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Invitation to World Literature


The Bhagavad Gita (30:00)

This video introduces The Bhagavad Gita, the most famous section of the great ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Life and death, duty and desire are all explained by Krishna, the creator god.

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Speakers in the video

Sandy Crawford
Sandy Crawford
History Teacher, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School
Ms. Crawford teaches history at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, Massachusetts. During the course of the school year, she teaches her students literary epics, including the Mahabharata (from which The Bhagavad Gita is taken).
Douglas Cuomo
Douglas Cuomo
Composer, Arjuna's Dilemma
Mr. Cuomo is a composer who has created original music for concert orchestras, theater, television, and film. He composed the themes for Sex and the City and Now with Bill Moyers, among others, and wrote Arjuna's Dilemma, an opera-oratorio based on the story of The Bhagavad Gita.
David Damrosch
David Damrosch
Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
Dr. Damrosch is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University and the author of several books, including What Is World Literature?
Gadahara Pandit Dasa
Gadadhara Pandit Dasa
Hindu Monk
An Indian-American raised in California, Mr. Dasa read The Bhagavad Gita as a teenager looking for solace from family turmoil. It was after reading this work that he decided to devote himself to Hinduism, and in particular working with college students. He is a Hindu monk and chaplain for Columbia University and New York University.
Vishakha Desai
Vishakha Desai
President, The Asia Society
Ms. Desai is a scholar of classical Indian art and former South Indian dancer. She was the first female president of the Asia Society, a 50-year-old institution devoted to improving relations between the United States and Asia. Previously, Ms. Desai had served as director of museum and cultural programs at the Asia Society.
Phillip Glass
Philip Glass
World-renowned composer Mr. Glass has created symphonic works, operas, movie soundtracks, and compositions for his own ensemble and for dance. His operas include Einstein on the Beach, Akhnaten, The Voyage, and Satyagraha, based on the life of Gandhi. Parts of the libretto of Satyagraha are taken from the text of The Bhagavad Gita.
Jack Hawley
Jack Hawley
Professor of Religion, Barnard College, Columbia University
Dr. Hawley is professor of religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author or editor of over fifteen books on Hinduism and the religions of India. He has served as director of Columbia's Southern Asian Institute. Dr. Hawley's research especially concerns the devotional religion of North India.
Amitav Kaul
Amitav Kaul
Mr. Kaul is a producer and director of music videos as well as a screenwriter whose works include the screen adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's book, The Interpreter of Maladies.
Sheldon Pollock
Sheldon Pollock
Professor of Sanskrit Studies, Columbia University
Dr. Pollock is The William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Columbia University. His areas of specialization are Sanskrit philology, Indian intellectual and literary history, and comparative intellectual history. He was the general editor of the Clay Sanskrit Library.