Book Reviews — 18 December 2015

Anand Haridas speaks on Osho’s talks on the Bhagavad Gita and its ongoing translation into English.

Bhagvad Gita  Tao The Pathless Path  Gita Darshan 2

The Bhagavad Gita is a small book. It contains some seven hundred two-line verses, divided into eighteen chapters. Considered one of the most important works of the Indian religious tradition, the Gita has been continually read, interpreted and translated for two thousand years.

The Bhagavad Gita also has an important place in the discourses of Osho. He spoke at considerable length on the Gita, beginning in November 1970 and ending only in August 1975, more than on any other book.

These discourses are not scholarly discussions. Osho was not concerned with the questions of who the author was, when or where the text was written, whether it is a single or composite work, how the various parts relate each other, or what others have said about it in the past. He did not work from the Sanskrit slokas but from Hindi translations of them, which he called sutras, and seldom took time to analyse the meanings of particular words.

His approach can best be understood from some remarks in Dimensions Beyond the Known, where Osho explains, somewhat surprisingly no doubt, that he has “not read the Gita, even once.” After reading eight or ten lines, he says that he always closes the book because he already knows from his own experience what it is saying, and later:

“When I speak on the Gita, I am really hearing it for the first time … When I speak on the Gita, I do not actually speak on the Gita, it is only an excuse. I start with the Gita but I speak only about what I want to speak and only about that which I can speak. If you feel that I have dwelt a lot on the Gita, it is not because I am influenced by Krishna, but because Krishna said the same things I am saying.”

The Gita Darshan is not about knowledge but about experience. Osho is a profound, paradoxical and compassionate teacher. He has much to say in these discourses about the divine as our ultimate concern and deepest consciousness; about the opportunities and shortcomings of human life that are to be overcome through encountering yourself; about the value of scriptures as metaphors, symbols and allegories, to be left behind once one has gone beyond language; and about true renunciation through action based on total awareness and not by escape from the world. To understand him, one needs to bow down, be open and be vulnerable. By reading slowly and meditatively, one learns a great deal about the Gita, about Osho and, most importantly, oneself.

Ma Yoga Videh and Swami Chidananda are to be commended for their ongoing dedication to bringing these successive volumes to English readers, and ‘Full Circle’, India, for their commitment to publishing them.

Review by Anand Haridas for Osho News

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