How can we best present the Gita to intellectuals who feel Prabhupada’s Gita is too devotional?

by Chaitanya CharanFebruary 22, 2015

From Ankur P
My name is Ankur. I’m pursuing PhD in Iowa State University, US. I organize a weekly Bhagavad Gita discussion session which is attended by 4-5 of my Indian friends. The aim of these sessions is to study the message of Bhagavad Gita and seek out ways to apply it our own lives. We study from Prabhupad’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is. However, to have an open discussion, I’ve provided the participants with the option of bringing some other version which they might want to discuss. So some of us also refer and share from Sadhak Sanjivani (Hindi) from Gitapress by Ramsukha Das ji maharaj.

You have very nicely described Prabhupad’s strategy in presenting the purports – why they are centered around the conclusion from the very beginning. Since bhakti yoga is the conclusion of Gita and readers might not read all the 18 chapters to come to that conclusion, I agree with the need for such a strategy. However, I’m faced with the following question – is Prabhupad’s Gita an appropriate version to *read from* when discussing with intellectuals like the participants of the abovementioned Bhagavad Gita session most of whom are pursuing PhD?

I’ve observed that some of them have a liking for Sadhak Sanjivani over Prabhupad’s Bhagavad Gita because the author goes with the flow of Gita whereas Prabhupad emphasizes bhakti even where Krsna does not refer to it. How can such participants relish the Bhaktivedanta purports? Sometimes I answer myself by trying to appreciate the unparalleled compassion of Srila Prabhupada, but then again I get thoughts… may be for these discussions at least, its not the right book to directly read from.

I’m eagerly awaiting for an answer to this dilemma. I’ll be very grateful if you can help in this regard.

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Chaitanya Charan

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