--Three Star review
0 out of 5 starsScholarly, well-presented, but very biased
(name removed for privacy - Corboy) June 21, 2009
As has been said before, most of the 5-star reviews of this version of the Gita are from Hare Krsna devotees. Make no mistake: this IS a well-translated, scholarly edition with an exhaustive commentary. But it's also very biased and for all its expansiveness, it is posited upon a very narrow viewpoint.
I admire A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami for producing this commentary. It should be marketed, however, as a Gita in the light of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Both the title ("As it Is") and the Swami's introduction mislead the reader. In the intro, the Swami assures the reader that he is providing the reader with a Gita commentary that is free of bias, true to the "original" meaning, and unlike other authors, he is not trying to push his own philosophy. But he's doing exactly that. Anyone who interprets ANYTHING does so from how they perceive it. This book is written by a man brought up in the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition - a philosophy built upon a very literal view of the scriptures and bhakti as the truest way to realize God...devotion through ecstatic love.
There's nothing wrong with this. But it's wrong to market this work as "the best" or "unbiased." So any potential readers would do well to keep in mind what they are buying.
2.0 out of 5 starsFrom an atheist
ByJESon December 24, 2011
I began reading this book - I am still in the process - with the desire to understand Hinduism better. The purports, while helpful in some cases, I am finding to be incredibly obnoxious. Not only from an atheist's point of view, but from any person of differing opinion, the repeated sentences of "those too ignorant to understand," or "less intelligent," are starting to really taint this book. If I had wanted to understand how condescending this guy was, I could've figured it out some other way besides reading this book. It's a shame, because he is trying to convey the essence of Hinduism and the Krishna consciousness movement, and through his actions, making me wonder if this condescension is not an isolated occurrence...
2 comments| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?
Dr. Duck5 years ago
JES- No, it's not an isolated occurrence - you've pretty much nailed it. People don't know or understand just how obnoxious this little creep really was. From his general stupidity and ignorance of the very science he tore down, to his chauvinistic attitude towards women and support of Hitler, this man was neither special or ethical. And it doesn't take an Atheist to recognise this.
Raghuram Krishnaswamy5 years ago
Try Winthorp Sargent's Bhagavad Gita. Its a very superior text
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rasa, ( Sanskrit: “essence,” “taste,” or “flavour,” literally “sap” or “juice”) Indian concept of aesthetic flavour, an essential element of any work of visual, literary, or performing art that can only be suggested, not described.
Why is the Hare Krishna (ISKCON) sect so hell-bent on convincing the Indian public that they are genuine Hindus while spending millions convincing non-Hindus that they are simply “peace and love” yoga enthusiasts?
Could it be that the cult is back to its old tricks?
ISKCON spares no expense in catering to wealthy Hindus as it strives to build its reputation as a genuine branch of mainstream Hinduism. All of these efforts have one thing in common: they are nothing more than self-serving propaganda. Money, as usual, talks. If the cult builds another massive temple and continues its well-publicized food relief programs in India, it expects the Hindu public to follow its lead like a pack of blinkered horses.
One of the main features that differentiates the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sect from the other vaishnava sects is accepting Sri Chaitanya alongwith Radha-Krishna as the Principal deity to be worshipped.In fact there are few temples of Gaudiya Vaishnavas where only idols of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda are worshipped. In fact it wont make much difference if instead of Gaudiya we use Gauriya as adjective of Vaishnava as Sri Chaitanya is also referred to as Sri Gaura or Sri Gaura-Hari.
The 'Gaudiya Vaishnava Darshan by Principal Radhagovinda Nath, D.Lit. reads
The path and tattvas advised by Mahaprabhu are the basis of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Darshana (vol 1 page 193).
The early biographies of Mahaprabhu that are held very highly by and are of the same glory as Srimad-Bhagavatam to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas are
1.Sri Chaitanya-Bhagavata by Vrindavan Das Thakur, who is considered as the Vyasa of Chaitanyalila.
Murari Gupta's Karcha
Chaitanya-Chandrodaya and Mahakavya by Kavi Karmnapur
Sri Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita by Krishnadas Kaviraj.
All the above biographies describe Mahaprabhu as the Supreme Godhead Himself (ie not merely an incarnation) who appeared on earth to taste the sweetness of Radha-bhaava and to preach the yuga-dharma (Naama-Sankirtana).
There are the following subsects in the Gaudiya Vaishnavas:
The lineage of Prabhupaad Bijaykrishna Goswami , who was from the family of Advaita Acharya.
