We've talked a lot about books on the blog: Gary talked about finding the book Dialogue with Death, Sagar shared how he uses spiritual reading for inspiration, Nikhil reflected on how Easwaran's books helped him integrate his Indian heritage into his day-to-day life, and Chanel, Lisa, and Mira shared how they formed a book club for satsang. This week we want to highlight two books: Easwaran's translation of the Bhagavad Gita, and With My Love & Blessings.
In his introduction to his translation of the Bhagavad Gita, Easwaran writes:
The Gita does not present a system of philosophy. It offers something to every seeker after God, of whatever temperament, by whatever path. The reason for this universal appeal is that it is basically practical: it is a handbook for Self-realization and a guide to action.
Some scholars will find practicality a tall claim, because the Gita is full of lofty and even abstruse philosophy. Yet even its philosophy is not there to satisfy intellectual curiosity; it is meant to explain to spiritual aspirants why they are asked to undergo certain disciplines. Like any handbook, the Gita makes most sense when it is practiced.
Whenever we return to Easwaran's translation of the Gita, we are always reminded of the poetry of the text itself, and are struck by the narrative aspect – after all, it's part of one of India's great epics. This month, Easwaran's translation of the Bhagavad Gita is available at a special low price as an e-book as part of Amazon's monthly deals. Especially for YAs on a budget, this is a great opportunity!
Another book which is a special favorite of ours is With My Love & Blessings, a book that chronicles Easwaran's teaching years (1966–1999) through pictures and excerpts of Easwaran's writings. We particularly love the photos and stories of the YAs who joined Easwaran in his early days, and it also contains one of our favorite Easwaran excerpts which always leaves us eager and inspired:
Just as there was a cultural renaissance in the West several centuries ago, the world needs a spiritual renaissance today. Just as there was an industrial revolution two hundred years ago, the world needs a spiritual revolution here and now. And the wonderful feature of a spiritual revolution is that it cannot be accomplished by governments or multilateral corporations. It can be brought about only by little people like us: every man, every woman, every child, changing their personality from selfish to selfless, from human to divine.
For this we need, first and foremost, a higher image of the human being. So far the human being has essentially been looked upon as a separate, physical creature that enters life through one door at birth and disappears through another at death. Every mystic in every great religion, on the basis of personal experience, has rightly called this an utterly superficial and distorted view. So the first step in a spiritual revolution is for the parents and teachers to practice spiritual disciplines that replace this low image with a lofty one. This is where our mode of meditation excels, for the passages we meditate on exalt the human being to the stars. What we meditate on, we become. What parents and teachers practice, children will absorb.
Since its publication, With My Love & Blessings has only been available as a more expensive, large hardbound book. Just recently, the BMCM released an affordable e-book version and though we're obviously quite fond of our hardbound versions, we're thrilled that there's a more mobile version of the book, and are pleased at the increase in access!
We'd love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below:
- Which Easwaran books have you been reading recently?
- Do you have any favorite excerpts from the Gita translation or With My Love & Blessings?