33 – The Bhagavad Gita

Written over the span of 800 years from ca. 400 B.C. to ca. 400 A.D, the Mahabharata tells a riveting tale of disputed kingship and warring families. But just as the action-packed narrative reaches its climax, the story pauses to convey a dialogue between the reluctant warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, who dramatically reveals himself as the incarnation of God. This passage, known as the Bhagavad Gita, has proved inspirational to hundreds of millions of religious seekers and was regarded by philosophers from Henry David Thoreau to Mahatma Gandhi as perhaps the greatest distillation of philosophy and religion ever written.

How does this philosophical treatise fit into this fast-paced story? What lessons does it have for us? And how did a two-thousand-year-old argument that a warrior should fulfill his duty on the battlefield end up inspiring some of the most famous advocates of non-violence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries?

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Books Discussed:

The Bhagavad Gita (tr. Easwaran)

Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation (tr. Mitchell)

The Norton Anthology of World Literature (Third Edition) (Vol. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C)

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Sweeter Vermouth” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

 

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28 The Ramayana

It’s been called “the greatest of all Indian epics – and one of the world’s supreme masterpieces of storytelling.” Nobody can deny the power of this ancient tale of Rama, a warrior king in exile, and his beloved wife Sita. Combining intense action scenes with keen insights into spiritual and psychological motivations, the Ramayana continues to delight and enchant readers around the world. But what does the story mean for us today? How do its values correspond with our own? Do we agree with its views of what it means to be a great ruler? A great husband? A great wife? Author Jacke Wilson takes a look at The Ramayana, one of two great Indian epic stories, on his journey through the history of literature.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Texts:

 

The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics) (tr. Narayan)

The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic (tr. Menon)

The Norton Anthology of World Literature (Third Edition) (Vol. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C)

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Jalandhar” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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10 Indian Literature: A Cosmic Feast

Recalling his own long-ago transition from China to India, our host previews our journey’s next stop, where we will immerse ourselves in the literature of a spectacular culture. Marked by classics like the Rig Veda (1500 – 1200 B.C.) and the Upanishads (ca. 900 B.C.), the Ramayana (ca. 550 B.C.), and the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (400 B.C. – 400), classic Indian literature is known for its deep engagement with universal questions like how the world was created, what our understanding of God is and can be, how we should treat one another, and what it means to be human. Jacke Wilson prepares our palate for a feast of Indian literature, one of the greatest achievements in the history of civilization.

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Further Reading:

The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics) (tr. Narayan)

The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic (tr. Menon)

The Bhagavad Gita (Classics of Indian Spirituality) (tr. Easwaran)

Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation (tr. Mitchell)

The Upanishads (Classic of Indian Spirituality) (tr. Easwaran)

The Upanishads: Breath from the Eternal (tr. Prabhavanada)

Classic Indian Cooking (Julie Sahni)

The Norton Anthology of World Literature (Third Edition) (Vol. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C)

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Jalandhar” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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