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Gita on the Green: The Mystical Tradition Behind Bagger Vance [Hardcover]

Steven J. Rosen


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Book Description

8 Mar 2001
Deep in India's past, Lord Krishna revealed the 700 verse Bhagavad-Gita, a spiritual poem containing universal, nonsectarian truths. In 1995, Steven Pressfield decided to introduce the Bhagavad-Gita to a contemporary audience, so he restructured the Gita in terms of a golf novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance. As he says, "In the Gita the troubled warrior Arjuna receives instruction from Krishna, Supreme Lord of the Universe, who has assumed human form as Arjuna's charioteer. Instead of a troubled warrior, it's a troubled golf champion (Ranulph Junah); instead of his charioteer, it's his caddie Bagger Vance." Now a major motion picture directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon and Will Smith, The Legend of Bagger Vance is loosely based on the ancient Hindu epic. Steven Rosen, in Gita on the Green: The Mystical Tradition Behind Bagger Vance, draws the story out further using some thirty years of Gita scholarship and a writing style that is both eloquent and thorough. Rosen takes us on a colorful journey into the golf world of Bagger Vance, as well as into the spiritual realm of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. By the end of the journey, one realizes that one has just read a commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita while hitting a hole in one. What is the Gita anyway? To call it a great work doesn't quite do it justice...What I love is that it's not Western. It's not Judeo-Christian. Its message is not the eye-for-an-eye or turn-the-other-cheek with which we are familiar, but something from an entirely different quadrant of the compass...On one page it champions a hard-core warrior ethic; on another it declares harmlessness, ahimsa, the supreme virtue of God and man. The Gita exhorts the reader to action, but admonishes that he has no right to the fruits of that action. Be a "lord of discipline," it urges, in the same breath commanding utter surrender to one's spiritual mentor. It can be pretty daunting to us Westerners. This is where Steven's Rosen's Gita on the Green comes in. Gita on the Green takes Bagger Vance as a point of departure and launches from there into the source text at full strength. Steve's book is about the Gita. He uses golf, and a novel about golf, as levers to pry into that mighty husk of wisdom that has come to us from the sages of India...[ He does so] with a clarity of thought and expression that makes you say, "ah! So that's what it's about!"...Gita on the Green was a college education for me. I hope it will be for you too.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (8 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826413013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826413017
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,177,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Gita on the Green takes Bagger Vance as a point of departure and launches from there into the source text at full strength. Rosen's book is, as it should be, about the Gita. He uses golf, and a novel about golf, as levers to pry into that mighty husk of wisdom that has comes to us from the sages of India....[He does so] with a clarity of thought and expression that makes you say, 'Ah! So that's what it's about!"--Steven Pressfield, Author of The Legend of Bagger Vance; "In the Bhagavad-gita, the heroic if spiritually challenged Arjuna asks his charioteer Krishna for good advice. He discovers half-way through their exchange that all the while he had been receiving God-advice....Hmmm... Now what if Arjuna were a golfer, and God was his caddie? That would no doubt trnasform the classic text into something more readable for Westerners. This was accomplished in The Legend of Bagger Vance and taken further by Steven Rosen, who, in Gita on the Green, puts us all on the playing field with Bagger and Bhagavan Sri Krishna. The result is indeed edifying!"-Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion, McGill University, and author of The Hindu Gita; "Gita on the Green does for the Bhagavad-gita what Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance did for Zen Buddhism. It takes a philosophically elaborate Eastern tradition and makes it accessible for a Western audience....Enjoyable enlightenment!"-Tamal Krishna Goswami, University of Cambridge"

