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From: Leo (mail.socc.edu)
Subject: final draft
Date: May 11, 2005 at 11:26 am PST

In Reply to: Song of God posted by Leo on May 7, 2005 at 6:41 am:

Development by comparison Leo Libby
Song of God
Bhagavad -gita is a dialogue between Lord Sri Krishna and Arjuna on a battlefield as written in Sanscrit five-thousand years ago. Seven-hundred lucid verses, replete with divine imagery, it is embraced as a philosophical masterpiece and the jewel of India’s rich spiritual tradition. From Arjuna, 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. From his commentaries and translations are two chapbooks, both about Bhakti yoga as it is taught by Krishna, yet with vastly different approaches. 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 one is expressly related to an aspect of yoga, the final chapter 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 message of the entire book is distilled into the title.
Nine color paintings accompany The Perfection of Yoga, which, while adding valuable conceptual references, add a convincing element. The conception that yoga is about being a pacifist or flower child, is curtailed by images of Krishna with Arjuna on the battlefield and bedecked in armor. These images are contrasted by images of Krishna with his brother walking in paradise. Lovely cows, swans, peacocks and deer follow them as they play flutes, their skin azure like the shimmer of blue sapphires, fluid beneath the garlands of flowers which stand in the absence of time, encompassed by their transcendental halos that radiate bliss throughout existence. These pictures, including the four-armed representation of Paramatma (an expansion of Krishna that resides within all material matter and energy) harmonize with the humble and perceptive undercurrents of the prose.

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 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 philosophy or complex Sanscrit teachings becomes lost amidst Bhaktivedanta’s philosophical tangents and scholarly anecdotes. Misleading also is the title, which might be better called “Yogic ascension to spiritual planets within the anti-material sky.” Nine color paintings are similarly displayed although add an element of mistrust, not the credibility that would entice one to commit oneself to the book. Readers are threatened by an image depicting the transmigration of the soul (reincarnation) from skeleton to fetus, on through manhood, old age, death and to a new body. Rather than disarming preconceptions, this reinforces them without offering any fair logical support. The saint Sri Caitanya emerges from a temple, mouth agape in song, adorned with flowers as the immanent presence of God is seen in his face and open arms. These Holy images are in harmony with the gentile mood in The Perfection of Yoga, but are in discord with the vindictive and weighted tone in Easy Journey to Other Planets. The reader wonders if yoga is actually the subject of the book, yet it is.
What is that flame of enlightenment, which, to its elusion, 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 deeper slumber? What is its nature? Bhakti yoga is not the mechanical contortions and gymnastics that have clouded the true meaning of yoga; for the meaning of Bhagavad-gita (Song of God) and the yogic disciplines therein are frozen in another time, culture and language, making misrepresentation common. Absent of the masquerading new-age platitudes and open-ended rhetoric characteristic of a charlatan, Srila Prabhupada’s books are honest and authoritative. It is difficult without guidance, however, to choose between The Perfection of Yoga and Easy Journey to Other Planets. The latter was written when he was much younger, so it is assumed that it would be ideal for a beginner as an introduction to yoga. However, The Perfection of Yoga approaches the subject simply and essentially.



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