The Warrior Self: A Book Review of Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
For many of us the “Good Book” could be the Bible, or it could be Light on Yoga. My guiding light has long been the Bhagavad Gita.It is a smallish poem by epic standards set inside of a much larger text called the Mahabharata written somewhere around the second century BCE. It is just 700 verses, or 18 chapters, that have the potential to change one’s life. If you could understand it, that is.My first encounter with the “Gita,” as it is known to us Gita-Junkies, was in high school. At 15 we were studying Walden Pond when my teacher had the good sense to pull out the text that inspired Henry David Thoreau. From there I studied it five more times with scholars from college to graduate school and then to yoga teacher training."In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmic philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita,” Thoreau wrote, “In comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial."An inspiring work will inspire many interpretations and the same is true of the Gita. If you peruse the shelves of your local bookstore you will see up to 50 different translations and interpretations, if you still have a local bookstore, and if they stock anything other than celebrity bios, doubtful as that may be.Into the fray comes a new book by Ted L. Cox who offers commentary on the Gita called, Warrior Self: Unlocking the Promise of the Bhagavad Gita (Spirit House Yoga Publishing, 2014).Every word in the Gita is open to interpretation, starting with the title. The word “Bhagavan,” has been translated as “One who is devoted to God,” or it could be “One who is prosperous.” Or, perhaps, it is one who is prosperous because he knows his God and his true purpose?Like any poem, the experience of it lies not in the clarification but in the muddiness of the meaning. How many times can one read a line or a stanza and see something new? That is the pleasure contained in the verse.Cox obviously takes pleasure in this poem. He is a Bhagavan, or a lover of the Gita and of the pursuit of the meaning of life. You can tell it by the careful detail he has taken in his interpretation of the poem. His background is not of a Sanskrit scholar or a Hindu mythologist. He is not an English professor paid by the multi-syllabic words he can string together. He is a musician, and like the rest of us junkies, someone who was profoundly transformed by the power of these words.Warrior Self reads a bit like a student term paper. Cox does not retell the poem, or provide a side-by-side translation as he goes through it. You should have a separate copy of the Bhagavad Gita as you read Warrior Self. But for those who love and live by this poem that will not be a problem. I probably own eight or nine translations which I refer to regularly.In fact, I love the Gita so much that I patterned my own first book, “Finding More on the Mat,” on it. It is 18 chapters of a very confused woman trying to figure out her purpose in life, using yoga as a path to self-discovery.If you are a Bhagavan, or a devoted student of the Gita, I think you will enjoy Warrior Self. It belongs on the bookshelf next to Poised for Grace, another interpretation by Dr. Douglas Brooks.Where some scholars have created interpretations as cloaked in mystery as the poem itself, Cox has endeavored to make his interpretation accessible. Who knows? Warrior Self might make even a casual reader a junkie like the rest of us.Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga, and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She is a Featured Columnist for Elephant Journal and a Contributing Editor for Mantra Magazine. She is an E-RYT 500 and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co. You can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com, or www.yogasteya.com.