1. The different Goswamis who are from the family of Nityananda Mahaprabhu.
2. The lineage of Sripada Radha-Ramana Charanadas Babaji
3.The lineage of Sri Sri Jagadbandhusundara
5.The lineage of Sri Sri Baya Baba of Orissa
6.The lineage of Premananda Bharati
7.The lineage of Siddha Sri Jagannath Das Maharaj, Sri Chaitanya Das Maharaj, Sri Gaurkishore Das Maharaj etc
The lineage of Sri Kedarnath Dutta,Ex- Deputy Magistrate, whose disciples latter formed different Gaudiya Maths.
All of the above accept Mahaprabhu as God.So Mahaprabhu's sayings must be equivalent to 'Sri Bhagavan Ubacha' of Gita for all of them.So Mahaprabu's sayings have the highest importance.Also, the Vyasa of Mahaprabhu's leela is Vrindavan Das according to Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita and so sayings and leelas of Mahaprabhu quoted in that book seems to be the most authentic. Almost all the temples established by the above-mentioned lineages compulsorily have idol or image of Mahapeabhu being worshipped with equal respect as Sri Radha-Krishna.
Corboy note: This source (academic notes in passing that Prahupada's relationship to Gaudiya Math is "difficult to untangle" The author goes on to
identify some debatable features of Prabhupada's lineage, namely questions about the nature of his own guru's claim to lineage.
In a desperate attempt to replenish its dwindling numbers among non-Hindus in western countries, ISKCON has revamped its old policy of withholding information about its real beliefs and practices. Now the cult uses social media sites to ensnare new members by positioning itself as another of the meditation and yoga groups offering therapeutic emotional and health benefits. This watered-down appropriation of Hindu religious practices reduces an ancient faith to another “feel-good” experience much like meditation and hatha yoga have been served up to non-Hindus everywhere.
MEETUP.COM AND ISKCON’S “BHAKTI YOGA” SCAM:
Recently I discovered the latest recruitment efforts by the Hare Krishna cult in the offerings of Meetup.com, a website that hosts software by a multitude of personal and professional groups and caters to adults seeking new friends with common interests. Nothing about the tactics ISKCON uses to attract new members surprises me, but the sheer nonsense in the groups I found was both sad and laughable. History does indeed repeat itself, as anyone familiar with the hippie movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s can see in the descriptions listed below:
Enchant Mantra Meditation/Vancover
Sacred Sounds Outside OM/Las Vegas “Tribe Kin”
Living Well, Being Well/El Paso, TX
Vedic Astrology, Karma, Dharma/North York, ON
In each case (and there are many more of these ISKCON sponsored groups all over North America and Europe), it’s clear that participants generally have no idea that the meetings they attend are organized by the Hare Krishna cult, nor do they know anything about its beliefs and history. Rather, as anyone who looks at the photographs included in each meeting can see, ISKCON has cleverly disguised itself as one of the multitude of yoga and meditation practitioners familiar to the general public.
We should start with the time John “Bloodclot” Joseph dressed up as a retarded, wheelchair-bound Santa Claus and scammed horrified Staten Island shopping-mall patrons on behalf of the Hare Krishnas.
In his memoir, The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, Joseph claims to have made $3,000 in just one week this way, mortified mothers flinging $10 bills at him if he’d just go away, while distraught, teary-eyed children demanded to know what was wrong with Santa.....
“Even better, what if this particular Santa was not only crippled, but retarded as well? This would be FUCKIN’ HUUUUGE!!!” And it was. But for three years or so, Joseph now laments that he was in thrall to what he condemns as the cultish underbelly of the Hare Krishna movement, rogue con men who perverted the benevolent religion exemplified in the West by Indian guru Srila Prabhupada, whom John still reveres and follows. John says every dime of retard-Santa’s $3,000 bounty was turned over to his superiors, who insisted that they’d use it help people, win converts, feed the poor, etc. Evidently they didn’t. And amid widespread rumors of financial malfeasance and sexual assault, Joseph eventually broke with the group, but not before surrendering a great deal of his own time and a great deal of other people’s money.
This, more than 20 years later, is what Joseph regrets.
“I regret I got the wool pulled over my eyes,” he says. “It’s like I said in the book—I forgot the first rule of punk rock: Question authority. I believed everything these dudes were tellin’ me. And I didn’t question a lot of the stuff I saw goin’ on—this, that, people bein’ accused of molestation, you just block it out. They always had an excuse, you know? They’re fuckin’ master manipulators, dude. You know?”