Ranchor Prime: Bhagavad Gita: Talks Between the Soul and God by Ranchor Prime, published 2010 by Fitzrovia Press
This year I reached a personal milestone: I am sixty years old, for forty of which I have been an aspiring disciple of Srila Prabhupada. This seems a good time to be bold, and to share with my spiritual family my effort to communicate a simple introductory Gita.
Srila Prabhupada gave us Bhagavad Gita As It Is, an advanced treatise on spiritual life that defines Krishna consciousness for us and succeeding generations. But he wanted his followers to pass on that same knowledge in a simple way accessible to friends and spiritual seekers.
When I first thought of writing such a book I was filled with trepidation. Did I have the right to make my own version of the Bhagavad Gita when Prabhupada’s was already there? Then I came across Prabhupada’s own words in his purport to chapter 4 verse 3: “Arjuna accepts Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and any commentary on the Gita following in the footsteps of Arjuna is real devotional service to the cause of this great science.”
As soon as I read that I felt I had my permission from my guru. Provided I didn’t obscure the all-important identity of Krishna and wrote in a spirit of devotion, I felt confident Prabhupada would approve. After all, he encouraged us to preach in our own words. What else was the Back To Godhead magazine, ninety percent written by Prabhupada’s disciples, that formed the backbone of our preaching all through the years when Prabhupada was personally present with us?
It also occurred to me that precisely because Prabhupada has already given the world “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” the way is open for his followers to write books that complement his masterwork.
I called my edition Bhagavad Gita: Talks Between the Soul and God’ to emphasise the universal relevance of the Gita. I remember Prabhupada’s words the first time I heard him, on television three days after he arrived on English soil in 1969. He said to his interviewer, “It is possible to talk with God. Just as we are talking to each other, you can talk with God.”
In 1990 we had a discussion in England about the need for introductory books. We decided that urgent work was needed to make Prabhupada’s message more accessible to the general public. At the time I was writing OHinduism and Ecology.’ After that I wrote “Ramayan, A Journey.” In 1995 I started work on the Gita. I worked slowly at first, but with encouragement from devotees I pursued the project until eventually OThe Illustrated Bhagavad Gita’ was published in 2003 by Godsfield Press in the UK and Barrons Educational in the USA.
At the time I was grateful just to have the book in print, but I wasn’t happy with that edition because it was large format and the eighty photographs added by the publisher obscured the text. Now I have re-published my own revised edition, “Bhagavad Gita: Talks Between the Soul and God.” It is a compact book of 240 pages, in hardback or softback, produced by my own independent publishing house, Fitzrovia Press, with 20 simple line drawings from a professional English artist, my friend Charles Newington.
Bhagavad-gita: Talks Between the Soul and God is available online at http://www.fitzroviapress.com/books/gita.htm for UK customers, or at http://www.amazon.com/Bhagavad-Gita-Talks-Between-Soul/dp/0956184642/ref=sr_
1_1? ie=UTF8& s=books& qid=1281121968& sr=8-1 for international customers.
Here is what ISKCON devotees say:
Jayadvaita Swami, BBT trustee and guru
I think your book Bhagavad Gita, Talks Between the Soul and God’ succeeds in making Krsna consciousness more easily accessible to people we might not otherwise reach. With your Gita as a congenial starting place, a modern, educated Western reader not yet ready to Odive in’ and accept our standard ISKCON package (or at least needing help) can awaken to the wisdom of Krishna’s message. Your book deserves to be made widely available as part of our preaching effort, and I am confident to recommend it as a means to introduce many new readers to Srila Prabhupada’s books.
Sivarama Swami, GBC and guru
I found the translation flowed nicely. I was attentive to see if anything was left out of the message. It was not. The feeling was that Srila Prabhupada’s message was thereS I consider that this would be a valuable contribution and an excellent introductory work to the Gita.’
Bhakticaru Swami, GBC and guru
“I want you all to help Ranchor sell this Bhagavad Gita”
(addressed to a hundred or so of his disciples Â much more was said along these lines)
Jayadeva das, London
Your Gita is the perfect bridge for souls to walk to Prabhupada’s version.
Dayal Nitai, UK Book Distributor, London
What I liked most about the book were your commentaries. They were eloquent, succinct and to the point.
Karlos Fandango, Brighton
Loved it, should be called Bhagavad Gita As It Is - In Plain English.’ Gonna give a copy to all my friends that are tolerant of my Krishna addiction. Brilliant introduction to the Gita, ideal stepping stone to move on to Prabhupada’s scholarly version.
Indranuja das, former UK book distributor, Kansas
This is a wonderful book in so many ways and I feel, as Ganapati Swami does also, that this will be great for mass distribution. The language is clear the organization is easy to understand and the size is just right as an introduction to this great work. I think this will make Prabhupada’s BG more accessible as the seeker should now be able to understand more of SP’s meaning.
Yaduvendu das, Wales
I intend to purchase many more copies to send to family and friends this Christmas for it presents the teachings of the Gita in a mature and thoughtful way, which is so typical of Ranchor’s approach to his own spiritual search.
And from yoga friends and literary reviewers:
Tracey Cramond, Yoga Teacher
I’m finding wonderful bits on every page, having a lot of OWow!’ moments. You have a great way of simplifying things.
Nicole Hambro, Director of Alchemy yoga centre, London
I am deeply moved by your capacity to share such a profound and sacred text in a most accessible way.
New Age Retailer (US)
Ranchor Prime’s translation of the Gita sings. He brings this vital Hindu text to life for Western audiences.
Asian Voice (UK)
Gives sheer clarity to the purpose of life, bringing peace and helping you rediscover yourself in a new light.
The Bookseller (UK)
Aims at simplicity and clarityS a very accessible edition, demonstrating the Gita has words of wisdom for everyone.
OM Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine (UK)
The section-by-section commentary opens the text to the spiritual seeker. He never loses sight of the audience for his book, and that he wants his readers to understand the Gita in a personal way.
Geraldine Beskin, owner of The Atlantis Bookshop, London
Delicious is the word for this fresh, skilful and beautiful new edition of the one Indian Sacred Text of which everyone has heard. These thoughts are elegant, haunting and memorably translated by Ranchor Prime who follows the long tradition of Englishmen immersing themselves in the East and giving us spiritual treasure. This is a real gem.
To read more, see http://news.iskcon.com/node/3026
– Ranchor Prime Publisher, Fitzrovia Press
10 Grafton Mews, London W1T 5JG