From: Leo (mail.socc.edu)
Subject: Song of God
Date: May 7, 2005 at 6:41 am PST
Below is the rough draft of a comparison essay I wrote concerning two of Srila prabhupada's books. Is Balance still here? Please not where I mention "fluffy, tofu-consuming pacifists..." please no one be offended. Infact, as you may know, vegetariam is practiced by followers of the Gita.
Song of God
Bhagavad -gita is a dissertation between Lord Sri Krishna and Arjuna on a battlefield as recorded in Sanscrit five-thousand years ago. Seven-hundred verses, as lucid as music and replete with divine imagery, it is embraced as a philosophical masterpiece and the jewel of India’s rich spiritual tradition. From Arjuna, the first disciple of Lord Sri Krishna, a direct line of spiritual masters descends to the present day, each capable of passing on the immortal flame of enlightenment that was passed to Arjuna so long ago. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is one such guru, for his position is within this lineage of illumed and noble souls. Among his sundry achievements are two chapbooks, both on Bhakti yoga, both reflect the Gita’s spiritual genius, yet with vastly different approach. By way of approach, The Perfection of Yoga eclipses Easy Journey to Other Planets on the merit of accessability for the beginning spiritual seeker in terms of organization, philosophical clarity and believable images.
The Perfection of Yoga has the organization needed to keep the beginning spiritual seeker’s attention. The fifty-six pages are distributed amongst eight chapters. Each chapter and paragraph follows a logical order. Additionally, each chapter is expressly related to an aspect of yoga, the final one culminating in “The perfection of yoga.” Srila Prabhupada is concise, and in laying out the philosophical framework, uses an appropriate amount of restraint to convey the topic effectively. The theme of the entire book is distilled into the title.
Nine color paintings accompany The Perfection of Yoga, which, while adding valuable conceptual references, make the book convincing. On the cover, as well as inside, is an image of Krishna with Arjuna on the battlefield, bedecked in armor and weapons, adding inquiry to the conception that yoga is about being a fluffy, tofu-consuming pacifist who needs extra weights to hold himself to the ground. These images, however, are contrasted by images of Krishna with his brother walking in a paradise. Lovely cows, swans, peacocks and deer follow them as they play flutes, their skin azure like the shimmer of blue sapphires beneath decorative flowers and transcendental halos. These images, along with others, including the four-armed representation of paramatma, an expansion of Krishna that resides within all material matter and energy, are symbolic. Symbolism is the advantage of images which Srila Prabhupada has made use of in The Perfection of Yoga.
The lack of organization in Easy Journey to Other Planets alienates the reader and contrasts with the well-structured Perfection of Yoga. Seventy-nine pages are distributed between two chapters. A reader becomes discouraged in the first chapter, “Anti-material worlds”, as he trudges through interesting but directionless prose that does not have an obvious connection to yoga. A reader who is not well versed in philosophical concepts or higher Sanscrit teachings becomes lost amidst Srila Prabhupada’s numerous philosophical tangents and scholarly anecdotes. One such tangent states: “...All the planets within the material universe are destroyed at the end of 4,300,000 ^ 1,000 ^ 2 ^ 30 ^12 ^ 100 solar years. And all the living beings inhabiting ... are destroyed.” Nine color paintings are similarly displayed. The saint Sri Caitanya emerges from a temple, mouth agape in song, bedecked in flowers and robes with his arms and face open to the sky, basking in the transcendental bliss of God, an image in discord with the vindictive tone of the prose. An image depicting reincarnation risks alienating beginners by trespassing on the essential non-sectarian nature of India’s spirituality. Symbolism is not used where it is most needed to illustrate the relationship between the material and the anti-material. Instead, one is caught in the dichotomy of this questionable approach, wondering if yoga is actually the subject of the book. It is.
What is that flame of enlightenment, which, to its elusion and amazement, the core of human thought is devoted so vigilantly? What is sought and yearned for by every human being who has awakened amidst life and death and the vacuity of materialism only to find the numbness of a deeper slumber? What is its nature? Bhakti yoga, the substance of Srila Prabhupada’s books, is not the secular postures, contortions and gymnastics that have eclipsed the true meaning of yoga. A chapbook, without the new-age platitudes and open-ended rhetoric that masquerade as India’s spirituality, is an excellent starting place for one seeking the true meaning of yoga. It is difficult, however, to choose between The Perfection of Yoga and Easy Journey to Other Planets. The latter was written when Srila Prabhupada was much younger, so it is assumed that it would be ideal for a beginner as an introduction to yoga. However, in approach, The Perfection of Yoga reflects the yogic teachings of Bhagavad-gita, simply and essentially.
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