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The Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita in a golf setting
am 27. Juli 1999
It's either funny or sad that none of the reviews I've read about this book, either in print or on Amazon, recognize the source of this story: the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is one of the greatest stories ever told - and the Bhagavad Gita is given smack dab in the middle of it.
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" is a retelling of this epic, and a summary of the Bhagavad Gita, in a wonderful golf story. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna must fight a war against his step-brothers and cousins over possession of the kingdom. It is a righteous war, for he and his brothers are the heirs. But he refuses to fight, saying that war is futile and that it would be better to die than to fight one's family. So his charioteer, Lord Krishna, an incarnation of God, has to park the chariot and give him a really long lecture about why he should put aside his doubts, do his duty, and fight. Of course, it takes him the whole Bhagavad Gita to explain why this is a good thing to do, and it involves helping Arjuna understand who he really is, who God is, and what the nature of reality is. Along the way, he explains how to find peace in the midst of action, and to discover our true nature.
The Bhagavad Gita explains how to find union with God in the midst of daily life, and "The Legend of Bagger Vance" gives a very readable restatement of how to live a truly authentic life (and play great "golf" - whatever your form of "golf" is).
In "Legend," our hero, Rannulph Junah (R.Junah for those who like things spelled out) is a world-weary war veteran who is asked to play a game of golf with Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. He reluctantly agrees, then tries to withdraw, saying that in a world torn apart by conflict and the Depression, it was futile, senseless, stupid, and insulting to hit a small dimpled ball around a course in yet one more form of combat. His caddy, Bagger Vance (Bhagavan, an honorific title for the Lord or for a spiritual master), then spends the rest of the story talking him through the 36-hole tournament, stripping away his confusion and delusion to help him find the truth of his Authentic Stroke and see the value of doing our inborn duty that life presents to us.
Does he succeed? Can we? Read this fun story and find out!
Afterwards, get Kamala Subramaniam's version of the "Mahabharata" and enjoy an even more interesting story.