The Mahabharata is an epic poem that deals with a specific historical crisis but invests it with universality and perennial validity in a manner possible only for the poet, not for the schoolmen of philosophy; and the Gita is an integral part of it. Therefore, it should not be independent philosophical treatise. In his earlier work, The Mahabharata, A Literary Study, Krishna Chaitanya had evaluated the Gita as an integral part of the epic. But there is still need for moving closer for a fuller study of the Gita with text, translation, contextual annotation, extended philosophical commentary. This is the present offering.
The modern world has lost the foundations of faith indispensable for meaningful living. But the Gita affirms that certitude can be regained through empirical knowledge and integrative wisdom and has undertaken that task which involves nothing less than a total reconstruction of philosophy, concept by concept, from the physics of the particle to the profound possibilities of the psyche for piloting its own fullest growth. After the anarchy in all disciplines which brought about the steady diminishment of man, they are now glimpsing positive cues and beginning to converge towards a saner world-view. This study brings out the Gita's remarkable anticipations of this trend in all fields: the sciences of matter, life, mind, social living.
The essential message of the Gita is that if man does not study the deep structure of the world-system and derive his imperatives from it, the world will collapse around him and bury him in its ruins. The Kurukshetra war, where only a dozen men survived, is the archetype of this catastrophe which in the next war will threaten the survival of mankind itself. The study brings out the vibrant contemporaneity of the message of the Gita, its redemptive promise in the modern world menaced by extinction.
About the Author:
Krishna Chaitanya, whom a national periodical has described as "one of the most original and stimulating minds writing in the sub-continent today", and as "our nearest approximation to the Renaissance man" is the author of about forty books whose interdisciplinary range got him the "Critic of Ideas" award of the Institute of International Education. New York. The major categories are: a five-volume philosophy of freedom for which he got a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship and which has been compared by critics to the works of Thomas Aquinas, the French Encyclopaedists, Herbert Spencer, Bergson, Whitehead and Teilhard de Chardin; a ten-volume history of world literature including a history of Sanskrit literature, a book on Sanskrit poetics and a history of Malayalam literature, in English and several Indian languages, which won a special award from the Kerala Sahitya Academy; several books on Indian culture including a four-volume history of Indian painting; and books retelling Sanskrit classics or vividly recreating the life of past epochs for children, one of which got the Federation of Indian Publishers' award for the best children's book published during the International Year of the Child. As Vice-President Chairman, member of functional committees he has been associated with over a dozen Indian Fine Arts and Crafts Society, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, National Museum, Sangeet Natak Akademi and National Book Trust. He has traveled widely in Asia, Europe and the USA and is listed in several international biographies and directories. He has awarded the degree of D.Litt. (Honoris Causa) by the Rabindra Bharati University in 1986 and the Padma Shri in 1992.
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