Reviewed and Recommended: Godsong, by Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar’s new translation of the Bhagavad-Gita is the third one I’ve read, and the second one I’ve loved. Overall, it’s the best of the three. It strikes the perfect balance between the first two: it has the strain of clear pragmatism with the idioms and images of the source culture (which I really liked in the first one), along with a direct, point-blank Western style that doesn’t try to impress with mysticism but which still retains the originally foreign flavor (unlike the second version I read, which just watered it down in trying to make it sound too American).

Majmudar’s poetry sometimes does go a bit too far into prosaic territory, I felt, such as when he liberally peppers a stanza with the prefix “meta” to describe cosmic concepts. There, his Millennial-ness shines through.

But not only are his lines generally clear, gripping, and clever, but his short personal notes on each chapter are genuinely insightful and enjoyable. It’s not too often that one reads an old classic and finds translator’s notes that equal the beauty and power of the work itself. I think the last time that happened was when I read Anthony Esolen’s version of the Divine Comedy of Dante.

This new Bhagavad-Gita complements the literature and religion of the West both when it’s similar and when it’s different–either way, it’s so thoughtful that it makes you think., too. The magic of Majmudar’s work is that it can’t be clear if that’s mostly due to the translator’s subconscious or the text’s original ethos…probably some of both.

 

1

3

4

5

 

Advertisements

Hindu and Mormon Scripture Connections

Last month I read the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Hindu sacred writings whose title, according to the introduction, means “an instruction, the sitting at the feet of a master,” with the Sermon on the Mount then given as an example.

I enjoy reading things like this on occasion, for the beauty of the work and the insight into foreign cultures, and also because I like seeing similarities between these writings and those of my own faith.  Some notes I made are below:

 

UPANISHADS

 

LDS CONNECTIONS

Katha Upanishad 2-3

There is the path of joy, and there is the path of pleasure.  Both attract the soul.  Who follows the first comes to good; who follows pleasure reaches not the End.

The two paths lie in front of man.  Pondering on them, the wise man chooses the path of joy; the fool takes the path of pleasure.

 

2 Nephi 2:27

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

 

Svetasvatara Upanishad Part II, 10

Find a quiet retreat for the practice of Yoga, sheltered from the wind, level and clean, free from rubbish, smouldering fires, and ugliness, and where the sound of waters and the beauty of the place help thought and contemplation.

 

Sounds like a temple to me! =)

Continue reading