Deep in India's past, Lord Krishna revealed the 700 verse Bhagavad-Gita, a spiritual poem containing universal, nonsectarian truths. In 1995, Steven Pressfield decided to introduce the Bhagavad-Gita to a contemporary audience, so he restructured the Gita in terms of a golf novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance. As he says, "In the Gita the troubled warrior Arjuna receives instruction from Krishna, Supreme Lord of the Universe, who has assumed human form as Arjuna's charioteer. Instead of a troubled warrior, it's a troubled golf champion (Ranulph Junah); instead of his charioteer, it's his caddie Bagger Vance." Now a major motion picture directed by Robert Redford and starring Matt Damon and Will Smith, The Legend of Bagger Vance is loosely based on the ancient Hindu epic. Steven Rosen, in Gita on the Green: The Mystical Tradition Behind Bagger Vance, draws the story out further using some thirty years of Gita scholarship and a writing style that is both eloquent and thorough. Rosen takes us on a colorful journey into the golf world of Bagger Vance, as well as into the spiritual realm of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.
By the end of the journey, one realizes that one has just read a commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita while hitting a hole in one. What is the Gita anyway? To call it a great work doesn't quite do it justice...What I love is that it's not Western. It's not Judeo-Christian. Its message is not the eye-for-an-eye or turn-the-other-cheek with which we are familiar, but something from an entirely different quadrant of the compass...On one page it champions a hard-core warrior ethic; on another it declares harmlessness, ahimsa, the supreme virtue of God and man. The Gita exhorts the reader to action, but admonishes that he has no right to the fruits of that action. Be a "lord of discipline," it urges, in the same breath commanding utter surrender to one's spiritual mentor. It can be pretty daunting to us Westerners. This is where Steven's Rosen's Gita on the Green comes in. Gita on the Green takes Bagger Vance as a point of departure and launches from there into the source text at full strength. Steve's book is about the Gita. He uses golf, and a novel about golf, as levers to pry into that mighty husk of wisdom that has come to us from the sages of India...[
He does so] with a clarity of thought and expression that makes you say, "ah! So that's what it's about!"...Gita on the Green was a college education for me. I hope it will be for you too.