About the Author

Steven J. Rosen is the author of fifteen books on East-Indian philosophy and spirituality. For the last eight years he has been the editor of The Journal of Vaishnavi Studies (an interdisciplinary quarterly). He is currently part of an editorial team working to complete The Encyclopedia of Hinduism, an eighteen volume compendium of Indian thought (forthcoming, 2003, University of South Carolina Press).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bagger Meets Krishna Review 28 Dec 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A Review of Gita on the Green: The Mystical Tradition Behind Bagger Vance By Steven J. Rosen Continuum International, 370 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017 (N.Y.-London 2000) pp.176. Index. Select bibliography
Reviewed by Madan Mohan
It is not often that a book is released that answers so many questions or does so many things at once. First, you have elaborate analyses of Bhagavad-gita, the ancient spiritual classic, and the Legend of Bagger Vance (both the novel and the movie). But more, you have a learned study of the interrelationship of the Gita and Bagger Vance, which is quite an achievement. The greater achievement, also accomplished in this book, is that the reader, without ever having read either the Gita or Bagger Vance, can walk away from this book with a clear understanding of both!
Bagger Vance takes the Gita, a spiritual dialog that occurs on a battlefield just before the onset of a massive war, and transposes it onto a golf course. Rosen, in Gita on the Green, takes the golf course and shows how the teachings of the Gita are indeed perennial, to be understood as much on the links as in a monastery. The charm of this book is that it conveys the Gita's teaching almost incidentally, while explaining a contemporary novel (Bagger Vance) and the Robert Redford movie that sprang from this novel.
But Rosen's book does so much more. It is also a autobiographical, with a Teachings of Don Juan sort of vibe. The author tells his personal story about meeting a saintly person in India and how he studied under this saintly person, much as Carlos Castaneda studied under Don Juan. This sets the groundwork for just who this author is, and how seriously he takes the subject. This also allows him to express his own initial reservations about the Gita, such as his repugnance for the violence of the battlefield (since, as stated, the Gita takes place in the midst of a great war). Pressfield, who authored the original novel of Bagger Vance, was impressed with Rosen's personal journey-- and his knowledge of the Gita-- and he consequently wrote a foreword for Rosen's book that all but makes one ask, "Hey, are these two in cahoots?"
After these initial introductory chapters, Gita on the Green launches into its analysis of the Gita, always mindful of the Bagger Vance parallels and golf as a metaphor for life.
Rosen is meticulous in his investigation of the Gita, offering details of its origin, its inclusion in the larger epic (the Mahabharata), and how it was originally meant to be understood (in the guru-disciple relationship). Moreover, he goes through each of the Gita's eighteen chapters and explains them in a user-friendly sort of way. He cites many Gita studies, books on golf, and contemporary works on psychology, such as those of M. Scott Peck, in order to highlight the Gita's central teachings and make them relevant for people of today. This is perhaps the book's strongest aspect: It takes an otherwise difficult Indic scripture and allows it to shine through with the simplicity of a modern-day novel. It offers readers the essence of the Bhagavad-gita in an accessible and approachable way. This, it might be added, is no small task!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gita on the Green is Gold 9 Mar 2001
By Belenios Ategnatos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read and loved many of Steve Rosen's books. GITA ON THE GREEN is a welcome and worthy addition to my collection of his books. I had previously read the Bhagavad Gita, but had little knowledge about golf, and hadn't yet read The Legend of Bagger Vance.
The reader will benefit most by reading Bhagavad Gita As It Is, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and Gita on the Green together, or in quick succession. With both simplicity and thoroughness, Rosen ties together and explains this ancient and eternal tradition expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita and how it is explained in the new context of golf for the modern reader in Bagger Vance.
Now, for it all to come full circle, I await the Sanskrit translation of Gita on the Green!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not too much about Bagger Vance but great bk on the Gita 20 Oct 2001
By D. Muchow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gives a relaxed and informative treatment of the essential doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita. If you're too lazy to read the Penguin Classic translation of the Bhagavad Gita, get this. Knowledge is the first step to enlightenment!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not much about the movie but great treatise on the Gita 20 Oct 2001
By D. Muchow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you want to know what the Bhagavad Gita is about and are too lazy to actually read it, this is the next best thing. Great review of jnana, karma and bhakti (knowledge, action and devotion) concepts.
5.0 out of 5 stars From golf to Krishna 13 July 2013
By Daune Hess - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recommend reading "The Legend of Bagger Vance" first, before reading this book. It is full of information showing how one can relate the legend to Eastern mystical traditions, as well as others. The author explains these concepts fully, and I felt that I learned things I wasn't aware of; it allowed me to enjoy the original book even more upon re-reading it. The idea that applying oneself to the game of golf can be a spiritual means of self-knowledge transfers well to the "game" of life. "Gita on the Green" is thought-provoking and held this non-golfer's interest throughout its pages.
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