita & Krishna

November 24th, 2006, 08:44 AM
Okay, so recently I had a revelation to come back to my Hindu-ish path. I was reading up about Parvati and I keep seeing pics of Krishna on the pages (general pages about Hinduism). So that got me thinking. I know nothing about Krishna other than him being:
1. the 8th avatar of Vishnu
2. A cow-hearder
3. In love with Radha and had Gopis maids swooning
4. Something about Hare Krishnas, which I don't really know about
5. Some see him as Jesus like

So I remembered I had a copy of The Bhagavad-Gita. I got it from a thrift store a long time ago, it was really cheap and new looking.
Seems be be written by a Hare Krishna person...I'm not sure if that's good or bad...? It's the only one I have avaliable to me in book form (my perference for reading it: book form).
I actually found it online, you can read the whole thing there:
Bhagavad Gita As It Is (http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0oGkig65GZFol4BsgpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTE3dTFiMWk4BGNvbG8DdwRsA1dTMQRwb3MDMgRzZWMDc3IEdnRpZANGNjY2X zExNg--/SIG=11a7e3kqu/EXP=1164457402/**http%3a//www.asitis.com/) -- A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

So I'm wonding if anyone else has read the Bhagavad-Gita. Any comments, thoughts, impressions. Things like that.

Also Krishna. It's hard for me to understand him, not sure why. He seems different than the gods I'm used to (sarawati, etc).
Non Hare Krishna's honor him right? I know he's really popular in India. Does anyone here on MW? Is it common to honor him with Radha as a couple?

Any good info/links is appreciated. Preferably non-Hare Krishna. Nothing against them, I just don't forsee that to ever be my path and they do have their own interpretation of things.

ETA: Just wanted to say that I love love love the paintings of Krishna and Radha!
Here's one:
So pretty! I've been staring at it for a long time. All the detail.
I might just print this one up (I have a bigger version)! Though I don't think my printer will do it justice.

I also found this, it's really helpful: Krishna Lila (http://www.mantraonnet.com/krishna-lila-index.html) -- it explains his life

November 25th, 2006, 05:46 AM
Yes, I've read the Gita, and I share your personal desire for another discourse beyond that of ISKCON.

I think a good way around that is to read some more translations of the Gita - Prabhupada's one tends to be quite hard work (written in archaic English), and focussed sharply upon an orthodox Gaudiya Vaishnava interpretation.

The two English translations that I would advise you to start with are those by Zaehner (which is regarded as the "academic standard" translation - and is certainly easier than Prabhupada's), and the Mascaro (Penguin Classics), which, as he was a poet, does a much better job of retaining the beauty. Then you can try and get hold of other translations and commentaries - Shankara's is particularly interesting as he maintains an advaita approach all the way! (A good place to look is abebooks.com - you can easily get cheap editions from India!) PM me if you would like an academic chapter introducing the main themes of the Gita.

It is true, as you suggest that many other Hindus worship Krishna - last year I took a group of my students to Mathura and Vrindraban (the first where Krishna was born, the 2nd where he sported with the gopis), and there were many different kinds of devotee there, and temple ornamentation reflecting the views of different sampradayas (such as lists of the avatars of Vishnu including Buddha - who is replaced in the ISKCON lists by Krishna's half-brother Balarama).

To put the Gita into a different context, have you seen the Peter Brooke production of the Mahabharata (a mere sixh hours on film) - the BFC have just released this on DVD, and it might help you to frame a new vision of it if you looked at that.

In my personal practice I am more drawn to Mahaheshvar and Kali Ma, but have always found that joining kirtana with devotees, whether ISKCON or otherwise a wonderful experience. I spent some time in Puri a few years ago, and long to return to those long nights of chanting and dancing round fires on the beach, under a full moon, as the breakers roar in from the ocean - indeed, I've broken into Kirtan and joined devoteed dancing down Oxford street in London (much to the embaressment of the school group I was with at the time).

As for the worship of Krishna - do not too hung up on forms - remember what he says to Arjuna "He who offers me with devotion a leaf, a flower or just a little water, that will I accept from the yearning soul because it was offered with love".

Hari Bol

November 25th, 2006, 06:32 AM
Thanks for the suggestions! I think I'm going to start with the ISKCON version until I get my hands on some others. Once my local library's website is back up (having issues :2G: ) I'm going to search for the ones you mentioned there. I'm sure they have some other copies, I hope at least. If not I'll just buy a copy (along with the Rig Vedas).

As for the worship of Krishna - do not too hung up on forms - remember what he says to Arjuna "He who offers me with devotion a leaf, a flower or just a little water, that will I accept from the yearning soul because it was offered with love".

:thumbsup: :heartthro

November 25th, 2006, 11:12 AM
I read it once, but it was a long time ago. I remember being fascinated by Krishna's abilities as explained in the book. I can't remember any specific ones now, but I remember it was the first religious, non-Jehovah's Witness publication I had ever read for the purpose of enjoyment and not simply as something to be contradicted later. And their's was the first temple, outside of the JWs I had ever stepped foot into, as JWs are not allowed to enter Churches and other religious temples, at least for our particular congregation and I assume for all others as well.

I actually was traveling for about two months and started going regularly to Krishna temples. They are quite strict with their "memebers", but they are very open to the public, well at least the temples in Ohio and Indiana and up State New York were. But it seemed that wherever we went that fall, we would run into them. They always fed us when we needed it. In fact, one of my travel mates was a Krishna for a while, but then left them and they still welcomed him and us as if we'd always been there. I understand there is a reason for that, but they were not pushy about trying to convert us either. Which is really what distinguished them from the JWs in my mind. It was rather refreshing to go into a temple and discuss religion and not feel as though I was being pressured to join. All the way around, it was a very good experience for me.

I'd love to read this book again. The mythology was strange, but it was interesting as well, to me. I don't really have any good suggestions. Perhaps visiting a temple and asking questions might help you with understanding better where this particular deity is coming from. The people at all the temples seemed to be very open to discussion of their god and some of their practicies.

November 27th, 2006, 03:10 AM
I found other Translations online!

The Translations

Translation of the Bhagavad-Gita (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/chapters.asp)
Ashtavakra Gita (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/ashtavakra.asp)
The abbreviated Bhagavad-Gita (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/gitaabbreviated.asp)
Prose Translation (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/gitasociety.asp)
The Gita in a Nutshell (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/gitainanutshell.asp)
The Song Celestial (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/songcelestial.htm)
Download Text (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism/silverbook-bookletsize.doc) (I think this one is ISKCON)The site also has other Hindu (http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/hinduism_scripts.asp)texts as well as other Eastern paths