Bhagavad-Gita

Contemporary popularity

Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi has strongly pitched the Bhagavad Gita as "India's biggest gift to the world".[153] Shri Modi gifted The Bhagavad Gita to the then President of the United States of America, Mr Barack Obama in 2014 during his US visit.[154]

With the translation and study of the Bhagavad Gita by Western scholars beginning in the early 18th century, the Bhagavad Gita gained a growing appreciation and popularity.[web 1] According to the Indian historian and writer Khushwant Singh, Rudyard Kipling's famous poem "If—" is "the essence of the message of The Gita in English."[155]

Appraisal

The Bhagavad Gita has been highly praised, not only by prominent Indians including Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan,[156] but also by Aldous Huxley, Henry David Thoreau, J. Robert Oppenheimer,[157] Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung, Herman Hesse,[158][159] Bülent Ecevit[160] and others.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, commented on the Gita:

The Bhagavad-Gita deals essentially with the spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call of action to meet the obligations and duties of life; yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander purpose of the universe.[161]

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, 11th President of India, despite being a Muslim, used to read Bhagavad Gita and recite mantras.[162][163][164][165][166]

J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original form, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. Oppenheimer later recalled that, while witnessing the explosion of the Trinity nuclear test, he thought of verses from the Bhagavad Gita (XI,12):

कालोऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो लोकान्समाहर्तुमिह प्रवृत्तः। ऋतेऽपि त्वां न भविष्यन्ति सर्वे येऽवस्थिताः प्रत्यनीकेषु योधाः॥११- ३२॥

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one ...[167][168]

Years later he would explain that another verse had also entered his head at that time:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.[169][a]

Adaptations

Philip Glass retold the story of Gandhi's early development as an activist in South Africa through the text of the Gita in the opera Satyagraha (1979). The entire libretto of the opera consists of sayings from the Gita sung in the original Sanskrit.[web 31] In Douglas Cuomo's Arjuna's dilemma, the philosophical dilemma faced by Arjuna is dramatised in operatic form with a blend of Indian and Western music styles.[web 32] The 1993 Sanskrit film, Bhagavad Gita, directed by G. V. Iyer won the 1993 National Film Award for Best Film.[web 33][web 34]

The 1995 novel and 2000 golf movie The Legend of Bagger Vance are roughly based on the Bhagavad Gita.[173]

President of India inaugurates International Gita Mahotsava-2017 in Haryana On November 25, 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the International Gita Mahotsava-2017 in Kurukshetra, Haryana. Mauritius is the partner country and Uttar Pradesh is the partner state for this event. About 20 lakh people participated in Gita Mahotsav last year, which also included people from 35 countries. About 25–30 lakh people are expected to participate in this event till December 3, 2017.


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