Song Divine Shares The Bhagavad Gita for the Modern World
When we look back at the origins of Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda, we inevitably come across one of the greatest spiritual texts of all times, The Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient book for all times, places and cultures. It doesn’t belong to one person, nor does it address any one group of people. It is a scripture for all the world and everyone in it, wherever they are in their spiritual quest. It’s no wonder that the Bhagavad Gita, originally written in Sanskrit more than 5,000 years ago, is the second-most translated book, and the second best-selling book in the world after the Bible.
So, how does this ancient scripture apply to our lives today?
In many ways, the Bhagavad Gita is exactly what we need right here and now.
The Bhagavad Gita story takes place on a battlefield in Kurukshetra, located just north of Delhi in India. The battle is between two sets of cousins, the Pandavas, to which the warrior Arjuna belongs and is to fight, and the Kauravas. The Kauravas have taken over the Pandavas’ kingdom. After all attempts at reconciliation have failed, the Pandavas are forced to fight back.
Introduction to the Song Divine: The Story of the Bhagavad Gita
Before the battle is set to begin, Arjuna, the hero of the story, asks Krishna, his mentor and charioteer, to drive between the two armies so he can get some perspective on what they’re facing. Seeing the faces of his family, friends, teachers, and neighbors on the opposing side, Arjuna is overcome with confusion and despair. He cannot imagine any positive outcome from this war. He struggles with questions about the battle, and his own role in it. In this time of mental crisis, he desperately turns to Krishna for answers. Krishna, seeing that Arjuna is sincere, open, and ready for this knowledge, patiently explains to his friend everything he needs to know.
Although the story takes place on a battlefield, it is really about the battles we are faced with in our own lives every day. Arjuna represents the common man, the working man, and every one of us. We are constantly presented with choices that we don’t want to make. We are torn between what we think is good, and what is actually good for us. We are influenced by our desires and ambitions. The head fights with the heart, the intellect fights with the mind and senses.
Throughout the Gita, as Krishna advises Arjuna, we come across many verses that resonate, that can help us to overcome our own struggles, and make our own decisions. Here are just a few.
From Chapter 2
Never was there a time
When there was not a “we”
Never will there come a time
When any of us cease to be.
Do you know who you are?
From Chapter 6
Meditate on the Self
Just sit there and be quiet.
This is yoga, union with
The Divine, that’s the Highest.
From Chapter 13
The Knower shines through the body
Doing what work must be done.
With no desire or aversion,
It plays out through everyone.
From Chapter 18
We each are given a purpose
A duty of our own
Be devoted to this dharma
And your true Self will be known.
The Bhagavad Gita is a book that had been calling to me for many years, and I always tried to read it and understand it, without much luck. Then I met Swami Sarvadevananda from the Vedanta Society in Hollywood, California. I became a student in his Bhagavad Gita class, where he patiently and methodically went over each verse of the Gita and its translation, meaning and applicability in our lives. I was fascinated, and hooked! When Swami asked us to memorize verses to keep them close to our hearts, it was a daunting task, and I felt I had to come up with a solution.
“Bhagavad Gita” translates from Sanskrit to mean “Divine Song.”
It was written in verse, with rhythm and rhyme, so that it could be memorized and recited, or sung, and passed down through the generations. However, that “beat” is lost when the words are translated into other languages, including English.
With this in mind, I called upon my experience as a songwriter and set out to re-translate the Gita into English, rhyming verse. I dove in whole-heartedly, and my book Song Divine: A New Lyrical Rendition of the Bhagavad Gita, came out in 2017, with Swami Sarvadevananda’s blessings, and foreword.
While I was writing the verses, I could hear music playing, I could see the Gita being played out in my mind as a kind of Broadway show! When the book was complete, I knew that this was just the first step.
I went to my long-time friend, Vito Gregoli, a renowned producer and composer in the New Age music arena, and approached him with the idea of making Song Divine into an album. Luckily, or by divine grace, Vito was all in with me on this massive undertaking! We were inspired by ground-breaking shows like Jesus Christ Superstar, and Hamilton, and set out to create something that has never been done before – a Rock Opera version of the Bhagavad Gita for today’s audience.
It took a lot of effort, and a lot of determination and devotion, as well as a lot of team work during a crazy three years in the making of this collection of songs, one for each chapter of the Gita. We were blessed with amazing vocals by Indian megastar Sonu Nigam singing the role of Krishna on “Know Who You Are.”
I was able to fly to Mumbai to record with him in November of 2019, before the pandemic hit.
Deepak Ramapriyan, and Alexander Perez performed the roles of Krishna and Arjuna on the rest of the album, and Vito brought in world-class musicians and artists to contribute as well.
So, here we are, three years later, and Song Divine: The Bhagavad Gita ROCK OPERA is available, streaming everywhere, worldwide. We can listen to Krishna’s wisdom set to amazing melodies, a unique blend of east and west, ancient and modern.
Now, probably more than ever, what we are all searching for is peace of mind. It is my wish that Song Divine, the Bhagavad Gita, with Krishna’s wise and beautiful words, helps you to know who you are. There’s nothing more important than that. Know who you are, and the peace of mind that you have been seeking is yours.